Massachusetts Tests for Education Licensure (MTEL) were created in 1998 to achieve two overarching goals for prospective educators - to measure teachers' ability to communicate effectively with fellow educators, students, and parents, and to assess their expertise in their chosen subject matter or developmental level. Though it was Initially designed for the k-12 teachers only, MTEL has since been expanded to qualify adult education and vocational/technical teachers for licensure.
All educators who wish to gain Initial Licensure in Massachusetts will be required to take the Communication and Literacy Skills Test. Additionally, teachers must take subject-area tests in every desired field of expertise they wish to teach.
Educators may be exempted from this testing requirement if they already hold equivalent licenses from other states. Also, since 2020, a pilot program has been underway to admit select testing alternatives to the Communication and Literacy Skills Test. Currently, according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the following tests have been approved:
Massachusetts Communication and Literacy Praxis Test
National Evaluation Series- Essential Academic Skills
Missouri General Education Assessment
Washington Educator Skills Test
Core Academic Skills Assessment
MTEL Registration and Cost
In order to register for the MTEL, test-takers must have (or obtain) a Massachusetts Education Personnel ID (MEPID). This can be created by visiting the Massachusetts Office of Educator Licensure and creating a profile. The MEPID assigned must be entered at the time of test registration. Test-takers will then create an account with the testing company, where they will select a testing date and testing site.
The Communication and Literacy Skills Test costs $112 for the reading and writing subtests combined. Alternately, educators may take the reading subtest alone for $76 and the writing subtest alone for $85. Almost all of the subject-specific tests are $139, with limited exceptions.
MTEL Prep Online
The key to success on the test is preparation. Test-takers can build confidence, reduce anxiety, and perform at their best by utilizing the following MTEL tips:
Become familiar with the objectives for each specific subtest.
Use the test objectives to create a content study list.
Honestly evaluate current knowledge of each objective. Make note of those subjects that are unfamiliar or limited.
Build an intentional and focused study plan.
Get familiar with the computer-based testing structure.
Examine MTEL writing samples with detailed score reports to learn the expected standards for quality work.
Prepare a quiet, distraction-free workspace and time.
Take an MTEL practice test using the same time constraints a testing site requires.
Score the practice test and use the results as a guide to direct further studying.
Retest until proficient scores are achieved.
Watch the MTEL test preparation video or peruse the slides from a preparation webinar, both found on the MTEL site, along with a host of other helpful tools.
Free MTEL Online Practice Tests
MTEL online practice tests can prove invaluable leading up to the day of the test. These tests help to build students' confidence as they work with sample format and content, thereby reducing the fear of the unknown. The level of performance on each component of the practice test can inform the students of areas that need further study and review.
Free resources, including free MTEL practice tests, abound on the MTEL testing website. PDF versions of the Communication and Literacy Skills Test, as well as a large number of subject area tests, are available for download. There is also an online sample test for better MTEL prep. It's brief, but it's designed to offer familiarity with the test structure and types of questions. An ''On-Screen Tutorial'' is accessible as well to guide students through each element of the test's format and structure.
Students taking the online proctored exam will find helpful instructive videos covering what test-takers should expect during the exam, as well as an interactive tutorial on the MTEL site.
MTEL Prep Courses & Workshops
To further strengthen one's confidence and knowledge for the MTEL, preparation courses offer an additional helpful resource. A select number of Massachusetts colleges and universities offer in-person courses, but they vary widely by availability, cost, and which MTEL tests their courses cover. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education maintains a database of this information, but test-takers should contact universities directly to gain the most up-to-date information.
Additionally, many online, fee-based courses exist. When considering whether or not to take an MTEL prep course, several factors need to be considered. How does the test-taker learn best? Is it important to interact with a live instructor? Does the test-taker's schedule allow for a synchronous course, or is it more beneficial to have a self-paced, asynchronous one, i.e., MTEL prep online? What price is reasonable to pay, and what do test prep companies offer for this price? Thinking through these questions ahead of time will reduce both frustration and overspending.
