Praxis Core For Dummies with Online Practice Tests - Carla C. Kirkland - E-Book

Praxis Core For Dummies with Online Practice Tests E-Book

Carla C. Kirkland

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Get the confidence you need to ace the Praxis Core Prepping for the Praxis Core can feel like a pain--but it doesn't have to! Beginning with a thorough overview of the exam to ensure there are no surprises on test day, Praxis Core For Dummies with Online Practice Tests arms you with expert test-taking strategies and gives you access to the types of questions you're likely to encounter on the reading, writing, and mathematics portions of the Praxis Core Academic Skills For Educators exam. As a future educator, you know how thorough preparation can affect performance--and this is one exam that requires your very best. This hands-on study guide gives you all the study guidance, tried-and-true strategies, and practice opportunities you need to brush up on your strong suits, pinpoint where you need more help, and gain the confidence you need to pass the Praxis Core with flying colors. * Get a detailed overview of the exam * Take six full-length practice tests (two in the book and four additional tests online) * Answer hundreds of practice questions * Hone your test-taking skills This is the ultimate study guide to one of the most important tests you'll ever take.

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Praxis® Core For Dummies®, 2nd Edition

Published by: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774, www.wiley.com

Copyright © 2018 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey

Published simultaneously in Canada

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without the prior written permission of the Publisher. Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, (201) 748-6011, fax (201) 748-6008, or online at http://www.wiley.com/go/permissions.

Trademarks: Wiley, For Dummies, the Dummies Man logo, Dummies.com, Making Everything Easier, and related trade dress are trademarks or registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and may not be used without written permission. Praxis is a registered trademark of Educational Testing Service (ETS). This product is not endorsed or approved by ETS. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book.

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Library of Congress Control Number: 2017960352

ISBN 978-1-119-38240-9 (pbk); ISBN 978-1-119-38242-3 (ebk); ISBN 978-1-119-38241-6 (ebk)

Praxis® Core For Dummies®

To view this book's Cheat Sheet, simply go to www.dummies.com and search for “Praxis Core For Dummies Cheat Sheet” in the Search box.

Table of Contents

Cover

Introduction

About This Book

Foolish Assumptions

Icons Used in This Book

Beyond the Book

Where to Go from Here

Part 1: Getting Started with the Praxis Core

Chapter 1: Previewing the Praxis

Why Take the Praxis?

Breaking Down the Praxis

Understanding How the Test Is Scored

Chapter 2: Getting Ready for Test Day

Registering for the Test

Using Your Time Wisely

When Test Day Has Arrived

If You Are Retaking the Test

Chapter 3: Practicing the Praxis: Sampling Some Practice Questions

Going through the Pre-Assessment Questions

Looking at the Pre-Assessment Answers

Assessing Your Results

Part 2: Mastering Math Concepts

Chapter 4: Count on It: Number and Quantity

Working with Integers: Whole Numbers and Their Opposites

Computing with Fractions and Mixed Numbers

Working with Decimals and Percents

Understanding the Number Line

Following Orders: The Order of Operations

Reasoning with Quantities

Practice Questions about Number and Quantity

Answers and Explanations

Chapter 5: Introducing Letters: Algebra and Functions

Variables: When Letters Represent Numbers

Working with Equations

Solving Inequalities

Factoring in Algebra

Decoding Algebra Word Problems

Figuring Out Functions

Thinking Outside the Algebra Box

Practice Questions about Algebra

Answers and Explanations

Chapter 6: Grasping Geometry Concepts

Understanding the Building Blocks of Geometry

Understanding Angle Measures and Relationships

Knowing Common Shapes and Their Basic Properties

Working with Shapes that Are Alike

Figuring out Geometric Formulas

Combining Shapes

Knowing the Ways of the XY Coordinate Plane

Touching on Right Triangles

Practice Questions about Geometry

Answers and Explanations

Chapter 7: Pinning Down Statistics and Probability

Representing Data

Analyzing Data

Calculating Probability

Pointing Out Scientific Notation Facts

Practice Questions about Probability and Statistics

Answers and Explanations

Chapter 8: Test-Taking Strategies for Core Math

Using Helpful Shortcuts

Narrowing Down Answer Choices

Tackling the Constructed Response

Part 3: Refining Your Reading Comprehension Skills

Chapter 9: Reading Comprehension: Finding Meaning and Identifying Purpose

Previewing the Praxis Reading Test

Mastering Short-Passage Questions

Looking at Long-Passage Questions

Visual- and Quantitative-Information Questions

Practice Reading-Comprehension Questions

Answers and Explanations

Chapter 10: Test-Taking Strategies for Core Reading

Figuring Out Which to Read First: The Passage or the Question

Examining Strategies for the Various Passages

Approaching Questions about Charts and Graphs

Eliminating Wrong Answers

Tips for Slow Readers

Part 4: Fine-Tuning Your Writing Skills

Chapter 11: Acing the Essay

Perusing the Types of Prompts: “Picking a Side” versus “Exploring an Idea”

