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What to Do When You Failed the Praxis

So you took the Praxis and failed. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this is a minor setback. Here are some things you can do.

If you failed the Praxis, schedule a retake as soon as possible

According to the official Praxis website, “you may retake a Praxis test once every 21 days, not including your initial test date.” Twenty-one days is definitely enough time to study for a retake. But it’s also a fairly long time to delay your job hunt, especially if you are heading into summer and want to land your first teaching job by fall. So you certainly don’t want to wait any more than three weeks for a retake.

As you study for your retake, make sure you do real practice questions with ETS’s official Praxis preparation materials. Check your answers and make note of your strengths and weaknesses. Make sure you build on your strengths and manage your weaknesses so that you can pass your state’s Praxis requirements the second time around.

If you failed the Praxis, consider a score review

The Praxis exam does offer score review service on a limited basis. If you request a score review, ETS will double-check the score you got. And if they feel your score was calculated incorrectly, they can modify your score. Praxis Score Review costs $65, and this kind of score review is only available for constructed response questions (essay or short answer questions, in other words).

When considering a score review, bear in mind that there are some potential disadvantages to requesting a score review. In some cases, ETS may decide to lower your score upon review rather than raising it. They may also decide that no mistakes were made in the original scoring; in this case your score won’t change. Additionally, it takes 3 to 4 weeks for a score review to be completed once you send in the request. This means that if you wait to see the results of your score review, you’ll miss your first window of opportunity to do a Praxis retake. So you’ll either have to delay your retake while you wait for the score review results, or you’ll need to do a retake without knowing if one will truly be necessary.

Still, if you strongly suspect you failed your Praxis exam due to scoring errors on your essays or short answers, a  retake is definitely an option to consider.

If you failed the Praxis and you have a pending job offer, talk to your prospective employer right away

If nearly all of your teacher training is done, a school may offer to hire you on the assumption that you will be getting your teaching license in the near future. If you’ve just failed the Praxis and you are facing a delay in getting your license, you need to be as honest with your school as possible. If you hide this delay from them, it can cost you your pending job. However, if you let school officials know you fell short of the minimum Praxis score and you show them that you’ve registered for a retake, there’s a good chance you’ll get to keep your new job. Employers are often willing to give you time for a Praxis retake, so honesty is definitely the best policy here.

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13 Responses to What to Do When You Failed the Praxis

  1. Frustrated Skeptic August 21, 2016 at 5:18 PM #

    I have taken and failed the praxis II 3x for a foreign language. I know I’m not alone and I find it troubling that one of the top search results to pop up when I’m looking for stories or tips relating to my situation is your site, suggesting I spend more money on another Praxis test and test prep materials. I refuse to give up and I don’t want to become a “it’s a scam!” conspiracy theorist, but I find it hard to believe I’m coming within 10 points of passing every time no matter how hard I study with other non-ETS materials.

    • David Recine
      David Recine August 22, 2016 at 12:05 PM #

      Honestly, Frustrated Skeptic, I’m glad you brought this up. You really MAY need to pay ETS for its materials in order to boost your score. And yes— it could be argued that this isn’t fair. The companies that make standardized tests have a huge advantage over other third-party providers, and usually offer a only limited number of free materials, charging money to those who want a substantial amount of prep material for the exam. But sometimes, frustrating as it is, you may need to bite the bullet and pay $20 for the demo test ETS offers on the Praxis. When other materials don’t allow you to get all the way to your target score, the “real” materials probably will. Fair or not, it can be necessary. This is especially true for the Praxis II exams, since there are so few third-party study guides for them.

      As an FYI, Magoosh has no official ties to ETS, and we don’t benefit financially in any way when people purchase materials from them. And it’s our goal to help students find as many free or very cheap prep materials as possible. Pretty much every Praxis exam has a free official online Study Companion PDF. Sometimes this alone can be enough to help you boost your score. If you haven’t done so already, look up the study companion for your test by going to Praxis’s dropdown menu of test prep materials.

      One other thing you may want to do as well is think carefully about which test questions you may have missed. If you can figure out your weak areas in the foreign language you’re testing in, you may be able to boost your score just by working on the “trouble spots” you have in that language, without needing to consult any official Praxis materials beyond the free study companion.

  2. Brendan September 11, 2016 at 8:10 AM #

    Are the retakes free, or covered by the original testing fee for the initial failed exam?
    As in, do you pay once and keep retaking every 21 days until you pass for the same one-time fee already paid?

    • David Recine
      David Recine September 13, 2016 at 1:55 PM #

      Unfortunately, you need to pay a new, full fee any time that you retake the Praxis.

