How are Teacher Certification Exams Structured?

Completing your licensing requirements is an important part of becoming a teacher, and in many states, you need to pass the teacher certification exam to become an educator. Usually offered by computer testing centers across the country, you make an appointment to take the test and pay any fees upfront. Within a few weeks of taking the test, the center will inform you of your score and whether you passed. Knowing the structure and layout of the test will help you know what to expect.

Reading Element

Similar to the GRE, the examination used for teachers usually contains a reading element. You’ll read a short story and respond to a series of questions about that story. The questions might ask you about the major themes found in the piece, the type of narrative or the point of view. Some reading comprehension questions may include an image that goes along with the story. The questions that follow ask you about how the picture relates back to the story. Practice tests will include similar photos and reading passages with a series of questions you can answer.

Writing Section

A good teacher should have some strong writing abilities. How can you encourage your students to write better essays if you have problems putting your own thoughts into words? The writing section on the teacher exam asks you to do just that. The test will give you a short question or a statement followed by a question, and the test asks you to write a response to the question given. The test may include a writing prompt rather than a question. Successful completion of the writing portion requires that you write a short essay that explains your response to the question.

Mathematics Area

Regardless of what topic you want to teach, you will still need to complete a mathematics portion on the teacher exam. Similar to the sections used by the GRE, ACT and other tests, it includes some basic and more complex math questions. You’ll see questions on algebra, geometry, trigonometry and some analytical questions. If you have troubles answering one question, move to the next question. The test scores you based on your correct answers, and you might receive a higher score for passing more questions correctly.

Other Test Structures

According to the Educational Testing Service, there are other tests that future teachers can take beyond the traditional teacher certification exam. Also known as subject tests, these examinations let students earn a certificate that shows they successfully passed a test on the subject they teach. There are more than 100 different subject tests that you can take, including tests in math, history, life science and English. Some states make passing this test a requirement for teaching in a public school. Even if your state doesn’t require that you take a subject test, you can still use the test as a way of gaining additional accreditation in your area of expertise.

Working as a teacher in many states requires that teachers successfully pass a background check and have a college degree, but many states also ask that teachers take a subject or generalized test as well. The teacher certification exam includes section on mathematics, writing and reading comprehension, but the structure of a subject test may differ slightly.

Related Resource: What are the Prerequisites for Admission to a Teaching Program?