TExES Special Education EC-12 (161) Practice Test & Study Guide

What Is the TExES Special Education EC-12 (161)?

To become a certified teacher in the state of Texas, you must meet specific educational and testing requirements. If you have decided to become a special education educator, then taking the TExES Special Education EC-12 (161) exam is an important step in obtaining your certification. This TExES test was created by a team of elementary, secondary, and postsecondary educators, community members, expert contributors, and professional educator organizations. It was designed to assess the knowledge and skills necessary to be an entry-level educator in the special education field. The TExES 161 is a computer-administered test (CAT), consisting of 150 selected-response (multiple choice) questions. You will have 5 hours to complete the exam including the approximately 15-minute CAT tutorial and compliance agreement.

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

What Is the Difference Between the TExES 161 and 163?

The TExES Special Education EC-12 (161) and TExES Special Education Supplemental (163) have very similar content and both tests' questions rely on the standards of special education. They are both intended to assess an individual's ability to be an entry-level special education teacher and either of these TExES exams will count towards special education certification. The TExES 163 is essentially a condensed version of the TExES 161. The table below will compare their similarities and differences.

TExES 161 TExES 163
Number of Questions 150 100
Domains Assessed I)Understanding Individuals with Disabilities and Evaluating Their Needs II)Promoting Student Learning and Development III)Promoting Student Achievement in English Language Arts and Reading and in Mathematics IV)Foundations and Professional Roles and Responsibilities I)Understanding Individuals with Disabilities and Evaluating Their Needs II) Promoting Student Learning and Development III) Foundations and Professional Roles and Responsibilities

What Is on the TExES 161 Exam?

The TExES 161 was modeled using 10 special educator standards. It consists of 4 domains with detailed competencies that describe what you will be tested on. The table below outlines the domains, standards, and their approximate percentage of the test.

Domain Domain Title Standards Approximate Percentage of the test
I Understanding Individuals with Disabilities and Evaluating Their Needs Special Education EC-12: IV-V 13%
II Promoting Student Learning and Development Special Education EC-12: VI-X 33%
III Promoting Student Achievement in English Language Arts and Reading and in Mathematics Special Education EC-12: XI-XII 33%
IV Foundations and Professional Roles and Responsibilities Special Education EC-12: I-III 20%

Understanding Individuals with Disabilities and Evaluating Their Needs

This domain will cover approximately 13% of the exam and will ask questions about the following competencies:

  • Competency I: Knowledge and understanding of the characteristics and needs of students with disabilities. Questions within this competency will require you to have knowledge of medical conditions, language/academic/social skills, cultural/environmental influence, child development, and the impact of these variables on a student's learning.
  • Competency II: Formal and informal assessment/evaluation procedures to determine student competencies and make instructional decisions. These questions will assess your knowledge of the terminology, legality, and ethics in assessments/evaluations as well as your understanding of how to make assessments, including gathering information from various sources, gathering baselines, identifying intervention strategies, and monitoring progress.

Questions within this domain may demonstrate a scenario about a student's disability and the best way to assess/respond.

Promoting Student Learning and Development

This domain covers 33% of the exam. The following competencies will be assessed by questions within this domain:

  • Competency III: Understanding and application of procedures for planning and instruction for learners with disabilities. The questions will test your development of ability appropriate content/materials/technology/resources within the classroom and your use of Individualized Education Programs (IEP) in lesson planning.
  • Competency IV: Application of procedures for managing the classroom environment including teaching and learning. You will be asked questions that test your ability to create a positive learning environment, use time/classroom management, and make informed decisions about the wellbeing of your students. This competency also addresses the logistics of assistive technology for students with disabilities.
  • Competency V: Promotion of student educational performance by facilitating their achievements. Questions within this competency will address your motivation of and adaptation of lessons that will benefit students with a variety of abilities. This will include analyzing cultural factors, utilizing resources, and creating plans that fit your students' needs. Life skills and community integration questions will also appear in this competency.
  • Competency VI: Knowledge of procedures encouraging appropriate student behavior and social skills. These questions will assess your ability to model and teach positive behavior/attitude to individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures. This includes understanding intervention strategies, realistic expectations, and strategies for behavioral modification.
  • Competency VII: Understanding transitional problems and procedures across the lifespan. You will be tested on your knowledge of utilizing a student's resources/supports/IEP, collaborating with them, and creating a lifelong plan to set them up for long term success even beyond your classroom.

Promoting Student Achievement in English Language Arts and Reading and in Mathematics

Questions within this domain will focus on your knowledge of the basic principles of English, language arts, reading, and mathematics, specifically your ability to teach students within these subjects and encourage their academic success in these fields. This domain covers approximately 33% of the exam and the following competencies:

  • Competency VIII: Promotion of students' performance in English, language arts, and reading. The questions will assess your application of developmentally appropriate communication, teaching techniques, and systematic instruction. Emphasis will be placed on literacy development, phonics, reading fluency, comprehension in reading, writing conventions, and development of interpretation/analyzation/evaluation skills.
  • Competency VIIII: Promotion of students' performance in mathematics. These questions will interpret your knowledge of mathematical instruction. Numbers, patterns, geometry, probability, and statistics will be addressed, including your ability to teach/apply mathematical methods.

