Praxis Core: What Test-Takers Need To Know

The Praxis Core has been creating quite a buzz as aspiring teachers begin to understand and prepare for this basic skills test required by most states for a teaching credential. Overall, the Praxis Core is more rigorous than its predecessor, the Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST), and effective study strategies are important in order to be successful on test day. This article will provide an overview of what to expect on the exam, what’s new about the standards and how to best prepare.

The Praxis Core tests, taken by aspiring teachers, assess content knowledge in reading, writing and mathematics. The tests are created and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and are designed to measure the skills and knowledge levels of teacher preparation program candidates. Many institutions use the Praxis Core tests to evaluate candidates before they begin an education program, and tests are most often taken early in an aspiring educator’s career.

The Praxis Core exam includes three tests: reading, writing and mathematics. The tests may be taken on separate days or as a combined test. Test summaries and major categories addressed are provided at the end of this article.

For more information about the exam, please visit the official ETS website, or see the Praxis Core info page on the Teachers Test Prep website for a helpful overview of test dates, registration procedures and preparation options.

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Where can you register for the exam?

You can register online on the ETS website or by phone/mail. Click here for details.

How is Praxis Core different from the Praxis I PPST?

The Praxis Core is now only offered as a computer-based test, and the difficulty level has increased. While the test is still assessing basic skills in the same three subject areas, reading, writing and mathematics, the questions will be more focused on analyzing, assessing and evaluating various pieces of content. The format is designed to be more interactive, and you may be asked to do any of the following:

  • Click on more than one oval/box.
  • Type into an entry box.
  • Click on a section within a graphic.
  • Click on a sentence.
  • Drag and drop answers into targets.
  • Select an option from a drop-down menu.

Test-takers are expected to have a greater capacity for critical thinking and assessment.

New requirements for each subtest include:

  • Mathematics: increased knowledge of higher-level content such as systems of linear equations
  • Reading: ability to read multiple passages on the same topic and make assessments between them
  • Writing: greater knowledge of grammar/diction. The argumentative essay topic requires specific reasoning and supporting examples, and the informative/explanatory essay topic requires the extraction of information from two provided sources, with citations.

How should I prepare for Praxis Core?

Here are some recommended resources to help you pass the exam:

  1. Free study companions are available on the ETS website and include sample questions and explanations in PDF guides.
  2. Multiple free study guides are available on the market. Look for the most recognized brands, and make sure they are updated with the new Praxis Core standards. Teachers Test Prep has free overview Praxis Core Study Guides available online, which give you a concise listing of all the exam topics, so you can ensure you’re studying the right material from the start.
  3. Take at least one practice test. Teachers Test Prep provides a free full-length Praxis Core Practice Test for each subtest of the exam. After you take the test, you can see the answers you got wrong as well as a breakdown by domain of your strengths and weaknesses so you can study the areas that will benefit you most.
  4. If you find you need additional help, Teachers Test Prep also offers a variety of paid services, including Praxis Core Prep Classes taught by live instructors, one-on-one Praxis Core tutoring with test experts and Praxis Core On-Demand Online Prep, which allows you to learn the same content you would in the live classes from the convenience of home by watching videos and taking interactive practice tests.
  5. If you’re concerned about the essay portion of the exam, Teachers Test Prep has Praxis Core Written-Response Grading services in which a live, professional grader will score your essays based on the same rubric used on the real exam and will provide feedback on what you did well and how to improve in order to succeed on the real test.

Helpful Study Tips

  • Time yourself on each subtest so you can get an idea of how you will do on the real exam. Practice good time management, and remember that you can always return to difficult problems at the end of the exam.
  • Memorize key formulas that are likely to be needed on the mathematics subtest.
  • Take multiple practice tests.
  • Study with a buddy: Teach concepts to your peers to help fortify your own knowledge and your peers’ understanding of the content.
  • Consider multiple learning styles in your study program: Use visuals, videos and written guides.
  • View the ETS Preparation Strategies

Preparing for Test Day

  • View the ETS Testing Demo so you know what to expect with the computer-based format.
  • Verify your test location by logging in to your “My Praxis” account.
  • Bring these items to your test center: a copy of your admission ticket, proper identification with your full name/signature/photograph (no copies) and a calculator (if applicable).
  • Don’t bring these items to your test center: food, drinks, scratch paper, cell phones, smartphones, smartwatches and recording devices.
  • Request permission by mail six weeks in advance if you have health related needs or require disability accommodations.
  • Bring layers to accommodate various room temperatures.
  • Arrive at least 30 minutes early to plan for check-in.
  • Write difficult formulas down on your scratch paper as soon as you begin the mathematics exam. This alleviates the need to use mental energy remembering them.
  • Plan to be at the test center for up to an hour longer than the duration of your test as you will be provided with 30 extra minutes to complete tutorials before beginning the test.

For a 7-minute summary of this information, view the ETS Praxis Prep Video.

Getting Your Results and Retaking the Exam

  • For multiple-choice only exams that are offered continuously, you will have access to your scores 10–11 business days after your test date; for multiple-choice exams offered in a testing window, you will have access to your scores within 10–11 business days after the testing window closes.
  • For exams with constructed-response sections that are offered continuously, you will have access to your scores within 15–16 business days after your test date; for constructed-response exams offered in a testing window, you will have access to your scores within 15–16 business days after the testing window closes.
  • You are allowed to retake a Praxis test once every 21 days, not including your initial test date.

Summary of Each Praxis Core Subtest

    Length of Test: 85 minutes

    Number and Type of Questions: 56 selected-response questions

    Format: Requires test-takers to evaluate and analyze four types of text passages: (1) paired passages of approximately 200 words followed by four to seven questions; (2) long passages consisting of approximately 200 words followed by four to seven questions; (3) short passages of 100 words followed by two or three questions; and (4) brief statements followed by one question.

    The questions will relate to one of three content categories: key ideas and details; craft, structure and language skills; and integration of knowledge and ideas. For a detailed breakdown of topics in each category as well as sample questions, view the Praxis Study Companion for Reading.
    Length of Test: 100 minutes (40-minute selected response section and two 30-minute essay sections)

    Number and Type of Questions: 40 selected response questions, two essay questions

    Format: Measures test-takers’ abilities to correctly and effectively use standard written English. All questions fall under two content categories: (1) text types, purposes and production and (2) language and research skills for writing. Selected-response questions will fall under four different content areas: (1) usage, (2) sentence correction, (3) revision in context and (4) research skills.
    Essay questions assess the test-taker’s ability to write effectively under a time constraint. Essay sections will include an argumentative essay topic and an informative/explanatory essay topic. For a detailed breakdown of topics in each category as well as sample questions, view the Praxis Study Companion for Writing.
    Length of test: 85 minutes

    Number of questions: 56

    Type of questions: selected response and numeric entry, selected response with one answer choice, selected response with one or more answer choices and numeric entry questions (on-screen calculator available)

    Format: requires test-takers to demonstrate knowledge of key concepts of mathematics and the ability to solve problems and to reason in a quantitative context. Questions will fall under four different content areas: (1) number and quantity; (2) algebra and functions; (3) geometry; and (4) statistics and probability. For a detailed breakdown of topics in each category as well as sample questions, view the Praxis Study Companion for Mathematics.

You can be successful on this exam with solid preparation and utilization of good study resources. One way to begin the process is to gauge your skill level by taking a free practice test. (Note: Not all practice tests are aligned to the actual exam, so make sure you choose one that is reputable.) ETS also provides a personalized Study Plan Worksheet that you can fill out to stay on track. Best of luck on your journey to becoming a teacher!

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