The Different Kinds of Praxis Exams

Since ETS first created the Praxis, school district licensing has evolved. The Praxis has evolved with it, discontinuing the original Praxis I/Praxis II series and creating additional types of Praxis exam. As my colleague Jessica mentions, the Praxis I has been replaced with something very similar: the Praxis Core. Praxis Core covers the same three subjects as the Praxis I, but is administered only by computer, with no paper-based option.

Beyond the transition from Praxis I to Praxis Core, the selection of Praxis exams has changed in many other significant ways. The Praxis II series has been replaced with a group of tests called Praxis Subject Assessments. Some exams (such as the Elementary Education ones) didn’t change very much in the transition from Praxis II to Subject Assessments. At the same time, other exams (English Language arts, for example) were discontinued or greatly changed in their Subject Assessment incarnations. Moreover, an increasing number of test-takers are sitting for the Praxis’ non-teaching exams. These are proficiency tests for school staff and management. Below is a list of the types of Praxis exams that ETS currently offers.


Core Exams:

Like the Praxis I, the Praxis Core offers three tests in Math, Reading and Writing. State licensing boards will nearly always require teachers to take all three exams, not just one or two. The separate-tests format is still helpful, however, as it allows teachers to retake an individual skill test without having to retake assessments in all three areas.


Content and Pedagogy Exams:

The Praxis Subject Assessment Exams (formerly Praxis II, as mentioned above) test two different kinds of knowledge. The exams test knowledge of content—the facts a teacher needs to know in order to be an expert on the subject they teach. Content on an exam for history teachers might include—for instance—questions about the Second World War or Chinese dynasties.  Pedagogy knowledge—the knowledge required to teach effectively—includes questions on how to teach subject specific content (ESL-oriented grammar, algebraic principles, etc…) and how to work effectively with different demographics of students (adolescents, special education students, multicultural groups, and so on).

Content and pedagogy are integrated on many of the exams, such as the English Language Arts Content and Analysis Exam, which tests both English knowledge and classroom management strategies. Other exams focus exclusively on content—the Biology Content Knowledge Exam would be a good example of this. And then there are some exams that are pure pedagogy, with no real focus on subject-area facts. The Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching, a series within the larger Subject Area Assessment series, is a good example of this. PLT exams are completely focused on teaching strategy for different age groups and grade levels.


State-specific exams

Every state has its own office of education, and state requirements for teacher licensure can vary a lot. In fact, as I’ve mentioned before, some states have gotten rid of Praxis requirements completely, in favor of their own locally designed and administered tests.

But there are also three states have managed to have their own local standards while still keeping the Praxis… by hiring ETS to create a Praxis exam just for their state! Pennsylvania has its own Praxis exams for teachers of English, math, science, and social studies, as well as two Praxis exams that measure general pedagogy knowledge. Virginia’s local Praxis exams have a narrower focus, and are given only to reading specialists in that state. And Kentucky has a state-customized non-teaching Praxis assessment—see below.


Non-teaching exams

Praxis offers exams for school administrators and support staff in a variety of roles. The ParaPro Assessment is for classroom aides. Teacher’s aides must pass the ParaPro in 33 states and two territories; an additional six states require the ParaPro in select school districts. (Details on state and local requirements for here.)

There are several Praxis exams for other school district employees too. Currently, ETS makes Praxis tests for school-employed speech language pathologists, audiologists, psychologists, guidance counselors, and librarians. Last but not least, the Praxis offers exams for school management positions. Within its Subject Assessment series, principals and other managers can take a Praxis Exam in Educational Leadership: Administration and Supervision. There is also a separate Praxis series just for managers, the School Leadership exam set. Within this series is a general exam for principals and other school level managers, a state-specific exam for principals and vice principals in Kentucky, and an exam for superintendent managers at the school district level.


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  • 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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8 Responses to The Different Kinds of Praxis Exams

  1. Deepa September 3, 2016 at 2:47 PM #

    Hi David,

    I,m getting confused with ParaPro AND Prexis test series.

