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Testing Strategies for Teacher Certification Exams

What is the MTTC?

The Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) series is part of the teacher certification process in the state of Michigan. This certification exam program is designed to ensure that teacher candidates have the knowledge and skills necessary to become educators in Michigan’s public schools.  The examinations in the MTTC program are the only tests that satisfy the testing requirement for teacher certification in Michigan.

The tests are objective-based and criterion-referenced. Each test measures a candidate’s knowledge and skills in relation to an established set of criterion, not against the performance of other candidates. The MTTC series measure a candidate’s mastery of the knowledge and skill required of an entry-level teacher.

The MTTC program currently consists of subject-area tests and a Professional Readiness Examination. With the exception of the world language tests, each test consists of multiple choice questions and two or more constructed-response assignments.

Who should take the MTTC tests?

Anyone seeking certification as a highly qualified educator in Michigan must pass the MTTC in order to become certified. 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 Michigan depending on his or her background. See below for a description of each:

  • Candidates pursuing an education degree from a Michigan college or university must pass the Professional Readiness Examination before they begin student teaching, and must pass the subject-area tests before they can become certified.
  • Candidates pursuing an education degree from an out-of-state teacher preparation program must pass the Professional Readiness Examination and subject-area tests to become certified in Michigan. There are, however, two important exceptions:
    • You are not required to take the MTTC tests if you hold a teaching certificate from another state if you meet ALL of the following criteria:
      • You have taught successfully for at least 3 years in a position for which your teaching certificate was valid.
      • You have earned at least 18 semester credit hours in a planned course of study at a state-approved institution of higher education or you have earned, at any time, a state-approved master’s or doctoral degree.
      • You have met the elementary or secondary reading credit requirements established under state board rules.
    • If you hold a teaching certificate from another state and meet the requirements for a Michigan teaching certificate, but do not meet all of the criteria listed above, you are eligible for a one-year nonrenewable temporary teaching certificate without passing the Professional Readiness Exam and subject-area tests. During the temporary certification period, you must pass required tests in the MTTC series in order to obtain a teaching certificate. If these requirements are not met, the temporary teaching certificate will expire and no teaching certificate will be granted.

When can a candidate take the MTTC?

Candidates may take the Professional Readiness Examination and the subject-area tests as early in their college program as they would like. State-approved teacher certification programs typically require students to pass the Professional Readiness Examination prior to the start of the program. For the best timeline, candidates should contact the academic advisor at their institution to find out each program’s requirements.

Which MTTC Exam Should I Take?

A list and description of each exam in the MTTC program is provided here. Most teaching candidates will need to pass two MTTC assessments: the Professional Readiness Examination and a Subject-Area test.

  • The Professional Readiness Examination (PRE) consists of 3 subtests (Reading, Mathematics, and Writing) and assesses a candidate’s general knowledge in each of those subject areas. Even if a candidate is seeking certification in a subject area outside of these three areas, he or she must still pass the PRE.
  • Subject Area Tests assess a candidate’s knowledge in the specific subject area in which he or she is seeking certification.
    • For elementary-level teaching, candidates must pass both the PRE and the Elementary y Education Test. Candidates who want to teach specific subject areas in grades 6-8 must also pass the corresponding subject-area test.
    • For secondary-level teaching, candidates must pass both the PRE and the corresponding subject-area test for each subject area in which they are seeking certification.

Preparing for the MTTC

Structure of the Exam

Both the PRE and the Subject-Area Test consist of multiple-choice questions with some constructed-response assignments. The number of questions and length of the test varies by content area.

  • The Professional Readiness Examination consists of three subtests: Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. The combined Reading and Mathematics tests consist of approximately 85 multiple-choice questions. The Writing subtest consists of approximately 42 multiple-choice questions and two constructed response assignments.
  • Subject-Area Examinations vary in length and format. For specific guidance about your subject-area, see the MTTC program website.
  • MTTC 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 MTTC test preparation page and select your content assessment from the list provided. .

Registration

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

  • Review the MTTC Registration Checklist 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 MTTC test selection page to see which tests you must pass to gain certification.
  • Select a test date. Test dates are offered on a limited basis. For paper-based tests, each test date has a series of regular, late, and emergency registration periods. Test fees increase as the testing date approaches. For specific dates and registration deadlines, see the MTTC paper-based test dates page. Computer-based tests are offered year-round. Registration is available at any time, but candidates are encouraged to register as early as possible. For specific guidance, see the MTTC computer-based test dates page.
  • 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 MTTC 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 MTTC 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.

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. Examinees should arrive 30 minutes prior to the start of the examination to ensure enough time for check-in.
  • Print your admission ticket. Access and print your admission ticket in advance. You must bring your admission ticket to the center with you in order to be permitted to test. Electronic versions will not be accepted. 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 MTTC website.
  • Number 2 pencils (paper-based only). Pencils will not be supplied at the test site.
  • Calculators are permitted on some tests. If their test permits, aandidates may bring an approved calculator to the test site. To see if your test permits the use of a calculator, see MTTC’s test selection guidance.

For more information about what you may or may not bring to the test center, see the MTTC 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 typically released approximately one month after the test window closes. For the most up-to-date calendar of score-reporting dates, see MTTC’s test date guidance.

Sending and Canceling Scores

When registering for the MTTC, you will have indicated which institutions or programs to which you would like to send score reports. Your test scores will be automatically reported to you, the Michigan Department of Education, and the institutions that you indicated when you registered. If needed, you may choose to send your scores to additional recipients. Learn more about requesting additional copies of your test results here.

If, at the end of your paper-based test, you do not want your scores reported or do not feel that you performed as well as you could have, you may cancel your test scores. To cancel your scores, you must:

  • Complete a Score Cancellation Form (available at test site); or
  • Submit a written request (including name, signature, last 4 digits of your social security number, your MTTC ID number, date of birth, test date, and tests). Your cancellation request must be received at Evaluation Systems within 7 data of the date on which you took the test.

***Score cancellation is NOT available for computer-based testing.

If you choose to report your scores to a certification institution, you will be unable 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 exam.  Examinees will receive an email notification when official score reports are available, and may access their MTTC account to view their score reports.

Understanding Your Scores

Your official score report explains your score and whether you passed or failed. Your raw score and percentage of correct answers on the MTTC 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. Test results are reported using a scaled score from 100 to 300.

Passing Scores

The minimum passing scale score for tests is a scaled score of 220 or higher. For the Professional Readiness Examination, examinees receive a separate score for each subtest and must pass all three to meet the passing requirements.

Retaking the Exam

In the event that you do not earn a passing score, you may retake the test to attempt it again. You must wait 30 days to retake any exam or part of an exam, but there is no limit to the number of times you may take 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.

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