FTCE Test Preparation
You can become a successful teacher in the US State of Florida in three steps:
- Apply for the certification
- Prepare for the FTCE (Florida Teacher Certification Examinations) tests
- Take the tests
It sounds simple but the catch here is step number 2 which is the deciding factor in determining whether you will achieve your aim or not. Step number 2 is the one that is ignored by some test-takers and this ends in their running up against a dead end after consistently failing in the FTCE. There is no chance of pursuing a career in teaching in the State of Florida without earning your teaching certification and that can be done only by passing the required tests. This in turn is not possible without dedicated preparation and consistent hard work.
The Importance of Preparing for the FTCE
You will be able to appreciate the importance of preparing for these tests by first understanding the test format. The tests comprise of three main tests some of which consist of subtests. The subtests can be taken independently at different test administrations. The various tests are as follows:
- General Knowledge Test: There are 4 subtests in the GK test. Contrary to what the name suggests, this is not a test of your general knowledge; rather it is a test of the basic academic skills in English language, reading, essay writing and mathematics. There will be one subtest for each of the skills being tested. The questions are multiple-choice questions except for the essay subtest.
- Professional Education Test (PEd): This is a test of your competence in practices related to teaching.
- Subject Area Examinations (SAE): There are 42 different SAEs for the subjects that are taught in Florida. You will have to take certain SAEs depending upon the testing requirements for the type of certification that you wish to earn. Each SAE is a test of your knowledge in a particular subject area.
As can be seen from the types of tests and their format, it is evident that you will need to spend a good amount of time in preparing for taking the tests. Even if you are confident of your knowledge of the test content, you will have to spend time in solving the types of questions that are specific to the test format. You need to brush up your knowledge of the subject area being tested by the SAE that you have to take.
Although, most of the questions asked are multiple-choice questions, you will have to be thorough with the subject area being assessed or else you will get confused after seeing all the answer options in front of you. Some of the answer options will be very close to the actual answer and this will compound the confusion further. This problem can be resolved only if you have prepared well for the tests and there is no ambiguity in your mind regarding the correct answer.
Important Point to be Noted: Remember that you can retake a particular test only after a gap of 31 days. So, your issuance of teaching credentials will get delayed by at least a month if you fail in any of the tests.
Four Steps for Preparing for the Tests
1. The First Step: Understand the Testing Requirements
The first step in your test preparation is to understand the procedure and requirements for applying for teaching certification in the State of Florida. Visit the website of the Florida Department of Education’s Bureau of Educator Certification at www.fldoe.org/edcert. You will be able to go through the testing requirements and the type of tests that you will have to take depending upon your nature of request for certification.
Go through the official website carefully and find out the testing centre where you have to take the test, the date on which you can comfortably take the test and the registration deadlines. Also, check the format of the test that you have to take, which is whether the test is offered as a paper-based test or as a computer-based test. Plan your preparation accordingly. If you have to take the test on a computer, make sure that you are familiar with the computer controls that will be required for taking the test. Finalizing the test date will help you in working out a time plan for preparing for the different tests2. The Second Step:Understand the Test Format
The next step in the preparation is to understand the format of the test that you have to take. You should visit the official website, www.fl.nesinc.com to understand the relevant test format and test content. Go through the following two documents that can be downloaded free of cost from the official website:
- Skills and Competencies
- Time and Questions
These documents will help you understand the test format, skills being tested, number of questions asked in each subtest and the time given to answer them. Spend time on understanding the skills that are being tested. Assess yourself to see how high your skill levels are with respect to those required for passing the tests.
3. The Third Step: Collect Study Materials
The third step is to collect study materials for your studies. The study materials will consist of study books, practice problems, flashcards, tips for taking the tests and some important website addresses that can assist you in your test preparation. Such websites contain information about workshops and prep courses. You can consider attending such workshops and prep courses if you feel that you will not be able to pass the tests by studying on your own. Flashcards will come in handy for memorizing difficult facts, figures, concepts and formulae.
You can buy study guides from bookstores and from the internet too. You can buy one such guide from the official website itself. Most guides will contain a description of the test format along with a review of the test content. Ensure that the guide you are planning to buy contains practice problems that can help you understand the test format better. At the same time study guides should also help you in understanding how to answer questions correctly. You may have to study from more than one study guide as it is not necessary that a single study guide will meet all the above mentioned requirements.
4. The Last Step: Study Hard!
The last step is to study hard. This is the most important step. Even if you have carried out the first 3 steps religiously, you cannot hope to pass the tests if you do not pay much attention to the last step. The time, effort and money spent in collecting study materials will be wasted if you do not use the study materials for your preparation. The best of study books cannot help you pass the tests if you haven’t gone through them in detail. Make sure that you read through every page of the study guides. Solve as many practice problems as you can. Go through the answer explanations for each question you have solved. Identify the mistakes you have committed and rectify them so that you do not repeat them while taking the actual test.
Make your Preparation Interesting!
If you have invested in a set of flashcards, carry them wherever you go. Refer to them when you are travelling or when you are looking for a break from routine study work. Ask your friends and family to quiz you using the flashcards. This will make the task of studying easier and more interesting. There is no way of escaping studies if you want to pass the tests, so try and make your study plan interesting so that you achieve your aim easily.