Allison White

Praxis Test vs. PLACE Test

The Praxis test is not required in all states. That leaves the question: if I don’t take the Praxis, what test do I take? In Colorado, teachers are required to take the PLACE test for licensure. PLACE stands for “Program for Licensing Assessments for Colorado Educators.” How does the Praxis test compare to the PLACE test? Let’s find out!

Who takes the test?

Praxis Test: Many states require the Praxis as part of teacher licensure. Typically, people who take the Praxis need to take both the Praxis Core (Reading, Writing, and Math) as well as one or more subject tests.

PLACE Test: The PLACE test is only for Colorado educators and related fields (e.g., counseling). It is a requirement for licensure, along with certain coursework requirements.

Where and when do I take the test?

Praxis Test: There are a large number of Praxis test locations. The Praxis Core Combined test is offered continuously. In addition, the Praxis Core is delivered via computer. Because of these factors, you will usually take the Praxis in a smaller room with a smaller group of people. That means that the setting for the Praxis Core is different than other standardized tests you may have taken, which often occur just a few times a year at the local high school.

PLACE Test: The PLACE test is the opposite of the Praxis here. It is a pencil-and-paper standardized test, given in limited locations at limited times of year. The day I took the test, there were thousands of people in an area high school. We looked up our test codes and, after directions to the whole group, reported to a room where our test would be delivered. In the classroom where I took my test, there were about 25 people. The test was administered by a proctor and as far as the test location and delivery, it felt very similar to the ACT and SAT tests I took back in high school.

What’s on the test?

Praxis Test: Typically, you will need to take both the Praxis Core Combined test (Reading, Writing, and Math) and likely a Subject Test as well.

PLACE Test: Though there is a “Basic Skills” PLACE test, you probably won’t need to take it. Usually, you just need to take the subject test for your content area. If you have already taken a Praxis subject test, you may be able to use that for teacher licensure in Colorado.

How hard is the test?

Praxis Test: In some ways, it’s hard to compare the Praxis Core to the PLACE, since they are testing different things. The Praxis Core is testing Reading, Writing, and Math, but the PLACE is more like the Praxis subject tests. Whether or not you think a test over subject knowledge is more difficult or a test over reading, writing, and math is more difficult comes down to individual strengths and challenges. It also comes down to how you learn and study best! David has written a great post on whether the Praxis Core test is hard, and we also have lots of great resources for studying for the Praxis. Ultimately, some people will find the Praxis harder and some will find the PLACE harder.

PLACE Test: There are study guides available for some subject tests on the PLACE website. Some tests, however, are taken by a smaller number of people. Those tests may not have extensive study guides available. This was the case for my test–you just have to rely on what you have learned in your coursework.

I can’t speak to ALL of the tests, but in my experience, the PLACE test I took (Early Childhood Special Education or “ECSE”) seemed much harder, but had a much higher pass rate! So I left the test convinced I’d failed, but it turned out I’d passed with flying colors. It seems that the Colorado Department of Education doesn’t publish pass rates for the different tests, but ask the professors for your program. My professors told me that around 85-90% of people pass the ECSE test, so your professors probably have a good idea about what to expect for your PLACE test. 🙂

Whichever test you are getting ready for, good luck and happy studying!


  • Allison White

    Allison is an Early Childhood Educator who has been a teacher since 2010. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 2010 with a degree in Psychology, focused in Child Development. She began her teaching career as a 2nd grade teacher in Washington, D.C. After moving to Denver, Colorado she discovered a passion for Early Childhood Special Education. She earned a Master’s in the subject from University of Colorado Denver in 2015. She spent Spring 2016 teaching pre-service early childhood educators at the undergraduate level. Now she and her husband are on a big adventure travelling around the western United States in an RV!

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