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Testing Strategies for Teacher Certification Exams

What is the FTCE?

The Florida Teacher Certification Exam (FTCE) tests are part of the teacher certification process in the state of Florida. The certification process is designed to support the academic achievement of Florida students by ensuring all educators are professionally qualified for highly effective instruction. The FTCE is a three-part series that includes the General Knowledge Test, the Professional Education Test, and a Subject Area Examination. To succeed in this series, teacher candidates must pass all three parts of the exam.

Who should take the FTCE tests?

The FTCE is used throughout the state of Florida. Teacher candidates in a university certification program or alternative certification program must pass the FTCE in order to become certified. Teacher candidates certified in other states must also complete FTCE certification exams in order to become licensed in Florida.

When can a candidate take the FTCE?

Candidates enrolled in a Florida teacher preparation program may take the exam as early as possible. Candidates from other states or countries must first apply for temporary certificates prior to completing exams. This ensures that candidates register for and complete the exams most appropriate for their desired certification area.

What are the requirements for taking the FTCE?

The testing requirements and timeline will vary for candidates depending on the state-approved teacher preparation programs in which they are enrolled.  There are several potential avenues a teacher candidate may take to becoming certified in Florida depending on his or her background. See the Teacher Education Program Guidelines for details,, and see below for general guidance.

  • Candidates pursuing an education degree from a Florida college or university should consult with their program to determine the best time to take the exam. Typically, candidates should complete all testing prior to or at the beginning of their final term so they can begin applying for teaching positions as early as possible. Graduates of a Florida state-approved preparation program must pass all three portions of the FTCE to qualify for a Professional Florida Educator’s Certificate. Candidates who have not passed all three portions of the exam may be granted a Temporary Certificate that allows them to teach which they complete their certification tests.
  • Candidates pursuing an education degree from an out-of-state teacher preparation program may be granted certification provided that the program is in a similar certification areas as Florida programs, and that the training was competed at the same degree level required in Florida. Graduates from out-of-state programs will likely qualify for a Temporary Florida Educator’s Certificate, which allows them to begin teaching while completing certification exams.
  • Out-of-State educators must submit their credentials to the Florida Department of Education for review. There are two pathways by which an out-of-state educator may become licensed in Florida:
    • Valid Standards Certification issued by a state other than Florida: candidates must present a valid educator’s certificate that is comparable to a Florida Professional Certificate. The certificate must be issued in a subject comparable to a Florida Certification subject, and must require comparable levels of training.
    • Certification issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS): Candidates must present a valid certification from the NBPTS. The reciprocal Florida certificate will reflect the Florida subject matter considered comparable to the NBPTS subject.
  • Candidates with education degrees from countries other than the United States may apply for a Temporary Certificate so they can begin teaching while completing certification tests.

Candidates pursuing alternative certification should visit the FDOE site for guidance.

Once reviewed, candidates will be approved for testing and will receive guidance on which exams they must complete. See the Out-of-State Certified Educators page for additional information.

Candidates pursuing an education degree from an out-of-state teacher preparation program must pass the CSET in the subject area for which they are seeking certification. This requirement may be filled through out-of-state certification credentials, however, so candidate should contact the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) for more details.

How Teacher Exams are Scored

Preparing for the FTCE

The structure of the FTCE exam is a three-part series. Candidates must demonstrate mastery of General Knowledge, Professional Education, and Subject Area content knowledge. To gain licensure, examinees must pass all three parts of the exam.

  • FTCE General Knowledge Test (GK) assesses mastery of basic reading, writing, and mathematics skills. It is a computer-based test that must be taken in its combined form on the first attempt. The breakdown of the test is as follows:
    • Essay – 50 minutes
    • English Language Skills – 40 minutes
    • Reading – 40 minutes
    • Mathematics – 100 minutes

For specific information regarding the topics assessed in each subtest, practice questions, or preparation materials, see the GK test preparation guide.

