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Section 2: How to Prepare for the Exam

This section of the preparation manual provides information to help you prepare to take the TExES Principal as Instructional Leader examination.

Learn What the Exam Covers

You may have heard that there are several different versions of the same exam. It's true. You may take one version of the exam and your friend may take a different version. Each exam has different questions covering the same content areas, but both versions of the exam measure the same skills and content knowledge.

You'll find specific information on the exam you're taking in the Overview and Exam Framework section of the preparation manual, which outlines the content areas that the exam measures and what percentage of the exam covers each area.

Begin by reviewing the preparation manual in its entirety, paying particular attention to the content specifications. The content specifications detail the knowledge and skills to be measured on the exam. The Principal Standards section of the preparation manual lists the standards that served as the basis for developing the certification examination.

Once you have reviewed the preparation manual and the standards, you can create your own personalized study plan and schedule based on your individual needs and how much time you have before exam day. Be sure to also seek other resources to strengthen your content knowledge.

Keep in mind that study habits are individual. There are many different ways to successfully prepare for your exam. Some people study better on their own, while others prefer a group setting. You may have more energy early in the day, but another test taker may concentrate better in the evening. Use this guide to develop the approach that works best for you.

Assess How Well You Know the Content

Use your review of the competencies to focus your study time on those areas containing knowledge and skills with which you are less familiar. You should leave yourself time to review the content of all domains and competencies, both the familiar and the less familiar ones, but the focus of your preparation time and priority in your studying should be placed upon those areas about which you are least confident.

Think carefully about how well you know each area; research shows that test takers tend to overestimate their preparedness. People often glance at the specifications, or at the exam questions (with "a peek" at the answers at the same time), and think that they know the content of the exam. This is why some test takers assume they did well and then are surprised to find out they did not pass.

The exams are demanding enough to require serious review. The longer you've been away from the content the more preparation you will most likely need. If it has been longer than a few months since you've studied your content area, make a concerted effort to prepare. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose from such an approach.

Familiarize Yourself with the Different Types of Exam Questions

The TExES Principal as Instructional Leader examination includes several types of exam questions, which can be broken into two categories: selected response (multiple choice) and constructed response (for which you write a response of your own that is scored by trained raters based on scoring guidelines). You may be familiar with these question formats from taking other standardized tests. If not, familiarize yourself with them so you don't spend time during the exam figuring out how to answer them.

How to Approach Unfamiliar Question Formats

Some questions include introductory information such as a table, graph, or reading passage (called a scenario) that provides the information the question asks for. New formats for presenting information are developed from time to time. This exam includes video scenario materials (e.g., a movie clip of a teacher presenting a lesson).

The exam also includes interactive types of questions. These questions take advantage of technology to assess knowledge and skills that go beyond what can be assessed using standard single-selection selected-response questions. If you see a format you are not familiar with, read the directions carefully. The directions always give clear instructions on how you are expected to respond.

For most questions, you will respond by clicking an oval to choose a single answer choice from a list of options. Other questions may ask you to respond by:

Remember that with every question, you will get clear instructions on how to respond.

Approaches to Answering Selected-Response Questions

The information below describes some selected-response question formats that you will typically see on the exam and suggests possible ways to approach thinking about and answering them. These approaches are intended to supplement and complement familiar test-taking strategies with which you may already be comfortable and that work for you. Fundamentally, the most important component in ensuring your success is familiarity with the content that is covered on the exam. This content has been carefully selected to align with the knowledge required to begin a career as a principal in the state of Texas.

The questions on the exam are designed to assess your knowledge of the content described in the competencies of the exam. In most cases, you are expected to demonstrate more than just your ability to recall factual information. You may be asked to think critically about the information, to analyze it, to compare it with other knowledge you have, or to make a judgment about it.

Be sure to read the directions carefully to ensure that you know what is required for each exam question. Leave no questions unanswered. Your score will be determined by the number of questions you answer correctly.

Question Formats

You may see the following types of selected-response questions on the exam:

  • Single Questions
  • Clustered Questions

Below you will find descriptions of these commonly used question formats, along with suggested approaches for responding to each type.

