Often in the hectic task of preparing for Praxis, teachers-in-training focus on exam content rather than exam scoring. This is a good thing for the most part—it’s your content knowledge that will determine the Praxis score, and successful test-takers aim for knowing as much as possible, rather than just hitting a minimum performance benchmark.
Still, once you do get your score, you’re going to want to know what the results truly mean for you and your future as a teacher. And it’s best to have some idea about this as soon as you look at your score report, and not after your university or prospective employer tells you what it means to them.
Selected response questions: raw score vs. unofficial score vs. official score
Selected-response questions are ones where the answers can only be completely right or completely wrong. Most selected response Praxis questions are multiple choice. However, some Praxis Math questions require the student to key in a numerical response instead of choosing the correct answer from a group of options. This is still a form of selected response, as there is only one correct number that can be entered on such questions.
Because they are graded on a simple right-or-wrong binary, selected response tasks can be scored immediately, right in the testing center. At the end of the exam, you’ll be given a preliminary score report on your selected response performance. This initial scorecard will show you two very different looking numbers: your raw score and your unofficial score.
The raw score is the number of selected-response questions you answered correctly. So if you got—for instance—54 questions right out of the total 56 questions on Praxis Core math, your raw score would be 54. (And that would be an excellent score!)
The unofficial score for a set of selected-response questions is based on the scale range of the official Praxis score you’ll be issued after test day. The Praxis Core and most Praxis Subject Assessments are scored on a scale of between 100 and 200 points. Currently, there are only two exceptions to this scoring scale in the Praxis Subject Assessments Series: the Speech Language Pathology Assessment (5330) and the assessment for teaching Agriculture (0700). Both of these exams are scored on a scale of 250-990 points.
Unofficial scores are based not on the number of questions on a Praxis exam, but on the number of answers. So if a selected-response question has multiple correct answers, it holds greater weight in the unofficial score, compared to its weight in the raw score. Additionally, on some exams, unofficial scores are scaled and calculated partly based on the relative difficulty of the set of selected-response questions in an individual exam session. On tests that are scaled in this way, if you get a particularly difficult mix of questions on a Praxis test and miss more questions than you might on an easier question set, your score could be adjusted upward.
For selected-response, official scores are calculated in the exact same way as unofficial scores. Official scores are only changed if there is an error of some sort in the test center itself.
Scores on selected response vs. constructed response scores
As you can see above, score results on selected-response questions are very cut-and-dry. A point lost in selected response means you got the answer wrong; a point gained means you got it right. Scoring for constructed response is not quite as simple. Constructed-response questions require test-takers to complete tasks that have many possible “good” answers, but do not necessarily have right or wrong answers.
In Praxis tests, constructed-response tasks generally involve essays or the creation of lesson plans and materials. These kinds of responses are not clearly right or wrong, and need to be graded for quality. Constructed-response answers are carefully reviewed by human scorers, so it’s not possible for a raw or unofficial score to be given out on the spot in the testing center.
To understand your scores on constructed response, look carefully at the sample constructed response answers found in the free online study companions for each Praxis exam. In the Study Companions, these sample questions include scoring and commentary from ETS explaining how the scores were calculated.
For selected response, your raw score gives you a very quick, easy-to-understand snapshot of how you did on the selected-response question set you just completed. Your unofficial score is calculated in a more complex way. The unofficial score tells you whether or not you met the minimum standards needed for licensure and it also tells you what your official score will almost certainly be, even after checks are made for test-center error. (Test-center error is very rare on the Praxis.)
With constructed-response questions, your score communicates a variety of things—how good a writer you are, the quality of your ideas, your ability to develop a clear, concise lesson plan, and so on. These skills vary from test-to-test.
First and foremost, understanding your Praxis scores helps you understand if you’re eligible for certification or if you’ll need to retake the exam. But more than that, these scores also help you understand how much you’ve learned and developed as a teacher. Minimum or below-minimum performance is a sign that you need to continue studying the art of teaching, in the interests of both professional development and good performance in future testing, studies, and work.