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Testing Strategies for Teacher Certification Exams

What is the GACE?

The Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) are part of the teacher certification process in the state of Georgia. These certification exams are designed to assist the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) ensure that teacher candidates have the knowledge and skills necessary to become educators in Georgia’s public schools.  Developed by the GaPSC and Educational Testing Services (ETS), the GACE assessments are aligned with the P-12 state and national standards. Each assessment measures the material taught in Georgia public classrooms.

Who should take the GACE tests?

Anyone seeking certification as a highly qualified educator in Georgia must pass the GACE in order to become certified. Candidates need to pass the GACE if they are seeking admission to an educator preparation program, seeking certification in the state of Georgia, and/or seeking to become highly qualified in a core academic subject. Teacher candidates certified in other states must also complete GACE certification exams in order to become licensed in Georgia.

What are the requirements for taking the GACE?

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 Georgia depending on his or her background. See see below for a description of each:

  • Candidates pursuing an education degree from a Georgia 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. Prospective teachers should visit the GaPSC site to learn more about the steps required to become a certified educator.
  • Candidates pursuing an education degree from an out-of-state teacher preparation program may be granted certification provided that the program is in similar certification areas as Georgia programs, and that the training was competed at the same degree level required in Georgia. See the GaPSC site for additional information.

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

What is The GACE Program Admission Assessment?

Formerly called the Basic Skills Assessment, the GACE Program Admission Assessment measures an individual’s general knowledge in the areas of reading, mathematics, and writing. A passing score on this assessment indicates that a candidate has the competency levels necessary to be successful in an educator preparation program.

Who should take it?

  • Candidates applying to Georgia educator preparation programs;
  • Applicants for Induction Pathway 4 certification (those who have been hired to teach before completing an educator preparation program);
  • Applicants for certification in School Social Work;

Permit holders applying to extend or renew their initial permit.

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

What is the GACE Content Assessment? 

GACE Content Assessments measure a candidate’s knowledge and skills in the content area in which they are seeking certification. These assessments ensure that teachers are highly qualified to teach in their subject area.

Who should take the GACE Content Assessment?

  • Applicants applying for initial Georgia Induction or Professional certification;
    • Induction Pathway 4 certificates in Special Education fields may be granted before the applicant has passed or exempted the appropriate content assessment. However, this requirement must be fulfilled before conversion of the certificate.
  • Induction or Professional certificate holders applying to add a field;
  • Applicants seeking an initial Permit in a foreign language field;
  • Art or Music Permit holders seeking to extend their permit;

Some applicants for Adjunct licenses.

Preparing for the GACE

Structure of the Exam

The structure of the GACE exam is a three-part series. Candidates must demonstrate mastery of Program Admission Assessment knowledge and content knowledge to gain licensure. Mastery is measured in the form of two assessments:

  • GACE Program Admission Assessment is designed to assess general skills and knowledge in reading, mathematics, and writing. The assessment consists of three tests:
    • Reading (200):
      • 56 selected-response questions
      • 2 hours
    • Mathematics (201):
      • 56 selected-response questions
      • 2 hours
    • Writing (202):
      • 40 selected-response questions
      • 2 constructed response assignments
      • 2 hours
    • Combined Test I, II, and III (700):
      • Combines questions from each assessment
      • 5 hours
      • Must be taken in one sitting on first attempt

For specific information regarding the topics assessed in each subtest, practice questions, or preparation materials, see the GACE Program Admission study companion.

  • GACE Content Assessments 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 and some constructed response assignments.

For specific information regarding the topics assessed in each subject area examination, see the GACE test preparation page and select your content assessment from the list provided.

Registration

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

  • Review the GACE Registration Bulletin to learn more about the specific details of the registration process.
  • Identify which test you need to take prior to beginning your study plan. See the GACE test preparation page to see which tests you must pass to gain certification.
  • Create a MyPSC account on the GaPSC website prior to registering. When you create you MyPSC account, you must use your legal name or the name that matches your identification for test admission.
  • Request eligibility from your preparation program. Examinees must be granted eligibility from an approved teacher preparation program. You can request eligibility through your MyPSC account. After submitting your request, your status will be pending until updated by your certification program. Additional information regarding eligibility requests can be found here.
  • Create an ETS GACE testing account to register for the test. You will register to test through your ETS GACE account, not your MyPSC account, so it is important to set up both accounts in advance. Create your ETS account on the GACE 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 range between $73 and $193 for single or combined tests. 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 GACE 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 GACE 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!

Study

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.

Find a GACE Study Guide

Arrival and What to Bring

There are several steps you need to take prior to arriving at the test site to ensure you are set up admission to the testing center test day.

  • Verify your test location and reporting time. Reporting times will differ from testing times, and it is important to arrive early to ensure admission. Testing times and locations may occasionally change, so log into your ETS GACE testing account 24 hours before the exam to check on any changes.
  • Print your admission ticket. Log onto your ETS GACE testing account to access and print your admission ticket. You must bring your admission ticket to the center with you in order to be permitted to test. To avoid technical problems that could delay the process, print your ticket the night before your exam.
  • Gather identification materials. All test takers are required to provide one valid form of identification, but are encouraged to bring at least two forms of acceptable ID each time they report to a test center. You will not be permitted to test without proper identification. For information about ID requirements and acceptable for of ID, see the guidance provided on the GACE website.
  • Calculators and Reference Sheets are provided by the testing software on certain tests. Examinees may NOT bring their own calculators or reference sheets into the exam. The type of calculator provided varies by test. It may be helpful to determine the calculator and reference materials provided for your test so that you can study accordingly.

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 GACE 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

Score Reporting Dates

Scores are released at the close of the testing window. Scores for the Program Admission Reading (200) Mathematics (201) and the combined Reading and Mathematics (700) are reported within 7 days after the test.

Scores for the Program Admission Writing (202) and the Writing section of the combined test (700) are reported within 28 days after the test date due to manual scoring processes.

For the most up-to-date calendar of score-reporting dates, see this chart provided by ETS.

Sending and Canceling Scores

When registering for the GACE, you will have indicated which institutions or programs you to which you would like to send score reports. At the end of each test, you may choose up to 3 additional score recipients within the state of Georgia (included in your testing fee). Additional requests will result in additional score reporting charges.

At the end of a 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 e exam.  Examinees will receive an email notification when official score reports are available.

Understanding Your Scores

Your official score report explains your score and whether you passed or failed. Test results are reported using a scaled score.

Your raw score and percentage of correct answers on the GACE 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.

Your official score report contains information about your performance on your most recent exam and your performance over time. It also provides a detailed overview of the points earned for each section, as well as a Pass/Not Passed determination. For a detailed list of everything included in your score report, see the guidance provided by ETS.

Passing Scores

The minimum passing scale score for tests or subtest varies. See the table below for specific requirements by assessment:

  • Content Assessments:
    • 220-249—passing at induction level
    • 250—passing at the professional level
    • At this time, passing at either level meets the Georgia Special Requirement to pass the content knowledge assessment(s) appropriate to the field of certification
  • Program Admission Assessment:
    • Passing score of 250

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 attempt the test again. You must wait 30 days to retake any exam or part of an exam.

If you take a combined assessment and only pass one of the subtests, you will only need to retake the single subtest you did not pass. Once you have achieved a passing score on all subtests, you will have passed the entire assessment.

When registering for a retake, you should access your  ETS GACE testing account to register. 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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