What Are Praxis Tests?
Praxis tests are the group of pre-professional skills tests required as part of the teacher training college admissions process in the US.
They are a critical part of the teaching licensing process in many states, and most colleges will use them to assess the suitability of candidates for teaching.
All trainee teachers will be required to take at least one Praxis test, either before entry to teacher training college, during their college career or before entering the workforce as a student-teacher.
The Praxis tests are designed to assess the core academic skills (reading, writing and math) that the teaching profession requires, as well as the subject-specific knowledge required of a teacher.
There are three types of praxis test:
1. Praxis® Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core)
This test measures skills in reading, writing and mathematics for all trainee teachers, and is split into three separate papers.
2. Praxis® Subject Assessments
This test measures subject-specific knowledge for high school teachers, as well as their general teaching skills and skills which may be specific to the subject they are training to teach at K–12 level.
There are over 90 different Praxis subject assessment tests, and the ones you are required to take will depend on the state or licensing body you are applying to.
There is a Praxis Braille subject knowledge test, which is delivered in person.
3. Praxis® Content Knowledge
This test measures the subject-specific content knowledge required for teaching in elementary school.
Similar to the Praxis subject assessment for High School teachers, it measures the broad range of subject knowledge and pedagogy required by elementary school teachers.
Some Praxis tests are required to graduate from teacher training. All prospective teachers will have to pass the first Praxis® Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core).
Prospective high school teachers may also have to pass a praxis subject assessment, whilst prospective elementary school teachers may have to pass the praxis content knowledge test.
Each state has its own testing requirements.
What Is Being Assessed?
As already mentioned, Praxis® Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core) is divided into three separate tests:
The reading test requires the integration and analysis of multiple teaching documents and assesses a candidate’s ability to extract and synthesize information from long passages of text.
This skill is essential during teacher training college to gain a full understanding of pedagogy and theoretical teaching practice, and also forms a key part of the teaching profession.
The writing test is split into two essay tasks:
- One explanatory writing task that assesses a candidate’s ability to present verbal information clearly.
- One argumentative writing task that assesses a candidate’s persuasive writing ability.
These are both skills that will be essential to a candidate’s success at teacher training college.
The mathematics test includes questions with selected response answers and numerical entry.
An on-screen calculator is provided to ensure the test properly measures a candidate’s mathematical reasoning, without a fair assessment becoming obscured by simple arithmetic mistakes.
The Praxis® Subject Assessments measure subject-specific teaching skills and knowledge required of K–12 teachers.
They include selected-response questions (multiple-choice) as well as short answer essay questions.
Subject assessments include more questions on the principles of learning and teaching at one of four levels:
- Early childhood
This ensures candidates entering K–12 teaching have a solid knowledge of child development.
There are over 90 tests and a different combination of tests will be required depending on where you are applying for teacher training.
You can check the state requirements for each praxis test on the ETS website.
Question Formats and Type
Praxis® Core Academic Skills Test – Mathematics
There are four types of Mathematics question:
- Number and Quantity – 17 questions, 30% of the test
- Algebra and Functions – 17 questions, 30% of test
- Geometry – 11 questions, 20% of the test
- Statistics and Probability – 11 questions, 20% of the test
The number of questions may vary slightly from test to test.
Number and Quantity Question Example:
Jennifer drives 30 miles to the hairdresser. She then travels another 6 miles to get to the utility company and 12 miles to the dentist’s office.
Assuming the utility company and the dentist's office were both on her way home from the hairdresser, approximately how many miles will she still have to drive to make it home?
The correct answer is: b) 12
From this passage, we learn that Jennifer lives 30 miles away from the hairdresser. She then drives back, and on the way home visits two other locations. These miles can be subtracted from 30 to find out how many more miles she has to drive to get to her house.
30 – 12 (miles from the dentist's office) – 6 (miles to the utility company)
30 – 12 – 6 = 12
There is a decoy answer. Assuming you did not infer from the passage that the hairdresser is the furthest location, d) 48 is the total number of miles traveled by Jennifer on her journey.
