Test Overview for Praxis I: Pre-Professional Skills Test (page 2)
Most teaching certification programs require that you demonstrate a certain level of academic aptitude in order to be admitted into their credential program. In addition, states that do not require teachers to have a degree in education to be considered for a job do require a passing score on a basic skills test. Of all the states in the country that require standardized testing as a form of measuring basic academic skills, the majority use the Praxis I: Academic Skills Assessments. This lesson will familiarize you with the Praxis I, which is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). This lesson also discusses all of the pertinent information about the Praxis I, including: contact information, the registration process, examination fees, and test format and content. Additionally, you will learn about Praxis I scoring, what the scores are used for, and how they are reported.
All of the exams in the Praxis Series are designed to measure the scholastic capability of teachers at different stages of their careers. The first exam in the Praxis Series, the Praxis I, is taken early in a student's college career in order to enter into a teaching credential program. It is also taken by prospective teachers to be considered for a license in states not requiring education degrees. The Praxis I is comprised of three individual tests called the Pre-Professional Skills Tests (PPSTs), which are in reading, mathematics, and writing.
The PPSTs are administered in both a paper- and computer-based format. This chapter will discuss both in detail. Although both forms of the test cover the same content, the procedures for registering and taking the tests are very different; therefore, these steps will be discussed separately in this chapter.
The Praxis Series
Praxis I is generally taken to gain entry into a teaching credential program and for state licensing.
Praxis II is taken by would-be teachers who are applying for state licensure as a teacher.*
Praxis III is taken in a classroom setting by beginning teachers.
*For more information on Praxis II, see Appendix A on page 377.
States Using the Praxis I
Currently, the following states and United States territories require passing PPST scores as a component of their teacher certification process:
District of Columbia
U.S. Virgin Islands
Not Simply Certification
Some educational organizations require that you achieve passing PPST scores to gain membership. These organizations include: the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA), and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
All states and agencies using the Praxis Series require that examinees possess a high school diploma, a GED, or another high school equivalency form. Information regarding specific state or organization requirements may change from time to time. For more information, refer to the Praxis website at www.ets.org/praxis/.
Note: Although some of the information for the requirements of California is included on the Praxis website, those interested in meeting requirements for California should contact:
- California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC)
- Information Services Unit
- P.O. Box 944270
- 1900 Capitol Avenue
- Sacramento, CA 94233-2700
- Phone: 888-921-2682 or 916-445-7254, 12:00 P.M. to 4:45 P.M. (PST)
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (include a postal address in e-mail)
Important Contact Information
ETS—The Praxis Series
P.O. Box 6051
Princeton, NJ 08541-6051
Phone: 609-771-7395, M–F 8 A.M. to 7:45 P.M. (EST)
Phone for the Hearing Impaired: 609-771-7714
Fax: 609-530-0581 or 609-771-7906
What Is the Praxis I Like?
All of the questions on the Praxis I, with the exception of the essay portion of the PPST Writing test, are in multiple-choice format. Each multiple-choice question has five answer choices. Because test scoring is based only on the number of items answered correctly, you are not penalized for guessing on the PPSTs—so be sure to fill in all of the answer blanks rather than leaving difficult questions unanswered.
Each of the three sections of the Praxis I is designed to test one of the following skills:
The PPST Reading test measures your ability to comprehend and analyze written information. You will be asked to read a number of passages (which may vary in length from 100 to 200 words) and then answer questions that test your ability to comprehend what you have read. You will be tested only on your ability to understand and analyze the selection; you will not be required to have specific knowledge about the topics discussed in the passages. The following are general types of questions that you may be asked:
- argument evaluation questions
- inferential reasoning questions
- generalization questions
The PPST Mathematics test measures your proficiency in math. Generally speaking, the test requires a competency at the high school or first-year college level. Here are the four main math skills that will be tested:
- numeration and place value
- number properties
- operation properties
- ratio, proportion, and percent
- numerical reasoning
- equations and inequalities
- algorithmic thinking
- algebraic representations
- algebraic reasoning
- geometric properties
- the xy-coordinate plane
- geometric reasoning
- systems of measurement
Data Analysis and Probability
- data interpretation
- data representation
- trends and inferences
- measures of central tendency
The PPST Writing test is divided into two sections: The first section consists of multiple-choice questions that require you to find and/or correct errors in standard English; the second part asks you to write a 30-minute essay on an assigned topic, which will represent 50% of your total writing test score.
The multiple-choice section of the writing test is designed to measure your ability to use standard English correctly and effectively and is divided into two parts: usage and sentence correction.
Usage questions test your knowledge of:
Usage questions also test your ability to identify error-free sentences.