MTEL Exam Content
An introduction to the content of the MTEL test are as follows:
The Communication and Literacy Skills Test
The Reading subtest assesses six different objectives, each given equal weight in scoring:
Meaning of Words and Phrases
Main Idea and Supporting Details
Writer's Purpose and Point of View
Relationships Among Ideas
Outlining, Summarizing, Graph Interpretation
The Writing subtest addresses the following objectives:
Establish and Maintain a Main Idea
Sentence Construction, Grammar, Usage
Spelling, Capitalization, Punctuation
Revise Sentences Containing Errors
This part of the writing subtest will comprise 50% of the score. The remaining 50% comes from the open-response questions, with 15% of the points allotted to the summary and 35% assigned to the composition writing task.
Subject Area Tests
A list of specific objectives for each test is available on the MTEL website.
MTEL Exam Format
The Communication and Literacy Skills Test begins with a 15-minute orientation to the test format and directions for completing the test. The actual testing time is four hours, whether one or both subtests are being taken.
The reading subtest consists entirely of 42 multiple-choice questions. The writing subtest has multiple components:
35 multiple-choice questions and seven short-answer questions (50% of the score)
Open-response questions (the other 50%), including a summary writing task (15%) and a composition writing assignment (35%).
In general, the subject area tests begin with a 15-minute orientation, followed by 5 hours of testing time. These tests are composed of 100 multiple-choice questions (80% of the score) and two open-response questions (20% of the score).
MTEL is a criterion-referenced test, meaning there is a standard of acceptable performance, and student success is measured against this standard, not against peers taking the test. Test scores range from 100-to 300 points, with a passing score of 240. Students who do not pass on the first try have the option to retake the specific test needed to obtain the passing score.
MTEL Test Day Tips
For those who will take the computer-based MTEL at a testing site, get to the test site 15-30 minutes before the exam is scheduled to begin. Bring a current government-issued photo ID that has the same name by which the test-taker registered for the test and their signature. If the name is different, official documentation of the name change must be provided. During check-in, test-takers will either have a palm scan or picture taken and be asked to provide a digital signature for confirmation of identity.
No additional items may be brought into the test, including bags, watches, phones, etc. Test-takers will be provided with any supplemental materials needed to complete the test, such as on-screen formulas for math tests and note booklets for open-response questions.
Online proctored test-takers will be asked to upload a photo of a current government-issued photo ID with the test taker's signature. The signature must match the name by which the test-taker enrolled in the MTEL. The test-taker will also be required to provide a headshot and four photos of the testing environment. The check-in process will go more smoothly if these are uploaded in advance.
There are several additional considerations for online testing. The testing environment must have no distractions, no noise, and no other people present. Test-takers must stay within the field of view of the webcam and be well-lit so that the proctor can see the test-taker clearly. Breaks are scheduled and may not be taken without permission, and no distracting items may be within arm's reach of the test taker. The test and all of the questions therein must be kept completely confidential.
Whether educators take the MTEL at a testing site or through a remotely proctored exam, test takers can set themselves up for success by getting adequate sleep the night before, eating a nourishing meal beforehand, and dressing comfortably for the test. Wearing layered clothing will keep discomfort due to temperature at a minimum.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many questions are on the MTEL subtest?
The MTEL Reading subtest contains 42 multiple-choice questions. The MTEL Writing subtest contains 35 multiple choice questions, 7 short answer tasks, and 2 open response questions - one summary and one composition.
What score do you need to pass the Communication and Literacy Skills MTEL?
The minimum passing score for the Communication and Literacy Skills MTEL is 240. This is a combined score from the reading and writing subtests.
How do I prepare for the Communication and Literacy Skills MTEL?
To prepare for the Communication and Literacy Skills MTEL, test takers should learn the content objectives and build a study plan that focuses on unfamiliar/less familiar content. After a paced studying, candidates should use an MTEL practice exam to test their knowledge. Assess performance and continue studying until proficiency and confidence is gained in each element of the test.