Passing TExES Content Tests for Public School Teaching
Teaching in Texas Public Schools
Trying to find a teaching job in Texas can be daunting. Public schools in popular areas, such as Houston, can be particularly competitive. Whether moving through a traditional certification program or an alternative certification route, passing subject content tests is vital to securing a teaching position. Schools are required to employ teachers who meet highly qualified standards, and passing the content test that matches your teaching and certification area demonstrates that a teaching candidate is eligible and qualified to teach a particular subject and grade level. Sometimes, a prospective teacher can get hired with the intent of passing the content tests, but most schools are extremely reluctant to do this, so having that content test on your resume beforehand is very important.
An Overview of the Subject Content Tests
Content tests are available for every subject and grade level. For example, if you want to teach middle school math, you might take the Mathematics 4-8 test (which covers grades 4-8). The tests range in length depending on the content area, but a typical subject-specific test like Mathematics 4-8 or Social Studies 7-12 currently lasts 5 hours with 100 questions (this may change). Your certification program will help you select the appropriate test, but sometimes you are allowed to take multiple contents tests before securing a job, so it is a good idea to take as many as you can in order to become more competitive. The fees vary per test, but the two mentioned about currently require $131.00 upon registration (again, this may change). See “Additional Resources” below for more information.
Registering for Content Tests
Once you gain approval from your certification program, registration is available through cms.texes-ets.org. Plan to register early—at least 1-2 months in advance as seats fill quickly. If you need to take a test sooner than that, you will need to check the seat availability at the places offering the test several times a day in order to jump on a cancellation (particularly in the morning). It can definitely be done, but it is much easier to register ahead of time. Registering online rather than by phone is HIGHLY recommended as you can do it any time of day, do not have to worry about waiting on hold, and you will instantly be able to see new seat openings as they become available.
Preparing to Take a Content Test
Some tips for successfully passing a content test:
- Try to allow 1-2 months to study depending on your familiarity with the subject.
- Examine the Preparation Manual provided on the Texas Education Agency website (direct link provided below).
- The Preparation Manual only provides an outline, so purchase a study guide. Find one with the strongest reviews (such as through Amazon).
- If you need to get started immediately in order to save time, consider purchasing an e-book instead of a hard copy.
- Allow enough time to take the practice tests both in the official Preparation Manual and in your study guide. This will highlight potential weaknesses in need of additional study time.
- For any weak areas, consider supplementing the study guide with a full textbook. In order to save money, see what is available in your local library, particularly in an academic library. Even if you are not allowed to check it out, you can still read through it and take notes in the library.
- Try to get enough sleep and eat well the morning of the test. Also, scope out the test center beforehand so that you know exactly how to get there and what to expect. Know the test rules ahead of time (which can vary depending on the test center).
- Bring a sweatshirt or jacket—sometimes test centers are very cold, particularly after sitting for several hours.
- Remember to bring your admission ticket and identification! The specific requirements are available on cms.texes-ets.org.