MTEL Test Breakdown

A career as an educator is a lucrative career option. This career promises a financial security with a stable life. There are a lot of students who are keen on following higher studies with the aim of becoming teachers. You will have to earn a teaching license before you can hope for realizing your aspirations of becoming a successful educator. Educators who are keen on procuring teaching licenses for PreKindergarten to grade 12 in the state of Massachusetts will have to take the MTEL or The Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure as a prerequisite for grant of the teaching license.

Qualifying the MTEL

MTEL consists of a set of tests that assess your communication and literacy skills along with your knowledge of the subject matter of the academic subject that you wish to be qualified for teaching. If you qualify the MTEL, then it implies that you will be able to effectively communicate with your students as well as with their parents and with your fellow educators. At the same time, qualifying the MTEL indicates a good knowledge of the subject matter that you wish to teach. This makes it clear that one needs to pass the MTEL to be able to realize one’s dreams of pursuing a career in education.

The Best Way to Crack the MTEL

It is not all that easy to earn a teaching license. Preparing for a test like MTEL can be a daunting task. It calls for dedicated and thorough preparation. The best way to plan a flawless prep plan is by understanding the MTEL test format first. You cannot hope to crack the MTEL by preparing for it blindly. Just studying the subject matter for the subject that you wish to teach will lead you nowhere. You have to be thorough with the types of questions that will be asked in MTEL along with the time that you will be given to answer them. You also need to be aware of the scoring procedure for the MTEL so that you are aware of the scores that you have to achieve for passing the MTEL. Once you are aware of these aspects of MTEL, then you will be able to work out a foolproof method for scoring well on MTEL.

The MTEL Test Format

The MTEL tests consist of multiple-choice questions as well as open-response questions in which you will be required to solve problems or write essays. The MTEL tests for languages will consist of questions for assessing your abilities to speak fluently and understand spoken language.  Each MTEL test is designed in such a way that it evaluates your knowledge in specific areas called subareas. Each subarea consists of objectives that define the content of the test.

The following tests form a part of the MTEL program:

1.         Communication and Literacy Skills Test
This test consists of two subtests:

  1. Reading: This subtest consists of multiple-choice questions.  The test content pertains to meaning of words and phrases, identifying the main idea, understanding the relationship among ideas, critical reasoning, outlining, summarizing and graph interpretation.
  2. Writing:  This subtest consists of multiple-choice questions and two open-response questions. The test content for the multiple-choice questions is drawn from common errors of sentence construction, grammar, usage, spelling, capitalization and punctuation. There are short-answer questions which will require you to revise sentences and correct errors. The open-response questions pertain to summary and composition exercises.

2.         Academic (PreK–12) Subject Matter Tests
These are subject matter tests and each test evaluates your proficiency in the subject along with your understanding of the subject area of the level that is expected of an educator in the public schools of Massachusetts. The subject matter that you are being assessed for will be pertaining to the subject matter for which you will earn your teaching license and you would be qualified to teach that subject in public schools across Massachusetts after you earn your teaching licence. The Academic (PreK–12) Subject Matter Tests consist of both multiple-choice items and open-response items.
The General Curriculum test consists of two subtests:

  1. Multi-subject subtest: Language arts, history and social science, and science and technology/engineering
  2. Mathematics subtest.

3.         Vocational Technical Literacy Skills Test  
The test content for this test is drawn from content areas related to comprehension and analysis of readings, expressing your ideas in essay form, outlining, summarizing, interpretation of tables and graphs. You will also be assessed for your knowledge and skills in vocabulary, grammar and mechanics. This test consists of two subtests:

  1. Reading: This subtest consists of multiple-choice questions.
  2. Writing: There are three sections in this subtest. These are written summary, written composition and multiple-choice questions based on grammar and mechanics.

4.         Adult Basic Education Test 
This test consists of both multiple-choice questions and open-response questions. The test content is drawn from subject areas of English language arts, mathematics, history, social sciences and science.

Earning the Teaching License
To qualify for earning the Academic (PreK–12) license for the state of Massachusetts, it is mandatory to pass the Communication and Literacy Skills test along with the relevant Academic (PreK–12) subject matter tests, in addition to the other eligibility criteria. You will have to take a different set of MTEL tests and meet different eligibility criteria if you wish to earn a license of employment in vocational technical education programs or if you are looking for an adult basic education license. You will have to visit the link, to find out the licensing requirements for the kind of license that you wish to earn and you will also be able to understand the other criteria that have to be met before you can earn the license.
MTEL Scoring

The scores or points for the multiple-choice questions depend on the number of questions answered correctly. The points achieved in a test range from 100 to 300. These points are converted to scaled scores so as to provide uniformity in scores across different test administrations. The scaled score for open-response questions is obtained on the basis of how the test-taker has responded to the questions. A scaled score of 240 or higher is required for passing each test. The passing score for each MTEL test is different and it is set by the Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. For instance, you need to score a scaled score of 240 or higher for each of the subtests in the Communication and Literacy Skills test in order to pass that particular subtest. The scaled total test score will be arrived at by combining the scores for the multiple-choice questions and for the open-response questions.

There is no validity period associated with MTEL test scores once you have attained the passing standards. Your MTEL test scores are sent to you and to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Your MTEL scores will also be sent to the institutions that you would have indicated while registering for MTEL. Your MTEL score report will display your results for the MTEL tests taken by you on the test date. The following will be indicated in your score report for each test that you took:

  1. Whether you met the passing score nor not
  2. Your total test score will be displayed if you have not been able to pass the test
  3. Your performance in each subarea and section of the test


You will have to visit the official website of MTEL, to get detailed information about the test content and the distribution of scores for each of the MTEL tests. Each MTEL test has different objectives and subareas. The number of questions for each subarea and their types can be understood by visiting the official website and selecting the tests that you have to take.

Earning the teaching licensure may not seem easy when you try to understand the process for the first time. However, careful planning and detailed study will help you in overcoming the first obstacle, which is passing the MTEL tests, on your way to earning a teaching licence!


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