How Hard Is the Praxis® Core Test?

What Are the Praxis Tests?

The Praxis Core consists of a series of tests designed to measure teaching candidates' abilities in reading, writing, and mathematics. The Educational Testing Service, or ETS, creates and distributes these computer-based exams, which are often completed by aspiring teachers early on in their college career, likely before getting into a teacher's education program. Unlike Praxis Subject tests and Praxis Content Knowledge tests, the Praxis Core aims to evaluate general knowledge deemed essential for all K-12 educators, regardless of desired teaching grade-level or content area.

Are the Praxis Core Tests Hard?

It's difficult to offer a blanket answer to the question, "How hard is the Praxis exam?" Similar to other standardized tests, a candidate's performance on the Praxis Core exams will vary based on an individual's strengths and weaknesses. For example, an aspiring mathematics teacher may breeze through the Praxis Math but struggle when it comes to the Reading and Writing sections. Meanwhile, an aspiring language arts teacher may be more familiar with the Praxis Core Reading Test and Praxis Core Writing Test but feel distant from the concepts in the Math section. It's therefore important, for a candidate to know their individual weaknesses and pay special attention to those areas when preparing to take the Praxis Core test.

In theory, the Praxis Core tests are designed to measure concepts that most high school graduates are familiar with. But, in the months or years since graduation, candidates may have forgotten some of the concepts they studied in high school, and are encouraged to brush up on the material, especially before sitting down in a timed, pressurized, testing situation. This will offer test-takers a more accurate assessment and allow them to better weigh, how difficult is the Praxis exam?

Unlike other standardized tests, there is no universal passing score for the Praxis Core exams. Instead, Praxis exam passing scores are determined by individual states. For instance, an aspiring teacher who scored 156 on the Praxis Reading Core exam would pass in Maine while failing in Massachusetts, which requires a minimum Reading score of 162 in order to pass. Test takers should look up the passing score in their home state prior to sitting down to take the Praxis Core tests.

How Hard Is the Praxis Core?

Before delving into how easy or difficult the Praxis Core truly is, it's important to understand what a passing score really entails. The test has a total of 152 questions and 2 essays, answerable in a total of 5 hours. Some questions will be scored and others unscored but there will be no clear demarcation between the two in the actual test. Now the difficulty of the test is highly subjective, not only because different candidates have different skill sets; but also because different States have different passing scores.

What Is a Passing Score for the Praxis Core Tests?

As previously discussed, every state sets its own passing score and not the ETS, but there are some common passing scores across states. The passing scores most frequently chosen by several US States for the Praxis Core are outlined below:

Reading: 156

Writing: 162

Math: 150

However, some states have set different Praxis passing requirements to access the readiness of their teaching instructors. Here are a few:

Praxis North Dakota - Candidates need only score a 160 on the Writing section in order to pass.

Praxis South Carolina - Candidates need only score a 158 on the Writing section in order to pass.

Praxis Mississippi - Candidates need only score a 130 on the Math section in order to pass.

Praxis Pennsylvania - Candidates need only score a 142 on the Math section in order to pass.

In lieu of the Praxis Core, a few other states choose to administer their own state educational certification exams and they are listed below:

California: CBEST

Florida: FTCE

Georgia: GACE

Texas: TExES

Candidates should be sure to check with their individual state's passing scores and educational requirements prior to signing up for the Praxis Core exams.

What Is the Pass Rate of the Praxis Core Tests?

One question candidates may be asking themselves is, "How hard is the Praxis 1 test?" Although many states choose not to publicize the passing rate for their Praxis Core examinations, it's possible to come to a rough estimate of the percentage of test-takers who pass the Praxis Core tests by taking the average Praxis Core scores of the states that did publicize their data.

In the 2019-2020 academic year, over 50% of the national Praxis Core test-takers in the Reading and Math sections scored at least the general passing scores of 156 and 150 respectively.

