TExES Principal as Instructional Leader (268) Practice Test & Study Guide

What Is the TExES Principal as Instructional Leader (268) Exam?

One of the top questions that recruiters ask candidates during an interview for a school principal position is, "Who do you think is the principal instructional leader on campus?" Although the answer is obvious within the question--the principal is the instructional leader on campus--this question was unlikely to be asked 5 years ago when the principal certification exam at the time was the TExES (068). This question, however, is now the central theme of the revised Texas principal certification test, Principal as Instructional Leader (268), in which the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC) overhauled its program to prepare educational administrators as instructional leaders. It is this test that is now required as part of principal certification in Texas.

This exam, also known as TExES 268, has a framework that aims to shift the culture of schools and communities by highlighting Texas principal standards in the following 6 domains:

  • School Culture
  • Leading Learning
  • Human Capital
  • Executive Leadership
  • Strategic Operations
  • Ethics, Equity, and Diversity

Each domain has a set of competencies that the entry-level principal should be able to know and do.

The TExES exam cost for this test is $200 and done in 4 hours and 45 minutes of allowable testing time with 15 minutes that familiarize the candidate with the computer-administered test (CAT) format and the completion of a compliance agreement. There are 70 selected-response questions and 4 constructed-response questions.

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

What Is on the TExES Principal as Instructional Leader (268) Exam?

Passing the TExES exam for the Principal as Instructional Leader test allows the certified principal to pursue campus leadership roles, and beyond, for grades K - 12 because the research-based criteria of what it takes to be a successful instructional leader spans the dynamics of age development and grade levels of school organizations to propagate student success. The research-based criteria that will be tested on the principal certification exam contains 6 domains with 1 - 2 competencies under each of those domains, equaling a total of 11 competencies. Furthermore, the competencies have several descriptive statements to further explain the knowledge and skills that will be required for mastery. A summary of the domains, competencies, and descriptive statements along with an approximate percentage that each domain and competency appears on the exam is listed below; more specifics can be found on the Pearson website. Pearson is the contracted testing vendor working with the Texas Education Agency and provider of the TExES certification exams.

Test-takers should ensure they understand these domains and competencies fully, because exam questions will ask them to choose their responses based on these principles.

School Culture

Domain 1 deals with school culture, approximately represents 22% on the exam and includes competencies 001 and 002.

Competency 001 explores how a beginning principal collaborates with educational stakeholders in the formulation and implementation of the school's vision to ensure a culture of high expectations. More specifically, the beginning principal builds a strong cultural foundation of positivity, collaboration, and high expectations in order to achieve campus goals. The beginning principal also will use research-based practices to guide stakeholders in the creation and implementation of the vision for the campus with fidelity by fostering collaboration among all stakeholders.

The beginning principal also ensures that various resources are available to support the implementation of the campus vision and mission and develops processes to gauge the effectiveness of the campus vision and modifies the processes when needed.

By giving specific and positive feedback to educational stakeholders, the beginning principal will promote a growth mindset with the school community to build a positive campus culture and facilitate a safe learning environment that encourages research-based practices in the areas of social, emotional, and physical well-being of all campus members. Finally, Competency 001 stresses that the beginning principal should encourage innovation and equity by collecting evidence-based strategies from other educators and stakeholders.

Leading Learning

Domain 2 approximately represents 42% of the exam and includes competencies 003 and 004.

Competency 003 details how the beginning principal collaborates with various stakeholders to create and implement high-quality instruction. This is accomplished when the beginning principal clearly communicates the definition of high-quality instruction and uses research-based best practices to evaluate academic programs and the implementation of curriculum that is not only academic but also inclusive of social and cultural needs. The beginning principal also evaluates campus and district curriculum for rigor, alignment, and content and ensures that the curriculum includes college and career-readiness standards. Furthermore, the beginning principal supports the efforts of educators to use technology to better prepare students for the future.

Competency 004 lays out the expectation that the beginning principal is an instructional leader who promotes effective teaching to stimulate positive student outcomes. The descriptive statements integrated within Competency 004 further detail that an instructional leader will conduct regular classroom observations and provide feedback to teachers, departments, and teams to improve instruction and student outcomes. Feedback should be given regarding curriculum alignment, diversity, and equity to support the needs of all students and to support efforts in closing the achievement gap. Student achievement can be ascertained in the use of varied data, both formative and summative assessments to analyze the effectiveness of instructional practices and strategies in intervention.

Human Capital

Domain 3 approximately represents 18% of the exam and includes competencies 005 and 006.

Competency 005 focuses on the growth mindset and reflective practices of the beginning principal. A growth mindset can be achieved by attending professional development and reflecting on evaluative and coaching feedback from supervisors and other educational stakeholders. The beginning principal should also model this growth mindset with staff by coaching through the use of classroom observations and other evidence-based evaluative tools, such as goal setting and teacher self-assessment practices.

