Praxis Core 2023-2024 For Dummies
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Before you get too excited, understand that the following information isn’t actually about how to cheat on the Praxis. It’s really about the most efficient ways to prepare for the exam. But “preparation sheet” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Besides, cheating is unnecessary if you know what you’re doing, and sometimes figuring out what to do is actually easier. As Bart Simpson once said after accidentally studying for a test, “It was like a whole new way to cheat!”

General tips for succeeding on the Praxis

No matter how much you study before taking the Praxis Core, that knowledge will be hazy unless you’re also in good physical and emotional test-taking condition. Keep the following points in mind in the days leading up to and on the day of the test.

  • Be sure to eat something before the test, no matter how nervous you are. Even if you don’t feel hungry before the test, hunger pangs have a way of sneaking up on you the moment the test starts. If you’re too jittery to choke down your customary bacon and eggs, have some bananas on hand, as they make for a good, filling breakfast that’s easy on a nervous stomach. And during the test, they’ll keep your blood sugar from dropping, so you’ll stay alert.
  • The answer to the “coffee or no coffee” is “do whatever you normally do.” If you’re a daily coffee-drinker, there’s no need to go without your java on test day. But if you don’t typically drink coffee, suddenly pounding one before the test is more likely to shake you up than improve your performance.
  • “Get a good night’s sleep” is always good advice, but it’s important not to psych yourself out by feeling compelled to alter your sleep schedule. If you normally go to bed at 11, the only thing crawling into bed at 8 will accomplish is you getting angry at yourself for not falling asleep fast enough. Once again, “do what you normally do” is the best advice.
  • Remember that, unlike on some other standardized tests, there’s no penalty for a wrong guess on the Praxis, so there’s never any reason to leave a question blank.
  • When a question gives you trouble, eliminating wrong answer choices one by one is more productive than hoping that the right answer will jump out at you.

Math vocabulary and rules for the Praxis

Success on the math section of the Praxis Core exam requires knowledge of many word meanings and rules. These are some of the major word definitions and rules you need to know:

  • A factor of a number goes into it a whole number of times; a number is multiplied by a whole number to get a multiple of itself.
  • To convert a decimal number to a percent, move the decimal two places to the right and add a percent sign (%); to convert a percent to a decimal number, drop the percent sign and move the decimal two places to the left.
  • To multiply a variable to any power by the same variable to any power, give the variable an exponent that is the sum of the exponents involved in the multiplying.
  • Like terms have exactly the same variables with exactly the same exponents for each. Only like terms can be combined.
  • To solve an equation or inequality, get the variable by itself on one side by doing the opposite of everything that is being done to it to both entire sides.
  • You must change the direction of an inequality sign if you multiply or divide both sides by a negative or if you switch the sides.
  • Vertical angles are congruent.
  • Supplementary angles have measures with a sum of 180°. Complementary angles have measures with a sum of 90°.
  • Angles that form a linear pair are supplementary.
  • The sum of the interior angles of a triangle is 180°. The sum of the interior angles of a quadrilateral is 360°.
  • Similar polygons have the same shape but not necessarily the same size. Their corresponding side measures are in proportion, which means that they have the same ratio in every case.
  • The sum of the squares of the leg measures of a right triangle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse measure.
  • The mean of a set of data is the average, the median is the middle number or the mean of the two middle numbers when the numbers are in order, and the mode is the number that appears the most.
  • The probability of an event is the number of qualifying outcomes divided by the number of possible outcomes.
  • A number expressed in scientific notation is a single digit followed by a decimal and the digits that come after the decimal multiplied by 10 with an exponent.

