David Recine

How Difficult is the Praxis II?

For many teachers-in-training, the Praxis II exam feels intimidating, because the information is so specialized. But how difficult is the Praxis II?

How difficult is the Praxis II? That depends on which Praxis II you take!

There are so many Praxis II tests–at least one exam for just about every subject you could possibly teach. The more specialized a Praxis II content area is, the harder a Praxis II exam can be. And on the flip side of that equation, test-takers often find Praxis II tests to be easier if their content is more general.

Let me explain what I mean by specific vs. general on the Praxis II. The Praxis II test for Chemistry: Content Knowledge is highly specialized. Many of the questions focus on specific chemical compounds, facts about chemical reactions, science experimentation methods, important discoveries in the field of chemistry, and so on. This test requires you to recall a long list of concrete facts about the content area. Even if you’re very knowledgeable about chemistry, it’s usually harder to master a highly detailed set set of concrete facts for an exam.

So what would a more general Praxis II test look like? Well, the Praxis II for Teaching Reading provides one example. This exam doesn’t focus on the long list of facts you’d find in a “hard science” discipline like chemistry. Instead, a Praxis II exam like this one tests a teacher’s knowledge  of the art of teaching. Many of the questions can be answered correctly through a combination of common sense and teaching experience. (The latter of which can be gained through student teaching and practicum.)

Of course, the rule that specific factual content = harder and general skills content = easier on the Praxis II is not always true; different test-takers have different abilities. Most test-takers find more specialized content harder and have an easier time preparing for Praxis II tests on the art of teaching. But it’s possible that you could be more comfortable with fact-oriented testing…or you might feel uncomfortable demonstrating your teaching skills through a standardized test. You will need to look at Praxis II sample questions and prep materials to know for sure if a Praxis II exam will be hard for you personally.

The Praxis II can be harder for people in alternative certification programs

The Praxis II is designed to measure years of university-level learning. If you want to take the Praxis II for Biology: Content Knowledge and you have just finished a university degree in biology, the test just might feel like an easy review of content you’ve already learned. If you need to take the Praxis II in Early Childhood Education and you’re almost done with a teaching degree int hat area, your professors probably spent years preparing you for the kinds of questions you’ll need to answer on the test.

In contrast, teachers who are seeking alternative certification usually haven’t taken any teacher education classes, other than some relatively short in-program training. Often, alternative certification candidates also lack a degree in the content area they’re trying to get certified in.

In this situation, the Praxis II takes a lot of careful study and can be quite challenging. If you are taking a Praxis II in an area you didn’t major in, make sure you prepare adequately…and be ready for a real challenge.

Difficult Praxis II -Magoosh


  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he’s helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master’s Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he’s presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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