  • FTCE Professional Education Test (PEd) assesses a candidate’s understanding of pedagogy, instructional practices, assessment and facilitation. Whereas the other tests in the FTCE series assess specific content knowledge, the PEd assesses a candidate’s ability to lead students in an instructional setting. The test is 2 hours and 30 minutes, and consists of approximately 120 multiple-choice questions. test breakdown is as follows:
    • Instructional design and planning (18%)
    • Appropriate student-centered learning environments (15%)
    • Instructional delivery and facilitation through a comprehensive understanding of subject matter (18%)
    • Various types of assessment strategies for determining impact on student learning (14%)
    • Relevant continuous professional improvement (12%)
    • Code of Ethics and Principles of Professional Conduct of the Education Profession in Florida (9%)
    • Research-based practices appropriate for teaching English Language Learners (7%)
    • Effective literacy strategies that can be applied across the curriculum (7%)

For specific information regarding the topics assessed in each subtest, practice questions, or preparation materials, see the PEd test preparation guide.

  • FTCE Subject Area Examinations (SAE) assess a candidate’s specific content knowledge in the subject area in which he or she is seeking certification. Test format and structure vary by content area, but most consist of multiple-choice questions. With the exception of the Elementary K-6 exam, test time is 2 hours and 30 minutes.

For specific information regarding the topics assessed in each subject area examination, see the FTCE test preparation guide and select your SAE from the list provided. .

Beginning to Prepare

Beginning to prepare for the FTCE exam starts with understanding the test you need to take and the timeline for your preparation and testing dates.

  • Identify which test you need to take prior to beginning your study plan. See the FTCE preparation page to see which tests you must pass to gain certification.
  • Register for the test on the FTCE registration page. Once you are registered and know your timeline, you can work backward to create a study plan that fits within your preparation window. Test fees vary by exam, but you must have a valid payment method available in order to register.

Select score reporting options. During registration, you may select school districts and colleges/universities to which you would like to send your score reports. You can send additional reports at a later time, but it is more efficient to select your recipients during registration.

Develop a Study Plan

It is important to develop a study plan as part of your preparation for the FTCE assessments. Each test contains many content areas, skills, and question types with which examinees should be familiar. The amount of time an examinee should spend study will depend on their familiarity with the content and skills assessed.

A general study plan should include the following:

  • Practice or diagnostic test: decide on a time to take a practice test to determine your current level of familiarity with the content and to see which areas you should prioritize in your study plan. For more information, see this post on the blog!
  • Prioritization of content or skills: based on the results of your diagnostic test, you will see the content areas or skills in which you are strongest and weakest. Your study plan should prioritize the skills, types of questions, or content areas in which you are weakest.
  • Schedule: only you can know how much time you should spend studying, but no matter how much time is required, you should create a schedule to help your plan stay on track. You may choose to study one hour a day for five days a week, or five hours a day for one day a week. The most important part of your schedule is consistency. It is easy to fall behind as distractions and other events come up, but maintaining a regular schedule will help you work around unexpected interruptions to your plan.
  • Study materials: determine which study materials you will use to prepare for the test. In addition to 240Tutoring’s study guides, you can also find sample questions on the FTCE website.
  • Accountability: determine how you will hold yourself accountable to your plan. You may choose to keep a study log, to mark off study sessions on a calendar, or to set electronic reminders on a phone or device. Another technique that can be helpful when holding yourself accountable to goals is to share your plan with someone else. Consider peers or classmates who may also be preparing for exams, and make time to study together or check in with one another about progress. Consider family or friends with whom you can share your plan so that they can check in with you about your progress. The key is to build multiple levels of accountability into your study plan to ensure success!


After creating your study plan, you need to begin studying! Using 240Tutoring’s preparation guides, you can begin learning more about the content and types of questions on each exam and completing practice questions using testing strategies.

  • Read test overviews and descriptions. Completing practice questions without guidance will not help you improve. Read the introductory information in each tutoring guide, including the overview for each content area. By understanding the content assessed in each section, you will have a more informed understanding of how to approach each question.
  • Learn about question types. Understanding the types of question on each assessment is essential to preparation strategies and time management strategies during the test. Each question type requires a different approach and method of preparation. For add
    • For multiple-choice questions, you will need to understand content very thoroughly in order to answer questions correctly. Your strategies should include eliminating wrong answer choices, skipping over but returning to the most challenging questions, and making educated guesses when possible.
    • For constructed-response questions, you will need to understand content knowledge, be able to analyze documents or problems in the moment, and to explain your thinking in a clear, concise way. Your strategies should include planning, drafting, revising, and using key words.
  • Complete practice questions with a timer. After you understand the content and question types you will face on your exam, you should then begin completing practice questions. When practicing, use a timer. Practicing without a time can be detrimental on test day—if you are not accustomed to the time limits and do not have a sense of how much time to spend on each question, you could easily run out of time on test day. Set a timer for each section of the test that aligns with the allotted amount of time for the official test. Even if you do not finish your within that amount of time at first, you will see whether you are spending too little or too much time on each part.
  • Check your answers and read explanations. After each practice test or section, check your answers against the key. Do not simply mark the number of questions you answered correctly or incorrectly, but analyze your performance by looking for patterns. Ask yourself:
    • Are there content-areas in which I consistently do well?
    • Are there content-areas in which I consistently struggle?
    • Do I answer more questions correctly at the beginning, middle, or end of a test/section?
    • Are there many questions on which I need to guess?