5 tips to keep in mind for the Praxis reading section

There are no essays or short-answer portions on the Praxis reading section of the exam. Every question is multiple-choice and asks you about a brief passage, a longer passage, a pair of passages, or a chart or graph. Here are some hints for doing your best:

  • Always read the whole passage before you look at the questions and the answer choices.
  • When a question asks for the “main idea” or “author’s primary purpose,” steer clear of overly detailed answers and pick the broadest answer choice that isn’t wrong.
  • The passages are excerpted from writers who know what they’re talking about, so no statement that is factually false is ever a correct answer. You don’t need outside knowledge to answer the questions correctly, but you can eliminate wrong answers based on outside knowledge when and if you happen to have some.
  • When you see a set of paired passages (from “author one” and “author two”), take a few moments to develop a sense of what the two authors agree or disagree about in your own words before you look at the question and the answer choices.
  • If the visual-information questions (the ones about charts and graphs) make you nervous, rest easy in the knowledge that they’re near the end of the test, which puts you in a good position to judge how much time you have left and verify your answers by plugging in the wrong answers to double-check that they are indeed wrong.

6 tips to keep in mind for the Praxis writing section

The Praxis writing section is mainly multiple-choice questions about grammar rules, plus some more multiple-choice questions about passage-editing and research skills before the two brief essays at the end. Here are some pointers to help you do well on the multiple-choice questions:

  • Watch out for comma splices. They’re the single most common reason why a wrong answer is wrong. Even if you’re hazy on some of the finer points of grammar, you should be able to spot a comma splice from a mile away before you take the test.
  • On the “No Error” questions, remember that just because an element of the sentence could have been phrased a different way, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong. You’re supposed to be on the lookout for actual rule-breaking errors, not just things that could have been said differently.
  • Don’t be afraid to pick “No Error.” It’s the right answer as often as any other choice is.
  • Remember to keep your eyes peeled for capitalization errors. Unlike most other standardized tests for older students, the Praxis does include questions involving capitalization issues.
  • When reading the long passage for the “editing passage” questions, keep an eye out for sentences that seem awkward or out of place. That’s a sign that questions about them are coming up.
  • Research questions can usually be answered with common sense, even if your academic background is not that strong. The good old “which of these things is not like the others” system is very helpful on the research questions.

5 tips to keep in mind for the essay portions of the Praxis writing test

The Praxis writing test closes with a pair of essays, and you have half an hour to write each one. The first is an open response in which you’re asked to present your position on an issue. The second is a source-based essay that is graded more on how efficiently and clearly you incorporate and cite source materials. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t spend a lot of time making an outline before you start writing either one of the essays. Length is not the be-all and end-all, but it does matter, so you want to be writing for the vast majority of the allotted time. How eloquent you are and how clearly you seem to understand the issue matters a lot more than whether your points are in some kind of strict logical order, so don’t stress out about micromanaging the organization of your essays.
  • Your open-response essay should clearly state a position somewhere near the beginning, but you don’t have to state an uncompromising thesis that won’t leave you any room for admitting when the other side has a good point. On the contrary, making it clear that you can understand why the people on the other side of the issue may see things differently is a sign of philosophical maturity that improves your score.
  • Don’t try to use a bunch of big words for no reason. They make your essay annoying to read and don’t help your score. The trick is to seem like you enjoy writing, not simply to deploy a bunch of big words that you memorized for the test.
  • On the source-based essay, be sure to quote from all the authors included in the sources and to use proper citation format after the quotes (the author’s last name followed by a comma and the year of publication if you’re using APA style, or the author’s last name followed by the page number the quotation is from if you’re using MLA style).
  • Sometimes the passages on which the source-based essay is based include “quotes within quotes” — asking you to cite authors who are themselves citing other authors — to try to trip you up. So be sure to keep straight whose ideas are whose.

About This Article

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Carla C. Kirkland is CEO of The Kirkland Group, a consulting firm providing professional development, technical assistance, and standardized test preparation to schools. Chan Cleveland, Executive Vice President of The Kirkland Group, has created and revised language arts standards for many school districts.

Carla C. Kirkland is CEO of The Kirkland Group, a consulting firm providing professional development, technical assistance, and standardized test preparation to schools. Chan Cleveland, Executive Vice President of The Kirkland Group, has created and revised language arts standards for many school districts.

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