Certification Tests

You know that you want to a teaching certification. You have all the requisite knowledge for your subject. The only thing left is for you to find a teacher certification test and take it. Each state administers a different test. Here is a Q and A that addresses some relevant questions you may have regarding teacher certification tests.

What companies may give teacher certification tests?

Pearson and Educational Testing Service (ETS) are the two main teacher certification test companies in the U.S. It is highly likely that you will be required to take a test offered by one of these companies in order to obtain certification to teach, regardless of state.

  • What is the difference between the Pearson and the ETS teacher certification tests?
    There is not very much difference between the teacher certification tests given by the two companies, as far as format goes. There are, though, a number of key differences between tests in any given state, as well as the type of test that is administered for each subject category. Even the subject categories themselves are different, depending upon the state. Pearson offers the Praxis I and II tests, which are administered by some states, but there seems to be no overall pattern regarding which state uses which company.
  • Will I take a paper-based test or a computer-based test?
    Again, this answer depends on the state. Most states, however, are somewhere in the process of changing from paper-based exams to computer-based equivalents, because computer-based tests are easier to grade and administer. As a result, most computer-based exams are easier to enroll for, as they are offered year-round at specified locations. Paper-based tests, on the other hand, usually require registration at least a month in advance of the test, and they are only offered between two and six times per year.
  • Where are certification exams in the certification process? Can I take a test and start teaching?
    Certification is not as easy or quick as passing a single test. Teacher certification tests are provided only upon completion of a given program. Most states will not even administer the test to you until you receive permission to take it, which only becomes available after you are enrolled and taking courses in the teaching program. Those states that will let you take the test will not give you a certificate without program completion, regardless of your grade on the test.

In addition, many states are now incorporating a number of different assessments, in addition to standardized tests. For instance, classroom observation is becoming increasingly prevalent. Internship classes, which place future teachers in a classroom while they complete their academic studies, are also being required by more and more states.

  • What should I consider when planning for a certification test?
    If you are trying to plan ahead and start preparation for the test before even beginning a teaching program, then you may want to first consider the state or even the county in which you would like to live. The company administering the test varies according to the state in which you want to teach. If you later decide to move to a different state, then you will need to receive certification in the state to which you are moving. State certificates do not transfer, in most cases.

Last Updated: 05/05/2014

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