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Is the Praxis Core Hard?

I’ve been teaching for over a decade now. “Will this be hard?” is a question I get from most of students in the many different subjects I’ve taught. This is an understandable question. It’s one that anyone should ask themselves when they’re about to do an assignment or sit for a test. Academic tasks need to be prioritized relative to each other, and they need to be balanced with other non-academic concerns and responsibilities. Knowing how hard something is tells you how much time and energy you’ll need to devote to it.

Of course “will this be hard” is never an easy question to answer. The answer to this query is different not just for every task, but for every learner. When asking if the Praxis Core is hard, you need to ask an additional question: hard compared to what? Knowing the comparable difficulty level of other tests and academics will help you know how hard each part of the Praxis Core will be for you.

 

Praxis Core Reading

The questions on the Core Reading test are similar in difficulty to the Reading portions of the ACT or SAT exam that you took to initially get admitted into your university. You’ll be asked to identify informational details, infer unstated things from the reading, summarize overall passages, and understand author intent and attitude. The actual difficulty level of the passage is also comparable to ACT and SAT. Moreover, Praxis Core Reading passages are comparable to high school or first-year college text.

If you haven’t done much academic reading in a while or if reading is one your weaker academic skills, Praxis Core Reading may be a little hard for you. And all test-takers may find some of the questions to be hard. Inferring ideas, recognizing the author’s intentions and attitudes and summarizing longer passages are the most challenging aspects of Core Reading for test takers—these tasks require you to read deeply and actively, and this can be more difficult than usual under the pressure of a timed standardized test.

 

Praxis Core Writing

The multiple choice questions in Praxis Writing are also comparable to questions on the ACT and SAT. Praxis Writing has a difficulty level on par with the ACT English Section and the SAT Writing and Language Test. There are some important differences, however. Praxis Writing focuses much more on grammar, and a lot less on the style, structure, and development of academic writing seen in college admissions tests.

So if the finer points of grammar are an exceptionally strong area for you or you struggle with quesitons related to essay style and content development, Praxis Core may be easier than your college entrance exams. If, on the other hand, you’re not strong in proofreading for small errors in grammar and form, you may find Praxis Writing a little harder in comparison to college preparatory testing.

Praxis Writing essays are a different story. The essays are—for many test-takers—the hardest part of the Core series. For one thing, they test academic writing in a different way than an English class would. In a composition course, students are given lots of time to plan their writing, do prewriting activities such as outlines, and find a wealth of external sources to cite and paraphrase.

In Core Writing, there’s no time for the usual full academic writing process. Instead, test-takers are asked to write with minimal reference and little planning. This takes a good deal of practice. But here again, the actual essay tasks will be comparable to the ACT or SAT, in terms of difficulty level and scoring standards. So be prepared for the test-specific essay writing skills tested in the Core, but don’t worry about having to do any writing more complex than the writing you’ve done in past coursework or exams.

 

Praxis Core Math

Of the three Praxis Core tests, this exam is probably the least comparable college entrance exams like the ACT and SAT. Core Math questions are noticeably easier, on average, than ACT/SAT math questions. The more complicated types of algebra, geometry and statistics-related problems that appear on the ACT and SAT do appear on Praxis Core Math. But while relatively sophisticated operations are the norm on the ACT and SAT, they are a lot rarer on The Praxis Core.

In fact, many people—both teacher education professors and successful Core Math test-takers—aptly describe Praxis Core math as middle-school math. This is an accurate assessment in some respects. The majority of questions you’ll answer in Core Math deal with math principles you were likely taught in the seventh and eighth grade. But these questions will deal with the more advanced aspects of late middle school math. And you’ll see some high-school level math on the Core Math test too, especially ninth and tenth grade math principles.

That being said, it’s still quite important to study for Praxis Core Math, because math skills are pretty easy to lose over the course of a college degree. You read and write on a regular basis throughout your college career, but it’s possible, even common, for Education majors to go a whole semester or even a whole year or two without taking any math courses. Be sure to review the math terms and principles for Praxis Core Math and practice them a lot during in Core Math prep. You need to make sure you really do recall everything you need to know to do well on Core Math problems.

 

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23 Responses to Is the Praxis Core Hard?

  1. Kyle July 1, 2016 at 11:22 AM #

    Hello, my name is Kyle. I am struggling to pass the writing portion of the Praxis Core. I have passed the reading and Math. Do you all have any suggestions or tips. I have missed the passing score of 162 three different times. I have scored in the 152 to 156 range all 3 times. My scores are lower in the multiple choice section. This is all I need in order to become a teacher. Any suggestions would be great.

    • David Recine
      David Recine July 4, 2016 at 3:06 PM #

      Kyle— If I understand correctly, you’re having trouble passing Praxis Core Writing. Because your biggest struggles are with multiple choice, it sounds like you need to really work on your multiple choice answer strategies. If you haven’t done so already, I’d suggest studying the practice questions in the official Praxis Core Writing Study Companion PDF. I also recommend buying the official interactive practice test for Core Writing, which you can find on the exam’s test prep page here.

