Test Information Guide

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Preparation Strategies

When you are preparing to take the examination, the best strategy is to study systematically and effectively. Remember that you are not only preparing for a test but also reviewing content that will be an important part of your responsibilities as an educator.

The information in this test information guide is designed to help candidates taking the examination:

Understanding the Test Structure and Content

The knowledge, skills, and abilities assessed on the examination are described in the competencies and skills that are available in Section 3 of this test information guide. The competencies and skills are based on relevant educational standards for the subject area (e.g., State Board of Education-approved educational standards, national standards). These competencies and skills represent the knowledge that teams of teachers, subject area specialists, and district-level educators have determined to be important for beginning teachers.

Competencies and Skills and Test Blueprint

The following excerpt, taken from the FTCE Professional Education Test, illustrates the components of the competencies and skills and test blueprint.

A sample competency with test percentage weight and skills list

Graphic of a sample competency, Knowledge of Instructional Design and Planning.

The competency is numbered 1, and has an approximate percentage of 18 percent, which represents its weight toward the overall test score.

Below the competency and weight is a numerical list of the related skills.

Plan a Course of Study

The following steps may help you prepare for the examination. Adapt these suggested steps to suit your own study habits and the time you have available for review.

Step 1: Read the competencies and skills for the examination you are preparing to take.

The first step in preparing for the exam is to identify the information the exam will cover by reviewing the competencies and skills for your subject area. This will help you:

Step 2: Read the sample questions and attempt to answer them.

The sample questions represent the type of questions you may find on the examination. These sample test questions will acquaint you with the general format of the examination; however, these questions do not cover all of the competencies and skills that are tested and will only approximate the degree of examination difficulty.

To help you prepare for your test, each sample multiple-choice question is preceded by the competency it measures and followed by the correct response. On the actual test, the competencies and correct responses will not be given.

After answering a sample multiple-choice test question, review the correct response. If you answered a question incorrectly, you may need to do some additional studying of the content covered by that competency.

For tests or subtests that include an essay component, you will be presented with two sample topics and asked to select one of the topics as the basis for your essay. In addition to the sample essay topics, this section of the test information guide includes the field-specific scoring criteria that raters will use to evaluate your response on the actual exam.

Step 3: Develop a study plan to focus your studies.

You may wish to consult with faculty at your educator preparation program to determine the best time for you to take the exam. In your coursework to date, you should already have mastered most or all of the content that you will see on the exam. At this point, the best preparation is to identify: 1) your areas of strength and weakness (the sample questions in the test information guide may provide you some idea of the areas on which you might focus); 2) any content with which you have had difficulty in the past; and 3) any other content you have not yet mastered. You should then systematically and effectively study areas you have not yet mastered.

While concentrating your studies on your areas of weakness, you should also be sure to do some additional preparation addressing the content covered in the other competencies. Remember, your score on the test/subtest is based on the total number of questions that you answer correctly; therefore, improvement on any competency will increase your total score on the test/subtest.

Suggested Study Method

One study method that many students have found to be effective is "PQ4R," or "Preview, Question, Read, Reflect, Recite, Review." After reviewing the competencies and skills, refer to the annotated bibliography for a list of the most important and most comprehensive texts pertaining to the competencies and skills. Once you have obtained the appropriate study materials, apply the six steps of the PQ4R method as described below.

  1. Preview: Scan the section headings and subheadings of the chapter or article you wish to study. Read the introduction or overview section as well as the summary section. This initial step can provide a good foundation on which to build your knowledge of a topic or skill.

  2. Question: Based on the appropriate test competencies and your preview of the study materials, think of specific questions to which you would like to find answers as you study. Write these questions down and use them as a guide as you read.

  3. Read: Read through the chapter you have selected. Adjust your reading speed as needed; some sections may take less time to read than others. Also, study any figures, tables, or graphics when you come across references to them in the text. This helps to keep each piece in context.

  4. Reflect: As you read, think about the examples and descriptions provided in the text. You may also think of examples from your own experience that are related to what you are reading. Reflective reading is active reading; by interacting with what you read, you may better understand and remember the content.

  5. Recite: When you complete each section of the text, check your understanding of what you have read. Can you answer the questions about this section that you wrote down before you started? Do you need to reread the section or some parts of it? Monitoring your progress by asking yourself these types of questions may help you identify areas you understand well and areas that you will want to study further.

  6. Review: After you have finished reading the text, you may want to check your understanding of the content by reviewing your questions for the whole chapter. Can you answer your questions without referring to the text? Reviewing your questions for a chapter immediately after you finish reading it, as well as later in your study plan schedule, can help you retain and apply what you have learned.

Whether you use PQ4R or some other study technique, the key to success is to become familiar with the material you are studying. As you study, predict what the content will be, ask yourself questions about it, paraphrase information aloud, relate the information to other things you know, review and summarize what you have learned—become involved in your studying.

Test-Taking Advice

There are many strategies for taking a test and different techniques for dealing with different types of questions. Nevertheless, you may find the following general suggestions useful.

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