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Why Can’t I pass the Praxis Core?

frustrated- pass the praxis core -Magoosh

“Why can’t I pass the Praxis Core?” Not being able to pass the Praxis Core is frustrating and confusing, even moreso than it is for other exams. The Praxis Core has fewer support and prep materials than other standardized tests. So if you’re having a lot of trouble passing, it can be harder to figure out where you’re going wrong. Not only that, but compared to ETS’s other exams, the Praxis doesn’t offer much in terms of score review. On the Praxis Core, score review is only available for the constructed response essays on the Core Writing exam. And even then, the Praxis only offers a rescore, not an actual explanation of how your essays were scored or why you might have lost points on them.

All of this is very unfortunate, because the answer to the question “Why can’t I pass the Praxis Core?” is different for everyone. Fortunately, there are some ways to figure out why you’re struggling to pass this exam. And there are some test prep materials resources that can help you.

Why can’t you pass the Praxis Core? To find out, go through some practice questions and check your answers.

Why can’t you pass the Praxis Core? The answer lies in sets of practice questions and their answer keys. When you select an incorrect answer, try to figure out why you got it wrong. What incorrect steps or logical mistakes did you make? For that matter, what is the logic behind the correct answer? How could you have gotten to the correct answer?

Approaching your practice in this way can seem intimidating at a glance. But take heart. The questions found in ETS’s official Praxis preparation materials come with some pretty good answer explanations. You can also get practice questions and answer explanations for the Praxis Core right here at Magoosh. You can check out our Practice Question Archives here on the blog, or subscribe to our Praxis Core prep service. (Our Premium Praxis service also includes video lessons that provide additional help and advice.) And Magoosh isn’t the only decent third-party source of Praxis questions on the web. We recommend a few other providers of unofficial Praxis practice tests as well.

As you got through all this Praxis Core material, start to keep a “mistake journal.” Make note of the kinds of questions you get wrong the kinds of mistakes you’re making.  Also, take notes on the new things you learn as you go through questions and answer explanations.

As you do this, the reasons that you “can’t” pass the Praxis Core will become apparent. And from there, you’ll be able to see that “can’t” is an illusion. Get to the bottom of your problems, and change your approach as needed. Once you do that, you’ll find that the real question isn’t “Why can’t I pass?” The question you truly need to ask yourself is “How can I pass?” The answer is out there, and you can find it.

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

19 Responses to Why Can’t I pass the Praxis Core?

  1. Stefanie August 20, 2017 at 10:47 PM #

    Don’t give up if you are having difficulty with the Praxis Core math. Remember there are 6 questions that don’t count towards your final scores.

    Sometimes the questions that you get wrong may be those 6 test questions sometimes not. Also I got 30/50 correct and it equaled a failing score of 144 the second time I got 30/50 it was a passing score of 154 ( Ten more points for the same amount of correct questions). My advice is to work on speed and to not leave any questions blank. Don’t think that you are prepared because you have basic concepts down pat. Remember they want you to think critically so a question probably will not be asked in a way that you are used to hearing it.

    Go onto You tube and use the ETS study plan to figure out which Khan Academy videos you should watch. Also the ETS Praxis practice test for Math Core does give you an idea of how many questions you can answer in real test time and the kind of questions you will be asked. Bottom line… don’t be discouraged or give up. Many great educators and student teachers who went before you struggled with Praxis Math Core and passed!

    • Michelle October 17, 2017 at 9:27 AM #

      I am certainly happy to hear some words of encouragement. I have take it 5 times still didn’t pass but I am going to keep trying.

      • TC July 19, 2019 at 9:46 AM #

        Hidid you pass? My daughter has taken it 5 times as well! She is intelligent and this test has done numbers on her self esteem!! Frustrating!!

  2. Terri February 15, 2018 at 1:21 PM #

    My friend cannot pass the math portion. She has a tutor and has taken it 3 times. She feels she could pass it if it wasn’t timed. Any way to take this test un-timed?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 15, 2018 at 6:19 PM #

      Hi Terri,

      Unfortunately there is no way to do it untimed, but if she is able to qualify, there are test dating accommodations available.

  3. Maria July 7, 2018 at 2:26 PM #

    I actually passed the three content areas including math but can’t seem to pass the science. I bought the praxis study guide and and still can’t pass. I have taken it more times then I would like to admit. What is wrong with me?

    • David Recine
      David Recine July 10, 2018 at 12:22 PM #


      I’m sorry to hear you’re so frustrated. Seeing students this (understandably) upset is one of the reasons I have mixed feelings at best about standardized testing. I do believe you can beat the test, as I’ve seen many students at your level of frustration who have risen to finally get the score they need. I’d love to give you some advice on the best way forward. But before I work with you on that, could you tell me a little more about the science exam you’ve been working on? Is it Praxis General Science, or a different one? And which test content and test question types have been the hardest for you so far?