    As per my understanding if i clear parapro test, i can work as a teaching aid, while Prexis series is needed to get an admission to college. It means I won’t be qualified as a teacher if i clear all Prexis TESTS.

    Also advise if Parapro and Prexis core exams both can be prepared with same study guide.

    Thanks n Regards,

    • David Recine
      David Recine September 5, 2016 at 9:10 AM #

      This can be confusing, can’t it? You’re right about the ParaPro test– pass this test and you can be a teacher’s aide. However, the Praxis test isn’t a university entrance exam. The Praxis test is actually a professional certification test. You submit the Praxis test to a state after you finish your bachelor’s degree. Then, if your Praxis scores meet your state’s standards, you can be given a teaching license and permitted to teach K-12 classes in your state.

      I wouldn’t advise studying for ParaPro and Praxis with the same study guide. They are very different tests and they lead to different kinds of employment. For more information on the Praxis Parapro Test, the difference between the ParaPro and other Praxis tests, and study materials for the ParaPro, see my post on the Praxis ParaPro test for Paraprofessionals. And if you’re thinking about become a teacher aide, you may also enjoy the Magoosh Praxis Blog’s posts on what a teaching paraprofessional is, and how to become a teacher aide.

  2. Rosemary February 7, 2018 at 6:22 PM #

    My daughter will be graduating from a Pennsylvania university this May. I understand that she has to pass the PECT to be certified in PA. Does she have take a second test, the Praxis, to be certified in NJ?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 7, 2018 at 7:31 PM #

      Hi Rosemary,

      I recommend that you check out the teaching requirements for PA on the Praxis Website. According to them, the Praxis is required for a teaching license in PA. I’m sure that you daughter can get some guidance from her university, and if you have further questions I recommend that you contact the PA Teaching Certification department directly 🙂

  3. Saniya April 26, 2018 at 8:56 AM #


    I am residing in Texas at the moment and I took Texes Core Subject EC-6 and ESL Supplementary in order to get enrolled in one of a Texas EPP ( Educator Preparatory Program). Now things have changed recently in my personal life and I may have to move to Alabama this summer. I have been searching teachers training programs there and they are asking to take Praxis II and praxis core exams as a requirement for admission. I am totally confused and disappointed as what to do with these exams that I passed after preparation of 6 months. Seems like Texas exams have no value in other states. Is it so? Why there is so much difference among states regarding teacher exams if the education system and teachers’ status is similar through out the country?

    • David Recine
      David Recine April 26, 2018 at 10:15 AM #

      This really is a frustrating aspect of teacher licensure in the USA, Sanisa. You really can be asked to take a completely new exam if you switch states during teacher training. Sometimes you’ll need to take a new exam even after getting licensed in one state. The good news is that the Praxis exams are accepted in a much wider number of states, compared to non Praxis exams. In fact, most non-Praxis exams are state specific. But even the Praxis has a few state-specific tests, such as their line of Pennsylviania-only exams. I agree with you that there should be more acceptance of out-of-state testing for teachers. Hopefully there can be some reforms in this area in the future, so that teachers are in a better position to move or seek training/employment in any state.

  4. Saniya April 26, 2018 at 9:04 AM #

    Can you please suggest me study guide and books for both Praxis core ( reading, maths and writing) and Praxis II ( ELA, maths, science, Social studies) for elementary.

    • David Recine
      David Recine April 26, 2018 at 10:10 AM #

      For Praxis, the very most reliable study guides tend to be the official ones. This includes the out-of-print but still-readily-available Official Guide to the Praxis (see Mike’s review of the OG). This also includes the various free study companion PDFs and paid practice exams that can be downloaded from the official preparation pages for each Praxis test (look those up by exam here).

      I also recommend any Praxis preparation guides by REA. They are a generally good third party Praxis prep provider. For more information, check out our review of the REA Praxis Core book. REA does guides for many Praxis II exams as well, although I’m not sure how well they support all of the Praxis II tests you specifically listed above. (Through a very quick search, I did see some REA books for Elementary Education: Content Knowledge Praxis II exams, although I’m not sure how current those books are.)

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