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Why Do I have to Take the Praxis?

So you’ve done your teacher training (or gone through the hiring process for an alternative certification program). And now you’re told you still need to take the Praxis? What’s going on here? Why do you have to take the Praxis before you can get a teaching license?

You have to take the Praxis because of state and federal regulations

NCLB Act- take the praxis -Magoosh

President Bush signing the No Child Left Behind Act into law.

As part of the No Child Left Behind Act, the federal government requires that all state-licensed teachers be highly qualified. The United States Department of Education gives states and school districts some flexibility in demonstrating that their teachers are “highly qualified”. Within that flexibility, the federal government requires state-licensed teachers to pass tests in subject area competence.

The test that teachers take to get their license does not have to be the Praxis. However, many state teacher licensing boards trust the Praxis and feel it has a proven track record in assessing teaching ability. As a result, teachers in quite a few states have to take the Praxis.

You have to take the Praxis Core to show general academic ability

The Praxis Core, tests general ability in math, reading and writing. It is the most commonly required Praxis exam for teachers. A good score on the Praxis Core proves you have basic competence in math and language arts at the K-12 level. States ask teachers to take the Core so that they can show they have mastered the same academic skills that their students must use. When you pass the Praxis Core, you show that you can help students read, write, and do math at any grade level and in a variety of subjects.

You have to take the Praxis PLT to show general teaching ability.

The second-most commonly required Praxis test is the Praxis PLT. The Praxis PLT tests your knowledge of learning theory and teaching practice. The Praxis PLT is not specific to any one academic subject. Instead, the PLT is used to see if a teacher knows about the art of teaching. Because learning psychology and teaching methods are very different for different age groups, teachers are asked to take a PLT that is specific to the age group they will teach.

If you’ve been asked to take the Praxis PLT, you have to take it in order to prove you are knowledgeable about your chosen profession.

You have to take the Praxis II (AKA a Praxis Subject Assessment) to prove you’ve mastered a specific content area

No teacher is simply given a general permit to teach any subject they like. Instead, teachers get certified in specialty areas such as language arts, social studies, high school math, early childhood education, and so on. State licensing boards want to be sure that you know your chosen content area well enough to teach it.

The purpose of the Praxis II is to test teachers on specific content knowledge in their license specialty. If you’re studying to be a Chinese language teacher, you’ll need to take a Praxis II test of your Mandarin Chinese abilities. If you’re studying to be a high school business teacher, you’ll be asked to take a Praxis II exam full of questions about business and methods for teaching business. And so on…

The takeaway

It can be frustrating to be faced with a test after you’ve already done a lot of work to become a teacher. But if you’re at the point where you need to take the Praxis, it means you’ve already accomplished a lot! You are now on the home stretch; your state is asking you to take one last round of exams because you’ve earned the right to teach in almost every other respect. Think of the exam as a final step toward being a teacher. Having to take the Praxis is the culmination of all of your diligent study and hard work. Once you pass it, your hard work will have truly paid off.

By the way, sign up for our 1 Week Free Trial to try out Magoosh Praxis Prep!

3 Responses to Why Do I have to Take the Praxis?

  1. Corbyn February 26, 2019 at 4:17 PM #

    I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with your takeaway. The Praxis has only been painful for me, not painless. It is literally the only thing keeping me from entering into the Education School I need to study with. Praxis Math Core is the bane of my existence. A very expensive, anxiety inducing, blood boiling pain. I have taken it three times with no luck, but I am successful at all of the study guides and books I’ve read for this one test and it is infuriating. I don’t understand what I am doing wrong. Every test is different and I’m never shown what I got wrong so I know specifically what to improve. I’m studying in vain! Every time! Maybe I have test anxiety or maybe I’m just stupid, you’ve got me as to which it is. The more I take this test the more my time in school is extended. The whole endeavor is starting to feel more than it is worth, honestly. It just isn’t worth it at this point.

    I apologize for venting, but your takeaway just set something off inside of me. I sincerely apologize for any offense, but I meant every word.

    Thank you for your post.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 26, 2019 at 7:15 PM #

      Hi Corbyn,

      Thank you for sharing with us. I’m so sorry to hear about your experience!

      First, and most importantly, the Praxis test does NOT determine your ability to teach, run a classroom, mentor children and be successful in your chosen field. The test helps states ensure that their teachers have a certain minimum level of knowledge, but it can’t possibly capture everything that a teacher is and does. And as you mentioned, there is an added level of stress and difficulty for people who may have anxiety over standardized tests. So please DO NOT equate this test with your ability to become a teacher! It’s just a hurdle you have to jump over, but it doesn’t define your skills and ability 😀

      Now, let’s talk a little bit about preparing for the test. Have you seen our Magoosh Premium Program? We have a math-only program that will take you through all of the information and practice you need for the exam, along with help from tutors like me if you have questions or get stuck! We have a one-week free trial that you can use to see if Magoosh might work for you!

      Besides that, we have plenty of blog posts that cover how to study for the Praxis Core Math test. You can start here and work your way through our blog for helpful tips and practice questions 😀

      Try not to be discouraged, Corbyn! I’m sorry to hear about all of your troubles with the Praxis, but I hope that you will keep working until you reach your target score!

    • David Recine
      David Recine February 27, 2019 at 6:16 AM #

      Hi Corbyn,

      As the author of this post, your comment mean a lot to me, enough that I want to give you a personal response in addition to the excellent reply you got from my colleague at Magoosh Student Help.

      My takeaway was meant to be a pep-talk to help boost morale. But I’m realizing my wording was insensitive to the many people for whom the Praxis was anything but painless. I’m also realizing that my takeaway really only reflected my own Praxis experience, which is different from that of others for a few reasons: my teacher training program included Praxis prep courses and offered extensive Praxis tutoring, and my employer was based abroad didn’t care which state I got my license in. (Meaning I could look for the state with the easiest requirements.)

      I’ve changed the wording of my takeaway so I no longer simply say that the Praxis is “painless.” Often, it’s not. And I’m sorry to hear you’re going through this. It’s really frustrating to see the way these standardize tests can act as an obstacle that makes it harder for good, much-needed teachers to enter out school system. Hang in there. Even when the Praxis is painful– and it really can be!– it can be overcome.

      And if you have any specific questions related to the practice materials or study advice on this blog, feel free to post them in the comments section of any given blog post. Also, if you can stomach spending a little more money (and I’m not necessarily saying you should), a subscription to Magoosh Praxis comes with email support for study help. If you’re still in your teacher training program, definitely explore their tutoring and support options too! Often schools do offer some degree of Praxis help to their students, although sometimes that help can be un-advertised and somewhat “hidden.” (Like I said, I got lucky with my degree program!)


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