MTEL Test Structure Explained

If you plan to pursue a career in teaching and education in the state of Massachusetts, then you are required to earn the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL). The license is issued by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to candidates who pass the relevant MTEL tests. As a beginner, you need to spend enough time to understand the licensure test requirements for the particular license type and the subject you are interested in. Also, being adequately informed about the MTEL test structure helps you to prepare effectively for the exam.

What do You Need to Know about the MTEL Test Structure?

The MTEL program consists of several tests, each specific for a unique license type and subject area. Thus, the test content varies from one MTEL test to the other. However, the underlying structure of the test content remains similar for all tests. The following points describe the test question pattern as how it appears in the actual test. Each test includes:

  1. Subarea: The broad subject field of each subject matter test is sub-divided into three to nine subareas. The subareas form the main content domains of the test.

  2. Test Objective: Each subarea consists of one or a few test objectives. A test objective is the necessary knowledge and expertise required of a candidate, in order to qualify as an educator in a particular field. The test objective is briefly described in a statement just below the subarea title.

  3. Descriptive Statement: A further brief description of the content types with relevant examples, called the descriptive statement, is provided in order for a candidate to understand the test objectives more precisely.

  4. Test Question: The test questions intend to evaluate a candidate's understanding of the test objectives which are of two types:

    • Multiple-choice Item
    • Open-response Item

    The multiple-choice questions include four answer choices, out of which you are required to choose the most appropriate answer. The open-response questions require you to answer either in the form of a written essay or a summary.

An Example to Understand the MTEL Test Structure

The following example of a typical MTEL test pattern helps you in gaining further clarity about the test:

  • MTEL Test Name: General Curriculum Test

  • Subarea: Science and Technology/Engineering

  • Test Objective: Understand and apply general principles and concepts of life science.

  • Descriptive Statement: A short description that includes the sub-topics in life science.

  • Test Question: A test question that assesses the subject knowledge in life science as well as complies with the test objective, followed by four answer options.

Number of Test Questions

The number of MTEL test questions pertaining to each subarea varies depending upon the number of test objectives provided for each of the subareas. In general, a subarea with relatively higher number of test objectives will include more test questions than the other subareas. The following table details the number of questions for each test.

Test Type No.of Multiple-choice Questions No.of Open-response Questions

The Communication and Literacy Skills Test

The Reading Subtest

The Writing Subtest





The Academic (PreK-12) Subject Matter Tests

General Curriculum Test

Multi-subject Subtest

Mathematics Subtest

Other Tests



55 or 100



2 or 4

The Vocational Technical Literacy Skill Test

The Reading Subtest

The Writing Subtest





The Adult Basic Education Test



Understanding the MTEL test structure prepares you to focus on the core test objectives of the tests that you are required to take, in order to procure the desired education license. Therefore, you need to thoroughly read and assimilate the test information provided in the official website ( The test structure for a specific subject exam can be accessed through the 'Test Information Booklets' web link on the left menu of the home page. Alternatively, you can refer to the web page of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (

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