Single Questions

The single-question format presents a direct question or an incomplete statement. It can also include a reading passage, movie clip, graphic, table, or a combination of these. Four or more answer options appear below the question.

For each single selected-response question, it is helpful to apply the cognitive and test-taking strategies needed to answer the question. They can be used to help candidates unpack the key information in the question and determine the correct answer.

When candidates consider cognitive processes needed to respond to a single question, they should ask themselves questions that help them understand the content of the question.

A frequent error that candidates make when answering selected-response questions is misreading and/or misinterpreting the question. Applying test-taking strategies can help candidates follow a process to guide their thinking and reduce errors.

Suggested Approach

Consider the following cognitive process questions and test-taking strategies.

Cognitive Process Questions for Candidates
  • What knowledge and skills does the question intend to assess?
  • What is the context of the situation?
  • What is the primary decision or issue to be resolved?
  • How does evidence from the scenario support your conclusion?
  • How can you apply your knowledge of best practices to answer this question?
Test-Taking Strategies for Candidates
  • How can you rephrase the question in your own words to ensure you understand it?
  • What are the key phrases presented in the question?
  • What is the important scenario information provided to support the question?
  • Can you eliminate any obviously wrong answer choices?
  • Select the correct answer choice and mark your answer.
Example

Read the following selected-response question and choose the correct answer.

In order to support a strong school culture, a middle school principal proposes a counseling program that integrates career, character, and leadership education into classroom academic lessons. Implementing the program involves collaboration between teachers and school counselors to teach integrated lessons. After introducing the new initiative and its core principles, the teachers and counselors are ready to begin implementation. Which of the following is the principal's best next step?

  1. Preparing a schedule of team-teaching opportunities for teachers and counselors to begin teaching lessons and measuring student mastery
  2. Allowing time for counselors to observe classes to get a sense of each teacher's teaching style
  3. Providing the program's student-learning objectives with a list of selected academic classes and lessons for integration
  4. Having teachers and counselors review content standards and the program's student-learning objectives to determine appropriate lesson placement and sequence
Suggested Approach

Candidates can apply the cognitive process questions and test-taking strategies to this single selected-response question as follows.

Cognitive Process Questions for Candidates
What knowledge and skills does the question intend to assess?
  • Domain VI, Competency 11, Descriptive statement F — The entry-level principal facilitates and supports special campus programs that provide all students with quality, flexible instructional programs and services (e.g., health, guidance, and counseling programs) to meet individual student needs.
What is the context of the situation?
  • A middle school principal is working with teachers and counselors to support a strong school culture.
  • The principal has already taken several steps to begin a new initiative that includes teachers and counselors teaching integrated lessons on career, character, and leadership.
  • Implementation of the new initiative is ready to begin.
What is the primary decision or issue to be resolved?
  • You need to determine the next step for the principal to take to implement the new counseling program.
How can you apply your knowledge of best practices to answer this question?
  • You should consider best practices for implementing change initiatives.
  • You should consider best practices for supporting collaboration and mutual expectations between colleagues.
  • You should consider best practices for sequential development of integrated curriculum units.
How does evidence from the scenario support your conclusion?
  • After selecting the answer choice, you should check the scenario and see if your answer choice is sequentially appropriate for supporting the new guidance and counseling program into academic lessons.
  • You should ensure the next implementation step encourages a culture of clear expectations and ownership by the teachers and counselors involved.
Test-Taking Strategies for Candidates
How can you rephrase the question in your own words to ensure you understand it?
  • The question presents a scenario where a middle school principal is implementing a new counseling program that involves collaboration between teachers to teach integrated lessons. The principal has laid the groundwork and is ready to begin using the program. What is the principal's best next step?
What are the key phrases presented in the question?
  • "After introducing the new initiative and its core principles, ... are ready to begin implementation."
  • "principal's best next step"
What is the important scenario information provided to support the question?
  • "In order to support a strong school culture"
  • "involves collaboration between teachers and school counselors"
Can you eliminate any obviously wrong answer choices?
  • Option B focuses on teaching styles, which should not drive the next steps, so this option can be eliminated.
Select the correct answer choice and mark your answer.
  • Options A, C, and D are steps in the implementation process, so the last step is to consider which of those options should happen next to support implementation of the new counseling initiative.