Creating a Solid Essay

Turning a Good Essay into a Great One

Understanding How the Essay Is Scored

Checking Out Some Practice Prompts

Reviewing a Sample Essay

Evaluating Your Essay

Chapter 12: Giving Grammar a Glance

Getting a Grip on the Parts of Speech

Making Sense of Sentence Structure

Pondering Punctuation

Misplaced Modifiers

Redundancy and Double Negatives

Homophones: “They’re in there with their bear”

Capitalization: What You Need to Know

Practice Questions about Grammar

Answers and Explanations

Chapter 13: Test-Taking Strategies for Core Writing

Knowing the Types of Selected-Response Writing Questions

Identifying and Correcting Errors in Selected-Response Items

Mastering the Essay

Part 5: Tackling Praxis Core Practice Tests

Chapter 14: Practice Exam 1

Answer Sheet for Practice Exam 1

Part 1: Reading

Part 2: Writing

Part 3: Mathematics

Chapter 15: Practice Exam 1: Answers and Explanations

Part 1: Reading

Part 2: Writing

Part 3: Mathematics

Answer Key

Chapter 16: Practice Exam 2

Answer Sheet for Practice Exam 2

Part 1: Reading

Part 2: Writing

Part 3: Mathematics

Chapter 17: Practice Exam 2: Answers and Explanations

Part 1: Reading

Part 2: Writing

Part 3: Mathematics

Answer Key

Part 6: The Part of Tens

Chapter 18: Ten Common Math Errors to Avoid

Misusing Negative Signs

Confusing Perimeter and Area

Incorrectly Combining Like Terms

Messing Up when Moving Decimals

Not Solving for the Actual Variable

Misrepresenting “Less Than” in Word Problems

Mixing Up Supplementary and Complementary Angles

Finding the Wrong Median

Fearing Fractions

Forgetting about Fractions in Formulas

Chapter 19: Ten Mistakes to Avoid on the Praxis Reading and Writing Exams

Avoiding Mistakes Common to the Writing and Reading Tests

Sidestepping Mistakes on the Writing Test

Evading Mistakes on the Reading Test

About the Authors

Connect with Dummies

End User License Agreement

Guide

Cover

Table of Contents

Begin Reading

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Introduction

If you want to be a teacher, you generally have to take the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam at least once. “What?! What do you mean by ‘at least once’?” Yes, it’s true that you may have to take the Praxis twice in your quest to shape the minds of future generations. Many colleges and universities require that students who want to enroll in an education major take the exam. And if that isn’t bad enough, most states and some U.S. territories require that you pass the Praxis in order to be licensed to teach. But don’t panic. You’ve come to the right place for help in acing the exam.

The goal of this book is to help you brush up on what you need to know to pass the Praxis with flying colors. We don’t cover every topic that will be tested in detail; instead, we offer an overview of those topics. The overview allows you to review a topic and say to yourself either, “Yep, got it! I can move on to the next topic” or “I don’t get it. I’d better focus on my statistics knowledge.” (If you decide you need more review on a topic, check out the many For Dummies books that relate to the chapters in this book.)

You can also use the two practice tests in this book and the additional four practice tests online to test yourself in a lifelike testing situation. You may want to take one test before you read any chapters to see where your strengths and weaknesses are; then you’ll know where to focus your attention. After you’ve studied your weak areas and reviewed the topics you’re better at, you can take another practice test to see how much you’ve improved and where you still may need more work.

So, we have you covered when it comes to studying for and passing the Praxis. Take a couple of tests, review the chapters, and get the confidence you need to score well on the test when it really counts.

About This Book

Praxis Core For Dummies breaks down the exam’s main objectives into understandable sections. This book is organized into parts that align with the test’s subsections so you can find the answers to your most challenging areas quickly. If you’re struggling with math, you can find all those topics grouped together. If writing makes you want to pull your hair out, you can get a comprehensive overview in Part 4.

In addition to reviewing Praxis topics, we offer strategies that you can practice and keep in mind so you don’t fall for the booby traps that others seem to. We outline the different types of questions so you know where to expect the hurdles you’ll see on the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam. (Okay, this is the last time we will spell out the official title of the test. From now on, we will refer to it as the Praxis or the Praxis Core.)

A test-prep book wouldn’t be a test-prep book without a couple of practice tests. This book offers two tests in the book, those same two tests online, and then another four tests online to help you become familiar with the content and question types you’ll encounter when you take the exam. They say practice makes perfect. With these practice tests, you can put that theory to the “test.”

Foolish Assumptions

In writing this book, we’ve made some assumptions about you. The biggest assumption we’ve made applies to all readers: You have decided to teach, which is one of the most rewarding professions known to man. Beyond that, you fall into one of the following categories:

You are a first-time test-taker who wants to pass the test on your first try.

You are a re-tester who has taken the test and failed based on your state cut score requirement. You can still successfully reach the passing score goal. You’re actually in a better situation than the first-time test-taker because you possess a detailed report that outlines your strengths and weaknesses. That way you can truly attack the sections that challenge you the most.

You are a traditional teacher candidate in college who is currently enrolled or trying to enroll as an education major in an undergraduate program, and you need to pass this test to start taking your specialized courses.

You are an alternative route teacher candidate who possesses a four-year degree, and you need to pass this test as one of your first steps toward certification.

Regardless of your category, we have written this book to fit your specific needs.

