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Praxis® test prep: What are Praxis tests and how can you prepare?

Discover education degree offerings at University of Phoenix!
Discover education degree offerings at University of Phoenix!

At a glance

  • Praxis® tests are designed to measure a person’s teaching knowledge and skills.
  • There are three types of Praxis tests: Core Tests, Subject Assessments and Content Knowledge for Teaching.
  • Students preparing to take a Praxis exam should be aware it’s an out-of-pocket expense and should plan accordingly.
  • University of Phoenix’s teacher education programs meet licensure requirements in most states and can help prepare students to take a Praxis test. Click here for more information about state requirements.

Praxis tests, named for the Greek word for “practice,” are often a critical step for aspiring teachers who seek licensure and certification.

Of course, this straightforward explanation only scratches the surface.

While Praxis tests are inevitable for teachers, the one or ones you take depend on the state you live in and the subject and grade you want to teach. Teachers going into elementary education, for example, may take a different Praxis exam than those pursuing a career in secondary education. Even the minimum required Praxis scores aren’t consistent across states!

Wondering where to start? You’re in the right place. This guide will explore what Praxis tests are used for, how to determine which Praxis exam you should take and the best way to prepare for the test. 

What is are Praxis tests used for?

Facilitated by the nonprofit educational assessment and research organization ETS, Praxis tests are used to assess educator preparedness for licensure.

That’s basically a fancy way of saying that Praxis tests are one key factor to help determine if you’re qualified to become a licensed teacher.

Anyone can take Praxis tests, even if without a bachelor’s degree. Technically, you don’t even have to be enrolled in a bachelor’s program. But since Praxis tests measure your knowledge and readiness to teach, and since you’ll likely need to achieve a minimum score to be eligible for licensure, you’ll need to prepare somehow.

The most commonsense way may be to pursue an educational degree, but you can still successfully take Praxis tests with a bachelor’s degree in another subject and a solid review process

Which Praxis test should you take?

Just as there are different types of teachers, there are different types of Praxis tests. They are:

Praxis Core tests

Praxis Core tests consist of one test each in math, reading and writing. As the online test preparation company Magoosh notes, “State licensing boards will nearly always require teachers to take all three exams.” 

Praxis Subject tests

With more than 90 tests in this category, the subject assessments are generally required by states and professional associations for licensure and certification. These exams measure a candidate’s knowledge of specific subjects taught in K–12 education as well as general and subject-specific teaching skills.

This means aspiring history teachers might be tested differently than language teachers, but all aspiring teachers will be evaluated on how effectively they teach.

Praxis Elementary Education: Content Knowledge for Teaching (CKT) tests

These Praxis tests are for individuals seeking a generalist elementary school license. They evaluate a candidate’s content knowledge for reading and language arts, math, science and social studies.

Additionally, CKT tests assess how a candidate can apply content knowledge to identify and effectively respond to content problems that crop up in day-to-day teaching.

Outside of these three categories, there are still more options for Praxis tests. School administrators and support staff have their own set of exams, as do teacher aides, and school-employed speech language pathologists, audiologists, psychologists, guidance counselors and librarians. There is, in other words, a Praxis test for everyone!

To determine which Praxis test is right for you, visit the ETS website, scroll down to the “State Testing Requirements” section, then select from the drop-down menu the state where you plan to teach.

Some states, like Colorado, require Praxis Subject Tests but not Praxis Core tests. Other states (such as Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky) offer their own state-specific exams. And still other states accept some comparable Praxis exams but have other main exams. Arizona, for example, requires NES/AEPA, not Praxis tests. So, do some state-specific research on which requirements pertain to your plans.

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Parts of Praxis tests

Required by most states, Praxis Core tests are administered electronically at designated testing centers as well as at home for test takers in the U.S. and Canada. They can be taken all at once or over several days. Minimum required scores vary by state.

The three components are:

1. Reading

Questions require understanding and analyzing multiple texts.

  • Format: Multiple choice and alternate response type (e.g., “Select the sentence in the passage that …”)
  • Number of questions: 56
  • Time to complete: 85 minutes

2. Mathematics

Math not your thing? Not to worry: You’re permitted to use an on-screen calculator.

  • Format: Numeric entry and multiple choice
  • Number of questions: 56
  • Time to complete: 90 minutes

3. Writing

This test is designed to assess your argumentative and informative writing skills with an essay for each type. It also includes a series of questions pertaining to research and strategies for editing and improving texts.

  • Format: Multiple choice and essay
  • Number of questions: 40 plus two essays
  • Time to complete: 40 minutes for the questions, 60 minutes for the essays

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Studying for Praxis tests

Just as students must review formulas and sample questions ahead of an algebra test, so too much aspiring teachers invest the time and brainpower into properly preparing for Praxis exams. 

Praxis study guide and resources

In addition to having a solid foundational knowledge in education and subject matter, candidates can choose to explore the following resources while preparing for Praxis tests.

Practice tests

Want more practice tests? Look no further.

While getting on the other side of Praxis exams may seem daunting, it’s really just a matter of breaking the process down into doable steps. In fact, the path to Praxis success — research, study and test — dovetails nicely with education itself.

If you need more information about how to plan or pay for Praxis exams, ETS offers testing accommodations and even financial support if you qualify. For information on education degree programs offered at University of Phoenix, visit phoenix.edu/degrees/education.