Below are rationales for each of the answer choices for candidates to check their thinking.

Option D is correct because collaboration between school counselors and teachers will ensure a mutual understanding of state academic standards and the scope and sequence of the curriculum. This will lay the foundation for the entire initiative and allow counselors to gain an understanding of the academic scope and sequence to best determine where counseling lessons logically fit into academic lessons.

Option A is incorrect because preparing a schedule of specific team-teaching opportunities for teachers and counselors would not be the next step in creating valuable lessons in which counseling concepts are blended with academics, since the foundation for the curriculum should be well understood before the lessons are scheduled.

Option B is incorrect because allowing time for the counselors to observe each classroom and become familiar with various teaching styles is not the best next step in the task of creating lessons that blend counseling concepts with academics, since it is more pressing to establish a foundation for understanding the academic standards and scope and sequence.

Option C is incorrect because determining which counseling objectives will be infused in the academic lessons should be made by teachers and counselors when they work together. It is more important for the counselor to understand the academic standards and scope and sequence to determine how counseling objectives can be integrated.

Clustered Questions

Clustered questions are the second type of selected-response questions on the exam.

Clustered questions are made up of a scenario and two or more questions relating to the scenario. The scenario material can be reading passages, a description of a classroom observation, a video, graphic, table, or any other information necessary to answer the questions that follow.

Consider the following cognitive process questions and test-taking strategies for answering clustered questions.

Cognitive Process Questions for Candidates

When reviewing the cluster scenario:

What is the context of the scenario?

What are the central issues presented in the scenario?

What key questions can you ask yourself when reviewing the documents and/or video?

What conclusions can you draw from the information in the scenario?

When answering the questions:

What knowledge and skills does the question intend to assess?

What is the context of the question, and where can evidence of this be found in the scenario?

What is the primary decision or issue to be addressed?

How can you apply your knowledge of best practices to answer this question?

How does evidence from the scenario support your conclusion?

Candidates can use several different approaches to respond to clustered questions. Some commonly used strategies are listed below.

Test-Taking Strategies for Candidates

Strategy 1
You can skim the scenario documents to understand their purpose, their arrangement, and/or their content. Then you can read the questions and refer again to the scenario documents to obtain the specific information you need to answer the questions.

Strategy 2
You can read the questions before considering the scenario documents. The theory behind this strategy is that the content of the questions will help you identify the purpose of the scenario documents and locate the information needed to answer the questions.

Strategy 3
You can use a combination of both strategies. Apply the "read the scenario first" strategy with shorter, more familiar scenarios and the "read the questions first" strategy with longer, more complex or less familiar scenarios. You can experiment with the sample questions in this publication and then use the strategy with which you are most comfortable when you take the actual exam.

When reading each question in the clustered set, you should consider each of these questions before selecting the correct answer choice.

  • How can you rephrase the question in your own words to ensure you understand it?
  • What are the key phrases presented in the question?
  • What is the important scenario information provided to support the question?
  • Can you eliminate any obviously wrong answer choices?

Candidates should be sure to consider the questions only in terms of the information provided in the scenario. They should take care to avoid projecting information from their own school or district into the scenario that is not present or applicable.

Cluster Sets: Scenario

Questions 1–2 refer to the following information.

Mr. Ramirez is a principal in a 9–12 high school. A few days ago, he observed the eleventh-grade English literature class of Ms. O'Toole, an experienced teacher. The class had just concluded their study of the novel Candide, and Ms. O'Toole had planned an independent practice involving small groups of students discussing open-ended questions and drawing conclusions about the novel.

During the post-observation conference, Mr. Ramirez asks Ms. O'Toole to identify an aspect of the lesson that did not go as planned. Refer to the following video where Ms. O'Toole responds to the principal's question.