  3. Desperate October 7, 2016 at 9:07 AM #

    I took it 5161 Math 2x. Since my gpa is low I need a high score. I cant seem to grasp the material anymore but while subbing, teachers are requesting me left and right! I can handle a classroom for the year but I cant seem to pass this standardized test! I even tutor but not in calculus thus, the “study and explain to someone what you learned” method doesn’t help me here. I did phenomenal on the placement test for college but the Praxis is not the same thing at all. I have the study guide and studying via youtube. I know God will help me pas in due time but just wanted to reach out for more sources besides what ETS offers.

    • David Recine
      David Recine October 7, 2016 at 3:49 PM #

      Hello “Desperate,”

      Wow, there’s a lot going on in your message to our blog. But I think you’ve raised some important issues here. From the sound of it, you’re able to do almost everything a licensed teacher is expected to do, but you keep falling short on your licensing exam— the Praxis II for Mathematics: Content Knowledge (5161). That certainly sounds frustrating!

      A few thoughts here: From what you’re telling me, you know most of the math skills that are tested in 5161, but you’re not as comfortable as you need to be when it comes to calculus and perhaps a few other exceptionally advanced math concepts on 5161. One thing I’d recommend is searching Khan Academy’s math video library, if you haven;t done so already. Their videos are free, cover every math concept from 5161, and break things down in a way that is very “user friendly.” In fact, Khan Academy even has a direct partnership with ETS to provide free web-based support for one of their other exams– the GRE.

      From what you’ve told me, it sounds like you also should work specifically on your skills in multiple choice strategy. When you get an answer wrong in practice (such as on the practice questions in the 5161 Study Companion or the official 5161 practice test), you should really think about why you got the answer wrong. You should also always figure out how you could have arrived at the right answer.

      Above all, try to think like the designers of the Praxis 5161. Think about the way that the incorrect answers are designed to trick you. The wrong answer choices aren’t random– they’re the result of small missteps– or sometimes big ones– that can be made while you calculate the answer. Figure out what missteps you’re making, and you’ll be able to avoid them.

      Desperate, I think you’re experiencing a lot of common challenges among Praxis II test-takers. Thank you for sharing your concerns. If you have anything to say in response to the advice I’ve given you so far, feel free to post an additional response to my response. I’ll be glad to continue this conversation here if you’d like.

  4. Michelle October 21, 2016 at 11:18 AM #

    Well I really have a good one for you. I have taken Praxis II 10 times and missed it by a point the last time it was taken. Now I have to retake Praxis I and II and a PLT to get my teaching license. It was very frustrating but I finally found the guides I needed to help me along and have my first test scheduled for the 28th of this month.

    • David Recine
      David Recine October 25, 2016 at 3:21 PM #

      That is a “good” one. Not good in the sense that your situation must be disappointing and frustrating. Good in the sense that I’m sure a lot of students can relate to what you’re saying. This is also good because it’s wonderful to hear you found the right guides! Tell us a little bit more! What guides have been working for you? Are you using the official ETS ones? Magoosh? Other third-party books or websites. Let us know– I’m always looking for the best resources to share with the readers of this blog. 🙂

  5. Karen November 8, 2016 at 12:44 PM #

    I have failed the praxis ll 5161 3 times. I bought the ETS practice test and it did not help at all. Out of the 60 problems on the practice test, maybe 10 were similar to the real 5161test. I wouldn’t waste the $20

    • David Recine
      David Recine November 10, 2016 at 12:21 PM #

      This is definitely one of the frustrations of Praxis Prep. Although I do recommend the practice tests, the amount of questions in them are very limited– just a single exam’s worth of questions. With just a little bit of bad luck, you may get a set of questions on test day that’s pretty distant from the single practice test available. It’s also possible that some Praxis exams have lower-quality ETS practice tests than others. Thanks for your advice on Praxis 5161, Karen. And if anyone else has had experience with 5161 or other ETS practice tests, mention it here in the comments. My readers and I would love to hear about your experiences!

    • Natalie December 1, 2016 at 8:14 AM #

      I took the Praxis II 5161 in November and did not pass. I am a former accountant and current business teacher who has not had a math class in 15 years (but math was always my best subject). I bought the ETS practice test just like you did, Karen. I felt the same way. Very few questions were similar to the actual test. I did study quite a bit before I took the test (taking practice test, using Khan Academy, etc…) I felt like I was prepared for the types of questions that I studied, but found that there were many questions on the actual test that I had not prepared for. My question for Karen is: “In the 3 times that you took the test, did you find that the questions were similar to each other, or was the test completely different each time?

  6. Margo November 28, 2016 at 9:59 AM #

    My husband has taken the 5161 5x’s and failed. This last time he got a 152 and did not answer 10 questions. My question to you, are the unanswered questions counted against him?

    • David Recine
      David Recine November 29, 2016 at 7:47 AM #

      Yes, an unanswered question costs the exact same amount of points as an incorrectly answered question. Because there’s no “guessing” penalty on the Praxis, your husband should always guess at Praxis answers rather than simply leaving them unanswered. At worst, he’ll guess wrong. At best, he’ll guess correctly and get a point.


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