Sentence Correction questions test your ability to:
- select the best way to state a given phrase or sentence
- correct sentences with errors in grammar, mechanics, idioms, or word choice
The essay portion of the PPST Writing test is designed to evaluate your ability to express ideas clearly and effectively in standard written English. You will be presented with a topic and asked to state an opinion in essay form. The given topics present situations that are generally familiar to all educated people and do not require any specialized knowledge in a particular field. Although you will be posing an argument and drawing conclusions based on examples from personal experience or observation, you will not be graded on your opinion—you will be scored only on how effectively you are able to get your ideas across.
The following qualities will be taken into consideration when your essay is scored:
- Appropriateness: whether or not your essay was written appropriately for the task and intended audience
- Organization: your ability to organize and develop the essay logically, and make clear connections between ideas
- Unity and focus: your ability to devise and sustain a clear thesis throughout the essay
- Development: the ability to develop your essay through examples and details that clearly and logically support the ideas presented in your essay
- Mechanical conventions: demonstration of a proficient use of the English language and ability to use proper syntax
- Sentence structure: the ability to effectively construct sentences, free from error, in standard written English
From time to time, the ETS needs to try out new questions to see if they are suitable to be used in future editions of the test. These questions will not be identified, because the ETS is trying to determinine how examinees will respond under real testing conditions. The questions are unscored, meaning that they do not count toward or against your score. Not all tests include unscored questions.
What about Scores?
The ETS will mail your official score report about four weeks after your test date for the paper-based test and approximately two to three weeks after computer-based testing. If you take the computer-based test, you can (in most cases) view your reading and math scores at the end of your test session. Your score report will also be sent to the recipients (for example, schools) you designated on your registration form. The report shows a separate test score for each PPST subject that you take. Reading and math test scores are based on the number of items answered correctly. There is no penalty for answering a question incorrectly. The writing test score is based on the number of multiple-choice questions answered correctly combined with the essay score, which is scored on a scale of 1 to 6.
Can I Cancel My Scores?
For the paper-based test, you may cancel your scores for a particular test by submitting a Request for Score Cancellation form to the ETS within one week after the test date. If you take a computer-based test, you are given the option to cancel your scores at the end of your test session before viewing the scores (once you have viewed your computerized scores, you cannot cancel them). All score cancellations are permanent, and refunds are not given.
Each state or institution determines its own passing score. The first thing you will want to do with your scores is to compare them to the passing scores set by your state. Along with your test scores, you will receive the Understanding Your Praxis Scores booklet that gives the passing scores for each state. The Praxis Series website (www.ets.org/praxis/) also has a complete state-by-state listing of required tests and passing scores.
Retaking the Tests
If you don't pass one or more PPST tests, you will be allowed to take them again. How many times or how often you may retake each PPST is determined by the policies of individual states or institutions. The ETS does not limit how many times you can take the paper-based tests. However, the ETS does mandate that you may take each of the computer-based tests only once per 30-day period and no more than six times in one year. Individual states may have further restrictions.
What to Bring to the Test
If you are taking the paper-based test, you will need to bring valid photo identification, your admittance ticket (which is mailed to you following registration or printed after online registration), several #2 pencils, and (if you are taking the writing test) blue or black ink pens. You may also choose to bring a watch, as long as it does not have calculator or keyboard functions. For the computer-based test, you will need your photo identification and your Social Security number.
You may not bring calculators, cell phones, pagers, books, bags, or other people into the test room with you. The test administrator will designate an area where you may keep your personal belongings during the test.
For each paper-based test, you will have 60 minutes of actual testing time. The test administrator will begin timing after all test booklets and Scantron sheets have been handed out and the instructions have been given. You should allow about one and a half hours (90 minutes) for each individual test or four and a half hours if you are taking all three tests on the same day.
You will be allowed two hours for each individual computer-based test or four and a half hours for the combined computer-based tests. This allows time for tutorials and the collection of background information. Please see "The Computer-Based Test at a Glance" box on page 16 for the time allotted for each individual test.
On test day, allow plenty of time in the morning to get to your test location, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area where the test is given. You should arrive at least 30 minutes before your test in order to sign in, present your identification, and get yourself settled.
The Paper-Based Test
The paper-based test is offered approximately four times during a testing year at testing centers around the country. Questions are presented in multiple-choice format in a test booklet, and answers are entered onto a Scantron form. The essay portion of the PPST Writing test must be handwritten in blue or black ink.
The Paper-Based Test at a Glance
Breakdown of Paper-Based Tests
The following table provides the approximate number and percentage of each question type on the paper-based PPSTs:
Fees for the Paper-Based Test
PPST Reading: $40 PPST Math: $40 PPST Writing: $40 Registration fee: $50 (charged once per testing year) Special Service Fees Late registration: $45 Test, test center, or test date change: $45 Emergency registration: $75 Telephone reregistration: $35 File correction: $35 Scores by phone: $30 Additional score reports: $40 (per report)
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