Analysis of various data points should lead the beginning principal to develop, implement, and revise campus professional development and other opportunities for staff to hone best practices. These data will guide the beginning principal in determining the allocation of funds and other resources to further support the ongoing and meaningful professional growth opportunities for staff. The beginning principal should also reach out to central administrative staff and leaders for guidance and support in these reflective and growth processes.

Competency 006 ensures that the beginning principal practices sound strategies to retain and promote the continued professional growth of quality educators by prioritizing time and monitoring the efficiencies of processes and policies that aid in the development of improved teaching and learning. The beginning principal will also need to incorporate sound research practices during the hiring and dismissal processes of campus staff. To further promote leadership opportunities for staff, the beginning principal should also support professional learning communities in data review and analysis.

Executive Leadership

Domain 4 approximately represents approximately 6% of the exam and includes competencies 007 and 008.

Competency 007 emphasizes the importance of maintaining open and effective communication with all educational stakeholders. The beginning principal understands that there are different ways to communicate with a variety of audience members. The implementation of strategies should be used to ensure that there is a systematic communication to continuously inform and strengthen partnerships with all stakeholders to further support the mission, vision, and goals of the campus.

Competency 008 is a focused look at how the beginning principal achieves positive student outcomes by being aware of social and economic issues within the school community. The beginning principal provides several avenues for staff and students to problem solve and make effective decisions when problems arise. Furthermore, the beginning principal understands how to effectively manage time and other resources to keep campus personnel motivated and focused on the campus vision and goals.

Strategic Operations

Domain 5 represents approximately 6% of the exam and includes competencies 009 and 010.

Competency 009 explains how he beginning principal collaborates in the development and implementation of strategies that align with the school vision to support teaching and learning. The descriptive statements listed under Competency 009 outline how the beginning principal assesses the needs of the campus and collaborates to develop and implement strategic plans in the use of various resources to support teaching and learning and to increase clarity in defining roles that manage and lead all stakeholders to attaining success towards reaching campus goals.

Competency 010 notes that the beginning principal leads and coordinates school operations and programs to create and maintain a safe learning environment. The beginning principal ensures that there are emergency plans in place that follow the guidance of local, state, and federal laws and policies in all areas of the physical campus related to all school operations and programs. Student safety in the area of discipline and attendance is also implemented by the beginning principal that meets all legal requirements, as well. Systems requiring technology, such as maintaining school records of attendance, grading, and messaging systems will effectively be managed by the beginning principal.

Furthermore, the beginning principal manages the campus budget and follows all federal guidelines in all purchasing processes and collaborates with district level staff to ensure the implementation of district policies that support the needs of all members of the campus. The beginning principal is also a facilitator of academic and extracurricular programs to support the social and cultural development of students.

Ethics, Equity, and Diversity

Domain 6 represents approximately 5% of the exam and includes competency 011.

Competency 011 discusses how the beginning principal is an advocate for all students and provides ethical leadership by ensuring the adherence to the Educators' Code of Ethics (TAC Chapter 247). The beginning principal advocates for all students by ensuring the application of legal guidelines in the confidentiality and rights of students and advocates that students have open access to effective educators and programs that support the development and diversity of students in the use of flexible instruction and services that support their individual needs. The beginning principal models integrity in all behaviors and decision making processes and promotes the idea the impetus of education in a free and democratic society.

How to Prepare for the TExES Principal as Instructional Leader (268) Exam

Completing TExES practice test before taking the actual exam will allow test-takers to gauge their strengths and areas of growth in the different domains and competency levels. Taking and reviewing a practice test will also help them better understand the level of difficulty of the different types of questions being asked.

Even though there is 4 hours and 45 minutes to complete the exam, time can quickly tick by if the exam-taker do not have a plan in place of how to monitor their pacing effectively. One test-taking tip is to complete all of the selected response questions first and then return to the integrated response questions, which typically take more time to answer. Also, since test-takers will know which domains and competencies play to their strengths after taking and reviewing the practice test, they should search and find questions that highlight those domains and competencies when taking the actual TExES test.

Test-takers will need 3 - 6 weeks of preparation. There is a finite amount of test prep materials available for certification exams, so preparing for a longer duration of time will be repetitive and counterproductive. During this preparation timeline, a tip on how to study for TExES is to practice analyzing integrated-response question types and how they plan to draft their responses to align with all of the components being asked about. Integrated-response questions will only cover information from Domains 1-3, so focus on these 3 areas when practicing these questions types.

TExES Principal Exam Practice Test and Study Guide

There are many free resources to help candidates develop a study plan and review some sample test questions. There are also practice tests and other study materials available for a fee, including interactive TExES Principal as Instructional Leader practice tests. TExES study guides usually include sample question types and suggestions for how to approach the different question formats that will be on the exam.