Foundations and Professional Roles and Responsibilities

The final domain will cover 20% of the exam and assess your knowledge of the following competencies:

  • Competency X: Understanding of philosophical, historical, and legal foundations of special education. These questions will ask you about the foundations, contributors, and factors that evolved special education into what we know it as today. You will also be questioned about current theories, terminology, services, and issues within the field of special education. This includes medical, psychological, behavioral, and educational perspectives for individuals with disabilities.
  • Competency XI: Knowledge of professional responsibilities and ethics within the field of special education. The focus of these questions is to ensure that you understand federal, state, and local standards of professionalism, including confidentiality and respect for the individuals you will be working with.
  • Competency XII: Communication and collaboration within a professional setting. Questions in the competency will assess your ability to act as a liaison between the student/parent and the school/resources available to them. You should understand and be able to effectively communicate and collaborate with these professionals in order to create the best possible learning environment for your students.

How Is the TExES Special Education EC-12 Scored?

The TExES Special Education EC-12 is scored using raw points and a scaled score. You can earn one raw point for each question, and your total raw points earned are then compared to the total possible raw points. This number is then put on a scaled score from 100 to 300 where 100 is equal to 0% and 300 is equal to 100%. A passing score for the TExES 161 is 240. TExES scores will be available on the Pearson online account of the candidates and/or will be sent via email (if this option is selected during TExES exam registration) at 10:00 pm CST on the score report date. If candidates fail to pass, they are able to retake the exam 30 days after the initial attempt as long as the scores have been reported. According to the TExES exam retake policy, candidates have 5 attempts to retake the exam; this number includes the initial attempt.

How to Pass the TExES Special Education Exam

Studying for an exam can be overwhelming, and luckily there are a number of free and paid online services available to help you with TExES test prep! It is important to start your studying process by familiarizing yourself with the exam content. This will help you assess what you already know and what you still need to study. By looking at a test preparation manual and study guide, you will find tips for studying on the day of the test, in-depth descriptions of test content, and practice questions/tests. A TExES study guide is a great resource to help you create a study plan or a schedule for what/when you are going to study. This will help keep you on track and retain the most amount of information before you take the exam. How you study the material is dependent on your learning style, so it is imperative that you find resources that fit your needs. Some examples include flashcards, books, online lessons, study partners/groups, practice questions/tests, etc.

TExES Special Education Certification Practice Test

Practice questions and tests are a great way to get a guideline for where you are at and track your study progress. Initially taking a practice test before you start studying can give you a good baseline for what information you know and what you need to study. It will also give you an understanding of the testing format, so you can consider the time you should take on questions during the real exam. It is important to read the answer key to every practice test and ensure you understand why you correctly or incorrectly answered a question. Utilizing individual practice questions after studying a specific competency or while you are studying an entire domain can reinforce what you have learned. In addition, it will give you an idea of what to expect when met with questions in that subject area on the test. Shortly before your testing date, taking a TExES practice test that simulates the TExES test as closely as possible will indicate how you will perform on the test while highlighting information that you still need to focus on. No matter how/what you study, the most important thing to remember on test day is to trust yourself and your preparation!

How to Register for the TExES Special Education EC-12 Exam

TExES exam registration starts with creating an online account on the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website. After you have created an account, you will be given a TEA ID that is necessary for registering for your Pearson online account on the Texas Educator Certification Examination Program website. Your Pearson account will allow you to register for exams, schedule testing appointments, reschedule/cancel testing appointments, and register for exam retakes. This is also where you will access the report for your TExES scores. In order to register for an exam, you should make sure you have your program/agency approval, and that you are registering for the correct test for your certification. Once you have registered for the exam, you will have 170 days to schedule your testing appointment You also have to pay the TExES exam cost of $116 to be able to take the TExES 161 exam.

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 long is the TExES special education test?

    You will have a 5 hour time period to complete the TExES 161. It is made up of 150 select-response (multiple choice) questions.

  • How do I pass the TExES special education EC-12?

    In order to pass the TExES 161, it is important to study the information in a way that will help you retain it and apply it to the exam. There are many resources available to help prepare you for your test, but it is imperative you schedule your testing appointment with enough time for you to study and practice.


Take a TExES Special Education EC-12 Practice Test Online

Exam Instructions:

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  1. Which of the following is not something that a student with a communication disorder would struggle with?

    • Correct Answer
  2. Which of the following is not a method educators should use to break the boundaries when trying to involve parents in their students education?

    • Correct Answer
  3. Why is it beneficial to assign students who have the same issues into guided writing groups?

    • Correct Answer
  4. 25% can be expressed in what fraction?

    • Correct Answer
  5. Which of the following is NOT a part of the task analysis process?

    • Correct Answer
  6. Ms. Killen is having her students write a paper on a character from a book that reminds them of someone in their real life. What technique is Ms. Killen assessing?

    • Correct Answer
  7. A principal took over a new school that was known for having severe issues with behavior. The principal decided that they wanted to do things differently. Instead of focusing on the negative behavior, they wanted to reward students for positive behavior and actions. In order to do this, they decided to offer rewards as well as consequences.

    What system is the principal using?

    • Correct Answer
  8. Which of the following classroom accommodations is NOT appropriate for students with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?

    • Correct Answer
  9. A student with autism does well in the classroom, the student lacks basic, fundamental skills, especially those with reading and math. The school would meet the student's needs through

    • Correct Answer
  10. Which of the following angles in the image are alternate interior angles?

    • Correct Answer
  11. Which president signed into law the No Child Left Behind?

    • Correct Answer
  12. Sarah, a student with learning disabilities, has a hard time writing down her work on a regular sheet of notebook paper. In order to assist her in completing her work, Sarah was given a computer and a microphone. This computer helps Sarah take notes and complete assignments in all of her classes.

    What type of device was Sarah given?

    • Correct Answer
  13. Where is the TExES Special Education Exam taken?

    • Correct Answer
  14. Which of the following best describes when a teacher treats girls in her classroom better than boys?

    • Correct Answer
  15. Which of the following is NOT an impact of abuse on child development?

    • Correct Answer