Teacher Certification Tests (The Praxis and Beyond)

praxisPassing a standardized test is a basic requirement for teacher certification in almost all states. These tests attempt to measure an aspiring teacher’s knowledge and skills, and are used by most public schools in the United States to ensure that educators are qualified to teach. Because each individual state sets its own standards, testing requirements vary on a state-by-state basis. For example, you can pass the California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST) for certification in California, but to teach in New York, you would need to pass a test administered by the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations (NYSTCE). To find out more about the specific testing requirements for the state where you plan to teach, visit our teaching credential state pages.

The following tests are the most widely used in the teaching certification process:

The Praxis Series

Praxis exams are administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), and used by over 40 states as indicators of knowledge and skill. The Praxis series is used to determine if an aspiring teacher is eligible for licensing or certification, and consists of the Praxis I and the Praxis II. Some states require one or both of the Praxis exams, and each state sets its own requirements for acceptable scores. You can view the standards of each state on the Praxis State Requirements page.

Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Tests (PPST®)

The Praxis I is used for licensure as well as to qualify candidates for entry into a teacher education program. The tests measure basic skills and are broken into three separate exams:

Praxis I Reading Test: Measures a candidate’s ability to analyze and comprehend texts. Praxis I Mathematical Test: Measures a candidate’s basic skills in math. Praxis I Writing Test: Measures a candidate’s ability to articulate thoughts and communicate effectively through writing.

Praxis I exams are mostly multiple choice with an essay in the writing test, and are offered in both electronic and paper versions.

Praxis II Subject Assessments

The Praxis II assesses a teaching candidates general skills and specific subject area knowledge. The different Praxis II exams fall into three categories based on what they measure:

Subject Assessments: Measures general and subject-specific teaching skills and knowledge. Principles of Learning Tests: Measures general knowledge of pedagogy and teaching methods at the levels of early childhood, kindergarten-sixth grade, fifth-ninth grade and seventh--12th grade. Teaching Foundations Tests: Measures pedagogy in mathematics, English, science or multiple subjects.

Praxis II exams consist of a combination of multiple choice questions and essays, and vary in length from one to four hours, depending on the subject. There are over 120 different content areas, ranging from agriculture to world history, and up to four different Praxis II exams can be taken on one test date. ETS provides excellent advice on how to prepare for the Praxis exam, as well as preparation materials to assist you in studying for the test.

The National Evaluation Series

The National Evaluation Series (NES) is a new computer-based testing program that measures the knowledge and qualification of potential teachers. The NES is administered through Pearson, a leading organization that specializes in professional development, teacher education and education technology. NES Tests cover a broad spectrum of academic subjects, ranging from math and English to technological skills and teaching English as a Second Language. Testing standards and requirements are set by the state, so before taking an NES Test, consult with your state’s board of education to determine which tests you are required to take. Not all states accept the NES.