Praxis Core Test Prep “Quick Start” Guide
The Praxis Core Skills tests measure competency in three areas: reading, writing and math.
Colleges and Universities may use them to evaluate candidates for entrance into teacher education programs. Many states require the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators and Praxis Subject Assessment for teacher licensure.
Though these tests measure basic competency, they are rigorous. Be prepared to pass them the first time by knowing what is on each exam and selecting the best preparation materials for these specific tests.
Get the best Praxis Core practice questions and study guides you can. The cost of failure and delaying your progress in education is always higher.
History and Background of the Praxis Core Test
If you believe that a teacher can make a difference in students’ lives, you are not alone.
Florida International University researchers Donna Fong-Yee and Anthony H. Normore authored the article “The Impact of Quality Teachers on Student Achievement.” They state “teachers do matter, and their cognitive ability and knowledge of the subject matter and of teaching and learning, licensure, and teaching behaviors in the classroom are related to teacher quality.”
This makes sense. But how can schools ensure they are hiring “quality” teachers?
One way is to test teachers’ knowledge, skills and abilities before they enter the classroom.
The Praxis Core test attempts to do just that. Their creator, The Educational Testing Service (ETS), was founded in 1947. Its mission is to “advance quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments…” (https://www.ets.org/about/fast_facts).
Although tests do not guarantee success in the classroom, the purpose of the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators is to do just that: attempt to measure knowledge, skills and abilities of those entering the teaching profession.
Praxis Core Exam: Purpose and Rationale
Ever since public education began in America, the government has attempted to ensure equal access to quality education for all students. Most recently, those attempts have been as follows:
- President LBJ signed the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) into law in 1965. Part of his Great Society program, it aimed to bridge the achievement gap (https://education.laws.com/elementary-and-secondary-education-act)
- Additions and improvements were made in 1981 and 1994
- The No Child Left Behind Act, signed by President George W. Bush in 2002, reauthorized the ESEA and included Title 1 provisions for disadvantaged students
- The Every Student Succeeds Act is signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2015 http://www.k12.wa.us/ESEA/default.aspx
What do these three have in common? An effort to show accountability.
Praxis Core Academic Skills For Educators: State Organizations Involved
Though the federal government has become more involved in education, the 10th Amendment to the Constitution is the basis for making education a function of the states. Here’s where it gets tricky:
Each state’s constitution requires it to provide a school system to educate children
Schools that need state and federal funding must follow state and federal laws and policies.
|Funding||Policies||Laws||Curriculum, teaching methods and materials|
|State Gov’t||X||X||X||control varies state to state|
Each state has its own department of education to oversee licensure. State departments of education answer to the U.S. department of education, a cabinet-level department created by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. The national secretary of education advises legislators and ensures their legislation is enacted.
Links To Free Praxis Core Test Prep Tools And Tactics:
Development of the Praxis Core Test
Steps in the development of Praxis Core exam:
- representative groups of teachers and teacher educators are surveyed to find what a beginning teacher should know;
- an Advisory Committee of teachers and teacher educators add survey results to national standards which apply to that particular discipline;
- the Committee defines the content for each Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam;
- Praxis Core test specifications are created to guide development of the test;
- educators develop the tests;
- advisory committees of teachers, teacher educators, administrators and professional organizations help review, revise and approve the questions and applications;
- ETS validates each exam using technical guidelines in 2014 AERA Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing;
- each Praxis Core exam is reviewed regularly to revise based on standards, state licensure and current relevant job analyses.
You may choose to take all three segments of the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators at one time or separately. Fees are $90 per test if taken separately or $150 if all are taken at one time (5 hours total are allotted if all three are taken at one time).
Because these Praxis exams are rigorous, use preparation materials designed specifically for these tests.
Praxis Core Reading (5712):
- 85 minutes allowed
- 56 questions on computer
- questions are selected response based on reading passages and statements
- Key Ideas and Details, 17-22 questions (35% of the test)
- Craft, Structure, and Language Skills, 14-19 questions (30% of the test)
- Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, 17-22 questions (35% of the test)
For more detailed information about the types of Praxis Core questions and the entire standards/skills tested, see https://www.ets.org/s/praxis/pdf/5712.pdf.
Praxis Core Writing (5722):
- 100 minutes allowed
- 40 selected response questions (40 minutes); 2 essay sections (30 minutes each) on computer
- selected response questions ask about usage, sentence correction, revision in context and research skills
- two separate essay questions are asked
- Text Types, Purposes and Production, approximately 6-12 questions; 2 essay (60% of the test)
- Language and Research Skills for Writing, approximately 28-34 questions (40% of the test)
For more detailed information about the types of Praxis Core exam questions and the entire standards/skills tested, see https://www.ets.org/s/praxis/pdf/5722.pdf.
