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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

Many questions on this exam are simply discrete questions that do not involve referencing any material other than that presented as part of the question itself. Within the Interpretive Reading and Cultural Knowledge and Foreign Language Pedagogy: Instructional Practice sections of the exam, you will see some single questions. Be sure to consider each question in terms of only the information provided in the question—not in terms of specific situations or individuals you may have encountered.

Questions Based on Instructional Practice

In this section of the exam there will be questions that measure pedagogical knowledge and competence in the theories, methods, and techniques associated with teaching a foreign language. The questions are related to instructional practice, understanding linguistic theories, integration of the national standards into curriculum and instruction as well as assessment of languages and cultures.

Example 1

As part of a class activity, a foreign-language teacher asks students about their plans for the upcoming spring break. One student replies in the target language with the equivalent of "Tomorrow, by car." Apparently, the student has only partially understood the question.

Which of the following strategies would be most effective in getting the student to provide a more complete response?

  1. Repeating the question "What are you planning to do on vacation?" and giving the student another opportunity to respond
  2. Conducting a quick review on the interrogative words in the target language in order to take advantage of this teaching opportunity
  3. Echoing the answer quietly, as if contemplating it, and then asking, "Where are you going and for how long?"
  4. Translating the question into English, translating the student's answer into English and then asking the question a second time in the target language
Example 2

Which of the following activities is most appropriate to assess students' skills in the interpersonal mode at the end of a unit?

  1. Spontaneous role-play with partners
  2. Staged skits performed in groups
  3. Formal oral presentations
  4. Recited poem or song
Suggested Approach

Example 1 measures knowledge of instructional practices in order to create a supportive classroom where students use the target language and participate actively during class discussions.

Option A is a repetition of the same question that the teacher had already asked when the student gave the partial response and, consequently, the teacher may not get a more complete response from the student. Therefore, option A may be eliminated as the best answer to this question.

Option B includes a review of the interrogative words and does not emphasize productive language skills. Explicit grammar instruction may not necessarily improve the student's linguistic output. Therefore, option B may be eliminated as the best answer to this question.

Option C is an effective strategy because the teacher is providing meaningful feedback while encouraging the student to clarify the answer given previously. The teacher is negotiating meaning with the student and providing the opportunity for the student to expand the original response. Therefore, option C is the best response to this question.

Option D includes a translation into English of the question and the student's answer, but it does not use the target language to help the student with a correct answer. The student may lack the linguistic resources in the target language to give an appropriate answer and the English translation of the question may not lead into a more complete response in the target language. Therefore, option D may be eliminated as the best answer to this question.

Example 2 measures knowledge of assessment models and their appropriate use. It requires selecting an assessment practice appropriate to an interpersonal task.

Option A includes an activity that will require students to use the language while having a conversation with one another, which will require active negotiation of meaning among the partners. Since it is a spontaneous role-play, the two people participating in the conversation will need to introduce adjustments and clarifications when needed. Therefore, option A is the best response to this question.

Option B indicates that the skits will be performed in groups, which may not allow participants to change what they want to say in order to clarify what they mean. Since the skits are staged, there will be an opportunity for participants to rehearse the conversations based on a previously agreed upon script. Therefore, option B may be eliminated as the best answer to this question.

Option C consists of an activity that will demonstrate a student's skills in the presentational mode, where one student will present to an audience. In the oral presentation, the student will be directing the message to the members of the audience and there will be no opportunity for interaction. Therefore, option C may be eliminated as the best answer to this question.

Option D involves presentational communication where the speaker will be reciting a poem or singing a song to others, requiring the audience to interpret the  meaning of the poem or song. This is an example of "one-way" speaking, with no direct opportunity for the audience to interact with the speaker to get a clarification of the message. Therefore, option D may be eliminated as the best answer to this question.

