How Hard Is the Florida Teacher Certification Exam?

How Hard is the Florida Teacher Certification Exam?

There are three primary FTCE exams aspiring teachers typically must pass to acquire a teaching license within the state of Florida: the FTCE General Knowledge Test, the FTCE Professional Education Test and the individual subject tests.

The FTCE pass rate for all FTCE exams has declined in the last few years. So, you are not the only one wondering whether the FTCE general knowledge test is hard. This trend in decreasing passing rates may mean it is getting more challenging to pass the FTCE on the first attempt.

The Florida Department of Education prides itself on establishing and upholding high standards for certified teachers at all levels to ensure public confidence in instructor competence and professional conduct. In addition, this exam process allows them to vet first-time and out-of-state teachers on their knowledge of instructional methods, alignment with Florida educational standards, and effective classroom evaluation and intervention skills.

Here are the publicly-available statistics published by the Florida Department of Education in 2018:

  • Passing rates for the FTCE General Knowledge Exam (all subtests) decreased from 80% in 2017 to 68% in 2020
  • Passing rates for the FELE Professional exam decreased from 88% in 2017 to 78% in 2020
  • Passing rates for all FTCE SAE Tests decreased from 80% in the 2017 academic year to 68% in 2020

While these statistics point to an increase in difficulty across all three FTCE types, the passing rates are notably better for those who attended a state-approved educator program.

Subtests of the FTCE

The FTCE is a requirement for both new graduates and experienced teachers moving into the state and seeking Florida professional teacher certification.

A separate FTCE registration is required for each test type. You can attempt them on different days. Each test type can be attempted as many times as necessary to obtain a passing score. However, a thorough understanding of test structure and a well-considered study plan could help decrease the number of attempts required to get an FTCE passing score in each of the three test types.

General Knowledge Exam

The FTCE General Knowledge Test is a computer-based test with 4 sub-tests. It covers skills that the State of Florida considers basic standards for all teachers and administrators to demonstrate, even if you do not intend to teach within these specific subject areas.

You must receive a passing score in each of the 4 subtests to pass the General Knowledge Exam. For any sub-test for which you do not receive an initial passing score, you may pay the FTCE retake fee and register to retake that specific sub-test after waiting 31 calendar days from your initial test date. If you prefer to take fewer than all four sub-tests within the same testing session, you may register your initial attempts on different dates.

The four sub-tests of the FTCE General Knowledge Exam include:

  • Reading: This sub-test features approximately 40 questions. All are multiple-choice format. You have 55 minutes to complete all of the questions. The purpose of this sub-test is to assess your ability to identify and understand important information based on text readings, analyze a text and integrate information from more than one source to form a cohesive understanding of a topic.
  • Writing: This sub-test consists of an essay that must be completed within the 50-minute timeline. Some of the skills that this sub-test is assessing is your ability to effectively craft a written essay with an introduction, relevant thesis statement, organized support of your thesis statement within the following paragraphs that builds to a conclusion that supports your initial thesis. Demonstrating a high level of language skills, including specific word choices, useful transitions, citations as needed, supporting details and examples, and a consistent point of view while avoiding clichés and jargon will help you earn a passing score within this sub-test.
  • Math: This sub-test features approximately 40 questions; all are multiple-choice format. You have 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete them. Within this sub-test, you must demonstrate a basic understanding of number sense and order of operations, basic geometry and measurement skills, understanding of algebraic reasoning skills and the ability to understand and interpret graphical data, as well as an understanding of probability and statistics.
  • English Language Skills: This sub-test includes approximately 40 questions and all are multiple-choice format. You have 40 minutes to answer the questions. This sub-test exists to assess your understanding of language structure for effective written communication, effective contextual use of words including the ability to identify confusing or misleading words or phrases, and the use of standard English grammar such as subject/verb agreement and the appropriate use of adjectives or clear pronoun references.

Professional Exam

The FTCE Professional Education Test is a computer-based test featuring approximately 100 questions in multiple-choice format. You have 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete the exam. There are 8 competency areas you must demonstrate to be successful on this exam. Each competency area is weighted as indicated by the percentage below.

