Passing 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 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.
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. 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.
The Ultimate Guide to the Praxis Exam
Teach.com has created a comprehensive Guide to the Praxis Examiniations featuring test information, study tips, and a wide selection of resources to make sure you ace your test!
The Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educator tests are used for licensure as well as to qualify candidates for entry into a teacher education program. These tests measure basic skills and are broken into three separate exams:
Praxis Core tests are mostly multiple choice with an essay in the writing test, and are offered in both electronic and paper versions.
Praxis Subject Assessments
The Praxis Subject Assessments assesses a teaching candidates general skills and specific subject area knowledge. The different Praxis Subject Assessments fall into three categories based on what they measure:
Subject Assessments: Measures general and subject-specific teaching skills and knowledge.
Principles of Learning Tests (PLT): Measures general knowledge of pedagogy and teaching methods at the levels of early childhood, kindergarten-sixth grade, fifth-ninth grade and seventh--12th grade.
Praxis Subject Assessments 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 90 different content areas, ranging from agriculture to world history, and up to four different Praxis Subject 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.
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Praxis Test Prep Tips
Studying a broad range of topics and enduring such a long testing process can be challenging, but if you’re well prepared, you should have no problem with doing well on the Praxis tests:
Prioritize. Prioritizing is important while studying. The Praxis exam will test you on multiple subjects, and you should concentrate your studying efforts on mastering the sections you are weakest at. If you are better with reading comprehension and writing, focus your studying efforts on the mathematics section. By honing in on your weaknesses and preparing appropriately, you will be better able to handle the test as a whole. This does not mean you shouldn’t study for the sections you are naturally better at, of course. But you must pass each section of the exam, so acing one and flunking another in hopes of the scores balancing out is not an option. Honestly assess out what you need to study and start practicing with specialized resources for Praxis Math, Praxis Reading or Praxis Writing.
Manage your time. This sounds obvious, but all too often students will pick a date and assume that studying for a random allotment of time each day leading up to it will be sufficient. This should not be the case. Gather all of your study materials and set aside specific blocks of time to study. Make a schedule that you can stick to, and make sure to allow yourself sufficient time to cover each section of the test. Only once you’ve scheduled enough time to study, should you select your test date. This strategy will ensure that you are scheduling the test according to your studying progress and not the other way around, which may lead to stressful cramming or, even worse, a lack of proper preparation.
Take advantage of test preparation materials. Even if you don’t have the time as a full-time student to take a complete prep course, you should still take advantage of all of the test preparation resources made available to you, especially practice tests. There is no better way to get a feel for a standardized test than to take it as many times as possible before the actual test day. Visit Teachers Test Prep for free full-length Praxis Practice Exams and free online Praxis Study Guides that provide an overview of the content you can expect on the test. Teachers Test Prep also offers a variety of paid Praxis Preparation options, like live classes, individual tutoring, and on-demand online prep programs, if you find you need additional help. If you’re looking for some more ways to prepare for the Praxis exam, you can try out ETS’s webinar series or sample the wide range of Praxis exam books out there.
Spread out the sections. Unlike many standardized tests, students are able to take the different sections of the Praxis exam separately. If you’re able to do do this without missing any deadlines or putting too much more strain on yourself, consider taking the sections on different days. By doing this, you will be able to focus all of your studying and test-taking efforts on one topic at a time. Naturally, being able to concentrate on one section will help you excel at it before moving on to the next subject and test question type.
Know the test specifications and scoring. Simply knowing the topics covered on the Praxis is not enough to ace the exam. You should be familiar with the details of each section, including time allotted, question type, scoring and more. Knowing the structure of the test will help you develop a strategy for tackling each section. All of these aspects will not only help you prepare for the Praxis exam, but make you feel confident that, once you’ve completed the test, you worked to its specifications and can rest assured there will be no surprises regarding your results. For details on how the Praxis exam is scored and how it breaks down, visit TAAG (Test at a Glance).
There are a multitude of online resources where you can find help with the Praxis exams, including the Praxis page of the ETS website. This page offers free preparation materials for the math, reading and writing sections of the Praxis I, as well as the many different subject areas cover by Praxis II exams. They also allow you to register for ETS’s webinar series.