Questions with Stimulus Material

Many questions on this exam are preceded by stimulus material that relates to the question or questions. Types of stimulus material will include reading comprehension passages, photographs, and listening comprehension selections. You will be asked to read, view, or listen to the stimulus material and identify important characteristics or draw conclusions based on the stimulus material. To listen to the stimulus material in this preparation manual, click the play button on the audio player to listen to the selection. For the reading section of the exam, you will see a reading stimulus and then be asked to respond to six selected-response questions related to that stimulus. You will be able to refer to the stimulus as you answer the questions. For the listening section of the exam, you will be asked to listen to a selection and then respond to six selected-response questions related to that selection. You will hear each selection once and then will have time to preview the questions before you listen to the selection a second time. You will then have a short period of time to think about and select your response. For both the reading and listening sections of the exam, the last two selected-response questions in each set are a culture question and a linguistics question more or less closely tied to the stimulus. You may need information not directly provided in the stimulus to answer these questions.

You can use several different approaches to respond to these types of questions. Some commonly used approaches for reading and listening comprehension are listed below.

Strategy 1 For reading comprehension, skim the stimulus material to understand its purpose, its arrangement, and/or its content. Then read the question and refer again to the stimulus material to verify the correct answer. For listening comprehension, listen to the stimulus the first time to get a general sense of its purpose, its arrangement, and/or its content. Listen to the stimulus the second time more carefully and critically.
Strategy 2 For reading comprehension, skim the question before considering the stimulus material. The content of the question will help you identify the purpose of the stimulus material and locate the information you need to respond to the question.
Strategy 3 For reading comprehension, use a combination of both strategies; apply the "read the stimulus first" strategy with shorter, more familiar stimuli and the "skim the question first" strategy with longer, more complex or less familiar stimuli. You can experiment with the sample questions in this manual 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.

For the first four questions in each listening and reading set, be sure to consider the questions in terms of only the information provided in the stimulus—not in terms of specific situations or individuals you may have encountered. For questions 5 and 6, you may need to consider other factors.

Example 1 — Listening

La siguiente selección es una adaptación de una entrevista emitida en Radio Naciones Unidas.

1. ¿Cuál es el tema principal de la entrevista?

  1. La importancia económica del turismo en la isla
  2. Las medidas para frenar el incremento del turismo en la isla
  3. Los planes para proveer a la isla de suficientes servicios básicos
  4. La conciencia medioambiental de los turistas

2. Según sus conocimientos culturales, ¿de qué país de habla hispana forman parte las Islas Canarias?

  1. Ecuador
  2. México
  3. Panamá
  4. España

3. ¿A qué se refiere la frase "selva de cemento" que se escucha en la entrevista?

  1. A la creación artística de César Manrique
  2. A un bosque afectado por la construcción
  3. Al turismo predominantemente urbano
  4. A la construcción masiva de edificios
Suggested Approach — Listening

Listen to the stimulus carefully and critically. Then read the questions and think about what it is asking and the situation it is describing. Eliminate any obviously wrong answers, determine the correct option, and select it on the computer.

The first question asks you to identify the main topic of the conversation. The question does not ask for specific details about the interview, even though the interview includes details and supporting ideas/information. Keep the question in mind as you listen to the selection, which will be played twice.

Option A states that the main topic of the interview is the importance of tourism for the economy of the island. Although tourism is central for the island, as indicated in "Además de un recurso turístico para esta isla volcánica, el nombramiento…," the importance of tourism for the economy is not the main idea of the selection. It is another aspect of tourism that is being emphasized in the selection, the actual impact of tourism in the island after it was declared "Reserva de Biosfera" in 1993. Therefore, option A may be eliminated as the best response to this question.

Option B states that the main topic of the interview is the implementation of new measures to slow down the growth of tourism in the island. The interview states: "A partir de ese año se inician en la isla de Lanzarote unas políticas de contención del crecimiento turístico..." and "Supone que entre el año 2000 y el año 2010, en Lanzarote no se pudieran construir más de 10.000 camas turísticas, más de 10.000 plazas hoteleras." Therefore, option B is the best response to this question.