However, in this year of testing, different test codes were available for applicants to choose from, as the ETS was in the process of re-structuring the exams, and so, different test codes led to different median scores:

Reading (5712): 174 (18 points over passing)

Reading (5713): 170 (14 points over passing)

Writing (5722): 162 (exactly passing)

Writing (5723): 160 (2 points below passing)

Math (5372): 148 (2 points below passing)

Math (5733): 164 (14 points above passing)

While the separate test codes between the Reading and Writing sections presented small differences in the median scores, the 5733 code Math test resulted in a 16 point swing. In other words, those who took the 5733 Praxis Core Math test had a much greater likelihood of passing, as opposed to those who took the 5732 Math test.

However, in the 2021-22 academic year, there is only one test code available for each test. The available codes are listed below:

Reading (5713)

Writing (5723)

Math (5733)

Combined Test (Reading, Writing, and Mathematics) (5752)

Therefore, current applicants shouldn't worry about potential disparities across test codes as there is only one type of test available for each Core subject. Instead, candidates need only worry about their practice and preparation.

What Types of Questions Are on the Praxis Core?

The Praxis Core tests contain a total of two essays and 152 questions. There are a variety of different types of questions, from selected-response to numeric entry and constructed response.

As a brief breakdown, candidates are given 85 minutes to complete the 56 questions in the Praxis Core Reading and given 90 minutes to complete the 56 questions in the Praxis Core Math. The Praxis Core Writing consists of two sections, one that asks 40 questions over 40 minutes and another in which applicants are given an hour to complete two essays.

This brings the Praxis Core tests to a total of 275 minutes or four hours and 35 minutes. It might sound like a lot, but don't worry; candidates are able to spread out their tests over multiple days if they so choose, or they can knock out all three tests in a single shot, whichever strategy works best for them.

Selected-Response Questions

There are two types of selected-response questions: single-answer and multi-answer. In the single-answer responses, test takers are given five choices to select the one correct answer. In multi-answer responses, there are anywhere from one to five correct answers. Questions may or may not specify how many correct answers there are. These multi-answer questions are marked not with circles or ovals, but with square boxes.

Numeric-Entry Questions

In the numeric entry-questions, test takers are asked to enter their answer as a decimal or integer in a single answer box, or to enter it as a fraction in two separate boxes, separating the numerator from the denominator. On-screen calculators are provided for this computer-based exam, and candidates can hit "Transfer Display" to paste their calculated answer into the appropriate response box.

Constructed Response

Constructed-response refers to parts within the Praxis test in which candidates are required to write a short answer or an essay. Unlike selected-response and numeric-entry answers, constructed-response answers are not necessarily right or wrong; they are graded on a scoring scale by human beings. These questions will be predominantly found in the writing section of the test.

What Happens If I Fail the Praxis Core Exam?

If you fail the Praxis Core test, don't sweat it! The Praxis Core tests can be retaken as many times as a candidate needs to pass. Individuals must wait 21 days after their scores are released before attempting to retake Praxis test. But candidates can use that time to brush up on the material and ensure they have a better shot on the next go-around. Don't get discouraged! The most important thing is to keep trying, keep studying, and keep striving for improvement.

Expert Contributor

Bryan McMahon

Bryan McMahon, M.A. is a high school biology and special education teacher in New Jersey with over 14 years of experience. He has hundreds of hours of experience tutoring aspiring teachers to take the CSET/CBEST exam suite. He has successfully passed the science and special education Praxis exams. Bryan completed a B.S. in Education from Seton Hall University and an M.A. in Teaching from Mangrove College.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How hard is the Praxis core reading?

    Over 50% of test takers pass the reading section of the Praxis Core Exam, so individuals who can read, comprehend, and interpret a passage should feel confident that they will pass this section.

  • How long should you study for Praxis Core?

    It depends on your skill set. It is best to take and score a practice test, because from it, you will identify your weaknesses and then set a goal and timeline for mastering the needed content. Never underestimate the difficulty of the Praxis Core; plan to study weeks or months ahead, rather than just days.

  • Is the Praxis Core easy?

    With an 89.6% pass rate, many think the Praxis Core must be easy. It's only easy, though, if the test taker has reviewed the content, explored the test format, practiced sample questions, and studied.

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