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Section 2: How to Prepare for the Exams

This section of the preparation manual provides information to help you prepare to take the TExES exams.

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 subject area, 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 for your exam 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 Educator Standards section of the prep manual lists the standards necessary for a teacher of that subject.

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 exams include several types of exam questions, which can be broken into two categories: selected response (multiple choice) and constructed response (for which you write or record 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 (often called a stimulus) that provides the information the question asks for. New formats for presenting information are developed from time to time. Exams may include audio and video stimulus materials, such as a movie clip or some kind of animation, instead of a map or reading passage.

Exams may also include 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 TExES exams 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 teacher in the state of Texas.

The questions on each exam are designed to assess your knowledge of the content described in the competencies of each 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 Types

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

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.

Example 1

The following question is an example of the single-question format. It tests knowledge of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Competency 003: The teacher understands and applies knowledge of assessment and diagnosis in evaluating the strengths and needs of students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Which of the following is a hearing test used to measure sensitivity thresholds?

  1. Pure-tone audiometry
  2. Spectography
  3. Electrocochleography
  4. Tympanometry
Suggested Approach

Read the question carefully and critically. Think about what it is asking and the situation it is describing. Eliminate any obviously wrong answers, select the correct answer choice and mark your answer.

This question asks for the procedure or technique that is used to measure sensitivity thresholds. Look at the answer choices and consider which of them accurately identifies the correct procedure or technique.

Option A suggests that pure-tone audiometry is used to measure sensitivity thresholds. Pure-tone audiometry is, indeed, a behavioral measure that is used to test thresholds of hearing sensitivity. Using an audiometer, an audiologist presents tones at different frequencies (pitches) and intensity (loudness) levels, testing one ear at a time, to determine the faintest sound audible to an individual at least 50 percent of the time. Option A may be the best response to this question.

Option B suggests that spectrography is a technique used to measure an individual’s sensitivity thresholds. Spectrography, however, is a technique by which any sound is separated into its component frequencies. The resulting spectrograph offers a visual image of the frequencies and intensities of the components of a given sound. Option B may be eliminated as the best response to this question.

Option C suggests that electrocochleography is used to measure sound sensitivity thresholds. Electrocochleography is a form of audiometry in which an electrode is inserted through the tympanic membrane in order to measure electrical potentials from the cochlea. This specialized test is most commonly used to evaluate certain diseases or conditions of the inner ear that affect an individual’s balance system. Option C may be eliminated as the best response to this question.

Option D suggests that tympanometry is a procedure for testing sensitivity thresholds. Tympanometry, however, is a test that measures the mobility of the eardrum by introducing air pressure into the ear canal. Tympanometry is frequently used with young children to detect the presence of fluid in the ear. Option D may be eliminated as the best response to this question.

Of the alternatives offered, only pure-tone audiometry is used to measure hearing sensitivity thresholds. Therefore, the correct response is option A.

Example 2

The following question is also in single-question format. It tests knowledge of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Competency 014: The teacher understands and applies knowledge of how to establish partnerships with students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and their families to enhance students’ learning and achievement.

Ms. Nunez, a preschool teacher, will have a student who is deaf in her class this year. Ms. Nunez plans to promote effective daily communication between herself and the student’s parents. Which of the following is the most appropriate way for Ms. Nunez to achieve the goal?

  1. Suggesting to the parents that they send a note to school whenever they have questions, concerns or information to share
  2. Arranging a time for a daily telephone call to discuss the student’s behavior and any other pertinent information
  3. Creating a notebook that travels with the student to and from school in which any news or important information may be shared
  4. Meeting briefly with the student’s parent or caregiver at the end of the school day
Suggested Approach

In this question, a preschool teacher is making plans for the upcoming school year, during which a student who is deaf will be enrolled in her class. The teacher wishes to take steps to promote effective daily communication with the student’s parents. Look at the answer choices and consider which of them would best promote the teacher’s communication goals.

Option A suggests that the teacher’s best strategy for fostering effective communication with the parents on a daily basis would be to suggest that they send a note to school whenever they have questions, concerns or information to share. While it would be important to encourage the parents to bring any such issues to the school’s attention, the strategy would inappropriately place the burden of initiating communication on the parents. In addition, the strategy would not effectively address the teacher’s goal of ongoing daily communication. Option A may be eliminated as the best response to this question.

