The path to becoming a teacher may seem confusing at times, especially when every state has its own required tests, and certification processes. While rules do vary according to each state, every state requires prospective teachers who work in public schools to be licensed or certified before they teach. Usually, teachers must first earn a bachelor's or master's degree in the subject that they will teach, complete a teacher preparation program, and pass an exam to become licensed. The exams may be general or subject-specific, and some states require both before a teacher can earn their license.
Whether one exam or multiple teacher tests are required, one of the most important ways future teachers can prepare is studying thoroughly and polishing their test-taking skills beforehand. Practice exams are available for all types of teacher certification tests. Taking a teacher certification practice test helps familiarize future educators with the types of questions on their test, the test format, and the best test-taking strategies for future success.
Types of Teacher Certification Tests
Online practice teacher certification tests are widely available, including free practice teacher certification tests, but before completing any practice tests, it is necessary to know which exam or exams are required in your state.
Broadly, states may use state-specific exams, such as those administered by the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations (NYSTCE) or the Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE), or they may use national teacher certification exams. State-specific exams are organized by the state individually, and meet their own standards. National teacher certification exams, like the Praxis Series or the National Evaluation Series (NES) meet the educational testing standards of several states, and are used by multiple states in their teaching certification process.
Teacher certification exams can also be further divided into two more types: subject-specific exams or comprehensive exams. Comprehensive exams test future teachers over a wide spectrum of content areas while subject-specific exams test teachers on the subject they plan to teach. As stated earlier, both types of exams may be required to become licensed.
What to Expect on a Teaching Certification Practice Test
Teacher certification practice tests should emulate the test content, style of material, question, and answer formats, and length of the target exam as closely as possible. Free practice tests can be as short as 10 to 15 multiple-choice questions, while more comprehensive practice tests can consist of as many as 50 to 120 questions. Some practice tests are considered full-length, and contain roughly the same number of questions as the actual exam. These practice tests may be timed, and will generally allot a similar amount of time per question as the exam. Untimed practice tests are also available. Practice test questions are generally multiple-choice, but the format of the questions will depend on the type of practice test taken.
For instance, the content, and question format of a subject-specific English teacher certification practice test will differ greatly from a subject-specific math teacher certification practice test. Prospective teachers should take the appropriate preparatory exams to meet their state's specific requirements.
English certification practice tests will generally feature reading comprehension questions, vocabulary, and grammar evaluation, and may include research-oriented test questions to evaluate research skills. Questions will usually include reading passages, and using critical thinking skills to identify thematic elements or reading sentences with underlined terms to find errors in word usage, grammar, or spelling. Meanwhile, teacher certification math practice tests may include algebraic formulas, geometry, number placement, or ratios, and percentages, depending on the grade level.
The sections of a practice test should closely mirror the actual test. For instance, Praxis Core Combined practice tests should be divided into Math, Reading, and Writing sections, with similar subsections to the Praxis exam.
Subject Specific Exams
Teachers who know which subject they would like to teach are often required to take a subject-specific exam to demonstrate that they are properly qualified for their state teaching license. In most cases, it is necessary to pass a subject-specific exam such as Praxis Subject Assessments (Praxis II) to become licensed. When choosing a subject-specific exam, future teachers must consider which grades they want to teach, and should pursue subjects that they are qualified to teach. For instance, graduating science majors who want to teach middle school science should check their state-specific requirements, and take a science teacher certification practice test for grades 6-8 to prepare.
Comprehensive exams cover a broad range of topics, and qualify teachers to teach all material in a grade level or range. Comprehensive exams will be divided into subsections such as math, reading, and writing. Teachers who plan to teach younger children, and focus on providing a good general knowledge base or who do not want to specialize in one area should pursue a comprehensive exam. Depending on the state, a teacher may be able to take a comprehensive exam alone as part of their teaching license, so a comprehensive exam may be particularly attractive to future teachers who prefer a simpler process.
National Certification Practice Tests
National certification practice tests will equip students with common test-taking strategies, and skills to pass the most common national certification exams, the Praxis Series, and the NES. These two exams are the most frequently required exams around the country, and are used by most states as part of the teacher certification process.