  • Use of instructional design and organization - 18%
  • Creating intentional educational environments - 15%
  • Demonstrate effective educational communication and learning facilitation via an inclusive and thorough grasp on the subject matter - 18%
  • Use of assessment strategies to accurately reflect student learning - 14%
  • Applicable ongoing professional development - 12%
  • Comprehensive understanding and accurate application of Principles of Professional Conduct as outlined by the Department of Education in Florida - 9%
  • Ability to use research-based instructional methods for teaching English Language Learners - 7%
  • Comprehensive application of research-supported strategies for literacy across a variety of curricula to support overall literacy standards - 7%

FTCE Subject Tests

There are 39 FTCE Subject Area Tests. You are only required to take the subject test(s) applicable to the areas you want to teach. The Bureau of Educator Certification determines your testing requirements after applying for Florida teacher certification.

The format for each of the 39 FTCE Subject Area Tests is similar. They are all computer-based tests that feature approximately 100 multiple-choice format questions, which testers must complete within the 2-hour and 30-minute session.

Each Subject Area Test has a unique set of competencies and skills they assess. In general, each assessment is designed to capture your understanding and ability to apply effective teaching strategies within that subject area for diverse learners. There is commonly an expectation of developmental patterns and educational progression within a subject area, effective learning environments, and the ability to select engaging educational content. Effective, research-based assessment and monitoring strategies and the ability to support parents are also commonly addressed.

Scores Needed to Pass the FTCE

The FTCE passing score varies somewhat depending on the test type.

General Knowledge: Passing the FTCE General Knowledge Test requires passing scores on each of the four sub-tests.

  • Reading - 8 out of 12 possible points
  • Writing - Scaled score of 200 or more
  • Math - Scaled score of 200 or more
  • English Language Skills - Scaled score of 200 or more

Professional Exam: Passing the FTCE Professional Education Test requires a scaled score of 200 or more.

Subject Area Tests: Passing the FTCE Subject Area Exams requires a scaled score of 200 or more. In some cases where a written component is required, such as the FTCE English 6-12, you must earn at least 8 out of the possible 12 points.

Each test type and sub-test within the FTCE features a variety of test versions, including new questions or questions that vary in difficulty. As such, the 'raw scores' (the number of correct answers on the test) are converted into a 'scaled score.' This conversion process attempts to weigh the more difficult questions so that a correct answer could be worth more than a correct answer to a relatively easy question. In most cases, the percent of correct answers needed to obtain a scaled score of 200 or better is between 70-75% depending on the specific sub-test or test type.

FTCE General Knowledge Level of Difficulty

The FTCE General Knowledge Exam for 2020 had an overall FTCE pass rate of 62%; however, there were significant differences among the sub-test pass rates as detailed below:

  • Essay - 73%
  • English Language Skills - 62%
  • Reading - 55%
  • Mathematics - 58%

Most notably, test takers had a harder time getting a passing score on the reading and math subtests. The statistics for retakes and 'best attempt' indicate that these two sub-tests within the FTCE General Knowledge Exam are challenging for test-takers.

The statistics for the subject area tests vary within each specialty, some of which have similar or lower passing rates than the General Knowledge Exam. The FELE Professional Exam has a similar overall pass rate of 69% but all of the sub-tests included have individual pass rates between 64% and 75%. So, many test takers have the most difficulty with the FTCE General Knowledge Test due to both the initial difficulty and the persistent retake difficulty.

How to Prepare for the FTCE

The decreasing passing rates demonstrate that the FTCE is not an easy set of exams. Therefore, strategic FTCE test prep will be key in helping you minimize how many attempts you need to get a passing score on each test type and sub-test.

Studying for the FTCE is like most other standardized tests you have experienced in the past, such as the SAT or ACT. You can use many of the same strategies to learn the material, such as flashcards, making review notes for each section, and perhaps studying with a friend or group of friends.

Signing up for an online FTCE test preparation courses can help you track your progress and give you access to experts who are familiar with Florida standards and expectations. It may also give you more access to Florida Teacher Certification Exam sample questions and practice tests so you can gain valuable insights into your readiness to pass the test.

The statistics of the FTCE point toward a discrepancy between test-takers who attended a state-approved program and those who did not. This is why the extra practice could make an online course imperative to saving you time, money and stress in the long run.

Creating an Effective FTCE Study Plan

Your chances of success improve with an effective study plan. Approach this set of exams strategically by putting aside some time to get familiar with the exams.

Time Management

All FTCE test types and sub-tests are timed, so time management is key to earning an FTCE passing score. First, know how much time you will have for the test type you are preparing to take. You can calculate how much time you should spend on average for each question by dividing the number of questions on the test or sub-test by the amount of time in minutes you are given.

