THEA stands for Texas Higher Education Assessment. The test is approved by Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as a test that can be used by institutes of higher education in Texas for assessing students at entry level for their abilities to perform in college.
When a student applies for higher education in a college, he has to prove his mettle so that colleges do not take in undeserving candidates and leave out the deserving ones because of any misunderstandings. Hence, college admission authorities rely on standardized tests, GPA, recommendation letters, college admission essays etc. for judging the capabilities of candidates. THEA is one such admission criterion.
The students are tested for their reading, mathematics and writing skills required for successfully completing undergraduate college education programs. It stands as the sole test developed to assess students for college readiness. Evaluation Systems has developed the exam with the support of educators in Texas with a strong background in the field of education. The test has undergone thorough evaluation and approval processes. Thus, THEA is as a fair and accurate assessment tool.
There are two testing formats of THEA.
- THEA Paper-and-pencil test: This test can be taken on five test dates.
- THEA Quick Test: This test is similar to the THEA paper-and-pencil test. It can be taken at institutions that have the provision of offering it and the schedule is also determined by the institution.
There are three sections in the THEA test
Reading Section: There are approximately 40 multiple-choice questions in this section. Nearly 7 reading selections are followed by questions. Each selection contains 300 – 750 words. The content is according to the capabilities of students of first year college. The section is scored on a 100-300 scale with the passing score set as 230.
Mathematics Section: There are approximately 50 multiple-choice questions in this section. The content areas covered are fundamental mathematics, problem solving, geometry and algebra. Your ability to solve mathematical problems and perform mathematical operations is tested in this section. The passing score is 230 for this section, where the score can range from 100 to 300.
Writing Section: This section contains two subsections: writing sample subsection and a multiple-choice subsection. The writing sample subsection requires you to write on a topic in 300-600 words. Your abilities of expression and organization are put to test here. The multiple-choice subsection contains nearly 40 questions. It evaluates your ability to understand what good writing is. The passing score for this section is 220, and your scores are reported on a scale of 100-300.
You can take one, two or all three sections on a test day. The test shall last for five hours.
There are no time limits on any section of the test and you can spend as much time as you want on any within the testing time. You can take the sections in any order. For passing the exam, you have to clear all the test sections. You can reappear for one or more sections of the exam.
Registration and Cost
- You can register for the test by internet or U.S. mail. The admission ticket for internet registration is sent by e-mail and US mail both. For mail registration and requesting alternative testing arrangements, the admission ticket is received by mail.
- For emergency and late registration, the internet option is available, whereas the mail option is not.
- The basic fee for registration is $29. The fee can be paid through a credit, debit or check card for internet registration and by a cheque or money order for mail registration.
- To register for the THEA Quick Test, contact the testing center where you wish to take the test to obtain details of the registration methods.
- The regular registration deadline is usually a month prior to the test date. The late registration deadline is 10 days and the emergency registration deadline is nearly three days prior to the test date.
Register for the test as soon as registration is open. Make up your mind about when you want to take the test. It is likely that the seats at the testing center you wish to test from fill up quickly. Hence, you should be among the early birds to register for the test. Besides, decide about how many tests you intend to take and when. Accordingly, register for the test, keeping room for retesting if required. Your choice of testing date should also be made according to the time at which institutions require your test results. See to it that there are no other commitments to distract you from preparation before the test date.
Not being able to secure a testing seat at the test center of your choice shall add to your inconvenience. You might have to make extra traveling and lodging arrangements to take the test at a distant testing center. Besides being a monetary loss, it can lead to distractions just before the test. To avoid such a situation, it is best to register for the exam once registrations open and secure a testing seat in your vicinity. Once the registration is taken care of, you shall be able to concentrate better on preparation.
Test scores are reported to all the recipients approximately two weeks after testing. The scores cannot be obtained over the telephone, by e-mail, fax or in person. The recipients of the score report include
- The test taker
- The institutions he chooses to send the report to
- The institution where the test is taken
The score report contains your score in each section of the test. It includes descriptions of your performance in each section concentrating on the skills tested by the section. Hence, you can get a detailed idea of your skills and weaknesses. This information is helpful if you fail the exam and for retesting.
The multiple-choice portions of the test are scored electronically. The writing sample is checked and scored by two readers independently. If the scores they grant are significantly different, then the sample is reviewed. The score of the writing sample varies between 2 and 8. The passing score for the Writing section is 6, irrespective of the multiple choice portion. If you score 4 or lesser, you shall fail the writing section and if you score 5, your multiple choice portion’s score is considered to determine your pass or fail status.
You can get your multiple-choice sections rescored, but the writing sample cannot be rescored.
Interpretation and Utility of Scores
The scores in THEA are used for four main purposes. The importance of the THEA for a test taker depends on the reason for which he is testing. The test is used for the following purposes.
- THEA is to be taken by students applying for college level admission in Texas.
- It could be required for dual credit programs or concurrent enrollment programs of some institutions.
- It is required for admission into an approved Texas educator preparation program or alternative certification program.
- Those who possess Texas teaching certificates issued before February 1, 1986 are required to take the Reading and Writing sections of THEA or teacher certification examination to revalidate their teaching certificates.
Preparation for THEA
For anyone hoping to take up higher studies in Texas, the exam is mandatory. Your performance in THEA is thus crucial for your future. It is needless to say that you have to prepare for it to make the most of your capabilities and the opportunity.
Use your own wisdom to see what source of preparation shall be ideal for you.
The official sources of preparation include the following
- THEA Test Preparation Quick Reference Guide
- THEA Practice Test
- The Official THEA Test Study Guide
The following points should be given heed to when you plan your preparation schedule.
- Keep the time available with you, your monetary situation, the quality of the source and your convenience in mind for finalizing your source of preparation.
- The passing score for each section of THEA is quite high and you are required to clear all the sections of the test. This puts extra pressure on the candidates to perform.
- In case you are not well prepared for any section, you shall have to take a retest. Keep the option of retesting in mind and the time required for it when you prepare your preparation plan.
- You can decide whether you want to take the three sections simultaneously or consecutively. Your preparation scheme shall be influenced by this decision as well.
- Get to know the score requirements of the institutions you intend to join, set a target score and prepare accordingly.
THEA is a fruitful opportunity for exhibiting your capabilities. If you do not prepare well for it, you do not do justice to this opportunity. It makes little sense then to blame anyone but yourself for your poor performance. With the options for retesting open, one cannot ask for more. Give your best shot to taking the exam and in case you cannot match up to the skill level required to meet your career ambitions, retest and make up for the loss.
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