TExES English Language Arts and Reading Practice Test & Study Guide

What is the TExES English Language Arts Exam?

Anyone wanting to become an English teacher at a public high school in Texas must first take and pass the TExES English Language Arts Exam 7-12, also known as the TExES ELAR 712 (note that this is strictly for those wanting to teach high school students; the examination requirements for elementary and middle school teachers are different). In a nutshell, this TExES test evaluates whether a prospective teacher has the prerequisite knowledge and theoretical background to teach English and language arts to students at the secondary level. Known for its difficulty, this exam requires substantial preparation and will thoroughly test a candidate's expertise in the field, so it's vital for test-takers to fully understand what taking this exam entails.

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

Format of the Exam

The TExES ELAR 7-12 is composed of 100 multiple-choice and two constructed response questions. The 100 questions are divided into four sections called domains, with each domain gauging the candidate's proficiency in a different area (more on those in a moment). Prospective test-takers should note that only 80 questions count towards the overall score; the rest are pilot questions designed to collect data. However, these pilot questions are unmarked, so test-takers should be sure to attempt to answer every question.

Following the multiple-choice questions are two constructed response questions that will more thoroughly test a candidate's expertise by requiring deeper insights into language arts. The first of these requires a literary analysis on two selected passages, while the second tests the candidate's ability to analyze and critique students' writing by providing a mock writing sample and having the test takers both assess it and defend that assessment.

Structure of the Exam

As mentioned above, the multiple-choice segment of the TExES ELAR 712 is divided into four domains, each of which focuses on a different aspect of language arts. These four domains, as well as the weighted score value for each, are as follows:

  • Integrated Language Arts, Diverse Learners, and the Study of English (15%): This domain primarily tests the candidate's theoretical background in English language arts, including their understanding of how language relates to other areas of students' education. Candidates must also demonstrate that they can provide instruction rooted in a respect for diversity, which includes strategies for teaching English-language learners and students with learning difficulties. This domain also tests knowledge in areas that some may not usually associate with language arts, such as the history of the English language, analyzing etymologies (the origins of words), adapting curricula to meet the needs of different students, and assessing students' progress.
  • Literature, Reading Processes, and Skills for Reading Literary and Non-literary Texts (40%): The most weighted domain, this section requires test takers to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the process of reading, including how to synthesize and interpret information from a variety of styles of written materials. Additionally, candidates will have to prove their understanding of developments related to geography (such as trends in and differences between American and British literature) and how literary genres are classified across space and time. A mastery of the content found in this domain is vital, as a large portion of an English teacher's duties consists of teaching reading skills and literature.
  • Written Communication (30%): This domain tests a candidate's ability to provide proper writing instruction to students, including how to effectively brainstorm, draft, review, and edit writing for a variety of purposes and audiences. In addition to knowing about different forms of writing, these questions will require a strong understanding of literary devices (metaphors, irony, tone, etc.) and how they influence a piece of writing. Notably, questions about selecting proper research sources and the importance of using various style guides (MLA, Chicago, etc.) also appear in this domain.
  • Oral Communication and Media Literacy (15%): The final domain assesses candidates' ability to successfully teach oral communication for a variety of purposes, including presentations, group discussions, and speeches, while also teaching students effective listening and analytical skills for such purposes. Additionally, this domain also features questions on general media literacy, including identifying and using different types of media, basic ethics, and critiquing media. Candidates should also be prepared to answer questions on the usage of various types of visual media, such as graphs, charts, and illustrations.

These four domains altogether equal 65% of the total test score, with the two constructed response questions together accounting for the remaining 35%.

Skills Needed to Pass the Exam

Fundamentally, this exam tests the sorts of things a high school English teacher is expected to teach in an actual Texas classroom, so obtaining a mastery of the knowledge and skills tested on this exam also has great importance for candidates' real-world careers. There are three major soft skills that test-takers should master not only for this exam but also for a career as an English teacher. These are:

  • Critical thinking: arguably the most important soft skill needed here, any English content exam will thoroughly test candidates' ability to think and process information critically and objectively. Each domain and both constructed response questions require a comprehensive understanding of how to quickly and efficiently solve problems given a finite amount of time.
  • Reading fluency: most aspiring English teachers will likely already have a love of reading, but the reading skills needed for this exam are much more demanding. Candidates should be adept not only at taking in relatively large amounts of written information in a short amount of time but also at determining what information is necessary and important for a given task. Remember that this exam is timed, so being able to quickly prioritize and rank information is essential.
  • Writing skills: given that the constructed response questions account for 35% of the total score, excellent writing skills are vitally important for a successful score. It will not be enough to simply be able to write down information; candidates' writing should be fluid, error-free, and consistent with the required tone.

How Can I Prepare for the English Language Arts TExES Exam?