Icons Used in This Book

Icons are the drawings in the margins of this book, and we use several icons to call out special kinds of information.

Examples are sample test questions that appear at the ends of sections and that highlight particular ideas that you should be familiar with. We provide an answer and explanation immediately after the question. (And there’s more — at the end of a chapter, you usually find a handful of numbered sample questions, which we don’t mark with the icon because they’re in their own practice-questions section.)

The Remember icon points out something you should keep in mind while you’re taking the exam.

A Tip is a suggestion that usually points out a trick for remembering information for the test.

The Warning icon flags traps and tricks that the creators of the Praxis often employ to trip you up when it comes to choosing the correct answer. Pay special heed to these paragraphs.

Beyond the Book

In addition to the material in the print or e-book you’re reading right now, this product also comes with some access-anywhere goodies on the web. In addition to the two complete practice exams contained in this book, your book purchase also comes with a free one-year subscription to additional practice questions that appear online — enough to fill four more exams. You can access the content whenever you want. Create your own question sets and view personalized reports that show what you need to study most.

To gain access to the online practice, all you have to do is register. Just follow these simple steps:

Find your PIN access code:

Print-book users:

If you purchased a print copy of this book, turn to the inside front cover of the book to find your access code.

E-book users:

If you purchased this book as an e-book, you can get your access code by registering your e-book at

www.dummies.com/go/getaccess

. Go to this website, find your book and click it, and answer the security questions to verify your purchase. You’ll receive an email with your access code.

Go to

Dummies.com

and click

Activate Now.

Find your product (

Praxis Core For Dummies,

2nd Edition) and then follow the on-screen prompts to activate your PIN.

Now you’re ready to go! You can come back to the program as often as you want — simply log in with the username and password you created during your initial login. No need to enter the access code a second time.

This product also comes with an online Cheat Sheet that helps you increase your odds of performing well on the GED. To get the Cheat Sheet, go to www.dummies.com and type “Praxis Core For Dummies cheat sheet” in the search box. (No access code required. You can benefit from this info before you even register.)

For Technical Support, please visit wiley.custhelp.com or call Wiley at 1-800-762- 2974 (U.S.) or +1-317-572-3994 (international).

Where to Go from Here

Use this book as a reference. You don’t need to read this book from front to back. Feel free to skip around to the sections that you find most useful. If you can’t decide, begin with Chapter 1 — it includes an overview of the Praxis, and you’ll probably need to read it at some point. If you know that geometry (Chapter 6) is your Achilles heel or that reading comprehension questions (Chapter 9) make your eyes cross, go straight to the corresponding chapter. We give you an index, too, at the back of the book to help you find specific information. Or, if you like, you can take one of the tests to see how well you do and determine what you need to brush up on.

Part 1

Getting Started with the Praxis Core

IN THIS PART …

Get the details about who takes the Praxis, what’s on the test, and how your score is calculated.

Figure out how to schedule your study time in advance of test day, find out what to expect on test day, and get some pointers if you’re retaking the test.

Try out some practice Praxis questions to discover the areas in which you’re strong and the areas where you need more review. Then develop a plan to strengthen the areas in which you’re weak.

Chapter 1

Previewing the Praxis

IN THIS CHAPTER

Knowing why you’re taking the Praxis

Finding out what’s on the Praxis

Seeing how the Praxis is scored

For decades teacher candidates have been taking assessments in order to meet certification requirements. Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators is the latest version of these tests that measure core skills in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics for potential teacher candidates. This chapter gives you an overview of what you need to know about the exam.

Why Take the Praxis?

If you want to become a teacher, you may face the Praxis at some point on the road to certification. You may take it to get into a teaching program at college, or you may take it to get your teaching license before starting a second career. If you’re lucky, you may only take it once, but our bet is that you’ll take it twice before you’re fully qualified to work in a classroom.

Colleges and universities use the Praxis Core testing series to determine whether teaching program candidates meet the minimum requirements to enter into the field of teaching. Most colleges and universities won’t allow admission into their teacher preparation programs until candidates complete this basic skills exam. Undergraduate students generally take the Praxis early in their college career. Some students may be able to skip taking certain parts of the Praxis if they have a high score on college entrance exams like the ACT.

Most states also use the Praxis as a certification test to show that you’ve mastered the skills needed to be a highly competent teacher. In many cases, teaching licenses are directly tied to this test. Age doesn’t get you out of this standardized test.

Almost every state in the country uses some form of the Praxis. Contact your state department of education for specific licensure details.

Breaking Down the Praxis

The newly developed Praxis Core evaluates the core academic abilities of prospective educators in the areas of reading, writing, and math. Previously, this test was called the Praxis I PreProfessional Skills Test, but ETS (Educational Testing Services, the folks who create the exam) decided to make a change to reflect the requirement to get potential teachers up to the level needed to meet ever-changing standards. According to ETS, the test is broken down into the following three parts:

The reading test:

This test poses multiple-choice questions based on reading passages and statements.

The writing test:

This test is divided into two sections. The multiple-choice section tests grammar usage, sentence correction, revision in context, and research skills. The test also requires you to write two essays based on information presented; one is an argumentative essay, and the other is an explanation of a topic.

