What is the Praxis Test?
The Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers and writes the certification exams for those entering the teaching profession. ETS develops standardized tests for K-12 and higher education. It is a non-profit company in the United States with a large office in San Antonio, Texas, as well as smaller offices in five states and Puerto Rico. Also, there are overseas locations wholly owned by ETS, some of which are for-profit subsidiaries. Approximately one-quarter of the ETS work involves standardized tests for the College Board. The Board consists of is a nonprofit membership association of universities, colleges, school districts, and secondary schools. One well-known test for the previous group is the SAT, taken by more than 3 million students annually.
The test for prospective teachers consists of two separate tests: Praxis I and II. The tests are not mandatory in all states as a prerequisite for teacher certification. According to the ETS, 45 states, including Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands, require the Praxis tests. Florida is one exception. Their Department of Education uses the Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE). Florida does have a reciprocity agreement with those states that require the Praxis tests.
The three parts of the tests are:
Core Academic Skills for Educators (CORE): Acts as a measurement of skills and knowledge of reading, writing, and mathematics. These three subjects are considered essential for teachers of all grade levels. Individuals take the exam on a computer at any of the numerous testing centers across the nation.
Subject Assessments: This subject-specific test covers over 90 different subjects from Agriculture to World Languages. You must check with your respective state to determine which tests apply to your level of teaching.
Content Knowledge for Teaching Assessments (CKT): The focus of this test is on specialized knowledge in the teaching of Elementary grade students. It is also a subject-specific test of content knowledge in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. All, except science and social studies, have two parts: CKT and Applied CKT. These combination tests have selected-response and numeric entry questions. The two exceptions have only selected-response questions.
The ETS site is a valuable source of information and testing materials. Once you know your state’s requirements, you can begin a review of Study Companions, Study Guides, and Practice Tests. There is an alphabetical list of subjects from which to choose. For example, by selecting Algebra I, you can view the Study Companion (PDF) and the Study Plan (Word). The former is a forty-one-page document that includes details about the exam and sample questions. The Companion is not intended to teach you about Algebra. The Study Plan outlines what you should know regarding the subject matter. As an example, do you understand how functions and relations are used to model relationships between quantities? The Plan has five columns, two of which are: How well do I know the content? And, Where can I find the resources I need?
In addition to the PDF and the Word documents, there is a Priced Test Preparation that is an Interactive Practice Test. The test simulates the actual computer-delivered test, including the timing procedure. The current cost of this particular test is $19. If you retake the exam, you will have the same questions.
Another source is the Khan Academy CORE Prep. The Academy is a non-profit online educational service whose mission is to bring world-class lessons to students, parents, learners, and teachers. A 2018 U.S. Online Education Customer Survey reported that 90% of teachers found the Khan Academy useful.
Khan offers a free Praxis Core Prep test that begins with a diagnostic test to assess where your strengths exist. The CORE covers the three subjects of Reading, Math, and Writing, as mentioned above.
Teachers Test Prep has a series of free online study guides and practice tests for all sections of the Core exam. This service also offers the Praxis Elementary Education: Content Knowledge (5018), Praxis Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects (5001-5005), Praxis Middle School Mathematics (5169), Praxis Mathematics: Content Knowledge (5161), Praxis General Science: Content Knowledge (5435), Praxis Educational Leadership (5411), Praxis Special Education (5354/5543) and Praxis Social Studies: Content Knowledge (5081).
Practice tests for the Core and others are readily available online at several sites. Here is a short list:
- Union Test Prep
- Kaplan (Course tuition applies for testing and instruction)
- study.com (Several tests)
- Mometrix Test Preparation
- mathhelp.com (Math and four others)
- Valley City State University
There are also webinars available, such as the free one delivered by ETS. It covers detailed information and demonstrations about Praxis test preparation. The next webinar is on January 14, 2020.