The Reading Instruction Competence Assessment, usually just called RICA, is a credentialing exam in the state of California. This exam is meant to assess if candidates are proficient in the skill of teaching children how to read. RICA is a required assessment for future teachers planning to obtain licensure in Special Education or Multiple Subject Teaching. Candidates have the option to take the RICA Written Examination OR the RICA Video Performance Assessment. This article will focus on the RICA Written Examination.
As of July 26, 2021, the format of the written exam has changed and is now divided into three subtests (changed from the prior format of five domains of questions). The three subtests still maintain the same content domains as the prior version of the exam. Additionally, as of August 26, 2021, RICA is now offered online.
Subtest 1: Word Analysis and Fluency
The content on this portion of RICA is related to Word Analysis (Domain 2) and Fluency (Domain 3). This subtest of the exam consists of 35 multiple-choice questions and 2 constructed response questions. Approximately 27 questions are dedicated to word analysis, while approximately eight questions are dedicated to fluency. There are additionally two written-response questions in this subtest.
RICA test prep for word analysis should include a focus on the five competencies that are tested in these questions. These competencies include questions on phonics, developing phonemic awareness in students, letter recognition and alphabet skills, sight words, terminology and word recognition, and developing spelling and or memory skills related to reading.
When studying fluency, candidates should focus on developing fluency and the ways to identify, assess, and promote it in students. These concepts comprise the two competencies tested in the Fluency domain.
Practice questions in this category might look like this:
When reading the word "trip," a student pronounces the word as "tripe." Which of the following interpretations of this word-reading error is most likely?
A first-grade teacher would like to include silent-reading time into her reading instruction to promote fluency. What information about fluency should she keep in mind when planning this silent reading time?
Test-takers are allowed a total of 75 minutes for this subtest.
Subtest 2: Vocabulary, Academic Language and Background Knowledge; Comprehension
Subtest 2 of RICA pertains to Vocabulary, Academic Language, and Background Knowledge (Domain 4) and Comprehension (Domain 5). There are a total of 35 multiple choice questions in this section, plus two written-response questions.
This subtest tests six competencies, including using vocabulary, academic language, and background knowledge to promote students' reading development, understanding how to assess reading comprehension and promote it, and developing research and study skills in students.
When doing RICA test prep for this subtest, candidates should understand the types of questions that will appear on the exam. Questions in this section might look like this:
A middle school teacher wants to improve her students' scientific vocabulary. Which of the following academic strategies is likely to be the most effective?
Explain why the following instructional strategy is likely to be effective in promoting development of vocabulary, academic language, and background knowledge.
Like the first subtest, Subtest 2 has a time limit of 75 minutes.
Subtest 3: Planning, Organization, and Managing Reading Instruction Based on Ongoing Assessment
The final subtest of the RICA Written Examination correlates with Domain 1: Planning, Organizing, and Managing Reading Instruction Based on Ongoing Assessment. Two competencies are tested in this subtest over the course of 25 multiple choice questions and one 300 to 600-word response to a case study.
The content in this subtest of RICA pertains to planning, organizing, and managing the reading instruction of students. Essentially, in this section candidates have to prove that they know how to teach students to read and they know how to implement that knowledge in the classroom. Questions in this section might look like this:
When creating a lesson plan meant to promote specific reading skills, which of the following activities connects the student's reading and speaking skills?
The case study will look a little different than the written assessments on the first two subtests. All case studies are different, but most contain assessments and documents from a fabricated 'student file' and require the test-taker to answer questions pertaining to the student's reading development and the strategies they would implement to promote this student's literacy.
Despite the shortest number of multiple choice questions, this subtest is the longest of the three, with a time limit of 90 minutes. RICA test prep for this subtest should focus heavily on the case study as it will take up the majority of the allotted time.
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RICA can be taken at a testing center. As of August 26, 2021, RICA can also be taken online at home. Future teachers can register for this exam through their California Educator Credentialing Assessments account.
RICA is not available in other languages as by nature it is an exam meant to assess English language learning.
