What is the NYSTCE Secondary Assessment of Teaching Skills-Written Test?
The New York State Teacher Certification Exams (NYSTCE) include the Assessment of Teaching Skills-Written test (ATS-W). This exam has separate versions for elementary and secondary teacher candidates and is structured similarly for both age cohorts, though the content differs. The secondary exam focuses specifically on grades 7-12 and its objectives include student development and learning, instruction and assessment, the professional environment, and instruction and assessment.
Practice tests give you a better idea of the topics you have mastered and those you should keep studying.
Test Format and Test Duration
The Secondary Assessment of Teaching Skills-Written (ATS-W) contains 80 multiple-choice questions and one constructed-response item. The questions are arranged into four different subareas, and it is important to be aware of their content and weight on the exam. The ATS-W is a computer-based test (CBT) and will be taken at an official test center, located throughout New York State. The exam appointment time is a total of four hours and 15 minutes, with the first 15 minutes designated for a CBT tutorial and nondisclosure agreement, and the remaining four hours allotted for testing time.
The NYSTCE ATS-W Secondary exam consists of four subareas, varying in weight from 17% to 38%. Each subarea contains multiple objectives, which are meant to provide the roadmap for the content and skills that will be assessed on the test. Additionally, each objective contains focus statements that provide examples of the content that could appear on the test. The four subareas are:
Subarea I: Student Development and Learning (approximately 25%)
Subarea II: Instruction and Assessment (approximately 38%)
Subarea III: The Professional Environment (approximately 17%)
Subarea IV: Instruction and Assessment: A constructed-response question (approximately 20%) Note: the content covered on this question will be taken from subarea II.
Subarea I: Student Development and Learning
Subarea I focuses on student development and learning. The subarea is further broken down into six focus statements, listed as follows:
0001 Understanding human development and processes of development.
0002 Understanding processes of learning.
0003 Understanding how environmental factors impact student learning.
0004 Understanding the development of language and literacy, including the acquisition of English by non-native speakers.
0005 Understanding and appreciating student diversity.
0006 Understanding and appreciating the needs of students with other abilities.
Subarea II: Instruction and Assessment
Subarea II focuses on instruction and assessment, and contains the following nine focus statements:
0007 Understanding classroom management and classroom structure.
0008 Understanding the process of curriculum development.
0009 Understanding instruction and assessment and their relationship to one another.
0010 Understanding the processes of instructional planning.
0011 Understanding a variety of instructional approaches.
0012 Understanding methods of lesson organization and delivery.
0013 Understanding how student motivation connects to achievement.
0014 Understanding how to utilize communication effectively.
0015 Understanding the multiple uses of technology in the classroom.
Subarea III: The Professional Environment
Subarea III consists of four focus statements and focuses on the professional environment. The focus statements include the following:
0016 Understanding the role of education in New York State and broader society.
0017 Understanding the importance of reflection and ongoing staff development.
0018 Understanding the importance of positive relationships between the school, home, and community.
0019 Understanding the importance of professional and collaborative communication between all stakeholders.
Subarea IV: Instruction and Assessment: Constructed-Response Assignment
Subarea IV is a constructed-response item and will cover content from subarea II. It is therefore essential to review objectives 07-15 in order to perform successfully on the constructed-response task. Candidates should be sure to demonstrate an accurate understanding of the role of teachers in instructional design and delivery, teaching environment, and understanding of learning characteristics. A particular subject and grade level should be highlighted, and the state educational goal should be clear. Two specific strategies should be explained to address the goal, and detailed reasons explaining the effectiveness of the strategies should be outlined. The preparation guides will provide further details on how to create a successful constructed-response question. Candidates should also look for NYSTCE ATS-W Secondary practice tests, available through a variety of sources.
Test Registration Information
Candidates should visit the NYSTCE webpage that is dedicated to the ATS-W exam. NYSTCE provides a link to Pearson Vue, the exam administrator, where candidates can register for the exam. Individuals will be asked to sign in, and agree to comply with all procedures at the test centers. Additionally, the centers have numerous testing policies, and it is in the best interest of the examinee to know these in advance of the exam. Test dates are available year-round Monday through Saturday (with the exception of some holidays.) Test sites are located throughout New York State, as well as nationwide. Candidates will have the opportunity to select the most convenient location, day, and time for their own schedules. Alternative testing arrangements are also available, and the requesting procedures are available on the NYSTCE ATS-W site.
The fee for the ATS-W exam is $119. Candidates may pay using a Visa or Mastercard, in either credit card or debit card format. Any bank card that does not contain a Visa or Mastercard logo will not be allowed as a form of payment. Credit card statements will read 'Eval Systems Test Fee'. Should a candidate possess a voucher for the exam, they may apply the voucher during registration. Registration will remain valid for one year; no refund will be given if a candidate registers, and then does not schedule a test appointment within one year. Individuals without a credit card should contact the NYSTCE Evaluation Systems group in order to obtain information on how to submit a payment by check.
