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Whether you see yourself teaching high-school French, middle-school math, or a little bit of everything in elementary school, you will have to demonstrate knowledge in your subject area of choice by taking the Praxis II.
Here’s an overview of what to expect from the Praxis II test, which you will have to take on your way to becoming a certified teacher.
While the Praxis I measures general knowledge of foundational skills, the Praxis II measures in-depth knowledge of a more specific subject for those seeking teaching licensure.
There are three types of Praxis II assessments:
Subject Assessments: These are exams that test your knowledge of a specific subject, such as biology or English.
Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) Tests: These exams measure your pedagogical understanding of your future students’ age group, such as early childhood, K–6th grade, 5–9th grade, and 7–12th grade.
Teaching Foundation Tests: Similar to the PLT test, these exams measure pedagogy in specific areas — English, science, mathematics, and multiple subjects (including citizenship and social sciences).
Depending on the grade level and subject area you would like to teach, each state will require you to take a specific combination of tests to get your license. To see which tests are required in your state, check out the requirements listed on the ETS website.
In general, teachers should expect to take the PLT test and either a subject test or a foundations test that is specific to their area of study. For prospective elementary-school teachers who are required to understand several subjects, there are specific elementary education assessments that cover a range of subjects.
There are more than 120 different Praxis II tests, which span specialized subjects covered in K–12 education, such as chemistry, music, and physical education, as well as languages and specific types of pedagogy, including gifted education and special education.
Once you’ve figured out which tests to take, you can register on the ETS website, by phone, or by mail. Fees for registration vary by test and range from $50 to $170. You will need to provide payment and ask for any disability accommodations at the time of registration. Once you are registered, you will receive an admission ticket, which you must bring with you to the testing center on your designated test date.
All tests are administered via computer and are between one and four hours in duration. You will be asked to answer both multiple-choice and constructed-response, or essay, questions. The PLT questions include constructed-response questions that are based on case studies.
There are no penalties for wrong answers, so guessing is encouraged. Tests are only given in English, but if you are a non-native English speaker or you have a disability, you can apply for extended time. There is no limit to how many times you can take a test — as long as you space each test out by 21 days. Check the website for information on each individual test.
Score ranges differ depending on the Praxis exam. Some exams evaluate students on a scale of 100–200, and others on a scale of 250–900. You can find a list of ranges, medians, and averages on the ETS website.
Each correct answer is given one point toward your total raw score. Raw scores are scaled to see how you performed compared to other test takers, and to determine whether you passed. Each state decides on the passing score it seeks for specific Praxis exams. You can find a list of passing scores by subject and state in this document.
There are nine Subject Assessment tests that offer high-scoring students a Recognition of Excellence Award: biology, chemistry, elementary education, English language, literature and composition, general science, mathematics, physics, and social studies.
Your scores are available online two to three weeks following your test date, and they remain valid for ten years after the exam.
ETS offers preparation materials for individual tests. You can also pay to take an official practice test through the ETS website. Some renowned test-prep companies offer materials on preparing for the PLT exams and popular Subject Assessments. These resources include books by The Princeton Review and Kaplan.
Some aspiring teachers have found it helpful to study as a group to share test materials, quiz one another, and offer support. Others were able to review notes from college to re-familiarize themselves with content knowledge.
Megan Brown, a high school English teacher in Oregon, felt good about the multiple-choice portions of her Praxis II tests, but chose to re-read certain key novels that she hadn’t spent time with in a while. “I was terrified of getting to the question where you have to compare two novels from a list, having not even read two things on the list. [On the exam] it ended up that I had only read two of the novels, one in my re-reading frenzy and the other not since high school.”
Best of luck, future teachers!