The mathematics test:

This test measures multiple mathematics topics up to the advanced high-school level. The format of the test has numeric entry questions and multiple-choice questions that may require you to select one or more choices. You do have access to an on-screen calculator.

The following sections give you more details about the subtests and the question types so you don’t encounter any (or too many) surprises when you sit down to take the test.

Knowing what topics are covered

Just like most other standardized tests you’ve taken, the Praxis includes long reading passages, complicated math problems, and detailed essay topics. You’ll have a set number of questions about certain topics to answer in a given amount of time. Check out Table 1-1 for the breakdown.

TABLE 1-1 Breakdown of the Praxis

Test Subject

Number of Questions

Time

Reading

56 multiple-choice questions

85 minutes

Writing

40 multiple-choice questions and 2 essays

100 minutes

Mathematics

56 multiple-choice questions

85 minutes

Each subject is broken down further into specific concepts:

Reading

Key ideas and details:

This section requires you to closely read text, make logical inferences, connect specific details, address author differences, and determine uncertain matters. You’ll see 17 to 22 questions about these concepts.

Craft, structure, and language skills:

This section requires you to interpret words and phrases, recognize the tone of word choices, analyze text structure, assess points of view, apply language knowledge to determine fact or opinion, determine word meanings, and understand a range of words and word nuances. You’ll see 14 to 19 questions about these concepts.

Integration of knowledge and ideas:

This section requires you to analyze diverse media content, evaluate arguments in texts, and analyze how two or more texts address similar themes. You’ll see 17 to 22 questions about these concepts.

Writing

Text types, purposes, and production:

This section requires you to produce one argumentative and one informative/explanatory essay. This section also requires you to edit and revise text passages. You’ll see 6 to 12 multiple-choice questions about these concepts.

Language and research skills:

This section requires you to demonstrate command of English grammar, usage, capitalization, and punctuation. This section also requires you to apply and recognize research skills. You’ll see 28 to 34 multiple-choice questions about these concepts.

Mathematics

Number and quantity:

This section focuses on the understanding of order among number integers, representation of a number in more than one way, place value, whole-number properties, equivalent computational procedures, ratio, proportion, and percentages. You’ll see 17 questions about these concepts.

Algebra and functions:

This section assesses the ability to handle equations and inequalities, recognize various ways to solve a problem, determine the relationship between verbal and symbolic expressions, and interpret graphs. In this section, you also encounter function questions that test the knowledge of basic function definitions and the relationship between the domain and range of any given functions. You’ll see 17 questions about these concepts.

Geometry:

This part assesses the understanding and application of the characteristics and properties of geometric shapes, the Pythagorean theorem, transformation, and use of symmetry to analyze mathematical situations. (Knowledge of basic U.S. and metric systems of measurement is assumed.) You’ll see 11 questions about these concepts.

Statistics and probability:

This part assesses the ability to read and interpret visual display of quantitative information, understand the correspondence between data and graph, make inferences from a given data display, determine mean, median, and mode, and assign a probability to an outcome. You’ll see 11 questions about these concepts.

The good news about the math subtest is that an on-screen four-function calculator is available for your use, which reduces the chance that you’ll select a wrong answer choice based on a simple arithmetic error.

Seeing what types of questions you’ll face

The Praxis Core gives you multiple types of questions. Taking all of our practice tests will give you a consistent idea of what you will see on the actual test. Before you get to the practice tests, check out this list of question types you’ll encounter in the different subtests:

The reading test has four categories of text paragraph sections.

Reading Category 1 questions deal with paired passages of about 150 to 200 words combined with four to seven questions, such as “Unlike the author of Passage 2, the author of Passage 1 mentions …” or “Which of the following statements best describes the relationship between the two passages?”

Reading Category 2 questions deal with lengthy paragraphs of about 175 to 200 words combined with four to seven questions that may ask, “Which of the following best describes the organization of the passage?” or “The author would be

most

likely to agree with which of the following statements?”

Reading Category 3 questions deal with abbreviated passages of 75 to 100 words with two or three questions such as “The passage is primarily concerned with …” or “Which of the following is an unstated assumption made by the author of the passage?”

Reading Category 4 questions deal with short statements followed by a single question.

The writing test has four categories of multiple-choice questions and two essays.

The multiple-choice writing questions are straightforward questions covering sentence correction, revision in context, usage, and research skills. You have to find only one correct answer for each of these questions.

The argumentative and informative/explanatory essay sections test your skills to write a detailed essay in a very short period of time. See

Chapter 11

for more on the essay questions.

The mathematics test has several question categories:

One of the categories deals with numeric entry. These types of questions require you to input an integer or decimal into a single box or a fraction into two separate boxes.

The other categories contain multiple-choice questions followed by five answers, with either one or two of those choices being correct. Be aware that the test may not tell you the number of choices to select, but the directions will tell you to check all that apply.

Understanding How the Test Is Scored

The Praxis Core exam is divided into three tests: reading, writing, and mathematics. Take careful note of the difference between our use of “exam” and “test.” Each test is scored separately, and every state that requires passing scores for the exam requires that exam-takers pass each of the three tests that compose the exam. Your score on a given test is based on a raw score and adjusted to a scale that ranges from 100 to 200 points.