Option B suggests that setting up a regularly scheduled, daily telephone call with the parents would be the best way to achieve effective daily communication. However, because of the unpredictability of daily life, such a system is unlikely to work. Unexpected events may arise for either the parents or the teacher that make it difficult or impossible to make the phone call at the agreed-upon time. Rigid systems such as this one are generally ineffective because they break down quickly. Option B may be eliminated as the best response to this question.

Option C suggests that creating a notebook that travels with the student to and from school would be an appropriate system for fostering effective daily communication between school and home. Such a notebook would indeed provide a flexible and convenient means of exchanging information on a daily basis. Both the teacher and the parents would be able to review the contents of the notebook at times of their own choosing. In addition, they would have the option of making entries either during calm, reflective moments or in situations when they want to convey an immediate observation or a quick thought that might otherwise be forgotten. Option C may be the best response to this question.

Option D suggests that meeting briefly with the parent at the end of the school day would be an effective means of maintaining ongoing communication. The end of the school day, however, is typically a busy time for preschool teachers, who are overseeing the departure of many students and whose attention may be required for other tasks, such as locating a missing jacket or responding to questions from other parents. This could also be a hectic time for the student’s parents, who may have other children to collect, errands to run and so forth. Option D may be eliminated as the best response to this question.

Of the alternatives offered, a traveling notebook would provide the most flexible means of daily information exchange between school and home. Therefore, the correct response is option C.

Clustered Questions

Clustered questions are made up of a stimulus and two or more questions relating to the stimulus. The stimulus material can be a reading passage, graphic, table, or any other information necessary to answer the questions that follow.

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

Strategy 1 Skim the stimulus material to understand its purpose, its arrangement, and/or its content. Then read the questions and refer again to the stimulus material to obtain the specific information you need to answer the questions.
Strategy 2 Read the questions before considering the stimulus material. The theory behind this strategy is that the content of the questions will help you identify the purpose of the stimulus material and locate the information you need to answer the questions.
Strategy 3 Use a combination of both strategies. Apply the "read the stimulus first" strategy with shorter, more familiar stimuli and the "read the questions first" strategy with longer, more complex or less familiar stimuli. You can experiment with the sample questions in the preparation manuals and then use the strategy with which you are most comfortable when you take the actual exam.

Whether you read the stimulus before or after you read the questions, you should read it carefully and critically. You may want to note its important points to help you answer the questions.

As you consider questions set in educational contexts, try to enter into the identified teacher's frame of mind and use that teacher's point of view to answer the questions that accompany the stimulus. Be sure to consider the questions only in terms of the information provided in the stimulus — not in terms of your own experiences or individuals you may have known.


First read the stimulus, a fill-in-the blanks worksheet, designed by a teacher of the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Use the student worksheet below to answer the questions that follow.

The worksheet reads as follows: Directions: Write a word in each space so that the sentence makes sense. The little boy opened the left paren blank space right paren and ran outside period. She had just taken the pie out of the oven comma so it was still left paren blank space right paren. The car will not run unless you fill it with left paren blank space right paren. When the child let go of the balloon comma it floated up into the left paren blank space right paren.

Now you are prepared to respond to the first of the two questions associated with this stimulus. The first question tests knowledge of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Competency 012: The teacher understands and applies knowledge of systematic reading instruction for students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

1. A teacher of the deaf can best use the worksheet to promote students’ reading proficiency in which of the following areas?

  1. Using context clues
  2. Applying critical-reading skills
  3. Improving reading fluency
  4. Recognizing words automatically
Suggested Approach

Consider carefully the content of the reading worksheet presented in the stimulus. Note the directions to the students and then review the four sentences with missing words. Look at the answer choices to consider the area of reading proficiency that this worksheet is intended to promote.

Option A suggests that the teacher could best use this worksheet to promote students’ reading proficiency in the area of using context clues. Note that, in order to fill in the blank in each sentence with an appropriate word, students will need to use the information provided by the rest of the sentence. That is, the students will need to use the context surrounding the blanks as clues to the words that are missing. Option A may be the best response to this question.

