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The TExES Physical Science 6-12 exam is required for those looking to teach middle and high school physical science in Texas classrooms. For those wanting to teach Chemistry or Physics, this is the test they'll need to take. Also known as the TExES Physical Science 237 exam, the physical science test focuses heavily on concepts relating to chemistry, physics, the scientific method, and science education. Its purpose is to assess aspiring teachers' skills and competencies - do they have the abilities and knowledge to teach physical science at this level in Texas?
Practice tests give you a better idea of the topics you have mastered and those you should keep studying.
Like most other TExES exams, the TExES physical science test (237) is a computer-administered test. It consists of 100 separate selected-response questions (there are no written answers or "constructed responses"). Most - if not all - questions will be multiple choice. There may also be matching and true/false questions.
Although all candidates should give their highest effort on every question, not all questions will count towards their overall TExES scores. There are a handful of "ungraded" questions in this exam. Test takers won't have any way of knowing which questions are graded and which are not, however, so it's better to make an effort on all test questions.
Those taking the TExES Physical Science 6-12 will have 5 hours to complete the exam. It is divided into two parts:
Calculators and outside reference sheets are not permitted, though candidates will be provided with an on-screen calculator. They will also be provided with a periodic table and a physical constants page.
As was briefly mentioned in the last section, the TExES Physical Science 237 is broken up into four domains. The first of these domains is Scientific Inquiries and Processes. In this domain, candidates will be tested over their understanding of basic science history, measurements, and processes. They will also be tested on their knowledge of laboratory safety and classroom management. The main topics assessed here are these:
Each of these topics - or competencies - contains several sub-categories. For example, the first topic tilts heavily towards the practical side of managing a science classroom. Test takers will need to be familiar with laboratory safety procedures, as well as how to safely use scientific equipment and materials. It also tests their understanding of measurement and units. They will want to have a strong grasp of the International System (S.I.) of measurement, as well as a thorough understanding of significant digits.
The second topic focuses more upon the framework of science itself. It will test candidates on their understanding of scientific methods and scientific reasoning. They'll need to know how to design experiments, as well as how to make hypotheses and draw proper conclusions. Rather than focusing on one's ability to use formulas or operate equipment, this competency is all about their understanding of science as a whole and their ability to use it in a classroom setting.
Finally, the third topic deals mainly with the "softer" side of science. How has science (as we know it today) developed? What impact does science have in our day to day lives? These things are important to success as a science teacher, since they allow teachers to engage with students effectively.
In total, this portion of the exam will account for approximately 14% of the total score. Test takers can expect around 14 questions on the physical science test that deal with this domain.
The second domain in the TExES Physical Science 237 is that of Physics. Topics covered here include motion, gravity, electricity, magnetism, and thermodynamics. To do well on this portion of the exam, candidates will need to be well-versed on the following:
Unlike the first domain, this segment of the physical science test will deal with calculations and hard math. Candidates will need to be familiar with equations of motion and thermodynamics, as well as calculations involving circuits. Unfortunately, they will not be allowed to bring any formula sheets, so they will need to ensure that they've got a thorough grasp of these equations and how to use them. A calculator is provided, however, so test takers do not need to do calculations entirely by hand!
Mathematics and formulas aside, another huge chunk of this part of the TExES physical science test is conceptual knowledge. Much of physics is inherently conceptual, which requires that aspiring teachers have a deep understanding of the principles at work. Electromagnetism is a great example of this, as many concepts in electromagnetism - magnetic fields, current flow, capacitance, resistance, etc. - are not things that we can see or directly observe with our five senses. They're conceptual.
To do really well here, candidates will want to make sure they understand the concepts front-to-back. Why does a magnetic field form around a wire carrying current? How does light behave as a particle, and how does it behave as a wave? Anyone who can achieve a rock-solid understanding of the concepts will be able to breeze through the Physics portion of the exam!
In all, the Physics domain accounts for 36% of the total score. That means candidates will likely run into around 36 questions that are physics-focused on the TExES 237.
Ah, yes. Few can imagine high school science class without also picturing test tubes, beakers, chemicals, Bunsen burners, and the periodic table of elements. Chemistry is a massive portion of both middle and high school science education, and as a result, it also forms the single largest chunk of the TExES physical science test. Accounting for approximately 41% of the total total score, test takers can expect to encounter roughly 41 chemistry-related questions on the TExES 237.
Like the Physics domain, the Chemistry portion of the TExES Physical Science 237 is highly practical and detail-oriented. Candidates will need to have a solid knowledge of chemical reactions, the behaviors of different elements, and chemical equations. The competencies tested in this domain include:
In a way, the material candidates will be tested over in the Chemistry domain is similar to (and builds off of) the material tested by the Physics portion of the exam. For instance, thermodynamics play a very large role in many chemical reactions. Conservation of energy and momentum are also key players in chemistry. Aspiring teachers who plan on taking the TExES physical science test should pay extra attention to these important ideas.