The Praxis Series 150
The Praxis Series is used by over 40 states, and U.S. territories in their state licensing process. Administered by the Educational Testing Services (ETS), the largest standardized testing organization in the world, the Praxis Series offers both comprehensive, and subject-specific assessments to test teacher knowledge, and skills.
The two most commonly required test suites are the Praxis Core Combined, and Praxis Subject Assessments, sometimes known as Praxis I, and Praxis II.
Praxis Core, formerly known Praxis II, is a comprehensive computerized test in math, reading, and writing. Praxis Core uses multiple-choice and essay answers for the reading and writing sections, and multiple-choice as well as numeric entry for the math section.
Praxis Subject Assessments, formerly known as Praxis II, assess a teacher in a certain subject in specific grade ranges. These subject-specific exams may be required in addition to or instead of the Praxis Core, depending on the state.
While almost all states use Praxis exams, the following states usually use their own exam:
Indiana (until August 2021)
The National Evaluation Series (NES)
The National Evaluation Series is a computer-based educator testing series developed by Pearson Education to assess future educators' base of general knowledge as well as their subject-specific skills. NES-developed tests are sometimes used as an alternative to Praxis for states that do not require Praxis, and some states may accept NES or Praxis tests. The NES is intended to develop an increased interstate compact of teacher certification standards for the future.
Unlike Praxis tests, which sometimes but do not always provide unofficial results immediately after the test, NES scores for multiple-choice tests are provided at the testing site. However, NES tests with constructed response questions can take up to 4 weeks to score, much longer than the Praxis standard of official results, which typically arrive within 7 to 10 days.
The NES test suite offers 30 tests in a few categories, including comprehensive exams such as the Essential Academic Skills, with subtests in reading, writing, math, and technology. The Professional Knowledge Assessments tests teaching skills. The last category of NES tests, Secondary, and K-12 Assessments, are subject-specific assessments of teaching knowledge and skills in certain subjects, such as art, science, or Spanish.
State Teaching Certification
State certification exams help ensure that future teachers are sufficiently prepared to start their teaching careers, and that their knowledge base meets the educational standards of their specific state. Because each state sets its own standards for teaching licenses, and teaching licenses are required for all public-school teachers, it is essential that prospective teachers prepare themselves with study guides or practice tests for the exams required by their state. State requirements vary; some states do not have a state exam and instead use national certification exams. Others only use their own state certification exams, and some states can require multiple exams, including both national and state-specific exams.
State Certification Exam Directory
The following state certification exam directory lists the exams currently required by each state. Some states may have other pathways to teaching, and some states with their own subject-specific exams may also allow future teachers to take Praxis Subject Assessment exams instead. Please check the websites below for information on current exam policy.
Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana (beginning August 2021), Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
One of the most important factors in success on standardized tests is thorough preparation. Future teachers should first determine their state's teacher certification requirements, the format of their test's questions, the general content of the exam, testing time limits, and testing center practices. Once test takers are familiar with the expectations of the exam, they can develop a targeted study plan. Taking a teacher certification practice test can help test takers identify areas of focus for their studies. Short study sessions focused on areas that need the most attention can quickly increase testing performance.
Test takers should also keep in mind some of the following practices on test day:
Always carefully read the question before answering. Look for words like ''not'' or ''except'' that may change the meaning of the question.
Eliminate wrong answers first.
Always follow all testing center rules.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I prepare for my teacher certification test?
Just as there are many possible required tests that are a part of the teacher certification process, there is a wide variety of tools to help test-takers prepare before the day of their exam. Common preparation tools and strategies for teacher certification tests include timed practice exams (either paper-based or online), flashcards, sample question sets, and partner- or group-based study sessions.
How many questions are on the TExES exam?
The number of questions on the TExES exam depends on the specific exam, but varies between 80 and 150 questions. The types of questions also vary by exam, so test-takers may expect to see mostly single or clustered selected response (multiple-choice) and written (short answer or essay) or spoken constructed response items.
What is the Praxis exam for teachers?
The Praxis suite of exams are intended to be take by prospective teachers at various stages on their paths toward teacher certification. The Praxis Core exams are often used as part of the admissions process into teacher preparation programs, while the Praxis Subject Tests (formerly known as the Praxis II) and Praxis Content Knowledge for Teaching (CKT) exams are a part of the teacher credentialing process for educators in over 40 states.