Your raw score is the number of questions you answer correctly. You don’t lose any points for answering a question incorrectly. If you were to answer every single question incorrectly, your raw score would be 0, which is exactly what it would be if you didn’t answer any questions at all. That’s why you have nothing to lose by guessing if you don’t know the answer to a question.

Your score for each test involves taking your raw score, or the number of questions you answer correctly, and comparing it to the number of questions on the test. This comparison determines your final score, the number that exists in the range from 100 to 200. Your final score determines whether you pass the test. (Note: When you take the practice tests in the book or online, there is no way to convert your raw score to a final score.) You pass the test in most states by answering at least 60 percent of the questions correctly. This gives you a benchmark to measure yourself against as you go through the practice tests.

When you receive your test results, you’ll see a raw score for each test, and you’ll also get a raw score for each content category into which the test is divided. Your total raw score is converted to a scaled score that adapts for the level of rigor of that particular testing edition.

If you fail the Praxis the first time you take it (or if you’ve already failed it), you can look at your scores for each content category to see where you did well and where you struggled. Use those scores to direct your studies in anticipation of taking the test again.

Each state that requires passing the exam has its own minimum scores for each of the tests that make up the exam. What constitutes a passing score in one state may not be a passing score in another state. Contact your state department of education for the actual cut scores.

Chapter 2

Getting Ready for Test Day

IN THIS CHAPTER

Signing up to take the test

Making the most of your time

Knowing what to expect on test day

Preparing to take the test again

You’ve known for months, if not years, that you need to take the Praxis exam to be certified to teach in your state. And just like any other major undertaking in life, you need to prepare for the test. You wouldn’t run a marathon without doing some training, would you? You shouldn’t just show up to take the Praxis either.

Before you take the Praxis, you should put a strategy in place. Ideally, you’ll give yourself a couple of months to get ready for the test. In that time, you’ll study and review concepts the test covers, take practice tests to familiarize yourself with the format and timing of the test, and brush up in areas where you’re weak so you can ace the test.

In this chapter, we offer suggestions about how to prepare for the test, whether you’re taking it for the first time or taking it again.

Registering for the Test

Before you register to take the Praxis, check with the local department of education to make sure you’re taking the right test. Don’t ask ETS or your mom or anyone else who isn’t in a position to admit you to a teaching program; they may give you wrong information, which can lead to wasted time and money.

You can find out how to register to take the Praxis Core by going to www.ets.org. The Praxis Core is offered during testing windows at more than 300 Prometric testing sites across the country. Contact your local testing site for specific questions regarding its testing windows. Test-takers must register at least three days prior to their intended test date, and you must pay the testing fee online. At the time of this writing, individual tests (reading, writing, or mathematics) cost $90; the price to take all three tests at once (on the same day) is discounted to $150.

After you register, read all the admission ticket info to make sure all the content is correct. Contact ETS if you have any disabilities that require accommodations.

Consider taking one test per day instead of multiple tests per day. You know your limits and abilities. Some people take all three tests on the same day, and they bomb all three. If you aren’t super confident that you can pass multiple tests in one sitting, you may want to schedule them for different days. This approach will also help you map out your study plan more strategically (see the next section). You can study for one test at a time instead of all three.

Using Your Time Wisely

When preparing for the Praxis, you need to think of time in two different ways. First, you need to plan your study time. Expect to spend many hours over the next several weeks reviewing the material that could be on the test. Then you need to know how much time is allotted for the test itself. Knowing these details will help you pace yourself as you answer questions during the test when it really counts. We cover both aspects of using your time wisely in the following sections.

Budgeting your study time leading up to test day

When you budget your study time ahead of your test date, you increase your chances of passing the first time. Do you really want to face the Praxis more than once to enroll in a teacher education program? We didn’t think so.

If you can’t put in adequate study time before taking the test, seriously consider rescheduling. The Praxis Core is given several times each year at the local testing center. Rather than taking the test with no preparation, contact the testing center or go online to reschedule to take the test at a later date.

Creating a schedule and penciling in the practice tests

The best way to prepare to take the Praxis is to set up a study schedule and then stick to it. Block off an amount of time each day to prepare for the test and note what topics you plan to study or review. You may need to ask your sister to baby-sit the kids, or you may need to turn down drinks with friends for a few weeks, but it will be worth it. This test will affect your life for a short amount of time. After you receive a passing score, you can commit to the bowling league. Use all of your extra time to focus on the Praxis.

Create an adjustable timetable that you can revise to best meet your needs as test time gets closer. The latest that you should begin studying is four to six weeks before the test.

During your study sessions, familiarize yourself with the question types for each section. Not all the questions are straightforward, multiple-choice questions. Some of them ask you to choose all the right answers. Other questions require you to calculate an answer and write it in a box. Knowing the variations in question types gives you a better chance of answering them correctly. As you get familiar with the question types, also pay attention to the test’s directions. Understanding the directions ahead of time can save you valuable time on test day and can reduce test anxiety.

This book includes the two full-length tests in Part 5 plus four additional tests online. You may want to take a test now and save the others to take in the days leading up to the exam.