One way to simplify one's studying is to identify which concepts appear in both the chemistry and physics parts of the test and to ensure that they understand these concepts thoroughly. As was touched on earlier, much of physics (and, indeed, much of chemistry) is conceptual. Candidates who come into the exam with a strong and deep comprehension of the concepts will have an amazing chance to excel.
The fourth (and final) domain of the TExES Physical Science 237 is also the smallest. It accounts for roughly 9% of the total score, which means test takers can expect to encounter 9 questions mixed in throughout the exam. It is very similar to the first domain in that it deals mostly with the classroom and educational approaches. Candidates won't be asked to use any formulas or solve equations here, but the knowledge required to do well on this part of the test is still very important to their success as a science teacher.
The topics and concepts that they'll be tested over in the fourth domain of the TExES 237 are as follows:
In a sense, this domain is all about the details of day-to-day science education. Candidates will be tested over broad ideas such as student instruction, designing classroom activities, and communicating science effectively to middle and high school students. They will also need to know how to keep tabs on how their students are doing. This is often done via rubrics, portfolios, lab reports, and student profiles.
Another key concept underlying the material covered in this section is knowing how to choose effective and valid assignments for students. Education is about much more than simply handing out tests and then grading them. This is especially true for science. Knowing how to choose and design assignments that are valid and engaging is a must in this field.
In that spirit, some of the specific ideas focused on in this domain include the design of scientific investigations, the guiding of students through these investigations, and helping students to make accurate conclusions from these investigations. At the end of the day, after all, science is a way of thinking and gaining knowledge - and science educators must be prepared to instill this in their students.
If one takes a step back and looks at the knowledge required for this exam, one thing becomes clear: It's a lot! Indeed, any test - including this one - can appear daunting. The TExES exams are known for being long and difficult, and the sheer amount of material is extensive. However, there are ways to make exam prep easier.
The first way is to break down the material into "bite-sized" chunks. There's an old saying that the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Before candidates start their studying for the TExES physical science 237, they should create a plan. Take each individual competency and devote a certain portion of their study to each competency. They should make sure that they identify key concepts - conservation of energy, kinetic equations, ionic and covalent bonds, etc. - and devote small chunks of study time to focus exclusively on them.
Another study strategy is to make sure they understand "the big picture." For instance, what is the big picture behind oxidation reactions? What is the big picture behind gravity? What is the big picture behind the nature of light?
As this article has touched on several times already, physics and chemistry are inherently concept-based. True, test takers will need to know details, formulas, and specifics when they take this exam. But the foundation of science is conceptual. Having a deep understanding of the "big picture" will make it much easier to study the rote facts and details.
Finally, preparation for the test should include a TExES practice test. This is how candidates can test your knowledge before they ever walk into the room to take the exam. Many TExES Physical Science 6-12 practice tests are available, so take advantage of them! After every practice test, test takers should go through each individual question and make sure they understand why their answer is correct (or incorrect).
Practice tests are some of the sharpest tools in one's metaphorical toolkit, and candidates should take as many of them as they reasonably can. Doing so will not only help them test their knowledge of the material, it will also help them to pace themselves and manage their time effectively on exam day.
The TExES exam registration is completed online. Candidates will need to visit the "Test Details" page on the Texas Educator Certification Examination Program website. At the bottom of the page, there's a button labeled Register Now. After they click it, they'll be guided to the registration page. If they haven't already done so, they may be required to create an account on the website.
Test takers will need to fill in your information there, including information on their background and their score reporting preferences. After registering to test, they can choose where to take the exam. They'll have 170 days to schedule and take the exam.
The fee for the exam is $116. Payment can only be made through a Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card. An additional small processing fee will be assessed, which supports the operation of the website.
If someone wants to cancel their registration for any reason, they will need to do so no less than 48 hours before the time of their scheduled exam (if they've already scheduled a test). After cancellation, they'll need to submit a withdrawal request in their account. This will make them eligible for a refund of their original exam payment, minus $25. They will also be unable to get a refund for the processing fee.
Test takers must report to the testing center on the day of their exam. Upon arrival, they'll need to present two pieces of original and unexpired identification documentation. No photocopies or expired documents are allowed.
The documents are split into two categories: primary and secondary. Acceptable primary identification documents include:
Each identity document must have a name, a signature, and a recent and clearly-recognizable photo.
Acceptable secondary documents can include any form of ID that is valid and contains one's name, as well as either a photo or a signature.
Once they've arrived at the testing center and presented their documentation, test takers will need to confirm their appointment and submit to the test center rules. These include, among other things, that no personal possessions (e.g. watches, phones, calculators, notebooks) are allowed in the testing room. They'll then be led into the room, where they will be allowed to test. After taking the exam, they'll receive their scores within 7 to 10 business days.
Amy Lopez, M.A. is a high school teacher with over 8 years of experience teaching Family Consumer Science Education. She has passed the TExES PPR exam and the Praxis Family and Consumer Science Exam. Amy completed a B.S. in Family Consumer Sciences from Tarleton State University, an M.A. in Teaching from Grand Canyon University, and an Education Specialist degree from Northcentral University.
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