Open and play video in new window

View a transcript of the video links to a PDF document

As candidates consider approaches for addressing the scenario and questions, they should make sure to base their choice on only the information that has been presented.

Candidates should consider the following cognitive process questions and test-taking strategies based on the cluster scenario.

Cognitive Process Questions for Candidates

Cluster Scenario

What is the context of the scenario?

  • Ms. O'Toole is an experienced teacher, not a first-year teacher.
  • The lesson Ms. O'Toole taught is near the end of the class's study of a novel.
  • Without being present for the entire lesson, you learn that the lesson includes independent practice involving small groups of students discussing open-ended questions and drawing conclusions.
  • The principal sets the expectation that the teacher will complete prework before attending the post-observation conference. This will ensure the teacher and principal are prepared and have taken time to reflect on the lesson.

What are the central issues presented in the scenario?

  • Aspects of the lesson the principal observed did not go as planned.

What key questions can you ask yourself when reviewing the documents and/or video?

  • What evidence regarding the teacher's instruction can you gather from the video?
  • How does the evidence help you determine how best to coach Ms. O'Toole?

What conclusions can you draw from the information in the scenario and video?

  • Some students in the class did not draw appropriate conclusions about the main character of the book being studied.
  • The teacher believes the student-readiness level is impacting student understanding of the novel.

Candidates can use several different approaches to respond to clustered questions. Some commonly used strategies are listed below.

Test-Taking Strategies for Candidates

Strategy 1
You can skim the scenario material to understand its purpose and content. Then you can read the questions.

Strategy 2
You can read the questions before considering the scenario material.

Strategy 3
You can use a combination of both strategies.

What can you learn by skimming the questions before reading the scenario and watching the video?

  • You can consider how the lack of student learning should inform the next day's lesson and how to be ready to coach the teacher in this area.
  • You can consider how to coach the teacher to address the students' reinforcing misconceptions during independent practice.

Candidates should read the scenario carefully and watch the video critically with these questions in mind. Candidates may want to take notes during the video to help them remember important points.

Example 1

Ms. O'Toole seeks advice from Mr. Ramirez about how to plan the lesson for the next day, considering that many students drew inaccurate conclusions about the novel's main character. Which of the following is the best strategy for Mr. Ramirez to recommend?

  1. Asking students to reconsider the previous day's discussion questions during a whole-class meeting
  2. Using direct instruction to point out evidence in the novel that supports the dynamic evolution of the main character
  3. Modeling a think-aloud for students that demonstrates how to cite the novel to support conclusions
  4. Providing students with a scholarly commentary about the roles of the different characters in the novel
Suggested Approach

After reviewing the scenario information and video, the candidates should consider the following cognitive process questions and test-taking strategies to answer this question.

Cognitive Process Questions for Candidates

What knowledge and skills does the question intend to assess?

  • Domain III, Competency 5, Descriptive statement B — The entry-level principal coaches and develops teachers by facilitating teacher self-assessment and goal setting, conducting conferences, giving individualized feedback, and supporting individualized professional growth opportunities.

What is the context of the question?

  • A high school principal has observed a lesson and is planning to give coaching feedback to an eleventh-grade English literature teacher whose students have drawn inaccurate conclusions about the main character's development from the beginning to the end of the novel.
  • The teacher is seeking advice from the principal, which can be reflective of a strong working relationship and culture of trust.

What is the primary decision or issue to be resolved?

  • You should determine how to address the identified student misconceptions during the next day's lesson.

What evidence from the scenario addresses the question?

  • You can look for what Ms. O'Toole identifies as the students' misconceptions.
  • You can consider what you would prioritize as an action step to take to improve Ms. O'Toole's practice.

How can you apply your knowledge of best practices to answer this question?

  • You can consider content-specific best practices for how to teach about main characters in a novel to high school students.
  • You can consider a strategy that is directly connected to student learning and addresses the root cause of why students are not drawing accurate conclusions.
Test-Taking Strategies for Candidates

How can you rephrase the question in your own words to ensure you understand it?