Option C states that the main topic of the interview is to provide sufficient basic services to the island. The selection mentions basic services but it states that the services are still good as a consequence of the new policies implemented. "Esas políticas de contención del crecimiento turístico, pues desde luego han supuesto el que un montón de parámetros que teníamos en la isla próximos a desbordarse... pues desde luego no fueran colapsados." Preventing "the collapse" of the public services was one of the consequences of the policies to reduce the impact of tourism. Another consequence was being able to preserve the island's natural beauty. Therefore, option C may be eliminated as the best response to this question.

Option D states that the main topic is tourists' environmental awareness. The interview states that citizens of the island had developed environmental awareness. "Por fortuna, la ciudadanía defendía la preservación de unos valores que no estaba dispuesta a perder;" "…motivó una nueva forma de vivir para sus ciudadanos, encargados de cuidar un lugar tan mágico como débil." However, it does not indicate anything about the actual tourists' environmental awareness. Therefore, option D may be eliminated as the best response to this question.

Of the four options offered, the main topic of the interview is the implementation of new measures to slow down the growth of tourism in the island. Therefore, the correct response is option B.

The second question tests your knowledge of Spanish culture. In the test, this type of question will be question number five in the set. Islas Canarias are a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa. Therefore, the best response to this question is option D, "España."

The third question tests your understanding of linguistics in Spanish. In the test, this type of question will be question number six in the set. This question asks you to understand the meaning of the phrase "selva de cemento" and to infer the meaning of this phrase in the context of the sentence in which it appears. The interview states: "En Lanzarote el reto era sencillo: paralizar la maquinaria constructiva que podría convertir un paraíso en una selva de cemento. Y para ello se planteó lo que se denominó la moratoria." The phrase "selva de cemento" is commonly used metaphorically to refer to large cities, which are like jungles (selvas) but instead of having natural vegetation and tall trees, they have a lot of cement and lots of tall buildings. Therefore, option D, "La construcción masiva de edificios" (massive building construction), is the correct answer to this question.

Example 2 — Reading

Las siguientes 6 preguntas están basadas en esta adaptación de un artículo aparecido en el sitio de Internet de El Mundo.

El Hespérides zarpa de Cartagena para estudiar el deshielo en los polos

CARTAGENA.– El Buque de Investigación Oceanográfica (BIO) 'Hespérides' ha zarpado este sábado del puerto de Cartagena para iniciar su decimosexta campaña antártica, con la que concluye su participación en el Año Polar Internacional.

El estudio sobre el deshielo en los polos será una de las actividades más interesantes que realizarán los científicos españoles que participan en esta misión, indicó a los medios momentos antes de la partida el comandante del BIO, Pedro de la Puente.

Más de 50 hombres y 6 mujeres componen la dotación del Hespérides, que ha sido despedida en el muelle Juan de Borbón del arsenal militar de Cartagena por familiares y amigos. Un acto que se repite cada año, pero que en esta ocasión se produce casi en Navidad.

La dotación será exclusivamente militar hasta la llegada del barco a finales de enero a Punta Arenas (Chile), donde embarcarán 37 científicos para realizar varias campañas, una de ellas denominada ATOS–Antártida sobre el deshielo en los polos.

Esta campaña durará más de 40 días y los científicos recogerán muestras de hielo, aire y agua, con el objetivo de medir los aportes de contaminación orgánica provocada por el hombre en los polos.

El 'Hespérides' realizará una escala en las Islas Madeira (Portugal), donde sus tripulantes pasarán la Nochebuena, mientras que la Nochevieja se celebrará en el Atlántico, donde se llevará a cabo una escala breve de descanso en Mar de Plata (Argentina) y otra para recoger a la expedición científica en Punta Arenas (Chile).

El barco no llevará a cabo campañas de investigación en el tránsito y sólo a la vuelta los científicos realizarán un trabajo de investigación denominado Caribe Norte, en el mar Caribe, con el que "se pondrá el broche de oro de la ciencia española al Año Polar Internacional", señaló el comandante del Hespérides.

Pedro de la Puente indicó que por la dotación del buque Las Palmas, que lleva varias semanas en la Antártida dando apoyo logístico a las bases españolas, saben que las condiciones meteorológicas serán similares a las de otros años, aunque con algo más de viento.