Algebra Question Example:
In the following equation, what is the value of 'x'?
13 – x = 78
The correct answer is: a) –65
To reach a positive value in this equation, we need to subtract a negative number.
You need to invert the equation to reach a sure conclusion.
13 – x = 78
13 = 78 + x
x = 78 – 13
x = 65
Probability and Statistics Question Example:
What is the probability of spinning a 'C' on the spinner below?
The correct answer is: b) 1 in 4
There are 8 sections on the spinner and 2 out of 8 of them are marked 'C'. 2 out 8 is equivalent to 1 out of 4, in other words, 2/8 simplified is 1/4.
Geometry Question Example:
What is the area of this rectangle?
a) 15 ft
b) 9 ft
c) 12 ft
d) 18 ft
The correct answer is: d) 18 ft
To find the area of any rectangle, multiply its length by its width.
6 ft x 3 ft = 18 ft
Praxis® Core Academic Skills Test – Reading
The Praxis® Core Academic Skills: Reading test is divided into three categories of questions:
- Key Ideas and Details – 17 to 22 questions, or 35% of the test
- Craft, Structure and Language Skills – 14 to 19 questions, or 30% of the test
- Integration of Knowledge and Ideas – 17 to 22 questions, or 35% of the test
Each of these subcategories will present a passage of text, followed by three selected-response questions relating to that passage.
The opera Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini was written in the early 20th century. The opera is about an American naval officer who is stationed in Japan. He meets and falls helplessly in love with Butterfly, a geisha. However, the love story is interrupted by his return to America. Before he leaves, he makes a promise to Butterfly to come back to Japan to marry her one day. However, when he does return three years later, she is shocked to see that he is joined by his American wife. Humiliated and heartbroken, Butterfly stabs herself. The American officer begs her to forgive him as she dies in his arms.
This passage describes the characters’ feelings in Madame Butterfly as all of the following except:
The correct answer is: e) musical
Although the passage relates to a famous piece of music, music is not an adjective that can be used to describe a character's feelings, only how they may choose to express them.
Make sure you read to the end of each question – the word 'except' drastically changes what the answer to this question might be.
Detailed explanations of question examples can be found in the ETS Praxis reading study guide.
Praxis® Core Academic Skills Test – Writing
The Praxis writing test has two subcategories of question:
- Text Types, Purposes and Production – 6 to 12 selected-response questions and two essays, 60% of the test
- Language and Research Skills – 28 to 34 selected-response questions and short answer writing, 40% of the test
Example Selected-Response Question:
Which of the following is a flavor made from beans?
The correct answer is: a) vanilla
Using any of the following methods, vanilla is the only possible answer:
- Limit your answer to the choices given – When you think of beans, you might think of other flavors, such as coffee, but that is not listed. Focus on the list given.
- Eliminate incorrect answers – Basil is a leaf, pistachio is a nut, raspberry is a fruit. That leaves vanilla as the only possible answer.
- Verify your answer by turning the question into a statement – Which of the following is a flavor made from beans? = <Answer> is a flavor made from beans.
Essay Question Example:
“Minimum wage employers exploit people who need a job. Minimum wage jobs provide no opportunity for learning or progression and are dull and repetitive, and there is no incentive for employers to provide development for them. People in minimum wage jobs are therefore locked into low-paying work. A higher minimum wage could be an incentive for employers to find better-trained staff, as well as to provide better training for their staff for work to be carried out at a higher production rate and increase employee satisfaction.”
Discuss the extent to which you agree, disagree or are indifferent to this opinion, using supporting examples from your observation, experience or understanding.
You will have 30 minutes to write an argumentative essay that evaluates this statement fairly.
Praxis® Subject Assessment
There are over 90 Praxis® Subject Assessment tests. Example questions for each one can be found in the specific study guide for the test, published by ETS.
What to Expect When Taking the Praxis Tests
Except for the Praxis Braille test, all Praxis tests are delivered on a computer. They are delivered globally and in many different languages.