By identifying patterns in your performance, you can adapt your study plan to hone in on the areas in which you need to improve most.

For incorrect answers, be sure to read the answer explanation. You will see why each answer choice is correct or incorrect, and may notice details about the questions and answer choices that you did not notice in your first attempt. Reading explanations of incorrect answers ensures that you learn from your mistakes as you progress.

Test Day

What to Expect on Test Day

Your preparation plan does not end with studying—you should also have a test-day plan. This includes strategies should as taking a few days off from studying before the exam, taking care of yourself physically leading up to the exam, and looking up maps and directions in advance to ensure you arrive early to your site. You should also consider strategies to reduce test anxiety to be sure that your hard work and preparation are not overshadowed by nerves on test day.

Arrival and What to Bring

You must arrive 30 minutes before your appointment time. If you arrive even a few minutes late, the test site may not be able to accommodate you.  If you are not admitted, you will not receive a refund. You should allow plenty of time to arrive before the designated time, and should prepare by checking weather and traffic conditions in advance.

You must bring two valid and unexpired forms of identification printed in English. You will not be permitted to test without proper identification.

  • First ID: Must be government issued, have a clear photograph, and contain a signature. Examples include: driver’s license, state-issued ID card, United States military ID, or passport.
  • Second ID: can be another form of identification listed above, or one that has either a photo or a signature. Examples include: Social Security card, student ID, or work ID.

Online calculators are included in the testing software, so calculators are prohibited.

For more information about what you may or may not bring to the test center, see the FTCE Policies  for test day.

Taking the Test

By now, you should be familiar with what to expect on the exam. All that is left to do is complete it, but that may not be as simple as it sounds once the test is in front of you.

If you feel anxious, remember 7 Reasons People Fail Their Certification Exam. If you have prepared using these tips and 240Tutoring’s study guide, you will have:

  • Learned the content
  • Reviewed testing strategies
  • Learned how to break down questions and answer choices
  • Learned how to write a constructed response
  • Developed strategies for reducing test anxiety.

Throughout the test, remember what you have learned, maintain a steady pace, and keep calm!

Test Scores

At the end of each test, you have the option to report or cancel your scores. If you choose to report your scores to a certification institution, you will not be able to cancel them at any point and they will become an official part of your record. If you choose to cancel your scores, you will be unable to report your scores and they will never be reinstated to your testing record. Cancellation does not result in a refund.

Except for extreme circumstances, such as severe physical illness or overwhelming anxiety, it is not recommended that you cancel your scores.

Official Score Reports

Official score reports are posted to examinee accounts on the score report date according to the score report schedule. Tests are typically available within 4-6 weeks depending on the format of the exam. For multiple-choice only exams, examinees receive an unofficial pass/non-pass status at the end of the exam.

Scores are automatically sent to the districts and institutions selected at registration. Examinees may request additional copies of score reports, if needed, and may access their score reports through their account for 60 days after the score report release data.

Understand Your Scores

You will receive an official score report after your testing date. Your score report explains your score and whether you passed or failed. Test results are reported using a scaled score hat is a scale score?

Your raw score and percentage of correct answers on the FTCE and FELE are converted to a common measure called a scale score. A scale score allows multiple forms of a test to share a common minimum passing score.

Passing Scores

The minimum passing scale score for tests, subtests, or sections consisting of only multiple-choice questions is 200.

For additional help interpreting your scores, see this guide.

Retaking the Exam

In the event that you do not earn a passing score, you may retake the test to attempt it again. The Florida retake policy indicates that you must wait 31 days to retake any exam or part of an exam.  In order to retake the exam, you need to reregister for the exam, so do so as quickly as possible. Take action immediately to be sure you meet your certification deadlines!

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