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Teacher Certification Tests. What is the Praxis Exam?

You've decided that you want to pursue a career in teaching, and you've started exploring what you'll have to do in order to achieve your goal. Maybe you've looked into what classes you'll need to take and what certifications you'll need to earn. You may have come across the term "Praxis test" in your research and wonder, "What is the Praxis exam?" 

The Praxis test measures an aspiring educator's academic skills and content knowledge of specific subjects needed for teaching. Many states and professional licensing organizations require the Praxis exam as part of their certification process. 

The path to becoming a licensed teacher is paved with many steps. Below is the information you need to make the important choices regarding when and if you need to take it.

Teacher Certification Test

Because each state has a different curriculum and set of standards for its students, each state has different requirements for teachers regarding assessments. And within every state, a unique set of guidelines applies to the individual. 

For example, a prospective high school English teacher in New York will need to take a different test than someone in the same state studying elementary education. Each certification requires proof that the teaching student knows the subject matter and the specific methods used to convey that knowledge. 

Every state requires a bachelor's degree to teach, however, not all states mandate a major in education. Some states provide alternative certifications for people who can demonstrate expertise in particular areas, and that leads to teaching credentials and ultimately licenses. Many educational leaders are seeing the value of real-world experience and that knowledge in those states is becoming equal to an education degree. 

Once you've satisfied your state's academic requirements to teach, you can take the necessary teaching tests and be one step closer to landing your first job in education. Below is information about the Praxis tests and how to take them.

Praxis Teaching Exam

Regardless of the assessment you take, you will need the full range of the content used to teach including the specialized knowledge of teaching itself. ETS, the company that created the Praxis test, offers three different assessments, each specific to the potential educator: 

  • Praxis Core Academic Skills (Core) - These exams assess academic proficiency in reading, writing and mathematics. These tests were designed to give comprehensive assessments that measure the content knowledge and skills of candidates going into preparation programs for teachers.
  • Praxis Subject Assessments - The exams require demonstration of knowledge of specific subjects that K–12 educators will teach, and also general and subject-specific teaching skills and knowledge.
  • Praxis Content Knowledge for Teaching Assessments (CKT) - These tests were developed to measure both specific subject knowledge and teaching knowledge for K-12 teaching. CKT assessment tasks focus on how well you can use your content knowledge in order to recognize, understand and respond to any problems with content you will come across in your everyday educating practice.

Praxis Test Dates

You can register for the tests after you've determined which ones you need to take. In order to take the exam you'll have to find the official testing center in your area. Every test has a different date cycle -- typically in 21-day windows every month -- with some exams offering continuous testing windows. 

Your official passing score can be accessed for free online up to one year after the test date, and will be valid for 10 years. If you fail the test, you can re-take the test once every 21 days, not including your original test date. (Unofficial scores are available after some tests and you can choose whether you want that score to be submitted to academic institutions.) 

A career in teaching can be extremely rewarding and the Praxis exam is just one milestone in accomplishing your goals of inspiring students. A successful educator needs a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter he or she will teach, and also a keen insight as to how to convey that knowledge.