De la Puente, para quien es la tercera vez que realiza una campaña polar con el Hespérides, señaló que espera no tener ningún problema, al tiempo que recomendó esta experiencia "única e inolvidable".

«Hespérides zarpó hoy de Cartagena para iniciar campañas en Ártico y Antártida» from EFE News Services (U.S) Inc., copyright © 2008 by EFE News Services (U.S) Inc. Used by permission.

1. Según el artículo, ¿cuál es uno de los propósitos del viaje del buque Hespérides?

  1. Obtener muestras para estudiar la contaminación en los polos
  2. Estudiar las especies animales que habitan en la zona de los polos
  3. Realizar campañas en contra de la contaminación en América del Sur
  4. Estudiar las condiciones meteorológicas de la zona de los polos

2. Según sus conocimientos culturales, ¿a qué se refiere la palabra "Nochevieja" que se menciona en el artículo?

  1. A la noche de Navidad
  2. A la noche del primer día del año
  3. A la víspera de Año Nuevo
  4. A la víspera de Navidad

3. Se utiliza la conjunción "e" en el fragmento "única e inolvidable" porque

  1. tiene una función comparativa
  2. la segunda palabra comienza con "i"
  3. la primera palabra lleva acento agudo
  4. es un extranjerismo
Suggested Approach — Reading

Read the article and carefully consider the information presented. The first question asks you to identify one of the purposes of the trip. Keep the question in mind as you read the article. Eliminate any obviously wrong answers, determine the correct option and select it on the computer.

Option A states that one of the purposes of the trip is to get samples of ice, air  and water to determine the level of contamination caused by humans in the poles. The article states "Esta campaña durará más de 40 días y los científicos recogerán muestras de hielo, aire y agua, con el objetivo de medir los aportes de contaminación orgánica provocada por el hombre en los polos." Therefore, option A is the best response to this question.

Option B states that one of the purposes of the trip is to study the variety of animal species existing in the poles. The article refers to some studies that will take place in the poles, "El estudio sobre el deshielo en los polos será una de las actividades más interesantes"... "medir los aportes de contaminación orgánica provocada por el hombre en los polos." But none of these purposes is related to the variety of animal species existing in the area. Therefore, option B may be eliminated as the best answer to this question.

Option C states that one of the purposes of this trip is to wage a campaign against pollution in South America. The text states that the crew is going to make a few stops in South America; "se llevará a cabo una escala breve de descanso en Mar de Plata (Argentina) y otra para recoger a la expedición científica en Punta Arenas (Chile)." The purpose of these stops is not to wage any campaign against pollution but to let the crew rest and to pick up the scientists who will join the expedition. Therefore, option C may be eliminated as the best response to this question.

Option D states that one of the purposes of the trip is to study the meteorological conditions of the poles. The article only mentions meteorological conditions when it states that they know that the conditions are going to be similar to previous years: "saben que las condiciones meteorológicas serán similares a las de otros años, aunque con algo más de viento." Therefore, option D may be eliminated as the best response to this question.

The second question is testing your cultural knowledge. In the test, this type of question will be question number five. This question is asking you to identify the meaning of the word/expression "Nochevieja." Nochevieja is what New Year's Eve is called in Spain. Therefore, option C is the correct answer to this question.

The third question is testing your ability to recognize key cohesive devices used in connected discourse. This question is asking about conjunctions in Spanish, and more specifically, for the reason the conjunction "e" is connecting the two words in the phrase. The explanation is that the word that follows the conjunction, "inolvidable," begins with an "i." In Spanish, in order to avoid the repetition of the same sound "i," it is necessary to replace the conjunction "y" with the conjunction "e." Therefore, option B is the correct answer to this question.

