TExES ELAR Practice Test & Study Guide

What Is the TExES English Language Arts and Reading 4-8 Exam?

The TExES English Language Arts and Reading (ELAR) 4-8 exam is a test designed to measure whether teaching candidates have the requisite skills and knowledge to teach English Language Arts and Reading to the 4th-8th grades within the Texas school system. The questions on the English 4-8 TExES exam cover material ranging from oral language, reading foundations, word analysis, and many other concepts deemed necessary knowledge for teachers within this field. In this article, we are going to break down the format of the TExES ELA 4-8 exam, passing scores, study materials, and specific concepts that may be covered within this Texas English content exam.

Fast Facts About the TExES ELAR 4-8 Exam

The TExES ELAR 4-8 exam (Test Code: 217) is a five-hour, computer-administered exam with 100 selected-response questions. Here's a table providing a general overview of the TExES ELAR 4-8 exam:

'Exam Name' English Language Arts and Reading 4-8
'Exam Code' 217
'Time Allotted 5 hours
'Number of Questions' 100 selected-response questions
'Format Computer-administered test (CAT)

The TExES exam cost is $116 per attempt. If a candidate fails the exam on their first attempt, they are able to retake the test after a minimum of 30 days have elapsed since the most recent attempt. Candidates are able to retake the exam up to five times. Of course, these exam fees can quickly add up, so candidates are advised to study and prepare diligently before each attempt to give themselves the best chance of passing. Appointments can be made online on the Texas Educator Certification Examination Program (TECEP) website.

Practice tests give you a better idea of the topics you have mastered and those you should keep studying.

What's on the TExES English Language Arts and Reading?

The TExES English Language Arts and Reading 4-8 exam is divided between two primary domains, which are then further divided into competencies deemed essential for teachers within this field. Here is a table detailing the content breakdown within the exam:

Domain Competencies Assessed Percentage of Test
I Oral Language, Early Literacy Development, Word Identification Skills, Reading Fluency 33%
II Reading Comprehension and Assessment, Reading Applications, Written Language, Viewing and Representing, Study and Inquiry Skills 67%

Notice that there are about twice as many questions in Domain II as in Domain I. Therefore, allot study time to the same ratio - spending approximately twice the amount of time preparing for Domain II as Domain I. Of course, during practice exams, individuals may notice their weaknesses actually lie primarily in Domain I. Candidates should pay attention to these in preparation and work to fortify their knowledge gaps.

On this TExES test, there will be some pilot questions interspersed throughout. These are being incorporated into the exam on a trial basis, and will not be factored into the final score. However, these questions will not be explicitly identified on the exam, so candidates are advised to try their best on each and every question.

TExES ELAR Domain I

Domain I of the TExES ELAR 4-8 exam contains approximately 33 selected-response questions divided among three different competencies:

  • Oral Language
  • Early Literacy Development
  • Word Identification Skills and Reading Fluency

In the Oral Language competency of the English content exam, candidates will be tested on:

  • Linguistics involving phonemes and segmentation.
  • Developmental stages of acquiring oral language.
  • Ability to recognize when oral language delays warrant in-depth evaluation.
  • Similarities and differences between oral and written language.
  • Providing explicit, systematic oral language instruction through purposeful group and individual activities.

In the Early Literacy Development competency of the English content exam, candidates will be tested on:

  • Differences in students' development of word identification skills
  • Students' development of fluency in both oral and silent reading.
  • Ability to analyze students' errors in word analysis.
  • Ability to analyze students' reading errors and respond to individual student needs.
  • Selecting instructional materials that promote students' oral language development.

In the Word Identification Skills and Reading Fluency competency of the English content exam, candidates will be tested on:

  • Connections between word identification skills and reading fluency to reading comprehension.
  • Important phonetic elements and conventions of the English language.
  • Strategies for breaking down increasingly complex words.
  • Determining when a student needs additional help or intervention.
  • Understanding that students can develop word identification skills and reading fluency through different paths.

