ICTS Test Preparation

It goes without saying that dedicated preparation is required for success in any endeavor. The preparation required and the hard work that needs to be put in increases manifold if your career is at stake. One has to take great pains to get established in a career of one’s choice. A career as an educator is a much coveted career as it offers financial stability along with job satisfaction. Being an educator may have many advantages for you, but it comes with a lot of responsibilities. You are entrusted with the task of providing quality education to students. It is for this reason that the Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS) has been developed.

The Significance of Passing the ICTS

Teaching in Illinois will not be possible without passing the ICTS. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has chalked out the requirements that the candidates must meet for becoming certified educators in the state of Illinois. The candidates who are required to take the test and the number of tests that have to be taken have also been clearly outlined. You will have to take a certain set of ICTS tests to meet the requirements for the certification that you are seeking. This makes it important for you to understand the fact that unless you pass the required set of tests, you will not be able to earn your desired certification.

These tests help in identifying candidates who meet the standards as specified for performing well in the fields for which they have applied for certification. For instance, the Language Proficiency tests will evaluate your knowledge with the level that is required for communicating effectively as a bilingual teacher. Therefore, passing these tests can be regarded as a testimony to the fact that you meet the standards that are expected of someone who wishes to pursue a career as an educator in Illinois. Passing these tests certifies that you are capable of performing the task satisfactorily and this not only helps you in earning your certification but it also helps in boosting your self esteem and confidence as you now know that you will be able to do justice to the tasks that you will be entrusted with.

The Best Approach for Taking the ICTS

Every individual may have a different approach for tackling the tests. The approach adopted by you will depend upon your personal requirements and also on the requirements for the certification you have applied for. Notwithstanding the different approaches that all candidates may be having, there are certain aspects of preparation that are common for all candidates. Here is a brief description of certain aspects related to you and your style of studying that will determine the approach that will be the best for you for taking this test.

  • Your knowledge of the test content: If you are confident of your knowledge of the test content then you will not need to spend as much time in preparing for the ICTS as someone who is not confident of the same. This implies that if you find that you are not thorough with the test content, then you may have to start your test prep well before the test date as you may also have to attend prep classes for improving the skills that are being evaluated.
  • Your grasping power: If you find it easy to understand difficult concepts and you are able to memorise facts and figures easily and retain them for a long duration, then it will be easy for you to prepare for the ICTS in a short time. However, if you do not have these abilities, then you cannot take your test prep lightly. You will have to dedicate a lot of time for studies. Keep reviewing the important formulae and figures, especially for subjects like Math and Science. Constant revision will help you to recall them easily on the day of the test. Do not make the mistake of keeping the last day or two before the test for cramming up formulae. This will only serve to confuse you further and you will end up planning for a retest!
  • The type of certification you are seeking: Contact your college advisor, certification officer or the regional office of education for finding out the tests that you will have to take depending upon the type of certification you are seeking. The test content, subject areas, types of questions and skills being assessed are different for different ICTS tests. This implies that you may have to undertake a different prep method for preparing for each of the tests depending on factors like your familiarity with the test content and your skill levels.
  • Your attempt at the ICTS: If you are retaking the ICTS, that is if you have not been able to clear a particular est and are taking it again, then you cannot afford a lax approach towards taking the test. If you have not been able to secure passing scores in the earlier test administration, then it is unlikely that you will be able to pass it in the second time around if you follow exactly the same study routine with the same prep materials, the same prep method and a review of the same subject areas. The very fact that you failed in the tests means that there is an issue that needs to be addressed before you can hope to pass the ICTS tests. Do not rely on luck to see you through the tests. You will have to identify what went wrong when you took the test earlier and then take remedial action before you take the retest.

Here is a checklist of factors that can lead to your not being able to score the passing scores:

    1. Incomplete review or not reviewing the entire test content
    2. Inadequate practice in solving problems specific to the test format
    3. Unawareness of the test format
    4. Inadequate time for preparation for the test
    5. Cramming data in the last couple of days before the test
    6. No planned study routine
    7. Bad quality of prep materials

Identify the factor that could have led to your not being able to attain the passing scores. Take remedial action that does away with the reason for your failure in the ICTS tests and you will be able to do better in the retest. For instance, this remedial action can be alerting your method of preparing for ICTS like attending a prep course if you had not done so the first time or you can change the prep materials you used the first time.  Unless you do this, you will keep taking retests after retests with no improvement.

Get an Estimate of your Performance Level!

You can get an estimate of how well you are likely to perform in the ICTS tests that you are scheduled to take by going through the test format and solving some sample questions. The website, www.icts.nesinc.com contains study guides for each test in the battery. Go through the study guide for each of the tests that you have to take and get an estimate of your knowledge of the test content. This estimate will help you plan your preparation accordingly. You will also be able to access other types of prep materials from the ICTS website.

Remember that the ICTS tests are criterion referenced. Your performance will not be compared to that of other test takers; rather it will be compared with an established standard and so you should be well aware of what that standard is and where you stand with respect to it. The crux of your preparation is that if your knowledge and skills are much below the standard required, then you should take your test prep very seriously and leave no stone unturned in your attempt to improve your skills and knowledge. At the same time, if you feel that your knowledge and skills are of the level that is required for passing the ICTS tests, then also you must study well and pass them in the first attempt itself so that you do not waste any time in taking retests and you are settled in your career in the shortest possible time!