By Dr. Wafa Hozien
Steps to Passing the Praxis
Preparation plus opportunity equals success. Have you begun the proper planning and preparation to take the Praxis in your state. Are you ready?
Educational Testing Service (ETS) constructs and administers Praxis exams for the College Board, a nonprofit organization with the goal of increasing access to higher education. The College Board is best known for the SAT, AP and CLEP tests. Six thousand educational institutions participate in College Board programs.
If you work in education, you’ve likely heard of the Praxis exam for teaching certification, even if you work in one of the 10 states that do not require this test for certification. The ancient Greek word praxis means the practice of an art or science, and teaching is certainly both. The Praxis test is the licensure exam for educators in 40 states.
ETS defines the Praxis tests as “a series taken by individuals entering the teaching profession as part of the certification process required by many states and professional licensing organizations.” ETS offers a battery of assessments for augmenting your professional portfolio and readying you for each stage of your education career.
You’ll take the Praxis online at a testing center in your area; find out more by visiting the ETS website. Register online at the ETS website for each assessment. ETS sends your Praxis scores to your state’s teacher-certification agency, but you can request that your scores be sent to other state certification agencies as well. Be aware that additional score reports are $50 each; other fees and surcharges may apply.
Preparation for the Praxis
ETS makes online practice tests available but says that the best way to pass a Praxis exam is to familiarize yourself with every aspect of the test you’ll be taking by reviewing the categories and descriptions of the Test at a Glance (TAAG). For example, the multiple-choice section for the Praxis I writing assessment requires you to understand grammatical relationships; you’ll be expected to recognize and correct a variety of grammar errors. It’s also important to understand how to develop your answers to constructed response questions; for these questions, you’ll write essays.
Furthermore, ETS suggests learning the computer skills of clicking, drop-down menu selection and drag-and-drop actions. You can learn more in one of the ETS webinars, or you can purchase ETS study materials.
Many people, however, turn to third-party “test prep” materials to prepare for the Praxis exams. Choose from among practice exams, workbooks and classes to enhance your readiness.
Exam Edge (www.praxisprep.com) sells single prep tests and bundled Praxis prep packages that allow you to practice taking the online Praxis in simulated testing conditions, and the company offers detailed explanations of the answer choices. Barron’s and Kaplan, both well-known producers of test preparation materials, also sell Praxis test prep materials. The most recommended Barron’s book is the seventh edition of Barron’s Praxis by Dr. Robert Postman. Companies such as Teachers Test Prep (www.teacherstestprep.com) and ed2go (www.ed2go.com) offer classes and private tutoring to give you the edge in taking the Praxis exams; their rates vary.
Check with your college or education service center for additional study opportunities. Colleges and universities want you to pass the exam, so many provide test prep classes and tutors. If your school does not, pay for a class and complete the practice tests regularly. It is an investment in your future and worth the price.
Understanding and implementing successful study strategies is key to passing the exams for certification.
Creating a study schedule
Make a regular appointment with yourself — for example, every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to noon or every Tuesday and Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Do not schedule anything else for that time. This creates a study routine. Adhere to your scheduled study time as if it were an important meeting, a doctor’s appointment or a work shift. This creates a consistent study schedule and good study habits. Do not compromise your study time for anything else.
Find a quiet place to study where you won’t be interrupted. If your library is not open during your scheduled study time, find another location. The campus student center is often open for extended hours; find a corner on a level other than the first floor where you can work. The publ ic l ibrar y and other university or college libraries may also be available; schools often allow students from other campuses to study in their spaces. Chain restaurants or local cafés typically open early and close late. They usually offer quiet places where you can study.
Passing Standards and Trends
Your Praxis score is based on the number of correct answers rather than the number of missed answers, so answer every question for the best possible score.
States set their own passing scores for the Praxis. Your score report will include the words PASSED or NOT PASSED for each test. If you are not notified of all your test scores, you’ll receive the missing results in a second report.
ETS recognizes individuals with outstanding Praxis scores by awarding a Recognition of Excellence (ROE) certificate to the test taker and notifying both the state agency for educator certification and the test taker’s school. ETS cautions that the ROE is not to be used for certification or as a hiring criterion.
Many test takers have difficulty passing the Praxis on the first try. Hispanic students have a pass rate of 35%, and African American first-time test takers have a pass rate of 21.5%, compared with 55% of white students who pass the test the first time. Clearly, these tests are a serious matter , and preparation is in order. Not passing one or more tests may mean teaching with a temporary permit or not becoming a teacher at all. Use the resources in this article to help you prepare.
If you don’t pass the first time you take the test, there’s still hope. Although you’ll have to wait at least 21 days for a retake, use your time wisely — continue studying for the test. With the right planning and preparation, you can ace your Praxis exams.
Most universities and colleges do not discuss this with their students: If you do not pass the Praxis, you can still teach at a private school, alternative school, preschool or charter school, although charter schools are increasingly requiring certified teachers. Another option is to be a substitute teacher for a short time until you retake the necessary exams. The other pathway is Teach For America, a two-year program that ensures best teaching practices and places teachers in urban schools or schools in economically disadvantaged communities. The other route is to teach for a nonprofit organization, such as the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Salvation Army or Goodwill . T h e s e organizations need teachers for adult education programs or yearround camps for children. With so many opportunities, success is at your fingertips.