TExES ELAR Domain II

Domain II of the TExES ELAR 4-8 exam contains approximately 67 selected-response questions divided among six different competencies:

  • Reading Comprehension and Assessment
  • Reading Applications
  • Written Language - Writing Conventions
  • Written Language - Composition
  • Viewing and Representing
  • Study and Inquiry Skills

In the Reading Comprehension and Assessment competency of the English content exam, candidates will be tested on:

  • The spectrum of reading comprehension skills in the statewide curriculum as well as the grade-level expectations.
  • Characteristics of informal and formal reading comprehension assessments.
  • Metacognitive skills, including self-evaluation and self-monitoring, and teaching students these skills to enhance their reading comprehension.
  • Various modes of communication to promote students' reading comprehension.
  • Differences between guided and independent practice in reading and the ability to provide students with both forms.

In the Reading Applications competency of the English content exam, candidates will be tested on:

  • Different purposes for reading and reading-related strategies.
  • Literary genres and their characteristics.
  • Materials to teach students about authors and different purposes for writing.
  • Strategies to encourage reading for pleasure and lifelong learning.
  • Technology to promote students' literacy and the ability to teach students how to use this technology.

In the Written Language - Writing Conventions competency of the English content exam, candidates will be tested on:

  • Stages in the development of writing conventions (physical and cognitive) and recognition of individual variations.
  • Instructional strategies to teach writing conventions to all students, including English-language learners.
  • Formal and informal procedures for assessing writing conventions.
  • Systematic spelling instruction.
  • Giving studebts meaningful opportunities to express themselves through writing.

In the Written Language - Composition competency of the English content exam, candidates will be tested on:

  • Technological benefits for teaching writing and the ability to provide instruction in the use of the technologies.
  • Voices and styles in writing and how to adjust voice depending on the intended audience.
  • Development of writing in relation to other language arts.
  • Similarities and differences between oral and written English.
  • Different stages of the writing process.

In the Viewing and Representing competency of the English content exam, candidates will be tested on:

  • Characteristics and functions of various forms of media and how these different media influence and inform.
  • Comparing and contrasting print, electronic, and visual media.
  • How students select, organize, and produce visuals to complement word meanings.
  • Analysis of visual meanings and why creators made specific visual choices.
  • Providing students with technological opportunities.

In the Study and Inquiry Skills competency of the English content exam, candidates will be tested on:

  • Direct, explicit instruction to promote acquisition of study and inquiry skills.
  • Various study and inquiry skills (note taking, outlining, drawing conclusions, etc.)
  • Instructional practices to promote these skills within the classroom.

English 4-8 TExES Test Questions

There are two types of questions on the TExES ELAR 4-8 exam: single-response questions and clustered-response questions. Single questions are either an incomplete statement or a direct question. The question may be related to a stimulus, such as an attached graphic, table, or reading excerpt.

Clustered questions contain stimulus material and at least two questions that are directly related to that stimulus.

TECEP recommends that students take their time to read the question carefully and eliminate any obviously incorrect answers before selecting their ultimate response(s). On stimulus questions, candidates should read the questions before looking at the stimulus materials to more quickly locate the pertinent information.

How Is the English 4-8 TExES Exam Scored?

The passing score for the English and Language Arts 4-8 TExES exam is 240 points out of a possible 300. The latest data available on passing scores for the TExES ELAR 4-8 exam is from 2016-2017 in which 78% of applicants passed. However, these scores should be taken with a grain of salt, as the 2016-2017 applicants took the previous test code (117). Generally, pass rates don't change drastically with the implementation of new test codes, but it's something to keep in mind.

TExES ELAR 4-8 test dates are announced on the TECEP website. Score results are available at 10:00 p.m. Central on the TExES score report dates announced by TECEP. Test-takers will receive their scores within 28 days of their exam date through the email they provided upon signing up.

How Do I Prepare for the TExES ELAR 4-8 Exam?

Passing the TExES exam requires planning and preparation. Candidates should spend approximately twice the amount of time studying for Domain II as Domain I, considering their disproportionate weights in calculating the final score. As a general rule, multiply the duration of any exam by three or four to come to an adequate studying time. So, for the TExES ELAR 4-8 exam, study for Domain I for about six to eight hours and for Domain II for about nine to twelve hours.

