About ICTS Test

Children are the future of a nation. After a child’s home, it is his school where he learns his important lessons of life. In a school, a teacher is the most important person from whom the child draws knowledge and inspiration. It is thus vital to appoint qualified teachers in schools who are not only knowledgeable but also capable of imparting their knowledge.  Selection of teachers becomes easier when the administration of a nation understands its responsibility towards education.  
Different states have varied means and norms for maintenance of their standards of education. For ascertaining that only professional and qualified teachers are appointed in different educational institutions, Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) lays down certain certification requirements for educators. Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS) is one such requirement and is instrumental in preparation of educators in Illinois on whom the onus of developing a responsible society lies.

What is the purpose of conducting ICTS tests?
The purpose of developing a test like ICTS is that the certification ensures that the quality of educators is high and only competent persons are given the responsibility of education in Illinois. Besides, the certification helps bring about uniformity across different educational institutions in Illinois by maintaining a minimum standard for teachers.

What do ICTS tests measure?
The tests measure your basic capabilities in mathematics, reading comprehension, writing and language arts. Besides, there are tests for professional knowledge. These two categories of tests are essential to ensure that you are equipped professionally to undertake the responsibilities of an educator.
Remember that these tests are one of the criterions required for obtaining certification in Illinois. One has to complete the required education in an approved institution as well as gain the required practical experience. Completing content tests shall earn you additional credits.

Who develops ICTS tests?
Evaluation Systems group of Pearson develops this test battery.  Educators in Illinois, teacher educators and content experts review the test content and carry out surveys and checks to guarantee that the testing items meet the objectives.
Since it is a certification test, it does not compare the performance of a candidate with those of others, unlike in a competitive exam. Instead, the performance of a candidate determines his competence level against a predefined standard.

Which ICTS tests can I take?
There are seven categories of tests administered and they are described below.

  1. Basic Skills Test: There are 125 multiple-choice questions in this test. These are based on Language Arts, Reading Comprehension and Mathematics. Besides, there is a writing assignment in this test.

  2. Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT) Tests: These tests are divided into four levels according to grades of students. 120 multiple-choice questions and 2 constructed response items constitute each test. The purpose of APT tests is to assess professional and pedagogical awareness.

  3. Content-area Tests: There are 65 multiple-choice questions in Special Education General Curriculum Test. All other content-area tests except foreign language content-area tests contain 125 multiple-choice questions.

  4. Foreign Language Content Area Tests: Some language tests (French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Russian and Spanish) contain 100 multiple-choice questions and 2 constructed response items each while others (Arabic, Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, and Korean) contain 7 constructed-response items each.

  5. Learning Behavior Specialist II (LBS II) Tests: There are 6 constructed-response items in each LBS II test 3 of which are independent while the other three are related with a case study.

  6. Tests for Removal of a Learning Behavior Specialist I (LBS I) Limitation only: Each test contains 125 multiple-choice items.

  7. Language Proficiency Tests for the Transitional Bilingual Certificate: Target Language Proficiency (TLP) tests, except Spanish, contain 4 constructed response items. The TLP Spanish test and English Language Proficiency (ELP) test contain 55 multiple-choice questions and 2 constructed-response items each.

The tests are only paper based with the exception of Basic Skills Test, which is alternately administered on computer as well. The Computer-based Basic Skills Test can be taken during selected testing windows of five-six days each and an additional fee of $84 is charged for taking it.

How can I register for ICTS tests?
For the paper based tests, you can register by Internet, U.S. mail or telephone. For the computer based test, you can register by Internet.
For the computer based test you should register well in time since the registration is considered on first-come-first-served basis. The seats for computer based tests are limited and retesting is available only after 120 days from the first test.
Details regarding registration by each mode are available on the website www.icts.nesinc.com, which you must refer to before registering.

How are the tests scored and how are the scores reported?

  • The range between which your test scores lie is 100 to 300. The minimum score required for clearing the exam is 240.
  • The score report contains details about your passing or failing the exam, test scores in the complete test and your scores in major subareas. Besides, your scores are explained in the score report for making interpretation easier.
  • The test scores are sent to
  • The candidate
  • The institutions listed at registration
  • ISBE
  • ISBE automatically obtains your scores and you do not require submitting your scores when you apply for obtaining certification.
  • Your unofficial scores are accessible on the internet according to score report dates corresponding to each test date. These scores cannot be used for any official purpose. You cannot enquire about your official scores on telephone, nor can you obtain them via fax, e-mail or in person.
  • There is no comparison drawn between your scores and those of other test takers. Each individual’s performance is compared with a set criterion decided by committees of Illinois educators.
  • The scores of ICTS are valid for ten years.

How should I prepare for ICTS?
For each ICTS test, there is a set of standards which define the requirements of the test. These form the ‘test frameworks’ which can be accessed on the official website. These are descriptions of the skills a candidate is supposed to be equipped with in order to obtain the certification.
On the website, there are available study guides for each test. These study guides contain complete information about the tests and are also equipped with practice tests. You can either download the PDF files or obtain single copies of the study guides.
ICTS Basic Skills Diagnostic Practice Test: A free diagnostic practice test for the ICTS Basic Skills Test is available online. It is a full-length test, complete with scoring facilities and answer explanations. You can download the test from the website for either the computer-based version or the paper based version of Basic Skills Test.

Since the ICTS is a test that ascertains your professional capabilities, your preparedness needs to be of the highest standard possible. Being ill-prepared shall not only lessen your chances of obtaining the certification, but also lower your self-confidence to carry on related professional responsibilities. A high score gives you the confidence of being professionally proficient according to the norms set by ISBE.

The fear that a teacher constantly faces is that he should remain knowledgeable enough so as to be constantly ahead of his students and counterparts. ICTS is perhaps the beginning of this competition. If you take the exam as a challenge and a measure of your professional capabilities, you shall set an attitude of competition which shall help you throughout your profession.