      This test, which you register for and can take online, comes with really good answer explanations for each question. And you can save the answer explanations by taking screen shots or copying and pasting the text into a Word document. It’ll be the best $20 you spend on this exam.

      Right now, I’m also working on a complete guide to the Praxis Core Writing section, with practice questions for each question type and explanations. Those should be going up on our blog in the coming weeks, so watch this space!

  2. Shannon Patrick July 10, 2016 at 6:07 AM #

    Hi David, I’m going to be taking the praxis core math for the fourth time. On the third time I took the test, my unofficial score was a 148 and I left 7 questions blank. The next time I take it, should I answer all the questions and guess the best that I can. Its getting to crunch time and I need to pass this test. Thank you

    • David Recine
      David Recine July 12, 2016 at 2:27 PM #

      Oh yes, you should definitely answer every question as best as you can. And of course, you should try to pace yourself carefully so that if you do feel pressed for time, you can read enough of the question to make an educated guess, rather than not reading the question and making a blind guess.

  3. Bethany July 21, 2016 at 7:35 AM #

    I am fixing to take the Praxis Core for the first time and I am really nervous! I never really did very well on the ACT and this makes me nervous for this test. Any good study tips to get ready for this test in 20 days?

    • David Recine
      David Recine July 24, 2016 at 3:49 PM #

      The first piece of advice I give anyone in your situation is this: if you haven’t done so already, go through the official Praxis Core prep materials offered by ETS. Core Writing, Core Math, and Core Reading each come with a free Study Companion PDF, and a web-based practice test. (Practice tests are around $20 each, but every helpful, with good answer explanations.)

      I would also recommend really studying the grammar rules and question types of Core Writing. In addition, make sure you really understand Core Reading question types and text types. And make sure you know the Core Math formulas, the principles behind the formulas, and how to use the formulas.

  4. Gabriella November 9, 2016 at 7:38 PM #

    I took the Writing and Reading test and passed them the first time. I found those tests fairly easy. I’m having difficulty with the Math exam and I do not believe it is a middle school level. I can’t go over 148 points. Any tips?

    • David Recine
      David Recine November 10, 2016 at 12:09 PM #

      Hi Gabriella,

      I’m sorry to hear your score keeps getting stuck at 148. That can definitely be frustrating. If your score is stopping at one very specific place after taking this exam multiple times, there are probably some specific Core Math question types that you are having trouble with. Carefully assess yourself. Once you figure out where your weak spots like in Core Math, start studying specifically to get stronger int hose areas. That should help you break the 148 barrier on Praxis Core Math and get the passing scores you need.

      I agree with you about the Praxis not quite being middle school math, actually. You’re not the first reader to point out that I sometimes understate the difficulty of Praxis Core Math. Sorry about that. Based on your feedback, I’ve edited this post to clarify that Praxis Core Math has some middle school math components but also some more challenging and advanced math problems.

      • Gabriella November 12, 2016 at 7:51 PM #

        Thank you for your quick response. I just wanted to share that today I took the test and finally passed! The score was 156; however, it doesn’t really matter because I teach foreign languages and I would never use this type of math in my lessons. I was very frustrated because I took it several times and always got different versions of the test, some more difficult than others. I spoke with a representative from ETS and this person explained that there are 10 different formats of the test. I bought two different books and the lastest ETS practice test that now includes two different formats. I studied some areas that I was weak on. I finally passed it, and I would like to say it includes middle school material as well as high school and the exam varies in difficulty according to the format.

        • David Recine
          David Recine November 13, 2016 at 5:20 PM #

          Congratulations, Gabriella! And thanks so much for coming back to let us know how it all went! 🙂

          As someone who had to take Core Math just to teach ELL, I definitely feel your pain. Interesting to know about all the different version of Praxis Core Math. I’d heard rumors of this and have been trying to figure out more. So your personal story of passing Core Math is very valuable!

          If I may ask, what two books did you buy that helped you pass? I’m always looking for new books to recommend to my readers!

          • Gabriella November 13, 2016 at 5:58 PM #

            Yes! I used the “Complete Test Preparation Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators”. 2nd edition from the Learning Express. This book includes two practice tests with explanations plus a great review for all four categories that include all formulas needed for the exam. The second book which I barely used because of time limit is: “Praxis Core Exams” from Barron’s.
            I’m glad ETS has added a second version of the test in order to practice. Both tests cost $30 or $19.99 each and can be used up to 10 times each or for a period of 90 days.
            However, very few questions from the practice tests are on the real test. Completely different problems for same concept. It can be a little tricky. Definitely the concept needs to be clear.

    • Stefanie February 17, 2017 at 2:53 PM #

      Hi Gabriella,

      The Praxis scoring goes up by twos meaning that you probably missed the passing score by one question. Don’t give up and don’t ever leave answers blank. By taking a guess you have a chance at raising your score. Also ETS has retired tests that you can take in ‘real test time’ with explanations of where you went wrong. I really believe that this helped me get the breakthrough I needed. The study plan available on the ETS website helped me check off each concept as I studied. Hope that helps… good luck!

