The Praxis is a standardized exam given by the Educational Testing Service. All states require some passing score on a particular Praxis to become certified as a teacher in that state. Which tests, levels and content areas of the Praxis you must take is dependent upon your particular state’s requirements. To find your state’s requirements search for your particular state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) or go to www.ets.org, under Tests click Praxis, then click State Requirements.
The Praxis is broken down into many levels. Which exam you have to take depends on your state. Some states require passing the Praxis I and II in your areas, while some states merely require a passing score on the Praxis II (The content area exam). The exams are then broken down by grade level-elementary, middle school, and secondary or high school, and then into content areas for those looking for certification in middle and high school grades.
If you are currently enrolled in an undergraduate education program, it is best to follow the recommendations of your particular program in regards to when to take the Praxis and which one to take. However, if you have Bachelor’s degree in the content area you wish to teach and are planning to obtain your Masters in Education/Teaching, you can take your Praxis at any time. If you plan on teaching the high school or middle school level, you should take the Praxis II content area as soon as possible since the exam will merely cover information on your subject area-not any specific education/teaching based questions. If you obtained your Bachelors in the previous few years, or know the area well due to occupation, take it quickly before you begin to forget the information. If it has been a considerable amount of time since you obtained your Bachelors, you may want to take a few refresher content courses before taking the Praxis.
The Praxis is only given on certain dates throughout the year (for specific dates and sites, consult www.ets.org or your school’s education department). If you plan on becoming certified in the next year or two, it is best to consult these dates now to determine when you need to take it to be certified by the time you want. Also, give yourself ample time to retake the exam in case you do not pass.
To sign up to take the Praxis, you must go to www.ets.org. You can send in your registration through the mail, or over the internet with a credit card. Costs, dates, times and locations are listed on the website. Choose a date and location you know you will be able to attend as it will be very difficult to get your money back if you do not attend the session you sign up for. Also, if you do not make very much money, be sure to look into fee waivers. All the specifics can be found on the website, log on to www.ets.org, under Tests click Praxis, then under the level Praxis you are planning to take click How To Register, at the bottom of this page is a link to “Fee Waivers.” This page will list all the information needed. If you do qualify, be aware you must send in fee waiver form with your registration form before the registration deadline (usually about 1 month prior to the exam).
Once you have registered, it is important to prepare for the exam. When you prepare or study, you should do it over the course of four to six weeks, rather than studying in a “final” type mentality where you cram all the information into a few days before the exam. The Praxis covers a broad variety of areas and questions and should be taken seriously. The best way to prepare is to talk to advisors and professors in your program about strategies that may be your particular best choice. This is especially important for people who are not good test takers-especially standardized tests. Having said that, if you are taking the Praxis II, have a strong grasp of your content area, and have excelled at standardized testing, your studying does not need to be as involved or lengthy. However, the Praxis often costs over $100 per exam, so do not take taking the exam lightly by any means.
As with most standardized testing, your preparation depends on your knowledge, ability and comfort with standardized tests. ETS offers about fifteen practice questions with each exam on their website. They also offer a study guide, as do a few other publishers. It is best to seek out honest reviews of these study guides before investing the $20-30 dollars to purchase one. Also, check your local libraries and your University or College’s library for testing/study guides for Praxis exams. This will save you money if the guide ends up not helping you prepare.
Overall, the Praxis is a very important part of obtaining your teacher’s certificate. However, if you know about the exam and pick the best preparation method for you, you should be able to succeed. The more you know about the exam, the better prepared you will be to take it.