What is a Praxis test?
A Praxis test is one of a series of assessments that forms part of the teacher certification process in many US states. Depending on State requirements, you may need to pass a Praxis test for acceptance to a teacher training program, and/or pass additional Praxis tests to earn licenced teacher status.
The Praxis series is split into three test types:
Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators. This test is a common requirement for college and university admissions, though some schools administer it later as part of their educational program. It covers skills deemed necessary for anyone entering the teaching profession, regardless of subject area or grade level.
Praxis Subject Assessments. There are over 90 variants of Praxis Subject Assessments, which test a candidate’s subject specific knowledge and pedagogy, as well as their broader educational skills. Subject Assessments are typically taken as part of the licensing process for those entering K-12 teaching.
Praxis Elementary Education: Content Knowledge for Teaching (CKT). This is a series of four tests assessing the content knowledge required to teach at elementary level, as well as a candidates understanding of teaching theory and practice in early stage education. CKT tests are a requirement in many states for the issue of an elementary teaching license.
What knowledge do Praxis tests assess?
The knowledge under assessment is dependent on the type of Praxis test administered.
The Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators test is split into three sections:
Mathematics. This section requires you to complete tasks covering four areas of mathematical aptitude: number and quality; algebra and functions; geometry; and statistics and probability.
Reading. Here you’ll be required to analyse and interpret various forms of content. Written content comes in the form of news, fiction and non-fiction texts, and data in tables, charts and graphs.
Writing. This consists of multiple-choice questions relating to writing conventions like grammar, punctuation, word usage and sentence structure. It also measures both your informational and persuasive writing skills through timed essay questions.
Praxis Subject Assessments measure your knowledge of specific content and your ability to teach that content effectively. STEM subjects, the arts, physical education, business and social studies are some of the topics covered in the 90-plus Subject Assessments.
A Praxis CKT test is divided into four subtests, measuring your knowledge across reading and language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. As well as content knowledge, these tests also measure how well you can tailor delivery for elementary students.
The format of Praxis tests
Each Praxis test has its own structure, with varying question types and time limits.
As we’ve already mentioned, the Praxis Core is split into three sections. These can be taken individually, with a total test time of two hours each including tutorials, or in one sitting lasting a total of five hours.
The reading section comprises selected response questions, both multiple choice and single selection. You’ll be presented with passages of text for analysis, and required to pick one of several possible responses, or identify a specific point within the text. There are 56 questions in total in this section.
The mathematics section also has 56 questions, split between multiple choice and numerical entry response options. Questions are divided fairly equally between number and quality, algebra and functions, geometry and statistics and probability. As part of this section, you’ll have access to an on-screen calculator.
For the writing section, you’ll be required to answer a series of select response questions, and complete two constructed response (or essay) questions. One will test your explanatory writing skills, the other your persuasive writing skills.
Praxis Subject Assessments
These tests vary widely in themselves, but most contain a combination of selected and constructed response question types. They can last anywhere from one to four hours, depending on the subject knowledge under assessment.
The ETS publishes study companions for each Praxis Subject Assessment, which will give you a clearer picture of what to expect.
It’s important to read these and all pre-test requirements thoroughly, as some assessments, like those in the arts for example, call for work examples to be uploaded prior to test day.
This test is divided into four subtests and again, these can be taken individually or in one sitting. The combined duration of all four subtests is 5.5 hours.
All subtests are based on selected response questions, except for the math section, which also contains numerical entry. The amount of questions covered in each section is listed below:
Reading and Language Arts: 63 questions
Math: 52 questions
Science: 47 questions
Social Studies: 60 questions
Regardless of type, all Praxis tests are computer-based assessments and are taken at designated testing centres.
You’ll need to set up an account via the ETS website, where you’ll also find available dates, testing centre locations and fees.