  5. Stefanie February 17, 2017 at 2:43 PM #

    Hi David,

    I recently commented on your blog with a math Core scoring question stating:

    20/50 questions correct = 120
    24/50 questions correct = 142
    30/50 questions correct = 144

    Well I am happy to say that I passed the Math Core today with a 154 !!! I am beyond relieved. My official score is not yet in so I don’t know how many questions I got correct, but it will be interesting to see. I just hope that the official score doesn’t come back lower. As a side note to others, don’t give up a break through is coming soon. I found that studying with official ETS online ‘ retired tests’ gave me a real simulated test in real time, and made me see where my weak spots really are. I passed reading and writing a year ago so that’s a wrap on the Core !!!

    • David Recine
      David Recine February 20, 2017 at 3:09 AM #

      Such a positive, uplifting story, Stefanie! 🙂 Thank you for giving all of us an update. And as an FYI, when unofficial scores are adjusted, they’re usually adjusted upward rather than downward. If you get a chance, come back and let us know what our official score is, once you get it.

      • Stefanie February 26, 2017 at 8:51 PM #

        Hi David, the official scores are in and it’s official I passed with a 154!!!
        Ironically I got 30/50 questions correct, just like last time, so I can only assume that I answered more questions that were worth more than one point. Anyway I just wanted to encourage anyone who may be taking the exam or has already taken it to keep on going. I am an non traditional student and had to learn math from scratch all over again so if I can do it so can you. Don’t give up, follow your dreams!

        • David Recine
          David Recine February 27, 2017 at 7:40 AM #

          Great to hear from you again, Stefanie. 🙂 Congratulations, and thank you for sharing such good– and interesting– news with us!

  6. Clyde Smith May 18, 2017 at 1:28 PM #

    Where can I purchase the ETS online ‘retired tests?’

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert May 19, 2017 at 9:44 AM #

      Hi Clyde! You can purchase access to the retired exam for a specific Praxis exam on the ETS online store. Depending on the exam you’re preparing, there may be one or more different practice tests available. You can find this information and also purchase a subscription following the link above 🙂 I hope this helps! Happy studying 😀

  7. Tomeka May 27, 2017 at 2:39 PM #

    Hello i would like to know what study materials I can use for the praxis 5201 business exam?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert May 29, 2017 at 2:36 AM #

      I’m happy to give you some advice on that, Tomeka. But I assume you actually meant Praxis 5101: Business Content? (Praxis 5201 is “Reading Across the Curriculum.”)

      Pr the business Praxis exam, the best resources are the same as they would be for any other Praxis test. The very best materials are, as always, the official ones. Visit the prep page for Praxis Business Education, Content Knowledge (5101), and you’ll see a free Study Companion PDF for the exam, along with a full length web-based practice test that costs about $20. I recommend both of those materials.

      There are also a number of prep resources for Praxis 5101 on Amazon.com. However, all of the books on Amazon are either third-party books that may or may not be good quality, or used, outdated ETS materials. So proceed carefully if you try to buy additional materials, beyond the Study Companion and test that are currently offered on the ETS website.

  8. Tomeka May 30, 2017 at 10:06 AM #

    Thank you so much for the information you provided to me, and yes it is praxis 5101 business exam.

  9. Angie July 6, 2017 at 8:28 PM #

    Hi David

    My name is Angie and Recently start studying for the praxis core. I haven’t chosen a day to take the the test yet. My main language is Spanish and although I went to college here on USA my writing skill still very poor. My reading school are ok, but every time I read and the lecture is not interesting my mind wonders around. How hard the praxis is? Why you recommend to study or practice for the writing portion?

    • David Recine
      David Recine July 10, 2017 at 11:37 AM #

      Hi Angie,

      For a non-native English speaker, Praxis Reading and Praxis Writing can be a bit challenging. Remember, though, that there’s more to Praxis Writing than just the essay. There are also multiple choice questions related to grammar, punctuation, and other aspects of writing.

      As you prepare for the Praxis Core, I recommend reading the official study companions for Core Reading, Core Writing, and Core Math.

      I also recommend taking the online practice tests for Praxis Reading, Writing, and Math.

      You may also benefit from our website’s Praxis Core Reading, Praxis Core Writing, and Praxis Core Math archives. In these archives, we have tips, tricks, practice questions with answer explanations, and more.

      For Writing specifically, check out our sample Praxis Core Writing source-based essay and sample argumentative essay for the Praxis. If possible, I also recommend seeing a writing tutor. If you’re in a teacher training program currently, you can probably get help from a professor or from campus tutoring services. Community literacy centers, public libraries and local community colleges can be good too. Such places often offer affordable or free tutoring to non-native English speakers. While not all tutors will be familiar with the Praxis Core Writing test, the format of the essay questions is pretty common. Just about any tutor should be able to give you help with Praxis Core-style English language essay writing.


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