The Praxis PLT is a series of four tests on pedagogy knowledge. Each exam is differentiated by the age groups of the students that the PLT test-taker will be working with. There’s one exam for Early Childhood, one for Grades K-6, one for Grades 5-9, and a Grades 7-12 PLT.
The PLTs are somewhat differentiated by age group, but there are also instances when the exact same question might appear in multiple versions of the exam. And each exam in this series has the same three question types: theory questions, teaching practice questions, and scenario-based questions.
Theory questions on the PLT
Theory questions, as you might expect, test a teacher’s knowledge of scholarly theories that are relevant to education. There are two types of theory questions: ones that focus on learning theory, and ones that focus on developmental psychology.
Learning theory questions ask about how students might learn in a classroom setting, based on their age, the subject matter they’re faced with, and possibly other relevant factors. Developmental psychology questions approach the cognitive abilities of children in a more general way, asking PLT test-takers to define theoretical terms such as “creativity” or Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, or to identify how children of a certain age group think and behave, regardless of setting.
Of these two subtypes of theory question, learning theory questions are a more common than questions that are purely developmental. Ultimately however, there’s a lot of overlap between learning theory and developmental theory in PLT questions. It’s quite common for a question to ask about how a particular developmental stage or principle manifests itself in a classroom, or how knowledge of developmental psychology can inform teaching practice.
Teaching practice questions on the PLT
Teaching practice-based PLT questions focus specifically on teaching practice. These kinds of questions ask teachers about how teaching is conducted, can be conducted, or should be conducted.
There are three subtypes of teaching practice questions: questions that focus on decision-making in classroom settings, questions that test knowledge of different tools and methods that can be used by teachers, and questions related to the laws and policies that govern teaching in the United States. Decision-based practice questions are by far the most common subtype, although tool/method questions also come up on the exam frequently. Practice questions regarding law and policy are the least common variety of teaching practice question, but you can expect to see at least two or three of these on test day.
Scenario-based questions on the PLT
Scenario-based questions are similar to teaching practice questions, but are much more specific. A scenario-based question will present a highly detailed teaching scenario that will include the (fictional) names of teachers, students, and possibly even schools, school officials, and parents. The exact age of the student or students and subject being taught will be given in the scenario. The teacher’s level of experience will also be described.
In some cases on the PLT, the text describing a teaching scenario will be followed by just one multiple choice question. In other instances, a particularly detailed scenario will be followed by two multiple choice questions.
And then there is the extremely detailed “case history” scenario question. Unlike theory questions, teaching practice questions, and simpler scenario-based questions, scenario questions regarding case histories are not multiple choice. Instead, they are constructed response essay questions. The reading passage for the essays will contain data similar to that of an actual case history file on a student or teacher in a school. Artifacts from PLT case files include notes from teacher observation sessions, statements form parents and administrators, IEP excerpts, student portfolio pieces, and so on.
Written responses form test-takers will generally be just a paragraph or two long. ETS’s commentary on sample responses in the PLT study companions indicates that a thoughtful two-paragraph response is most likely to get a top score.
The study companions for each PLT exam can help you understand the three Praxis PLT question types and properly prepare for them. And Magoosh Praxis is here to help as well. In our next three Praxis Blog posts on the PLT, we’ll be showing you some practice questions related to theory, teaching practice, and scenarios, complete with an answer key and answer explanations. Stay tuned, Magooshers!