Of course, an individual's needed study time may vary. Candidates who are a little more uncertain on the material or simply want to feel extra prepared on test day may study for much more time than this general guideline suggests. In general, TExES ELAR 4-8 study guides and a TExES ELAR 4-8 practice exam are a must in preparing to take this exam.

TExES ELAR 4-8 Study Guides

There are a great deal of preparation materials available for the TExES ELAR 4-8 exam, both from TECEP and third parties. One of the most useful materials in preparing for any exam is a study guide.

TExES study guides are an efficient, effective way for test-takers to become re-acquainted with the concepts that will be tested on the exam, especially those that are unfamiliar to the test-taker. It's important to review these concepts before finding oneself in a timed, pressurized, testing situation.

TExES English Language Arts and Reading 4-8 Practice Test

After reviewing a study guide, one of the best ways for candidates to become more familiar with this exam is to complete free TExES ELAR 4-8 practice tests. These tests allow candidates to simulate what taking the real exam under the real time constraints will feel like. These exams can be found in public libraries, bookstores, and online.

After finishing a practice exam, candidates are advised to pay close attention to their weaker areas. Addressing and fortifying these areas through further study will give candidates the best chance of passing.

Tips for Acing the English 4-8 TExES

After all the study, preparation, and practice tests, all that's left is to actually take the TExES ELAR 4-8 exam.

On the night before test day, candidates should do their best to get seven to nine hours of sleep. The test is five hours long and can require a bit of endurance. Maintaining concentration for that entire duration will only be easier with a full night's sleep.

Candidates should eat a substantial, healthy breakfast, in order to keep a sharp mind during the exam. Arrive at the testing site with the testing admission form and two valid forms of identification 15-30 minutes before the exam begins.

Remember, each candidate is allowed up to five attempts at the TExES ELAR 4-8 exam. Failing on one's first attempt is simply a reminder to study a little harder to give oneself the best chance of succeeding on the next attempt.

Expert Contributor

Amy Mayers

Amy Mayers, M.Ed. has taught middle school math for over 7 years. She is a Texas certified teacher for grades 4-12 in mathematics and has passed the TExES Math 4-8 and the TExES Math 7-12. Amy graduated with a B.S. in Mathematical Sciences from the University of Houston and a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of St. Thomas.

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  1. In her eighth-grade Language Arts class, Ms. Tomley asks students to break into groups. Once in groups, she distributes five pieces of paper, marked "horror," "fantasy," "science fiction," "romance," and "fable"; she gives one to each group. She then asks each group to write a short story that mirrors the conventions of these genres, but also subverts them. What is this assignment an example of?

    • Correct Answer
  2. Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" propose that poor Irish children be sold to English landowners as food. How does the idea qualify as satire?

    • Correct Answer
  3. Which of the following books best demonstrates the style of American realism?

    • Correct Answer
  4. Use this material to answer questions #4 through #5

    "Fake News in the 1890s: Yellow Journalism" by Melissa Jacobs.

    Alternative facts, fake news, and post-truth have become common terms in the contemporary news industry. Today, social media platforms allow sensational news to "go viral," crowdsourced news from ordinary people to compete with professional reporting, and public figures in offices as high as the US presidency to bypass established media outlets when sharing news. However, dramatic reporting in daily news coverage predates the smartphone and tablet by over a century. In the late nineteenth century, the news media war between Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal resulted in the rise of yellow journalism, as each newspaper used sensationalism and manipulated facts to increase sales and attract readers.

    Many trace the origin of yellow journalism to coverage of the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898, and America's entry in the Spanish-American War. Both papers' reporting on this event featured sensational headlines, jaw-dropping images, bold fonts, and aggrandizement of facts, which influenced public opinion and helped incite America's involvement in what Hearst termed the "Journal's War."

    The practice, and nomenclature, of yellow journalism actually predates the war, however. It originated with a popular comic strip character known as The Yellow Kid in Hogan's Alley. Created by Richard F. Outcault in 1895, Hogan's Alley was published in color by Pulitzer's New York World. When circulation increased at the New York World, William Randolph Hearst lured Outcault to his newspaper, the New York Journal. Pulitzer fought back by hiring another artist to continue the comic strip in his newspaper.