You can find out where your local test centers are and how to register on the ETS website.
Registration takes place through your Praxis account. It is important to read the Praxis information bulletin before you register and ensure you know exactly which tests your state and licensing body require you to take.
Your math test will include an onscreen calculator, so there is no need to bring your own, but you are allowed to if you prefer. You are not allowed to bring your own stationery, including pens and pencils; these are provided by the test center.
It is important to check your test location 24 hours before your test by checking your praxis account, as test locations sometimes change.
Your admissions ticket isn’t always a requirement at a test center, but it is important to have a hard printed copy in case it is requested. Have this to hand, as well as your required ID documents when you arrive.
Your test appointment includes a 30-minute tutorial window, in which you can familiarize yourself with the computer system. Make use of this, and arrive well in advance of your test.
Before taking your subject-specific test, check the requirements carefully.
For example, The Art: Content and Analysis test (5135) requires you to upload images of your work at least three days in advance of the test. It is recommended also to bring printed hard copies of these to the testing center.
How the Test Is Scored
The Praxis test score report cards indicate if you passed, the range of possible scores, the raw points achieved in comparison to the raw points available, and the range of possible scores, middle and 50% scores.
Every select-response question is worth one point, whilst the value of short and long answer essay questions vary.
The tests are reviewed both by real scorers and an impartial crater bot, developed by ETS to fairly assess and compare the wide range of Praxis tests.
Raw scores are then converted to the points scale. This is because ETS publishes several, varying versions of the same test each year, so the scaled score metric allows for comparison between different forms of the test.
The scale conversion policy is reviewed regularly by ETS, so the best way to understand what your overall score really means is to review their latest FAQ documents on scoring.
There is a useful example of a praxis score card published by ETS, annotated to show the meaning of each section.
Depending on which universities or licensing bodies you have applied to, the score card will compare your highest score with the score required by that institution, with a clear pass or fail indication.
The score card also groups questions into content categories, so it is clear which types of questions a candidate has done well at and which might need further work.
If a candidate needs to resit a test, this, as well as the difference between raw points acquired and raw points available, provides the opportunity for a candidate to fairly assess what they need to improve on before they retake the test.
Some praxis tests offer unofficial score estimates immediately on completion of the test which indicate how likely it is that you have passed.
Praxis tests are offered continuously, and most score cards are made available within 21 days of taking the test. There are some tests offered only on specific dates, and these have varying score release dates.
Praxis Tests: Tips for Success
- The praxis core test can either be taken as three separate tests or as one continuous test. If taken separately, each test lasts two hours; but if taken together, the whole test lasts five hours. We recommend taking the three separate tests to allow for recovery, increased focus and extra time to settle into the test center. The extra time in the separate tests only accounts for the twenty-minute induction to the test, which will be taken three times.
- Make use of the ETS study companions. ETS produces a detailed study guide for every paper, including all 90 subject assessments. The study guides include practice questions, answers and question explanations, and are the most thorough and up to date resources you will access.
- Use other free training available, including the Khan Academy practice tests.
- Answer every question, even if you are guessing. You cannot lose points for submitting incorrect answers.
By comparison to other pre-professional tests, the Praxis tests are a demanding experience.
Every prospective teacher will have to spend at least seven hours undertaking the tests, and the pass marks, although variable, are generally very high, leaving little room for mistakes.
Although you can resit each test up to four times, they are expensive, each with a registration fee of $50 to $150, so it is worth getting it right the first time.
Some K–12 teachers will have to take multiple subject-specific Praxis tests. Even with only one set of resists, it would be possible to run up a four-figure testing bill.
As Praxis tests cover such a wide range of skills and knowledge, it is worth going into the test fully prepared.
There is a wealth of information and preparatory material available created by ETS specifically for each test. Make good use of these, as well as the wealth of other free resources that are available for the Praxis test, and you will set yourself up for success.
As with all timed tests, practice against the clock, familiarise yourself with the format and arrive rehearsed on the day.