Praxis Core Mathematics (5732):
- 85 minutes allowed
- 56 questions on computer
- questions are selected response with one correct response; selected response with possibly more than one correct response; and numeric entry questions (online calculator available)
- Number and Quantity, approximately 17 questions (30% of the test)
- Algebra and Functions, approximately 17 questions (30% of the test)
- Geometry, approximately 11 questions (20% of the test)
- Statistics and Probability, approximately 11 questions (20% of the test)
Be sure to get at least two full length sets of Praxis Core math practice test questions.
For more detailed information about the types of Praxis Core test questions and the entire standards/skills tested, see https://www.ets.org/s/praxis/pdf/5732.pdf.
There are many ETS test centers around the globe. You may register for a Praxis Core exam by registering online at https://www.ets.org/praxis/register or by mail (page 20 of the bulletin found at https://www.ets.org/praxis/about/bulletin). Payment must be made at the time you register.
The cost of each test is $90. If you take all three, the cost is $150.
Because of the cost, candidates will want to ensure a passing score the first time. To do this, use up-to-date test preparation materials to gain confidence and a passing score.
The ETS has some fee waivers for enrolled under-graduate or graduate students who meet eligibility requirements. You must be:
- receiving financial aid
- enrolled undergraduate or graduate student
- meet income guidelines (*you may be surprised; it is worth your effort—and $150—to look!)
- the test must be required by an authorized score recipient.
Find more information at https://www.ets.org/praxis/about/fees/fee_waivers/. You must apply by the appropriate deadline on the form.
When you register, you must pay your fees with a credit/debit card, eCheck, or PayPal.
Once you register, print your admission ticket from your online account to ensure there are no errors. Currently, the admission ticket is not required, but some centers may ask for it.
All Praxis Core testing is done on computer. An online calculator is provided for the mathematics test.
Test-takers with disabilities who need accommodations must submit a request to the ETS Disability services at www.ets.org/praxis/register/disabilities. Depending upon your needs, the review and accommodations may take up to 12 weeks.
The latest data on Praxis Core shows that over 80% of test-takers pass the test each year. Good news.
But look deeper on blog posts and you will find that a number of candidates retake at least one portion of the test 3, 4, or even 5 times. How can that be?
Take a real-life example. Claire (not her real name) always wanted to teach kindergarten. Yet to do so, she must pass the math portion of the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators which includes geometry and algebra. The last time Claire took geometry and algebra was 6 years ago, and she hasn’t had a use for them since.
Now Claire is hoping that the tutor she hired will help her pass on her third try.
Three tries means an extra $180 plus the amount for the tutor.
What could she have done differently? More importantly, what can YOU do to pass the first time?
- Read the Praxis Core “study companion” for the exam, found at https://www.ets.org/praxis/prepare/materials . Each test lists specific standards it is testing.
- Be honest with yourself: which areas are your weakest? Print out a copy of the pages and highlight those areas that you need to work on.
- Look for help. Research shows that the best Praxis Core study guide book and practice materials can not only improve your score, but they can also improve your confidence going into the exam.
Reread the first two items above: if you know what is being tested and you know your weak areas, you are half-way to success!
Use that information to guide you to Praxis Core study guides and practice tests that are current (check them against the standards). If the materials are current, they should contain information that is on the real exam. Here are some other items to check:
- Check the questions against the sample questions offered. Is the format the same? If questions are too easy or too difficult, you will not get the results you want!
- Check the explanations to see why each correct answer is the correct answer.
- Check the explanations to see whether each incorrect answer is explained! If you can see why your answers are correct OR incorrect, you may spot patterns of words or phrases that “trick” you into answering the question incorrectly!
Hiring a tutor can be attractive to you if you are never motivated to study. But keep your eye on the goal: pass the test the first time AND save money!
When you find the adequate Praxis Core practice materials, study the right way, using research to guide you.
The article “Rethinking the use of tests: A Meta-Analysis of Practice Testing” (2017) shows three things of interest:
- Use many short Praxis Core practice sessions and take some time between Don’t cram for days. Doing this allows your long-term memory to store information.
- Taking one full-length Praxis Core practice test worked better than taking two or more full-length tests if the tests were taken in a short time frame. Again, extend the time between practice tests.
- One full-length Praxis Core practice exam taken between 1 and 6 days before the final test had the most impact. So save one of the tests for this time period. Make sure you have more than one practice test available.
- read the policies for the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators and follow them strictly when you use your study time
- no distractions: go to the library if that’s the only way to ditch the cell phone or TV
- 20-40 minute chunks of focused study time
- short break of 5-10 minutes
- repeat, checking both Praxis Core questions and answers for those patterns used in “tricky” questions and answers
- ask yourself, “What don’t I understand?” and be honest. Find a resource who can help you uncover the reason you have difficulty with this question or standard—and it doesn’t have to be a paid tutor!
Avoid having to stress over retaking any part of the Praxis Core test. Invest the extra time now so you won’t have to kick yourself later. Making major progress toward a career in education is all downhill after you bridge this obstacle!
Author: Mark Dahlson