  • The question presents a scenario where the principal is preparing to coach a high school English teacher on how to address wrong conclusions students drew during the lesson.

What are the key phrases presented in the question?

  • "students drew inaccurate conclusions about the novel's main character"
  • "best strategy" (to address the inaccurate conclusions by students)

What important scenario information is provided to support the question?

  • The video reflections by the teacher are included.
  • This lesson is at the end of the novel, so students have experience with the content and making inferences to draw conclusions.

Can you eliminate any obviously wrong answer choices?

  • Option D is a weak choice because providing commentary about the roles of different characters does not address the identified student misconception.

Select the correct answer choice and mark your answer.

  • Options A, B, and C should be considered based on the content and the effectiveness of the pedagogical practices each choice presents.

Below are rationales for each of the answer choices for candidates to check their thinking.

Option C is correct because the students have learned the content and interpretative skills to be able to draw valid conclusions in the lessons taught earlier in their novel study. Ms. O'Toole will help the students best by modeling an effective thinking process using associated evidence from the novel to support conclusions.

Option A is incorrect because the students are unlikely to reconsider their conclusions if they are not provided with additional guidance in activating and applying their prior knowledge.

Options B and D are incorrect because neither using direct instruction nor providing a scholarly commentary allows students to apply their prior knowledge to reconsider their conclusions.

Example 2

Mr. Ramirez concludes that Ms. O'Toole will benefit from coaching on how to address the problem of students reinforcing misconceptions or misunderstandings when participating in independent practice. Which of the following is the best recommendation he can give Ms. O'Toole?

  1. Placing students in mixed-ability groups rather than same-ability groups
  2. Anticipating and preparing for errors that individual students or groups might make
  3. Differentiating the content and product rather than the instructional activity
  4. Providing less capable students with questions that require low-level thinking skills
Suggested Approach

After reviewing the scenario information and video, the candidates should consider the following cognitive process questions and test-taking strategies to answer this question.

Cognitive Process Questions for Candidates

What knowledge and skills does the question intend to assess?

  • Domain III, Competency 5, Descriptive statement B — The entry-level principal coaches and develops teachers by facilitating teacher self-assessment and goal setting, conducting conferences, giving individualized feedback, and supporting individualized professional growth opportunities.

What is the context of the question?

  • When the teacher responds to a question asked by the principal during the post-observational conference, the teacher reveals that some students drew the conclusion that the main character in the novel did not mature. So those students drew the inaccurate conclusion that Candide was not a dynamic character.

What is the primary decision or issue to be resolved?

  • You need to determine effective strategies for limiting student misconceptions during independent practice.

What evidence from the scenario addresses this question?

  • You need to look for Ms. O'Toole identifying students' misconceptions.
  • You need to consider what you want to prioritize as an action step to take to improve Ms. O'Toole's practice.

How can you apply your knowledge of best practices to answer this question?

  • You should consider a strategy that is directly connected to student learning and addresses the root cause of students' misconceptions and works to proactively address student misunderstandings.
Test-Taking Strategies for Candidates

How can you rephrase the question in your own words to ensure you understand it?

  • The question presents a teacher seeking to address a problem of students' reinforcing each other's inaccurate thinking during a part of the lesson cycle— independent practice.

What are the key phrases presented in the question?

  • "an experienced teacher"
  • "Students reinforcing misconceptions"
  • "best [coaching] recommendation"

What is the important scenario information provided to support the question?

  • The video reflections by the teacher are included.
  • The information regarding the teacher's experience level is included.

Can you eliminate any obviously wrong answer choices?

  • Option D is a weak choice because reducing expectations for students does not address how to help them learn the targeted information.

Select the correct answer choice and mark your answer.

  • Options A, B, and C should be considered based on the content and the effectiveness of the pedagogical practices each choice presents.

Below are rationales for each of the answer choices for candidates to check their thinking.

Option B is correct because a teacher who has taught a unit before can reasonably predict the common misunderstandings and errors that students will make as they learn the content or skills in a lesson. Anticipating and preparing for student errors will allow Ms. O'Toole to put appropriate scaffolding in place for helping students avoid likely misconceptions and misunderstandings.

