Free CTEL Practice Test Strategies…Shatter The ‘Invisible Barrier’ Blocking You From Passing
Trying to get a free CTEL practice test online or looking for the best study guide?
I was keenly aware the California Teacher of English Learners (CTEL) has a lot of terminology, content knowledge and ‘must know’ teaching methods. I was long shot from passing and getting my CLAD/BCLAD credential.
The problem started when I looked at the CTEL test pdf overview on the official website. I decided to look at the “Glossary” first. I had known students first as ESL, then ELL, but in California, as EL—and FEP, LEP, or LTL.
Then I skimmed the overview of the CTEL exam itself:
- Did I remember all the “best practice” English Language Learner teaching strategies that would be on the test? Would I have to name them?
- What were the California state laws I should know?
- Did I even know the typologies for learners?
I panicked. How was I going to take the CTEL exam if I felt like I was the one who didn’t know the language? With my $260 and a semester of teaching on the line, I was running out of time to study everything.
I had two choices: give up teaching or find a way to pass the CTEL. I chose to learn to get a passing CTEL score.
How to Make Sure You Pass the CTEL the FIRST Time!
It’s not hard to find horror stories about taking the CTEL on the internet. It’s also not hard to find the secret to passing the test the first time: “Find a CTEL practice test and take it!” “Then take another one!” And—you guessed it—take at least one more!…
…Cookie-cutter test prep tips like that don’t really help you get a passing score.
Let’s look at some of the biggest problems and frustrations CTEL test-takers have. Let’s examine how research shows that CTEL practice tests can help raise your overall score in many areas where a book or other preparation materials can’t. (Research is from a meta-analysis called “Ten Benefits of Testing and Their Applications to Educational Practice” by Roediger, Putnam and Smith.)
Problem #1: You panic because you aren’t sure what will be asked—and you don’t want to fail.
Solution: CTEL practice tests will help through the “testing effect”
- You’ll have opportunities to answer types of realistic CTEL questions found on the exam.
- Research shows you’ll retrieve the information better if you take CTEL practice tests
- You’ll be able to transfer this knowledge from CTEL multiple choice practice questions to essay questions.
Problem #2: You’ve been out of the classroom or are new to California, so you’re not sure of the terminology or the state laws used on the test.
Solution: CTEL practice exams identify gaps in your knowledge
- You’ll be able to see what you do know and what you don’t know
- Research says you’ll also recognize which types of exam CTEL questions you would actually get wrong on a test
- You can then focus your CTEL test practice on your weak spots and save time
Problem #3: You don’t have time to spend reading CTEL study guides, textbooks and other reference material.
Solution: CTEL practice tests AND their answer keys will explain both the correct and incorrect answers
- You can learn just as much from this CTEL exam practice feedback as if you were studying from a textbook
- Your retention level may be greater than if you read and re-read CTEL books
Problem #4: It’s been years since you have taken a ‘high stakes’ test that has your money and career on the line!
Solution: CTEL practice questions give you the chance to build confidence as you gain the knowledge to pass.
- You’ll become familiar with the format of the CTEL exam, reducing anxiety
- CTEL practice helps you learn the language of the test so you will know the phrasing of questions and answers
- You can practice taking the CTEL test as though you were taking the actual exam, learning to pace yourself
Who knew that taking a CTEL practice test could solve all of my test-taking worries?
However, not all practice tests for the CTEL are alike. Be aware of the major differences!
How To Choose the Best CTEL Practice Test
Here are the seven biggest complaints about CTEL practice tests:
- My CTEL practice questions are “Nothing like the real CTEL exam”;
- The CTEL practice test questions are not at all what was on the exam;
- I can’t trust answers because of all the grammatical errors and typos;
- The practice exam in my book is a waste of money. It is no different than what is offered for free on websites;
- Outdated examples “Assessment and Instruction” that lead your CTEL test prep in the wrong direction;
- Only one opportunity to take the test;
- No CTEL constructed response questions and no example of a well-written constructed response.
Look for this in a CTEL practice exam:
- Three sections organized the same as the real CTEL is organized (*See below for specific test info.);
- Practice questions with the right amount of difficulty (check sample questions at the ctcexams site for comparison)
- No typos: if there are typos, there may be other errors;
- It must have thorough explanations of both the correct and the incorrect answers (feedback);
- A good CTEL practice test must provide up-to-date content knowledge and best practice teaching methods, complete with current learner theories and teaching strategies;
- At least three opportunities to take each portion of the test (*Research says the more you take, the more you retain for the real test);
- Every sample test should have sample constructed response questions AND sample answers!
How to Use Your Practice Test to Pass the CTEL
Once you’ve found the best CTEL practice test, use it wisely:
✗ Set up a daily schedule of small chunks of time. Don’t cram!
✗ Leave time between CTEL practice tests (1 day up to a week) to allow yourself to absorb the explanations of the correct and incorrect answers.
✗ Between practice tests, focus study time on terms, acronyms, and strategies you do not know.
✗ Try to mimic the exam itself, giving yourself the allotted time for each subtest, practicing the pace as well as the actual test.
✗ Look for reasons WHY you choose incorrect answers: is there a pattern to the choices you make? You are not just learning the information, you are learning the test!
Links To FREE CTEL Test Preparation Help
The following CTEL exam cheat-sheets provide step-by-step tips that help you pass the California Teacher of English Learners quicker and in less time.
The CTEL costs $260 if you choose to take all three sections at once; $344 if taken separately
Part I. Language and Language Development
- 50 multiple choice questions/1 constructed response
- 1 hour 45 minutes
Part II. Assessment and Instruction
- 60 multiple choice questions/2 constructed response
- 2 hours 45 minutes
Part III. Culture and Inclusion
- 40 multiple choice questions/1 constructed response
- 1 hour 30 minutes
Why Go Through All This?
According to the California Department of Education, there are over 6.2 million students in the state of California. Over 21% are English learners; over 42% speak a language other than English at home.
If repeating your entire grueling CTEL test prep, stressful test taking ordeal and high testing fees aren’t enough to push you to pass the first time, you’ll be forced to go to do it all over again. Make your future students who need you the reason to practice. The more you prepare with CTEL practice test questions, the better your chances of passing and getting your CLAD/BCLAD credential—and the sooner you will be able to help students achieve their goals!
Author: Mark Dahlson
Last updated: 03/21/2020