Upon registration for the NYSTCE ATS-W exam, examinees will agree to sign a nondisclosure agreement that will indicate their agreement to follow all rules set forth by the exam center. This nondisclosure agreement will be presented to candidates via the computer upon signing in at the test center. Candidates are agreeing to comply with all rules and requirements, policies, purpose (only teacher certification candidates are allowed to take this exam), test administration, and test security policies. Current, government-issued identification is required for entrance into the exam. Late arrivals (more than 15 minutes late) will not be admitted into the test center. Retakes are available should candidates not pass an exam, but a 60 day waiting period is in effect.
Test Date and Test Site Information
Candidates will be pleased to find that the exam is available year-round Monday through Saturday, with the exception of some holidays. Test centers are located throughout New York state and even nationally. Examinees will need to register ahead of time through the Pearson Vue website. There, an individual can enter their zip code in order to find the most convenient test center. Remember that a 60 day waiting period is required should an individual not pass the exam the first time, so it is recommended to plan ahead when scheduling the exam, and to utilize the many NYSTCE ATS-W Secondary practice tests available.
Test scores will be available between two and six weeks from the date on which the test was administered. The scores are posted at 10:00 PM EST on the score report date indicated. A passing score on the ATS-W Secondary exam is 220 out of a range of 100-300. Examinees' performances are evaluated against an established standard and based upon the professional judgements of a combination of New York State educators, educator preparation program faculty, and the New York State Commissioner of Education. Multiple-choice test scores are combined with constructed-response scores to reach a total exam score. Pass/fail status is based on performance of both portions of the exam at one single administration, and results cannot be combined between two different administrations. Candidates will receive a detailed score report that will highlight specific areas of strength and weakness. Should a candidate not pass the first time, they will have helpful feedback on what content areas need further preparation before the next administration.
How to Prepare for the Test
Prospective candidates can rest assured that there are multiple helpful resources available online. Resources include test frameworks, rubrics, sample questions, and numerous specific NYSTCE ATS-W Secondary practice tests. It is helpful to review as many of these options as time allows. Additionally, it is often helpful to find an accountability buddy for studying and carrying out manageable preparation goals prior to the exam. Flashcards, notes, and an analysis of successful and unsuccessful multiple-choice and constructed-response questions are also recommended.
General test preparation ideas include:
Having a healthy breakfast the day of the exam.
Avoiding alcohol for at least 24 hours prior to the exam.
Ensuring a good night's sleep the night before.
Following an exam preparation schedule that does not include cramming the night before the exam.
Having confidence in preparation due to time spent studying the helpful resources available.
NYSTCE ATS-W Secondary Practice Test
Perhaps the most helpful thing a candidate can do before an exam is to take multiple practice tests. Fortunately, there are multiple NYSTCE ATS-W Secondary practice tests available online. Practice tests are a valuable resource because they allow candidates to experience in real-time what the actual exam will feel like. They can ascertain the difficulty level as well as their own areas of strength and opportunity. Finally, practice exams are always accompanied by explanations as to why answers are correct or incorrect. These rationales often provide valuable points of reflection for teacher candidates and also provide valuable insight into the goals and logic behind the exam.
Day of the Test
On the day of the exam, it is important that candidates start the day refreshed, hydrated, and nourished. They should also ensure that they know the location and route to the exam center. Be mindful of traffic and construction delays, and plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled exam time. Should alternative testing arrangements have been requested, it is important to follow those procedures exactly as documented. Dress comfortably, and wear layers. It is also recommended to wear soft-soled shoes and avoid any other loud articles of clothing or jewelry that could create a disturbance. Proper identification is an essential requirement and must be in the form of a government-issued ID like a driver's license or passport. The document must be written in English and must contain a photo of the candidate. Prohibited items include any form of smoking or tobacco, weapons, and visitors. All personal items will be stored in a locker, or other area chosen by the test administrator. Restroom breaks are allowed, however, they are considered part of the allotted testing time, so it is important to be mindful of time. Examinees are dismissed upon completion of the test or when the test session ends, whichever happens first.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the ATS-W Exam hard?
In general, the pass rates on the ATS-W Secondary exam are quite high, often in the upper 90% range. Teacher candidates should review all preparation materials, and prepare thoroughly.
What score do you need to pass the ATS-W Exam?
The minimum passing score on the NYSTCE ATS-W Secondary exam is 220. This is out of a score range of 100-300.
What is the ATS-W Test?
The ATS-W exam is an exam for teacher licensure in the State of New York. There are both Secondary and Elementary versions of this exam.
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