David Recine

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.



  • 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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