When you take the practice tests, take them under timed conditions in a quiet setting where you won’t be disturbed. This creates a test-like environment and gives you a better sense of how you’ll perform on the Praxis when it counts. After you take a practice test, be sure to review the answer explanations. These help you see what you did right or where you went wrong; they’re another learning opportunity beyond the review material.

Joining forces with others

Sometimes people gain more knowledge when they study with others. Others may have a different way to solve an algebra problem or a better way to get to the heart of a reading passage, and their explanations may help you learn what you need for the test. So, consider creating or joining a study group.

If you can’t find a group to study with, look for a Praxis prep course. The instructors of these courses know the ins and outs of what’s on the test, and during the class, they review material that you’re likely to encounter. Yes, you’ll have to pay for the course, but the advantage is that the instructor should know the material in depth and be able to answer your questions or explain the material in a way that suits your learning style. The Kirkland Group has been conducting Praxis workshops for several years. For more details, go to www.kirklandgroup.org.

Take the test within a week after the prep class ends. This will increase your chances of remembering the information until you take the test. Don’t wait six months after completing the course before you take the test, or you may end up back in the same boat.

Employing some other study techniques

Even when you’re not officially studying, try to sneak in some learning or review. Pull out your old textbooks for grammar, reading, and math, and skim through them during lunch or while you’re on the treadmill. The info in your old textbooks may jog your memory about something you learned a while back. The only way to study math is to practice on the problems in the books. You need to know certain grammar rules that may only be explained in a traditional grammar book. If you think the verb “to be” is one of Shakespeare’s famous lines, you may need the extra practice.

Gather up crossword puzzle books, Sudoku challenges, and other mind games, and work them while you’re relaxing in front of the TV. If you’re a whiz at English, work numbers games. If numbers are your thing, try your hand at crossword puzzles. Your goal is to strengthen the areas where you’re weak, and puzzles or games are a fun way to accomplish that.

You are what you eat. You can’t run a marathon by eating candy bars and drinking soft drinks every day for breakfast. There are some foods that assist you during the learning process. They naturally increase the memory and release chemicals that are helpful to the brain. These foods include eggs, fish, whole grains, leafy greens, fruits, and — thank goodness — coffee.

Budgeting your time while taking the test

On test day, it’s all about pacing yourself. We like to look at the test from the perspective of how many questions you have to answer per minute:

The math and reading sections give you 85 minutes to answer 56 questions. This gives you a little over a minute and a half to answer each question.

The writing section gives you 40 minutes to answer 40 multiple-choice questions. That comes out to one question per minute.

The essay section gives you 60 minutes to write two essays.

You may look at those numbers and think, “There’s no way I can answer questions that quickly!” But fear not. Here are some tips that will help you shave seconds off the amount of time it takes you to answer many of the questions:

Watch the clock on the computer screen.

Monitor the time on the computer screen like it’s your million-dollar countdown. Remember that you’ll have at least one minute per question, and you need to use every minute wisely.

Don’t make time your sole focus. Don’t get so caught up on timing that you aren’t paying attention to what the questions are asking. Strike a balance between monitoring the time and concentrating on the task at hand.

Watch for the traps.

The people who write the assessment questions always add “trap” answers into the mix. These incorrect answers look like they’re correct, but they’re not. For example, you may see an answer to a word problem that’s achieved by multiplying when you should be dividing. It’s a trap. Watch out for it.

Use the process of elimination.

If you don’t know the answer immediately after reading the answer choices, try to eliminate as many answers as possible. Then guess at the answer. Your chances of guessing correctly increase as you eliminate more answer choices.

Read all possible answers.

Sift through each answer choice and ensure that you aren’t overlooking a better answer. Don’t select Choice (A) before looking at the alternative answer choices.

When Test Day Has Arrived

If you’ve followed the advice up to this point, you’ll begin test day well prepared for the task at hand. By this time, you should be in shape and ready to concentrate on the test.

Print testing-center map directions to make sure you know where you’re going. Drive to the testing center the day before to find out exactly where the testing center is located. Try to make the drive at the same time that you’ll make the drive on test day; that way you’ll know what traffic may be like and can plan accordingly for backups.

Arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes early. Arriving late could cause you to forfeit registration. And make sure you bring a picture ID. Without your ID, you won’t be admitted to the test center, and you’ll lose your registration fee.

Don’t take the test while you are fatigued. Sleep deprivation can lead to failing test scores. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before you’re scheduled to take the test.

After you arrive at the testing center, you’ll need to follow a few rules and sit through a bit of training. We cover those details in the sections that follow.

Knowing what to bring and what to leave at home

You must bring two items to the testing center:

Your admission ticket:

You receive your admission ticket when you register online.

Picture identification:

The picture ID must include your name, signature, and photo. Acceptable IDs include a valid government-issued driver’s license, a passport, a state-issued ID, a national ID, or a military ID. See

www.ets.org

for more details.

If you don’t have these items, you won’t be allowed to take the exam.

Thousands of people take the Praxis every year. To make sure everyone has a fair chance at passing, ETS has set up guidelines for what isn’t allowed in the test center. Following is a list of items to leave at home:

Cell phones, smartwatches, laptops, tablets, MP3 players, or any other electronic devices:

You can’t even bring these into the building, so lock them in your car or leave them at home. ETS takes the confidentiality of the test

seriously.

