Posts Tagged ‘testing

07
Jul
09

How Did Jamie Do On the Praxis?

So I posted yesterday about my terrible praxis related anxiety.  How did I do?

Well, I arrived to the test center an hour early.  I have a habit of getting terribly lost while driving (regardless of my lovable Tom-Tom) so I left insanely early.  For the first time in my life, I managed to get to my destination perfectly on time.  Wow!  Luckily, there were stores in the complex and I spent half an hour at five below, a lovely little store with tons of cheap things.  I bought a wastebasket (with a picture of Oscar the grouch on it that says ‘I love trash!’ ahah) and a new cord for my ipod. 

I went into the testing center.  They gave me the whole privacy speech and then took me to the computer room.  They sat me down at a ratty uncomfortable chair (my home for 4 hours) and handed me some skanky looking headphones for noise blocking.  I opted not to use the headphones. 

I suppose that they assume that in the real world, everything is silent, no one goes to the bathroom more than once every 4 hours, you only have 30 seconds to answer any question someone asks you, there are no word processors, there are no internet searches, there is no spell check, all math must be done immediately in your head, all Math formulas must be memorized, there are no calculators, you do not own a dictionary, and if you answer questions wrong – that’s okay, you can just spend 180 dollars and you get a re-do.  Also, at any point, you may be asked to write a well organized and well written essay on any random topic with no background information, outside sources, or pre-writing time within a 25 minute time frame and your entire career will rely on your ability.  Is this really what Kaplan thinks of the real world or have they purposely found a way to produce a state required test which is extremely expensive and difficult in order to steal money from poor students who must buy study books and repeat tests?  That’s what I think.  My real world is nothing like theirs.

So I spent 30 minutes working on the computer learning exercises and I’m glad that I did because certain features are different on their computers than regular computers.  I would say that if you are taking the Praxis, show up half an hour early in order to do the practice exercises – doing so will save you time and effort during the test.

First, the reading section.  This section was identical in form to the Kaplan preparation book.  I was hoping that it would not be similiar because while doing the practice test in the book, I answered nearly half the questions wrong and went terribly over my time.  The real test, however, I rushed through, marking every question that I could not answer immediately.  I hid the time countdown so that I would not be distracted or more rushed than I already was.  As the end of the test, I had only used half the amount of time alotted.  That means that I had 40 minutes left to go over the questions I’d marked.  I had about 10 out of the 46ish questions marked.. so I took my time and answered those questions, thinking about every answer.  I finished the test with 30 minutes remaining.

Second, the math section.  I was surprised with the math section.  Math is my strong suit so I didn’t prepare for this section of the test.  That was a mistake.  3/4 of the problems were graphs with insane questions to go along with them that took a lot of thought, especially due to the confusing wording of the questions.  I was surprised at the amount of and difficulty of algebra questions –  but happy.  I am very good at algebra but if you are not, I would say to practice because there are there.. questions with 3 variables.  X, Y, and N all in the same problem and it wasn’t just plug these numbers in, it was solve for the answers.  Also, if you’re not good at coordinate planes and all that junk, study that too.  What I was most surprised with was the limited amount of time given to solve 3-4 step problems.  There were 2 questions that I simply guessed the answer because I didn’t even know where to begin to try to solve them.  Considering Math is my best area and I had so much difficulty solving the problems, I would say that if you are not good at Math, spend 20 dollars on the book and study a lot.

Next was the first and only break.  10 minutes to go to the bathroom and be back in my seat before time is subtracted from your test.  I was back in my seat after 5 minutes because I was terribly worried about using up my time for the writing section.  During those 5 minutes, I worried terribly about my scores.  I did not feel confident that I’d answered the questions correctly and I was wondering what my options were if I should not pass.  I decided that I would have to drop out of my current program and enroll in another program which allowed for more time.  Rutgers offers a certain degree to which students are allowed to fail the Praxis and still become certified so that was my main option.  Back to work.

The third section of the test was the writing section.  The writing section was exactly what I expected it to be and although I had some difficulty finding errors in some of the sentences, most of it came down to common sense – do you know the English language well or not?  Still, I was worried about this section because that’s what I do.  I would say that the book did help me to know what to expect with this section.  Money well spent.

Fourth – the real writing section.  A completely unexpected essay prompt revealed itself.  Although I’m confident in my ability to write, I am not confident about my ability to write an essay on such an ‘out there’ topic in 25 minutes with no word processor, dictionary, pre-writing, or research.  I would reveal the topic but I signed a ‘promise of confidentiality’ note which gives them the right to keep my money and cancel my scores if they find out that I shared information about the test.  Not happening.  I will tell you that I was not expecting anything like what it was.  I was expecting something related to the education field or who is your hero type of things.. not even close.  Completely out in left field.  Anyway, so I did my best and I guess we’ll see.

At the end, you are given the option to immediately cancel your scores (they still get to keep your money) or see your scores.  I showed them because even if I failed, I have no idea why I wouldn’t. 

I was nervous.
Tension was running high.

My fingers were shaking – earthquake.
My breath was heavy – hurricane.
My eyes blinked repeatedly – lightning.
My stomach rumbled – thunder.
My chest tightened and then.. – tsunami.

 
I put my finger on the mouse.
I clicked “show scores”
I clicked “yes, show scores”
I closed my eyes.
I took a deep breath.
I said a silent prayer.
I opened my eyes.

I saw my scores.

Comment if you’d like to know how I did.

25
Jun
09

Do Praxis Scores Indicate Teaching Ability?

As a junior in an elementary education program, I’m currently preparing for the Praxis. Essentially, this test is the key to my future. If I do not pass it, I will not be able to be an elementary school teacher. If I do pass, I’m allowed to continue in my program and hopefully achieve my goals.
I consider myself an intelligent person but as I stare at explanations for why A is a better answer than B, I can’t help but wonder: If I fail this test, does that mean I won’t be a good teacher? Does passing this test mean that I have the ability to be a good teacher?
The simple answer to both questions is NO.

Many smart people do not have the skills necessary to be a good teacher. Teaching is more than having a surplus of ‘fun facts’ memorized; teaching is about classroom management, being emotionally strong, having care for students and going above and beyond to help them succeed, and being able to handle being underpaid and overworked. That’s just a taste of what being a teacher means, the full list goes on for ages and pages.

When asked, a friend said, “Sometimes I have potential teachers come in to my classroom and they are brilliant people who passed all their classes and all their tests with ease but when they come to do their student teaching, they don’t have what it takes to be a teacher. Being a teacher is so much more than being smart and being able to pass a test!”

I also have a friend who has spent many hours in a classroom. She is smart, fun, and emotionally has what it takes to be a teacher. After her 4th time failing the Math section of the Praxis, she has decided she won’t be able to be a teacher. Her main problem is that she is unable to memorize the formulas for algebra and geometry. Will being unable to memorize the Pythagorean formula really hinder her from being a wonderful 1st grade teacher? My answer: no!

An example of a Praxis related study video.  Credit goes to: http://www.yourteacher.com


I know many people that did not pass their Praxis on the first try. After failing and paying to take another test and a study book, they passed the test. Did their teaching ability suddenly change? Were they previously unprepared to be teachers? No! They were just unprepared for a simple test!

After finishing this blog, I will go back to my Praxis preparation book, hoping that somewhere within those pages, I will not only find the way to pass an expensive test, I will find what it really takes to become a good teacher.

Until next time.