If you are unsure of an answer but are beginning to spend too much time on that question, select your best guess and move forward in the exam. You may mark it for review; if you have remaining time at the end, use your time to go back to it.

In the few test types that require an essay portion, organization and planning near the beginning of the test time is essential. Use some scrap paper to get your basic thoughts out. What is your thesis? How will you support your thesis? What arguments against your thesis can you raise and counter? Spend no more than the first ten minutes or so mapping out your essay and then get to work writing it out. The writing will likely feel easier and more cohesive when you have an outline or map to follow. Try not to edit too much as you write and instead get all of your thoughts out. Then go back and adjust your word choice, make sure your punctuation is correct, check for spelling errors and other mistakes you know you commonly make.

Create Methods Personalized for You

As an aspiring educator, you know how you learn best. Use this superpower to your advantage. Perhaps you need a variety of visual aids to help you remember some of the content. Perhaps you need to make up songs or silly sayings to help you remember the content. Whatever methods work FOR YOU, do those and do them a lot! Plan to over-prepare in hopes that you will be one of the few who passes all of the FTCE on the first attempt!

Complete Practice Questions and Exams

Practice questions on an FTCE practice test can help you familiarize yourself with the style of questions and get you comfortable with the style of the test. They can also help you understand what material you have a good grasp on and which parts of the material you need to continue studying. This information can be crucial for helping you form or adjust an effective study plan.

Seek Advice When Needed

If you are stuck or confused about an area of study, seek out professional resources such as FTCE test preparation courses with expert instructors to allow you more access to support and more engaging resources to prepare you to pass the FTCE.

FTCE Test Taking Strategies

Approaching the FTCE with strategy can be key to your success. First, get familiar with each test type and sub-test you need to pass. Practice tests are practical tools that help you familiarize yourself with the format, structure and time constraints of the testing environment. They also allow for feedback on which areas you need to focus on strategically in your studying. They can also serve as a tool to check the progress on your study plan so you can make adjustments or help you decide when you are confident enough to schedule your FTCE test dates.

The multiple-choice format of most FTCE test types means that the process of elimination can be very effective. Start by eliminating any clearly wrong or misleading answers. Then carefully re-read the question making sure you understand what is being asked and select the answer that is the best fit. Finally, remember to look for keywords that might help you further narrow your choices even further.

As a computer-based test, you may not advance to the next question without selecting an answer. However, be mindful of your time limit. If you are unsure, select your best answer and you may mark it to review at the end. Once you have selected answers to all of the questions presented, you may review any answers until your time limit for the session is completed. Marking a question for review makes it easy to identify and go back to the questions you are most unsure about so you can prioritize earning as many correct answers as possible.

Be careful not to overthink and second guess your selection in your review process. Make sure you understand the question but trust yourself to select a good response. The question writers are not intentionally crafting tricky questions or providing more than one correct answer. Make your selection and move forward.

FTCE Retake Policy

The FTCE retake policy allows you to retake the test or sub-tests which you did not pass. However, you must allow 31 calendar days between testing attempts. This wait time allows you to review the detailed performance analysis report included in the FTCE official score report for any test taker who does not receive a passing score. While it does not include the specific questions and answers you got correct or incorrect, it does include your scoring percent rating within each competency area and the comparative average of other test-takers. This information can highlight the competency areas you need to focus on and give you insight into adjusting your FTCE preparation methods and consider enrolling in FTCE courses if you need it.

Retakes of the FTCE are subject to the FTCE retake fee. These additional test fees are specific to the tests or sub-tests you need to retake.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many questions are on the Florida teacher certification exam?

    There are 3 different exams required for certification: General Knowledge Exam, Professional Exam and Subject Area Exams. All exams are administered via computer and all non-essay questions are multiple choice. The specific number of questions varies among exams due to different test versions being available. Each of the three sub-tests which are not essay form within the General Knowledge Exam features approximately 40 questions each. The Professional Exam features approximately 100 questions. Similarly, most Subject Area Exams feature approximately 100 questions.

  • How hard is the Gke?

    The testing statistics indicate that the General Knowledge Exam is becoming increasingly difficult to pass. The re-take scores are not much better. However a targeted study plan, customized strategies to improve your performance on practice questions and tests can help you feel confident in your ability to pass.

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