No matter what test you’re taking, one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make is how long you’ll spend studying. If you are wondering how to study for the Praxis, there’s unfortunately no one answer — you should study as long as it takes for you to be happy with your score. That means you need to know what score you need and what your strengths and weaknesses are.
Figuring out what score you need is the easy part. Passing praxis scores are available for each state that requires the Praxis. Of course, higher is better — some principals will ask to see your Praxis scores during interviews — but it’s easy to know what your baseline score should be.
Determining your strengths and weaknesses will be much more subjective. You could be a math-lover currently enrolled in a differential equations course, or you might not have taken math in more than a decade. You could be a voracious reader skilled in dissecting English grammar, or you could be a non-native English speaker. Knowing what you’ll need to work on will help figure out how long you should spend studying.
Can I Cram for the Praxis?
There’s a lot you can do in just a few weeks to make sure you pass the Praxis Core. The Praxis doesn’t assess higher-level math or obscure grammar rules — most of what you need to do well on the exam you likely should have learned by 10th grade (assuming you went to high school in the US!). If you’re good at math (and have kept those skills up since high school), read a lot, and like to write, then you will probably be able to get the score you want with only a couple weeks of studying. If any (or all) of those things aren’t true, then it might take longer.
Regardless of your strengths and weaknesses, you will want to take at least one practice test. Registering for and taking the Praxis Core takes time and money, so make sure you only have to do it once. Also, take studying seriously; cramming means studying hard for a short period of time, not blowing it off completely!
In short, yes, you can cram. But depending on where you’re starting from, that might not be the best approach to passing the exam. You should also keep in mind the following resources:
All of this said: you should only cram if you have to. If you’ve got the time to devote to more purposeful, less stressful studying, then that’s the best way to go.
How Long SHOULD I Study for the Praxis Core?
Again, the answer to this question depends on lots of factors, but I can provide a range: you should study from one to three months. And I can give you another (better, but less specific) answer: you should study for as long as it takes to achieve the score you want! Below are some factors to consider.
How long has it been since you’ve taken math?
If you last took a math class last semester, your skills are probably fresh. If you last took a math class last millennium, you might need to brush up on your skills a bit more! If you haven’t used that part of your brain in a while, then you will likely need more time to re-activate it.
Did you like math when you took it?
Even if it has been a while, a math-y person can typically pick things back up faster than someone who dreaded second-period algebra. You likely know which camp you fall into.
How much do you read (and what do you read)?
If you don’t typically read anything longer than a tweet, getting through the reading comprehension section could be a struggle. This can be especially true for people who have been out of school for a while and haven’t recently forced themselves to read something lengthy and (how to put this politely?) boring. Praxis Core reading is intentionally dry — they want to know how well you can pick apart the passage, not how well quickly you can digest an interesting story. Read literary works, essays on current events, or articles from higher-level magazines (the Atlantic, the Economist, and the New Yorker are great sources to find texts that are academic in nature) to help you build that skill back up if you’ve lost it.
What is the passing score in your state? And what score will it take for you to feel “comfortable”?
Once you take that first practice test, you’ll want to see how your score compares to the passing score in your state. If you clear it with lots of room to spare, then congrats! If you don’t pass it or are uncomfortably close, you’ll need to devote some time to studying.
Are you “good” at test taking?
Some people are good at understanding how the test makers made the test. Some people are good at focusing for hours at a time. Some people are fast readers. The lucky few are good at all three! These skills are all learnable, but they come easier to some people than they do for others. If you’re in that camp (and you’ll know you are because you had great SAT scores, AP scores, etc.) then you won’t have to prep as long for the Praxis Core.
Are you a non-native English speaker?
This is a test in English that requires you to know the meanings of lots of words and the rules for lots of grammatical situations. It’s not insanely difficult or obscure, but if English isn’t your first language then you’ll want to spend more time prepping. That’s OK! You already speak multiple languages, so you’re no slouch.