Options A and C are incorrect because neither action alone addresses the problem of students reinforcing misconceptions or misunderstandings.

Option D is incorrect because providing students with activities requiring low-level thinking skills may reduce the occurrence of misconceptions and misunderstandings but serves no purpose in advancing their learning.

Preparing for this Item Type and Content

During preparation for the assessment, candidates should enhance their knowledge, skills, and mind-set around the observation and feedback cycle. Candidates should work with their preparation program to ensure that they have experience reviewing lesson plans, observing instruction, reviewing student work samples, planning for and facilitating pre- and post-observational conferences, and creating and implementing a coaching action plan.

Reflective Questions for Preparation Programs

How can you design courses to provide candidates with a strong foundation of the observation and feedback cycle?

How can you strengthen candidates' understanding of effective pedagogical practices and how to apply those practices during the coaching cycle?

How can you provide candidates with experiences that will ensure they are familiar with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), the state-mandated assessment expectations for rigor and alignment, and how to coach teachers to apply best practices during unit and lesson planning?

How can you give candidates experiences coaching teachers to use formative and summative assessment data to inform instructional decisions?

Reflective Questions for Candidates

Do you understand the principles of effective observation and instructional coaching?

Have you had multiple opportunities to watch and reflect on effective coaching by master instructional coaches?

Have you had multiple opportunities to facilitate the observation and feedback cycle for teachers of different grade levels and core subjects?

Have you received feedback on your coaching and worked to address areas of improvement?

Have you recorded a coaching conference you facilitated and completed a self-reflection to enhance your learning?

Understanding Constructed-Response Questions

Constructed-response questions on the Principal as Instructional Leader (268) examination require you to demonstrate your integrated knowledge in an area by providing in-depth written responses.

See Section 5 of this preparation manual for detailed information about the content, format, and scoring of this exam's constructed-response questions.

Gather Study Materials

For all content areas, think about where you might be able to obtain materials for review:

Do you know a teacher or professor who can help you organize your study? Would a study group suit you and help you maintain momentum? People have different study methods that work for them — use whatever you know that works for you.

The prep manual provides a combination of exam preparation and practice, including sample questions and answers with explanations. The interactive practice exam is another useful preparation resource. The interactive practice exam includes questions representative of the actual exam. It also simulates the test-taking experience of the actual exam and provides automated results reporting on the selected-response questions.

Plan and Organize Your Time

You can begin to plan and organize your time while you are still collecting materials. Allow yourself plenty of review time to avoid cramming new material at the end. Here are a few tips:

Develop Your Study Plan

A study plan provides a roadmap to prepare for the exam. It can help you understand what skills and knowledge are covered on the exam and where to focus your attention. A study plan worksheet is available on the Texas Educator Certification Examination Program website. You can use this worksheet to:

  1. Define Content Areas: List the most important content areas for the exam as defined in the preparation manual.
  2. Determine Strengths and Weaknesses: Identify where you have thorough understanding and where you need additional study in each content area.
  3. Identify Resources: Identify the books, courses, and other resources you plan to use to study for each content area.
  4. Study: Create and commit to a schedule that provides for regular study periods.

Using Study Materials as Part of a Study Group

People who have a lot of studying to do sometimes find it helpful to form a study group with others who are working toward the same goal. Study groups give members opportunities to ask questions and get detailed answers. In a group, some members usually have a better understanding of certain topics, while others in the group may be better at other topics. As members take turns explaining concepts to each other, everyone builds self-confidence.

If the group encounters a question that none of the members can answer well, the group can go to a teacher or other expert and get answers efficiently. Because study groups schedule regular meetings, members study in a more disciplined fashion. They also gain emotional support. The group should be large enough so that various people can contribute various kinds of knowledge, but small enough so that it stays focused. Often, three to six members is a good size.

Here are some ways to use the preparation manual as part of a study group:

Then plan one or more study sessions based on aspects of the questions on which group members did not perform well. For example, each group member might be responsible for rewriting one paragraph of a response in which someone else did an inadequate job.