Many candidates face test anxiety because they do not know what to expect on an exam of this magnitude. By using practice tests and study guides, a candidate can feel more at ease with a better understanding of the format of the exam and reviewing the types of questions that will be asked.

Test-takers should also not forget to also review their course materials from their principal certification courses. These programs tend to have current school principals and district superintendents as instructors, and these instructors come with a wealth of knowledge and experience that will help aspiring principals to be successful on the exam and beyond.

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

  • How are principals evaluated in Texas?

    The Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System (T-PESS) is the evaluative tool that is used for Texas principals and is used annually.

  • Do you have to be certified to be a principal in Texas?

    Yes. It is also a requirement in most school districts to have a minimum of 2 years of teaching experience.

  • How many times can you take the TExES principal exam?

    The TExES 268 exam can be attempted 5 times. There is a waiver that could be granted to test-takers from the state of Texas if they would like to attempt the exam for the 6th time.

  • What is a passing score on the TExES 268?

    The minimum passing score on the TExES 268 exam is 240, which is scored on a rating scale from 100 to 300.


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  1. The question refers to the following information.

    Which would be the most effective response the principal can make in relation to the behaviors displayed over the past week?
    The question refers to the following information.<br clear="all" /> <br clear="all" />Which would be the most effective response the principal can make in relation to the behaviors displayed over the past week?
    • Correct Answer
  2. A teacher has had difficulty staying focused because of minor disruptions various students make in the classroom. The teacher has been inclined to immediately refer students to the principal's office. Which is the best approach the principal can take to support the teacher?

    • Correct Answer
  3. The question refers to the following information.

    Based on the behaviors of the past week, the principal should strive to improve the school climate by
    The question refers to the following information.<br clear="all" /> <br clear="all" />Based on the behaviors of the past week, the principal should strive to improve the school climate by
    • Correct Answer
  4. The question refers to the following information.

    Which improvement should the teacher consider making immediately based on the observations implementing the new curriculum?
    The question refers to the following information.<br clear="all" /> <br clear="all" />Which improvement should the teacher consider making immediately based on the observations implementing the new curriculum?
    • Correct Answer
  5. A math teacher realizes that the students in one class are having difficulty understanding the lessons each week. However, students in the other classes appear to be progressing appropriately. Which of the following should the principal encourage the teacher to do?

    • Correct Answer
  6. A principal is overseeing a discussion between teachers in the science department about curriculum development. The teachers worry that the students do not have enough time to develop skills and apply them regularly from one unit to the next. Which approach should the teachers take when refining the curriculum?

    • Correct Answer
  7. In attempt to solve a certain problem, someone uses a mental shortcut that they have relied on for a long time. They learned this short cut from past behavior and it has served them well up to this point. Contrary to their past experiences, taking this shortcut has actually lead to an undesirable outcome that has set them back in their problem solving efforts. What type of problem solving strategy is this?

    • Correct Answer
  8. A student is taking an assessment to see whether or not they are prepared to enter a school system. They are tested in a variety of subjects, measuring their aptitude and content knowledge to help determine their level of preparedness to enter a given school district. After they've finished the test, the results show that the student could use help in a few key areas, but overall is prepared to enter the school system. What is this type of assessment called?

    • Correct Answer
  9. The question refers to the following information.

    Based on the responses to the survey, to best support student growth and development, administration should focus on which of the following?
    The question refers to the following information.<br clear="all" /> <br clear="all" />Based on the responses to the survey, to best support student growth and development, administration should focus on which of the following?
    • Correct Answer
  10. A principal may want to conduct an ethical analysis if which of the following occurs?

    • Correct Answer
  11. A busy principal is looking to improve their time management skills and to also present new opportunities to teachers seeking professional growth. After a suggestion from an experienced colleague and a discussion at the school's faculty meeting, the manager decides on an approach that has the potential to achieve both goals. Which approach is likely chosen by the principal in this scenario?

    • Correct Answer
  12. The question refers to the following information.

    Which would be the most effective outcome for the administrator to make if representatives from the writing and reading subject areas have no will nots concerning the implementation of cross-curricular writing standards?
    The question refers to the following information.<br clear="all" /> <br clear="all" />Which would be the most effective outcome for the administrator to make if representatives from the writing and reading subject areas have no will nots concerning the implementation of cross-curricular writing standards?
    • Correct Answer
  13. A school administrator is gathering data for their school and has begun to collect some records. The data they are working has to do primarily with student test scores and standardized assessment performance. The school is hoping to use this data to track student growth and get a better understanding of how their school is performing. What kind of data is this?

    • Correct Answer
  14. Which would be a qualitative approach to a school gathering data associated with the school's vision?

    • Correct Answer
  15. A school district has recently received an increase in Title 1 funding. To ensure that such funding is used appropriately, which would be the most effective use of the funding?

    • Correct Answer