David Recine

What is the Praxis II?

I’ve had a few teacher trainees come to me in recent years, confused about the Praxis II. They keep hearing about the Praxis II from their professors or their school websites. But when they actually look on the official ETS pages for the Praxis, they find little or nothing about this exam. What’s going on? What is the Praxis II?

Out with the old…

The reason for this confusion is that the Praxis II was recently discontinued… and replaced by a very similar series of tests called the Praxis Subject Assessments. The Subject Assessment tests are exams that focus on specific teaching skills, rather than the general academic knowledge that’s measured in Praxis Core. Subject area assessments can measure skills specific to certain academic subjects, such as German as a foreign language, grade 4-8 language arts, business education, and so on. They can also measure teaching skills that are purely pedagogical, related only to classroom management and not tied to a specific scholarly topic. (The Praxis PLT is a good example of this.)

The new line of Praxis Subject Assessments is so similar to the previous Praxis II exams that many teacher training programs, licensure boards, and employers use the terms “Praxis II” and “Praxis Subject Assessments” interchangeably. In fact, even the official ETS Praxis website notes that the Praxis Subject Assessments were “formerly the Praxis II tests.”

Other Changes to Keep in Mind

So if you hear the term “Praxis II” being thrown around, what it really is referring to is the Praxis Subject Assessments. At the same time, it’s important to understand that when the name Praxis II was retired, more than just the name was changed. A number of teaching subject area exams were completely retired, and other subject area exams were changed, either in small or big ways.

So be cautious when viewing a third-party list of Praxis II exams you might need to take. Because there is a lot of confusion about the exact difference between the old “Praxis II” label and the new-but-similar Praxis Subject Assessment lineup, you should always look directly at the current, official menu of Praxis Subject Area assessments to see what’s available and find properly updated preparation materials. If a Praxis II exam listed in a non-ETS resource isn’t on the current ETS list of exams, it probably no longer exists.

If you think a Praxis II requirement you’ve been asked to meet is out of date, check with an adviser, professor, or supervisor. You may also want to encourage your university or school district to start using the more updated terminology. There are still a lot of outdated Praxis II resources out there, beyond the official ETS website. When schools use the newer, updated term “Subject Assessment,” they help steer student teachers away from obsolete study guides and advice.



  • 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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