Whether you decide to study alone or with a group, remember that the best way to prepare is to have an organized plan. The plan you follow should set goals based on specific topics and skills that you need to learn, and it should commit you to a realistic set of deadlines for meeting these goals. Then you need to discipline yourself to stick with your plan and accomplish your goals on schedule.

Smart Tips for Success

Learn from the experts. Take advantage of these answers to questions you may have and practical tips to help you navigate the exam and make the best use of your time.

Should I guess?

Yes. Your score is based on the number of questions you answer correctly, with no penalty or subtraction for an incorrect answer. When you don't know the answer to a question, try to eliminate any obviously wrong answers and then guess at the correct one. Try to pace yourself so that you have enough time to carefully consider every question.

Are there trick questions on the exam?

No. There are no hidden meanings or trick wording. All of the questions on the exam ask about content knowledge in a straightforward manner.

Are there answer patterns on the exam?

No. You might have heard this myth: The answers on selected-response exams follow patterns. Another myth is that there will never be more than two questions with the same lettered answer following each other. Neither myth is true. Select the answer you think is correct based on your knowledge of the subject.

Can I write on the erasable sheet(s) I am given?

Yes. You can make notes to yourself on the erasable sheet(s) provided to you by the test administrator. You may use your notes in any way that is useful to you, but be sure to enter your final answers on the computer. No credit is given for anything written on the erasable sheet(s).

Tips for Taking the Exam

  1. Skip the questions you find extremely difficult. Rather than trying to answer these on your first pass through the exam, leave them blank and mark them. Pay attention to the time as you answer the rest of the questions on the exam, and try to finish with 10 or 15 minutes remaining so that you can go back over the questions you left blank. Even if you don't know the answer the second time you read the questions, see if you can narrow down the possible answers and then guess.
  2. Keep track of the time. Keep an eye on the timer, and be aware of how much time you have left to complete the exam. You will probably have plenty of time to answer all of the questions, but if you find yourself becoming stuck on one question, you might decide to move on and return to that question later.
  3. Read all of the possible answers before selecting one. Then, reread the question to be sure the answer you have selected really answers the question. Remember, a question that contains a phrase such as "Which of the following does NOT ..." is asking for the one answer that is NOT a correct statement or conclusion.
  4. Check your answers. If you have extra time left over at the end of the exam, look over each question and make sure that you have answered it as you intended. Many test takers make careless mistakes that they could have corrected if they had checked their answers.
  5. Don't worry about your score when you are taking the exam. No one is expected to answer all of the questions correctly. Your score on this exam is not analogous to your score on other similar-looking (but in fact very different!) exams. It doesn't matter on the exams whether you score very high or barely pass. If you meet the minimum passing score along with any other certification requirements, you will receive a certificate. In other words, what matters is meeting the minimum passing score.
  6. Use your energy to take the exam, not to get angry at it. Getting angry at the exam only increases stress and decreases the likelihood that you will do your best. Highly qualified educators and exam development professionals, all with backgrounds in teaching and educational leadership, worked diligently to make the exam a fair and valid measure of your knowledge and skills. The best thing to do is concentrate on answering the questions.

Do Your Best on Exam Day

You followed your study plan. You are ready for the exam. Now it's time to prepare for exam day.

Plan to end your review a day or two before the actual exam date so you avoid cramming. Take a dry run to the test center so you're sure of the route, traffic conditions, and parking. Most of all, you want to eliminate any unexpected factors that could distract you from your ultimate goal — passing the exam!

On the day of the exam, you should:

You cannot control the testing situation, but you can control yourself. Stay calm. The supervisors are well trained and make every effort to provide uniform testing conditions. You can think of preparing for this exam as training for an athletic event. Once you have trained, prepared, and rested, give it your best effort...and good luck!

Are You Ready?

Review this list to determine if you're ready to take the exam.

If you answered "yes" to the questions above, your preparation has paid off. Now take the exam, do your best, and pass it!


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