Example 3 — Cultural Knowledge

La siguiente pregunta está basada en esta foto.

photo of two windmills

1. Según sus conocimientos culturales, ¿con qué obra literaria se puede relacionar la foto?

  1. Pedro Páramo
  2. El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha
  3. Cien años de soledad
  4. Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada
Suggested Approach — Cultural Knowledge

This type of question tests your cultural knowledge. We recommend that you use a combination of the strategies mentioned above. Take a look at the picture first and make sure you understand its content. Then read the question and refer again to the stimulus material to verify the correct answer. In this particular case, the question tests your knowledge of major literary works in Spanish. In the novel El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha, Don Quixote fights windmills he imagines to be giants. The rest of the works are not related to the windmills scene the photograph above depicts. Therefore, option B is the correct answer to this question.

La siguiente pregunta está basada en esta foto.

photo of cheese, meat, and bread on cutting board with a glass of juice

2. Según sus conocimientos culturales, ¿en qué consiste la merienda en algunos países hispanos?

  1. En un aperitivo que acompaña la cena
  2. En una comida ligera que se come entre las comidas principales
  3. En un gran desayuno que se come en vez del almuerzo
  4. En una cena con un plato y entremeses
Suggested Approach

This question tests your cultural knowledge of regional practices associated with food. The question is about the practice of the "merienda" in the Hispanic world. "Merienda" is usually a small meal or a snack that people have in some Spanish-speaking countries to fill in the meal gap between main meals. Therefore, option B is the correct answer to this question.

Understanding Constructed-Response Questions

Interpersonal and Presentational Writing Assignments

The LOTE Spanish exam will include three assignments that require a constructed response written in Spanish. The writing constructed-response scores will be combined with the other constructed-response scores and the selected-response scores to produce a total exam score.

For the Interpersonal and Presentational Writing assignments, you will be asked to write in the target language in ways outlined in the exam. There will be three assignments in this section. The total testing time for the Interpersonal and Presentational Writing assignments section is 50 minutes; therefore, you should manage your time so that you have enough time to answer the three assignments within the allotted time. You will type your response to each question. Your response must be written in the target language. In preparing your responses to the assignments, you may choose to prepare and organize your thoughts on the erasable notebooklet provided. However, you will only be scored on the response that you type on the computer. You may not use any reference materials during the exam.

Interpersonal and Presentational Speaking Assignments

The LOTE Spanish exam includes three assignments that require a constructed response spoken in Spanish. The speaking constructed-response scores will be combined with the other constructed-response scores and the selected-response scores to produce a total exam score.

For the Interpersonal and Presentational Speaking assignments, you will be asked to speak in the target language in ways outlined in the exam. There will be three assignments requiring different types of responses in this section. For each assignment, you will be given specific directions, including the amount of time allowed for preparation and speaking. Answer each question according to the directions. You may use the erasable notebooklet provided to write notes or organize your response; however, you will be scored only on your recorded oral response.

Be sure to speak naturally and appropriately in the target language when responding to the speaking assignments. The exam is designed to measure your proficiency in the target language. There are no prescribed answers to these assignments; however, each response needs to follow all the assignment directions to be appropriate. Say as much as you can until the response time is over or until you feel you have provided a thorough response.

Foreign Language Pedagogy: Instructional Practice Assignments

The LOTE Spanish exam will include two assignments that that measure how well you can integrate and/or apply your knowledge of foreign-language pedagogy and theories when designing instructional units. The instructional practice constructed-response scores will be combined with the other constructed-response scores and the selected-response scores to produce a total exam score.

There will be two assignments in this section. The total testing time for the instructional practice constructed-response section is 35 minutes; therefore, you should manage your time so that you have enough time to answer the two assignments within the allotted time. You will type your response to each question. Your responses to the instructional practice assignments should be written in English. In preparing your responses to the assignments, you may choose to prepare and organize your thoughts on the erasable notebooklet provided. However, you will only be scored on the response that you type on the computer. You may not use any reference materials during the exam.

Understand How Constructed-Response Questions Will be Scored

Information about the scoring of constructed-response exam questions can be found on the Understanding Your Exam Results page on the Texas Educator Certification Examination Program website. Familiarize yourself with the scoring information provided on this page, and be sure your responses take this information into account.

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.

Practice

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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