  4. Andrea Wolff August 21, 2018 at 8:13 PM #

    I have taken the Praxis Core Wtg 6X-
    I am very close every time-
    Best score was 158/162- I asked for a re-score?
    I wrote a long letter as well
    Does this ever work?
    A rescore and you pass?

    • David Recine
      David Recine August 24, 2018 at 7:52 AM #

      I’m sorry to hear that you keep coming so close, yet not quite getting the qualifying score you need. That must be frustrating! The Praxis Core Writing test is the one Core exam where a score review can change your score, since it’s the only Core test with “constructed response” (essay) questions. In the rescore, they’ll review the way your essay was scored. And if your essay was the part of the test in which you lost the most points, a rescore just might work.

      As for writing them a letter, that is less likely to have an impact on its own. But writing a letter to ETS certainly doesn’t hurt!

      If your rescore isn’t successful, however, my advice is to do a deep analysis of exactly where you’re losing points. Go through practice question sets (perhaps from ETS’s PDF, ETS’s practice questions, Magoosh’s blog Praxis practice questions, or Magoosh Praxis premium), and really look at what kinds of Core Writing questions you’re missing, and why. You may also want to do a few sessions with a tutor, so someone can look right at your essays. You may also benefit from this blog’s tutorials for the Praxis Core Writing source based essay and the Praxis Core Writing argumentative essay.

    • Lori June 2, 2019 at 7:37 PM #

      Did the score review work? My son has done it 4 times and needs two points.

      • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
        Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 5, 2019 at 4:14 PM #

        Sorry to hear your son is still under his target, but he certainly is close! Going over practice problems to identify your weak areas so you know what to improve on is really the best and only way to improve. As you can see, score review is only available for constructed response questions: Is that the sort of help you’re looking for? I hope this post helps a little!

  5. Nicole Bennett April 29, 2019 at 7:03 AM #

    I have recently failed the Math Content Knowledge Praxis twice! Any suggestions??? Helpful links, hints? TIA!!!

    • David Recine
      David Recine May 9, 2019 at 12:46 PM #

      Hi Nicole! Sorry to hear you’re going through this. Multiple retakes are definitely frustrating. The good news is that your’e in good company– many successful teachers had to take their Praxis multiple times before getting to that finish line. If you haven’t done so already, I strongly recommend going through the PDFs, video lessons, and practice tests listed on ETS’s official Core Math prep page. Most of the resources are free, but I would say that even the paid exams– which come with answer explanations– are worth it. You may also want to consider signing up for Magoosh Praxis, which offers really great Core Math support. 🙂 We offer great free Praxis Core Math advice and Praxis Core Math practice questions here on the blog as well!

      Beyond those materials, I also strongly recommend building up “number sense.” This skill can help you become very fluent, comfortable, and accurate in Praxis math. One great way to do this is to take math problems you’ve gotten wrong and re-do them after looking at the explanations for them. Form there, re-do the math problem again, but change the numbers. That way you focus on the process of the problem rather than the specific answers. In terms of “playing” with math, the Magoosh number sense game can also help you really build Praxis skills, even if we did originally design that game for a different exam. Last but not least, consider isolating and working on your weaknesses by keeping an error log of your Praxis Core Math practice.

  6. Trinishia Clausell August 1, 2019 at 3:18 PM #

    I am having trouble passing the math core. I have taken it at least 6 times. I scored a 140/150 at my highest score. Getting a little bummed out. It is difficult. Especially if you have been out of school for a while.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 19, 2019 at 7:50 PM #

      Hi Trinishia,

      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! 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.

  7. Claudia August 31, 2019 at 1:31 PM #

    I am currently having trouble passing my middle school ELA praxis exam. I have taken it various times and cannot pass it. I have bought exam preps, the guide from the praxis website and they have not been able to help. I am a lateral entry teacher and need this in order to continue teaching. Help, please!!!!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 7, 2020 at 3:03 PM #

      Hi Claudia,

      I’m sorry to hear about this! Our expertise is in the Praxis Core tests, so I’m afraid we don’t have any materials for the ELA exam. I think you are on the right track, and I recommend seeking out a practice test and talking to teachers who have passed the ELA praxis for tips. Good luck!

  8. Jarol July 17, 2020 at 5:59 PM #

    I am not a native english speaker and for me it is too hard to pass the writing and reading part. I only passed the math. I know that I can apply as an esl student and they would give more time, however, i need the approval from a college and im just applying to the masters degree with my bachelors from Colombia, I want to be a spanish teacher but the level of reading and writing is is even hard for natives 🙁

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 24, 2020 at 1:28 PM #

      Hi Jarol, I’m sorry that you are having difficulty! You may want to spend some time improving your general English writing and reading skills before taking the test again. We have some resources for this in our TOEFL blogs. Good luck!

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