When candidates take RICA via Computer-Based Testing (CBT) at a test center, they can choose to take one, two, or all three subtests at once. Test-takers are permitted restroom breaks, but any time spent on breaks is considered part of the total time allotted. An additional fifteen minutes are provided to the test-taker to allow time to sign a nondisclosure agreement and complete a CBT tutorial.
CBT test dates for RICA are available for scheduling year-round, Mondays through Saturdays. Candidates should check with their desired test location to determine availability for appointments. If a test date at a certain location fills up, test-takers will have to select a different date or location.
Results are available within a month of the test date. For a complete schedule of test result release dates, test-takers should check with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
If students opt to take the test at home, the RICA exam will be proctored via webcam feed. Since the exams are administered in separate sessions, all three subtests must be scheduled separately. Candidates are able to schedule appointments for online-proctored exams for one-week testing windows each month. For a full list of testing windows, candidates should check the California Education Credentialing Assessments.
Even though the exam location is the candidate's home, there are strict rules that test-takers must follow. No breaks are allowed during the duration of an online-proctored subtest, but an additional fifteen minutes are provided to the test-taker to allow time to sign a nondisclosure agreement and complete a tutorial.
Test results are available within three weeks of testing.
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The structure of fees for the RICA exam has recently changed. As of July 26, 2021, the cost is $57 per subtest. That means upon completing all three subtests, test-takers will have spent $171, no matter whether they have tested at a test center or by online proctor. This is the same total price as the prior version of RICA -- however, due to this change, if a test-taker needs to retake a subtest of the exam, they will only have to pay $57 in fees rather than $171 to retake the entire exam.
Fees can be paid via credit card, debit card, or check card.
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What are the testing policies and rules of the RICA exam?
In order to take the RICA, candidates must follow all the rules of test participation for their test center (whether it's in person or online). Test results may be voided if students attempt to bring outside materials into the testing room, cheat or plagiarize in any way, or disrupt the testing environment for other test-takers.
Additionally, for online-proctored tests, test-takers must agree to stay within webcam view and remain seated in a room where they are the only person present and are free from distractions.
Mumbling/talking to oneself is prohibited during the RICA, as well as possession of cell phones, calculators, other electronic devices, or study materials.
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Learning how to study for the RICA is integral to a candidate's success and completion of their preliminary California teaching credential. There are several types of RICA study materials candidates may find useful when preparing to sit for the exam:
Online study guides
RICA practice tests with domain-specific practice questions
RICA test prep courses
Practice case studies
When candidates understand what type of content and questions will appear on the exam, they can better prepare to pass on the first try. Content like this can be found online through Pearson, the company that administers the test, as well as online study sites. Using a RICA study guide like this one can be the first step towards successful completion of this exam.
Is the RICA test hard to pass?
We won't sugarcoat it: yes. The RICA is a notoriously difficult exam to pass on the first try, which is why learning how to study for the RICA is so important.
The passing score for the RICA is 220, a score only 62.2% of candidates passed on the first try in the years 2015-2020. However, the exam can be retaken as many times as possible until a passing score is achieved. Candidates do not have to retake subtests they've already passed and can instead register for only subtests they still need to pass.
Candidates should utilize a RICA study guide to become familiar with the content they'll encounter when they sit for this difficult exam.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many questions are on the RICA practice test?
There are 60-multiple choice questions, and five constructed-responses assignments, which include four focused educational problems and instructional tasks and one case study.
What is the Rica test for?
The RICA exam is for future teachers in California who are seeking either a Multiple Subjects credential to teach elementary school or a Education Specialist credential to teach special education.
Is the Rica changing?
Yes. As of July 26, 2021 there are three subtests that make up the exam (instead of the previous format of five domains that make up one large test).
How can I prepare for Rica exam?
You can prepare for the RICA exam by planning ahead. You need to ensure you take time to study the material and take any practice tests and write essay samples.
What are the 5 Rica domains?
The five domains on the RICA exam are Comprehension; Fluency; Word Analysis; Vocabulary, Academic Language and Background Knowledge; and Planning, Organizing and Managing Reading Instruction Based on Ongoing Assessment.
What score do you need to pass Rica?
The score that a test-taker needs in order to pass the RICA exam is 220. This score must be earned on all three subtests.
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