Option B suggests that the worksheet is best used for promoting students’ application of critical-reading skills. Critical-reading skills, however, involve the use of higher-order thinking processes such as identifying an author’s point of view, evaluating the accuracy of information in a text, recognizing contradictions in an argument and the like. The worksheet shown does not prompt students to employ such higher-order skills. Option B may be eliminated as the best response to this question.

Option C suggests that the worksheet would be effective in increasing students’ reading fluency. Fluency in reading refers to, among other things, the ability to read smoothly and with accuracy, to read at a good pace, and to read with appropriate expression. It involves doing these things without conscious attention to the reading task. Strategies for promoting reading fluency include having children read at their instructional levels, re-read familiar texts, and listen to good models of fluent reading. The worksheet shown, however, focuses students’ attention primarily on discerning the meaning of each individual sentence and supplying a word that makes sense in that context. Option C may be eliminated as the best response to this question.

Option D suggests that the worksheet would be most helpful in developing students’ automatic word recognition. Recognizing words automatically, however, is much more dependent on reading texts in which the same words are encountered frequently. Although a few common sight words appear in the worksheet (e.g., "the" and "it"), the sentences are self-contained units that do not support or build on the other sentences either in meaning or in vocabulary; thus, they would not be especially effective for promoting automaticity in reading. Option D is not the best response to this question.

Of the alternatives offered, option A identifies the reading skill — using context clues — that would be best promoted by the use of the worksheet shown. Therefore, the correct response is option A.

Now you are ready to answer the next question. The second question measures Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Competency 005: The teacher understands and applies knowledge of principles and components of effective instructional delivery for students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

2. Ramos is hard-of-hearing and has been diagnosed with a language-based learning disability. He can read the words in the sentences in the worksheet but is having trouble thinking of words to put in the blanks. Which of the following is most likely to help Ramos successfully complete the task independently?

  1. Having him discuss the sentences with a classmate
  2. Asking an aide to sign the sentences for him in ASL
  3. Giving him a list of words he can read to select from
  4. Having Ramos find pictures containing clues to the answers
Suggested Approach

Option A suggests the teacher could have Ramos discuss the sentences with a classmate. There are times when collaborating with a peer is desirable, but in the situation presented Ramos is to work independently. A classmate might just give Ramos the answers without understanding the importance of Ramos completing the assignment by himself. This option can therefore be eliminated as the best answer to the question.

Option B suggests asking an aide to sign the sentences for Ramos. There is no indication in the question that Ramos understands sign language or that there is an aide in the class while the students are filling in the worksheet. This option can therefore be eliminated as the best answer to the question.

Option C suggests giving Ramos a list of words he can read to select from. From the information in the question, it appears that Ramos can read simple sentences but has difficulty with productive language. He therefore needs support in finding words that fit in the sentences. The most appropriate way to do this is to give him a list of words to select from. The list should contain more than four words so that Ramos will need to search for words he can read that will make sense in the sentences. He can work independently and is likely to be successful. Option C may be the best response to the question.

Option D suggests having Ramos find pictures that contain clues to the answers. This option would take Ramos off task to look for pictures and could actually take a long time to complete. Ramos needs to stay on task and focus his attention on the worksheet. This option can be eliminated as the best answer to the question.

Of the alternatives offered, option C identifies an accommodation or adaptation for a student with a productive language disability — giving Ramos a list of words to select from — that would help him complete the worksheet independently. Therefore, the correct response is option C.

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.

Preparation manuals are available for all Texas educator certification program exams. Each prep manual provides a combination of exam preparation and practice, including sample questions and answers with explanations. You can also find informational tutorials and some interactive practice exams.

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 exams. 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 your 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.


Exams with constructed-response questions assess your ability to explain material effectively. As a teacher, you'll need to be able to explain concepts and processes to students in a clear, understandable way. What are the major concepts you will be required to teach? Can you explain them in your own words accurately, completely, and clearly? Practice explaining these concepts to test your ability to effectively explain what you know.

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 subject matter 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 work out problems or 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 your 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 scores along with any other requirements for obtaining teaching certification, you will receive a license. 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 your exam.

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

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