Dictionaries, books, or other reading materials:

Yes, that includes this book. Study

Praxis Core For Dummies

either in the car or at home.

Scratch paper:

The testing center will provide scratch paper that you can use for math computations, notes, and outlines.

Personal items:

You may be asked to empty your pockets before entering the test room. You’ll be given a place to store your belongings while you take the test, but don’t plan on leaving anything valuable in there.

Be sure you wear the right clothing. Sometimes buildings are colder or warmer than expected. Dress in layers so that you can make adjustments for the temperature.

Getting familiar with computer testing

You will take the Praxis Core on a computer. This allows you to take the test any day of the week and almost on demand at the local Prometric testing center. It also allows for faster scoring of your test, meaning you’ll get your results faster than you would if the test were administered on paper. According to ETS, score reports for selected response only tests that are given continuously are available 10–11 business days after the day of the test. On the other hand, score reports for constructed response tests (like the writing test that contains the essays) given continuously are available 15–16 business days after the day of the test.

Before you take the test, ETS gives you 30 minutes of practice time during which you can figure out how the computer test works. Pay attention during this online computerized testing tutorial session. Tips like how to use the computer, answer questions, and review previous pages can be helpful. Take advantage of this time because you’re on your own once the test starts.

Make sure to figure out how to mark questions. Occasionally you’ll come to an item that you aren’t sure about. If you have extra time left at the end of the test, you can go back and check your answers.

If You Are Retaking the Test

The reality is that sometimes you study for, prepare for, and focus on the Praxis Core only to receive the bad news that you didn’t achieve a passing score. Don’t panic. According to ETS, you can take the test once per calendar month, but no more than six times within a 12-month period.

If you do need to retake the test, spend some time analyzing the areas where you fell short and then create a plan to improve your score the next time. Examine your previous test scores. The numbers can tell you how close you were to passing and how much work you have to do to bring up your score.

Don’t make the same mistakes the second time around. A wise saying defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Don’t repeat your previous mistakes on subsequent tests. If you didn’t pass because you just don’t understand decimals or grammatical rules, spend extra time studying those areas.

Some people miss passing the test by 15 points or more. If that’s the case, don’t rush to retake the test. Enroll in a review course in order to increase your chances of passing the test on your next try. You may spend a little money on the class, but you’ll save money in the long run because you won’t have to take the test repeatedly. Sometimes individuals who work together, take the same college course, or go to the same church can form a study group. Or you can look for a personal tutor.

When test day rolls around again, try to minimize negative circumstances, and know that uncontrollable ones aren’t likely to reoccur. You may have argued with your spouse on the morning you took the first test. Maybe the baby contracted diarrhea the night before, or perhaps the chicken salad you ate didn’t agree with your stomach. These factors may have contributed to your failure to pass the test. Take it again and the conditions will probably be better.

Chapter 3

Practicing the Praxis: Sampling Some Practice Questions

IN THIS CHAPTER

Trying your hand at some sample Praxis questions

Checking out the right and wrong answers

Determining the areas where you need to study

If you’re just beginning to prepare to take the Praxis, this chapter is a good place to start. It gives you a sense of the types of math, reading, and writing questions you’ll encounter when you face the real exam.

In this chapter, we give you an opportunity to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie. You can determine whether you need to spend the next few weeks studying statistics and probability questions, grammar rules, or reading comprehension strategies. Or maybe you’ll decide that you just need to fine-tune one or two specific areas of knowledge, and that’s fine too.

Focus first on the areas you need to study most. Later you can review the areas you’re more familiar with.

Going through the Pre-Assessment Questions

In just a minute here, we’ll be tossing some practice questions at you. Actually, because there are complete practice tests later in the book, maybe you should think of these upcoming questions as “practice for the practice.” The questions in this chapter can help you determine your strengths and weaknesses, and then align your study appropriately.

When you answer the questions in the upcoming sections, we don’t recommend setting a timer or anything like that yet. You should learn how to do something right before you start to worry about doing it fast, and there’ll be plenty of time to time yourself later.

Because time won’t be an issue, you also don’t need to worry about skipping hard questions and coming back to them later. Try your best to answer each one, even if it’s just a guess (there’s no penalty for guessing on the Praxis, so on the actual test, there’ll be no reason to leave a question blank).

Finally, we recommend that you resist the urge to flip to the answers after each question to see whether you got it right. That can wait until you’ve completed all the practice questions. Seeing that you’ve gotten a few questions wrong early on can dishearten you, and seeing that you’ve gotten a bunch right in a row can make you paranoid about jinxing yourself. Either way, there’s no advantage to checking your answers on a question-by-question basis: Take your time and complete all the questions to the best of your ability. You can worry about how many you got right when you’re finished, and you can worry about how fast you are later in the book.

(Note: We don’t provide essay questions in this chapter for you to practice on because we want you to get an overview of your skills. If you want to spend some time on essay writing, flip to Part 4.)

When you’re ready to try your hand at a full-length practice test, head to Part 5, where you’ll find two full-length Praxis exams (with essay questions included).

Reading practice questions

DIRECTIONS: Each passage in this test is followed by a question based on its content. After reading each passage, choose the best answer to each question from among the five choices given. Answer all questions following a passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in that passage. You are not expected to have any previous knowledge of the topics treated in the passages.