There is no secret formula or shortcut to success on the TExES ELAR 712; it all comes down to preparation. Here are some ways to help any prospective test takers increase their confidence and score:

  • Practice, practice, practice - this is without question the most important and effective way to prepare. Study sample questions, take English 712 TExES practice tests, write mock constructed responses - these strategies go a long way in increasing both the confidence and aptitude of test-takers. It's always a good idea to emulate the conditions of the actual test when practicing. Create a quiet environment with no distractions (phones should be turned off and/or left in a separate room) and set timers for completing the sample questions and constructed responses.
  • Reading Texas ELAR 712 study material: in addition to practicing the exam itself, simply reading over the material will aid candidates in their preparation. Reading textbooks can provide an excellent overview of the subject matter, and going over TExES study guides can help further refine the material into easily digestible bits. Consistent exposure to the material aids in long-term retention, so candidates are advised to incorporate some form of reading into their daily schedules, even if it's just for fifteen minutes or so.
  • Get plenty of rest: aim for a minimum of eight hours of sleep the night before the exam. It's also advisable to not intensely study the day before the exam; a bit of reading is fine, but test takers' minds also need sufficient time to rest.
  • Eat a good breakfast: as tempting as a nice stack of pancakes might be, try to avoid too much processed sugar and instead, stick to healthier options. Whole grains and fresh fruit are the ideal choices (the fructose in apples is widely known to stimulate brain activity), and a mild amount of caffeine can also be useful. Save the more sugary foods for the post-exam celebration!
  • Do some light, unrelated reading: it's not a good idea to study the morning of the exam, but reading something can help the brain to wake up and focus. Going through a news article or even doing a crossword puzzle are both good options, as long as it's not too strenuous.

Registration and Fees for the TExES ELAR Exam

The TExES exam registration must be done online. You'll need to create a Pearson account on the Texas Educator Certification Examination Program's website. Once the account is created, candidates must apply to take the exam, after which their credentials will be verified. Upon approval, candidates then may self-schedule an examination date online. To do so, it's necessary to pay the mandatory $116 fee (payable only with a VISA or MasterCard credit, debit, or check card) before selecting a test date. In addition to scheduling an exam date, candidates also select a test site, which can be located both in Texas and around the United States.

Passing Score

Final scores for the TExES ELAR 712 exam range from 100 to 300, and a minimum of 240 is required to pass. Candidates who fail to reach this score may retake the exam after a period of 30 days, up to four additional times. If a candidate fails the exam after five attempts, they will not be allowed to retake it unless they are granted a test-limit waiver (which may require further coursework). The cost for each retake is the same as the original exam fee of $116. When registering to take the test either for the first time or on subsequent attempts, all candidates agree to all test policies, including TExES exam retake policy, policies relating to registration (who has access to the candidates' provided information), testing (test site rules and cancellation policies), and score reporting (voiding and canceling TExES scores).

Special Needs Accommodations

Candidates may request alternative testing arrangements by submitting an application online if they have a disability, a health-related problem, or are currently nursing. All candidates should note that some forms of accommodation, including wheelchair accessibility and visual enhancement items, are always present and therefore do not require candidates to submit an application. Candidates may also submit an application to request additional time to complete the exam; this application requires a document from a relevant professional specifying the desired extension, though most extensions amount to a further 50% of the total time. Even if an application is denied, candidates may submit an appeal within 30 days of the initial denial.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the TExES Content exam?

    The TExES Content exams are standardized, subject-specific tests that anyone seeking teacher certification in Texas must complete. Depending on what subject and level candidates want to teach, they must take and pass one or more content exams as a requirement for certification. These exams test for both subject knowledge and pedagogical skills.

  • How do I register for the TExES Content exam?

    Candidates must register on the Texas Educator Certification Examination Program's website. After creating an account and supplying personal information, candidates' credentials will be verified. Upon approval, candidates can pay for the exam and then select their preferred test date and site online.

Exam

Take a TExES English Language Arts & Reading 7-12 Practice Test Online

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  1. There are several levels of reading comprehension used by instructors to assess students' skills. Which of the following terms is NOT a recognized level of comprehension?

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  2. What is the purpose of having students read unfamiliar but grade-appropriate sight words aloud?

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  3. What type of feedback focuses on student strengths?

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  4. As an English teacher, what is the fundamental purpose of fostering an understanding of etymology in your students?

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  5. What are the 4 types of standardized tests most commonly used by schools?

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  6. Ms. Austin is a seventh-grade science teacher. Her students are tasked with reading many science-based texts throughout the school year. Ms. Austin is concerned that her students read the texts but do not actually understand them. She decides to implement comprehension monitoring strategies. She plans to begin by using self-questioning strategies. Which of the following is an effective self-questioning activity Ms. Austin can implement with her students?

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  7. What is the purpose of the least restrictive environment mandate in the Individuals with Disabilities Eduction Act (IDEA)?

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  8. Modernism was influenced by all the following, except

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  9. What is the fundamental purpose of asking students to individually examine and analyze the 5 primary elements of literature?

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  10. Which of the following British poets wrote during the Romantic period?

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  11. Mr. Potter is a ninth grade English teacher with an ELL student in his class. The student is a strong English speaker but is slower at reading and comprehension than their peers. Mr. Potter wants to implement scaffolding to better help the student. A colleague recommends chunking. Which of the following is a chunking strategy Mr. Potter can implement?

    • Correct Answer
  12. Gulliver's Travels is a famous example of world literature that made a mark with which of the following writing styles?

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  13. Select the answer that best completes the following statement:

    In an argumentative essay, a writer must utilize at least one of the four standard types of claims in order for the paper to effectively persuade its readers. These four types of claims are defined as "claims of fact", "claims of value", "claims of policy", and

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  14. Which of the following is not a strategy to use while teaching reading?

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  15. A billboard is an example of what type of mass media?

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