The wait for your official Praxis score can be maddening, doubly so when you’re waiting for a Praxis constructed response score.
As a reminder, constructed response refers to portions of the Praxis test that require you to write an essay or a short answer. While “selected response” and numeric entry questions on the Praxis are either right or wrong, constructed response questions are graded on a scoring scale. As a result, constructed response problems must be scored by an actual human being. This means that if your test includes constructed response, you can’t get an unofficial scaled score estimate in the test center. In that case, you’ll only see your number of correct selected response answers on test day.
Now, here’s the good news: it is possible to estimate your scores for constructed response questions. It’s also possible to estimate how constructed response will impact your overall Praxis score. How can you do that? I’m glad you asked. Read on!
How to Predict Your Praxis Score in Praxis Tests with Constructed Response: The Basics
There are over 100 Praxis exams that test knowledge in countless teaching areas. In spite of all this variety, there is one method that covers score prediction for all of the Praxis exams that have constructed response questions.
The first thing you’ll want to do is look at the Official Study Companion for the Praxis test you’re taking. The Study Companion is a free online PDF that you should be able to find with a quick Google search. (It’ll be a link on the main official page for your Praxis test on the ETS website.)
When you’re dealing with constructed response on the Praxis, the Study Companion will help you in two ways. First, near the beginning of the PDF, you’ll see what percentage of your score is based on the constructed responses; this information is usually found on page 5 of a given Praxis Study Companion. Second, near the end of the PDF, you’ll see scoring criteria, scoring scale, and scored sample constructed responses. You can think about your own constructed responses an how they measure up to the standards, and then you can estimate your likely constructed response score.
Once you have that information– the percentage of your exam taken up by constructed response, and your estimated performance on constructed response– you can run those numbers against your selected response performance and calculate a predicted score.
How to Predict Your Praxis Score in Praxis Tests with Constructed Response: An Example
Does the process above sound confusing to you? If it does, don’t feel bad! A lot of Praxis preppers have trouble understanding the math for constructed response score prediction at first. It may help to give you an example of this predictive math in action.
So let’s look at a case study, based on scores that a Magoosh Praxis student submitted in the comments for our article “Understanding Your Praxis Raw Score.” This student had just taken Praxis 5543 (Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications). For reference, here is the Praxis 5543 Study Companion. According to that Study Companion, there were three constructed response questions, each graded on a scale of 1 to 3. Together, these three responses represent 25% of the final score.
The student wanted to know a worst case scenario, what their score would be like if they did poorly on the selected response questions. The student asked what their final scaled score might be if they got a 1 out of 3 on each of the three selected-response questions, alongside a 58% score in Selected Response for the test. (The selected response score was based on 52/90 correct answers for Praxis 5543’s multiple choice questions.)
The Steps for this Case Study
Note: Again, the math operations are applicable to any Praxis exam that includes constructed response.
52/90 is roughly 58% on the selected response portion of your exam. Since selected response is 75% of Praxis 5543’s score, a 5543 test-taker must calculate 58% of 75% to get the number of percentage points that would be applied to the whole test score for selected response. In the case of this score, calculate 0.58*0.75. This equals 0.435, or 43.5%. So with selected response alone, the test taker has earned 43.5% of their score.
Next, the constructed response questions for Praxis 5543 are worth 25% of the whole-test score. If the test-taker gets a 1/2 on each question, they’ve earned roughly 33% on the constructed response section of the test, one-third of the top possible score. To figure out how many percentage points this contributes to the whole-test score, the test-taker needs to find 33% of 25%. 0.33*0.25 = 0.0825, or 8.25%.
8.25% + 43.5% = 51.75%, which would give the test-taker an unofficial scaled score of either 151 or 152 (the raw score would simply be 52 for selected response, and 3 for constructed response). That worst case scenario doesn’t quite get the test taker to their minimum required scaled score of 160. However, if the test-taker could get 64/90 in selected response, they would be just over the cutoff for a 160 on your Praxis test. Similarly, a 2/3 on each selected response question would put the student just at the 60% or 160 cutoff. Since official scores can be slightly adjusted up or down from the unofficial score, it’s best for the student to aim as high above the cutoff as they can, of course.
A Word About Constructed Response in Praxis Core Writing
The official study companion for Praxis Core Writing does not say exactly how much of the score is taken up by the two Praxis Core Writing essays. Instead, the Praxis Core Writing Study Companion states that the entire “Text Types, Purposes, and Production” section of the test takes up 60% of the final score. This section includes two constructed response essays and 6-12 selected response questions.
How confusing is that? I actually called Praxis Customer Service and asked them exactly what percentage of the Praxis Core Writing score comes from the essays alone. They weren’t very forthcoming, but they did tell me two things that allowed me to calculate the estimated percentage value of the Core Writing essays.
The ETS representative I spoke with told me that every selected response question on the test is worth an equal number of points. The rep also told me that the two essays are worth an equal portion of the score. Based on that, I was able to get a pretty good estimate of what percentage of the score is represented by each individual essay. Let me walk you through the math. 🙂
The Math for Scoring Praxis Core Writing Essays
First, I noticed that the “Language and Research Skills For Writing” section consisted entirely of constructed response. That portion of the exam will consist of 28-34 constructed response questions. From there, I averaged 28 and 34 together and realized that the “Language & Research” section has an average of 31 questions. Once I got that number, I divided 40%– the total percentage of the score for that section– by 31. 40%/31 = 1.29%. So each question in the Language/Research section of Praxis Core Writing is worth about 1.3% of the overall final score. And since all selected response questions are worth the same amount, regardless of section, that means that the Core Writing exam’s 40 total selected response questions are worth 40 times 1.3% of the final score, or 52% of the final score.
If the 40 selected response questions represent 52% of the final score, finding the weight of each individual essay is easy. The Praxis Core Writing essays must represent the other 48% of the score for the test. And since each essay has equal value, the first and second essays are each worth 24% of the final Core Writing score.
Now that you have those numbers, you can take the math I used earlier in the article for Praxis 5543 and apply it to a score prediction for Praxis Core Writing. (Again, the scoring ranges and standards for each essay can be found in the Core Writing Study Companion PDF.)
A Final Note
Be cautioned that grading your own essays and short answers can be difficult. To get the best possible sense of your performance in practice constructed response questions, show your work to someone else. Ideally, you could share your work with a professor or academic tutor at your teacher training school. Make sure your tutor or teacher is aware of the scoring standards from the applicable Study Companion. There are many different Praxis tests, and even the most accomplished Praxis teacher may not be familiar with every exam’s standards.
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