     Although “an elephant is an elephant” to the untrained eye, African elephants and Asian elephants are actually two distinct species, and it’s not so hard to tell the difference. In African elephants, the head is higher than the back, whereas the Asian elephant’s back is higher than its head. Among African elephants, both males and females are almost always born with tusks, while female Asian elephants are usually tuskless. If you can get close enough to examine the trunk, you’ll notice that African elephants have two finger-like protrusions at the tip of the trunk, as opposed to an Asian elephant’s one.

1. According to the passage, an elephant with no tusks is

(A) definitely a female elephant.

(B) definitely an Asian elephant.

(C) probably a male Asian elephant.

(D) probably a female Asian elephant.

(E) more likely to be a male Asian elephant than a female African elephant.

     Nowadays, most people are aware that Christopher Columbus was not only a pretty terrible guy, but that he also didn’t really discover America. Even leaving out the obvious objection that vast populations of indigenous peoples were already living here, there’s also indisputable evidence that the Vikings reached North America and established settlements centuries before Columbus (it was a quicker and an easier trip for them, however, as all they had to do was sail along the ice of the Arctic Circle as though it were a coastline). What far fewer people know is that it seems likely that seafaring Pacific Islanders reached the west coast of South America in the early second millennium, possibly even before the Vikings touched down in the Northeast. Archaeological evidence indicates the sudden appearance of yams (originally native to South America) in Polynesia and of chickens (originally native to Asia) in Chile at about the same time.

2. The primary purpose of the passage is to

(A) explain how chickens appeared in South America.

(B) discern whether the Vikings or Pacific Islanders reached the Americas first.

(C) argue that Columbus Day should no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

(D) examine the question of whose journey to the Americas was most difficult.

(E) provide information about journeys to the Americas before that of Columbus.

     Though many might understandably assume that it was a long and complex process, the transformation of the Republican Party from a single-issue organization dedicated to ending slavery into the “party of big business” was both predictable and more-or-less instantaneous. Knowing that freed slaves would have no choice but to travel north and take factory jobs, which would result in more competition for employment and therefore lower wages, northern industrialists joined forces with idealistic abolitionists. When slavery ended, the abolitionists considered their duty done and got out of politics, and the captains of industry were left in charge of the party.

3. The passage characterizes the shift in priorities of the 19th-century Republican Party as

(A) very nearly inevitable.

(B) the surprising result of a long struggle.

(C) the fault of naïve abolitionists.

(D) a logical reaction to unforeseen circumstances.

(E) an attempt to reduce competition for employment.

     It is arguably Shakespeare’s finest comedy, but modern productions of As You Like It find themselves awkwardly having to negotiate a plot point that doesn’t sit right with contemporary audiences: In this day and age, we roll our eyes at the idea that the intelligent, resourceful, and independent heroine Rosalind would fall madly in love with Orlando simply because she sees him win a wrestling match.

4. The author of the passage uses the word negotiate most nearly to mean

(A) imperceptibly alter

(B) make the best of

(C) draw attention away from

(D) apologize for

(E) rush through safely

     Perhaps no issue in popular music divides both critics and fans more bitterly than the seemingly endless debate over what music, and which bands, do or do not count as “punk rock.” People can’t even seem to agree on whether punk is a genre of rock or was a historical movement within rock, specific to a particular place and time. Were 1990s rock groups like Nirvana and Blink-182 punk bands, or were they only bands that were influenced by punk as it was “authentically” played in the 1970s by bands like the Ramones and the Clash? Did punk “end” at a certain point in music history, and if so, then when, and what case is to be made for saying it ended then as opposed to at an earlier or later date? After all, if a word refers only to a style of music, then music of that style can be played by anyone at any time — but if the word refers to a contextualized historical movement, then calling contemporary bands “punk” would be as absurd as calling contemporary feminists “bluestockings” or calling contemporary Midwesterners “settlers.”

5. The organization of the passage can best be described by which of the following?

(A) A compromise between two sides in a controversy is suggested.

(B) A popular misconception is corrected.

(C) A tricky question is analyzed for a general audience.

(D) A comparison is made between seemingly dissimilar things.

(E) A problematic term is suggested to be meaningless.

     I don’t feel old, but when I examine all the data, it seems to point to the fact that I just might be. Perhaps the most crucial piece of evidence is that I haven’t dressed up for Halloween in nearly four years. This wasn’t a decision I made; it was just a string of bad luck. One year, I happened to be moving on Halloween. The next year, I was helping a friend move. Last year, there was a hurricane — surely that’s not my fault, right? I can make all the excuses I want, but deep down inside I know that if I were ten years younger I would have found a way to dress up on Halloween no matter what. Maybe that’s what getting old is: a loss of energy disguised as a series of coincidences.

6. In the passage, the author’s tone can best be described as one of

(A) nostalgic self-justification.

(B) annoyed defensiveness.

(C) paranoid hypothesizing.

(D) blissful ignorance.

(E) melancholy philosophizing.

     Despite the hand-wringing that intellectuals love to do about the blockbuster sales of “silly” books like The DaVinci Code,