    The period of peak yellow journalism by the two New York papers ended in the late 1890s, and each shifted priorities, but still included investigative exposés, partisan political coverage, and other articles designed to attract readers. Yellow journalism, past and present, conflicts with the principles of journalistic integrity. Today, media consumers will still encounter sensational journalism in print, on television, and online, as media outlets use eye-catching headlines to compete for audiences. To distinguish truth from "fake news," readers must seek multiple viewpoints, verify sources, and investigate evidence provided by journalists to support their claims.

  5. In the excerpt, the purpose of the passage above is:

    • Correct Answer
  6. A teacher wants to use this source to discuss the abuse of supplemental features. Which of the following kinds of features does the article analyze that the teacher could point to?

    • Correct Answer
  7. Mr. Frederik is seeking to bolster his seventh-grade students' ability to select appropriate texts for academic reference. He creates an activity in which students will be divided into groups, and each group will be provided with three different sources of varying degrees of credibility. He plans on having the groups analyze the following three aspects of a source:


    1) Credibility

    2) Purpose

    3) Reliability


    What question should Mr. Frederik ask students to help them assess the first aspect?

    • Correct Answer
  8. Fourth-grade student Esdrine turns in the following descriptive assignment about hummingbirds:


    Hummingbirds are the smallest birds in america, they sometimes eat spiders. There differences in the femails and mails, malils have bright fethers. I have had fun righting about these bird's.


    Based on Esdrine's writing assignment, which of the following is the primary cause of spelling errors her teacher should address?

    • Correct Answer
  9. A fourth grade student is having a difficult time understanding that not all plural nouns end with an "s." Which of the following rules should their instructor teach them regarding plural nouns?

    • Correct Answer
  10. Fifth-grade student Roger turns in a short, argumentative essay with many grammar and punctuation errors. His teacher has recently been contextualizing writing in terms of an audience, so his teacher decides to comment on Roger's grammar mistakes by referencing Roger's audience. Which of the following best demonstrates a comment Roger's teacher may include on his paper?

    • Correct Answer
  11. Ms. Grayson is completing her first-grade students' writing instruction for the year. She decides to briefly introduce students to a new type of writing that is a TEKS standard starting in the second grade. What is the writing style Ms. Grayson has decided to briefly introduce before her students transition into second grade?

    • Correct Answer
  12. A seventh-grade teacher is providing feedback on a student's essay about Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a 1975 British film that satirizes both the Catholic Church and Medieval chivalry. The essay categorizes this film as a farce but never mentions satirical comedy. Which of the following is the most effective feedback the teacher could give this student?

    • Correct Answer
  13. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,

    Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without

    Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;

    Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands

    As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet

    The company below, then. I repeat,

    The Count your master's known munificence

    Is ample warrant that no just pretense

    Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;

    Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed

    At starting, is my object.

    In this final section of the poem My Last Duchess by Robert Browning, the speaker is imparting a message to the guest he is speaking to in the dramatic monologue, but the reader or listener is intended to get another implicit piece of information. Which of the following best describes the subtle message intended for the reader?

    • Correct Answer
  14. Fifth-grade teacher Ms. Burns is designing an activity to help develop her students' inquiry skills. For this activity, Ms. Burns has split the class into six groups. Each group will be reading the same essay about the American Dream; each group will also be answering the same set of reading-response questions. However, the first three groups will present their answer to questions 1 - 3, while the last three groups will present their answers to questions 4 - 6.


    She hands out a worksheet with the following reading-response questions:


    1) What is the American Dream?

    2) Where does the phrase originate from?

    3) How does the American Dream relate to the idea of America as the 'melting pot' we have discussed in class?

    4) Do you think the American Dream is realistic? Why or why not?

    5) Have you experienced the American Dream or know someone who has?

    6) What questions do you have after reading this article? What would you like to learn more about?


    What two inquiry skills do the last three questions incorporate?

    • Correct Answer
  15. A teacher wants to encourage students to use their class notes in an effective, thoughtful way. He plans a lecture in which he will model the reciprocal teaching method, showing what a good student does with his or her notes after class. Which of the following skills should be modeled?

    • Correct Answer
  16. The Cognitive-Academic-Language-Learning-Approach (CALLA) separates students' learning into which three formal types of knowledge?

    • Correct Answer