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Testing Strategies for Teacher Certification Exams

What is the National Evaluation Series?

The NES, National Evaluation Series, is a series of tests that are required for prospective teachers to take in order to display proficiency in both pedagogical and content-area knowledge. A passing score on a variety of NES Exams is required in order to obtain an initial teacher license in many different US states. Established teachers, who already hold a teacher license, but are seeking to add additional content-areas to their license, may also take the required NES test in order to display proficiency. Other established teachers who are seeking to become licensed in a state different from, or in addition to, their current state of licensure may do so by passing the appropriate NES exam.  Please visit the NES website for up-to-date information.

Which NES Test Do I Need to Take?

Each US State has unique testing requirements in order to display proficiency. Please visit the NES website and select your desired state in order to determine which specific test you need to take.

When Can/Should a Person Take the NES?

Each US State has a unique timeline. Please visit the NES website and select your desired state in order to determine when your state recommends you should take the exam in order to obtain a new license, add a concentration to your current license, or obtain a license in a different state.

NES Test Dates

NES Test Dates

Most of the NES Exams are available year round, Monday-Saturday (excluding some holidays). Tests are available at many different locations throughout the U.S and in limited locations across the globe. To make an appointment for a test please visit the NES website to view an available test date and location that is convenient for you.

How to Register

Applicants are required to create an account in order to register for any NES Exams. You can create an account by providing your email, desired password, and answers to a variety of security questions at the NES Test Registration page. It is crucial that the information you provide at the time of registration matches your government-issued I.D. Early Registration is strongly encouraged in order to schedule a desired seat and meet the required deadline for any NES exam.

How Teacher Exams are Scored

Cost of the NES

Essential Academic Skills

The Essential Academic Skills Subtests can be taken in any combination for the following prices (i.e. when taking the Reading and Writing test together, the cost is $75).

  • Reading – $50 for 1
  • Writing – $75 for 2
  • Mathematics – $100 for 3
  • Technology Literacy – $175 for all 4
Professional Knowledge
  • Assessment of Professional Knowledge Elementary – $95
  • Assessment of Professional Knowledge Secondary – $95
Content Area Assessments

Elementary Assessments

  • Early Childhood Education – $95
  • Elementary Education Subtest I – $50
  • Elementary Education Subtest II – $50
  • Elementary Education Subtest I & II Combined – $95
  • Essential Components of Elementary Reading Instruction – $95

Middle Grade Assessments

  • Middle Grades English Language Arts – $95
  • Middle Grades English General Science – $95
  • Middle Grades Mathematics – $95
  • Middle Grades Social Science – $95

Secondary Assessments

  • Biology – $95
  • Business Education – $95
  • Chemistry – $95
  • Earth and Space Science – $95
  • Family and Consumer Science – $95
  • History – $95
  • Mathematics – $95
  • Physics – $95
  • Social Science – $95

K-12  Assessments

  • Art – $95
  • Chinese (Mandarin) – $95
  • English to Speakers of Other Languages – $95
  • French – $95
  • German – $95
  • Gifted Education – $95
  • Health – $95
  • Music – $95
  • Physical Education – $95
  • School Counselor – $95
  • School Library Media Specialist – $95
  • Spanish – $95
  • Special Education – $95

Beginning to Prepare

After you have determined which exam you need to take, have registered and paid the exam fee, it is time to begin preparing for the NES. The most effective way to prepare for the NES Exam series is to develop a study plan. Your study plan should include understanding the standards, the structure of the NES, what study materials are available, practice or diagnostic assessments, studying strategies,  how to write a CRQ (if applicable), and developing a study schedule as discussed below.

Understanding The Standards

The NES was designed to align with nationwide learning standards and content standards for teachers. The Professional and Subject Knowledge exams will measure proficiency in their         respective  fields based on the standards for that field. You can find information about these standards on your state’s Department of Education website.

Structure of the NES

Each NES exam is a computer-based assessment that consists of a unique format and time allotment. Please visit NES websiteand select your desired test for more information.

What Study Materials are Available?

Each NES  subtest has a unique study guide designed to help testers prepare for the test. Please visit the NES website, select your desired test then select “prepare” to find the organization and structure, testing tips, profile, framework, and study guide related to your desired test.

Here are some other tips and strategies to help testers pass their exam .

Practice Test or Diagnostic Assessment

Practice assessments are helpful tools to not only familiarize yourself with the structure and pace of the NES, but also in identifying areas of weakness that might require further study. Information about the practice tests that are available for any exam in the NES series can be found on the NES website.


Don’t Forget to Study Testing Strategies

Testing strategies are an essential element of preparation for the NES. Here are some helpful articles that detail testing strategies and reasons why people fail their certification exam.

How to Write a CRQ

CRQ’s or Constructed Response Questions are an important part of the NES. If your exam includes CRQ’s, you will need to know how to write one effectively. Here are some helpful tips to help you prepare for the CRQ portion of your exam.

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 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 the Day of the Test

You should plan to be at the testing center at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled test appointment. You should dress comfortably and in layers. Wear soft-soled shoes in order to maintain a quiet testing environment for all testers.

Lockers are provided at most testing centers. Please double-check by calling the testing center in advance.

You need to have a government-issued I.D. to verify your identity. When you check in your I.D. will be checked, your digital signature recorded, your palm scanned, and your photograph taken.

Each testing center has computers separated by partitions as well as a proctor to prevent cheating. Before beginning the exam, each tester will complete a computer-based tutorial session designed to show you how to navigate through the test successfully. If you would like to preview this tutorial, please visit and follow the instructions.

Test Scores

Passing Score

The national benchmark for a passing score for every NES subtest is 220. Some states like Arizona, New Mexico, and Oregon may require a higher score in order to qualify for a license. Please visit the NES website and select your desired test in order to determine the passing score for that test required by your state.
 When Do I Get Scores?

A benefit of the NES structure of computer-based testing is that you receive an unofficial score report at the testing center upon completion of your test.

An official score report will be emailed to the email address you provided upon registration as soon as it is available, so it is important to keep your registration information up to date. You can also access a PDF version of your score report 45 days after the test date by logging in and following the prompts. You can also find your results, when they become available, here.
Understanding Your Score Report

Your Score Report will include the date of the exam, your total test score out of 300, and a pass or fail status. In order to help testers understand their strengths and weaknesses in testing areas, subarea scores are provided. You do not need to pass every subarea in order to pass the exam. Please visit the NES website in order to read a detailed NES Score Report Explanation and a NES State-Specific Score Report Explanation.

State Reciprocity

NES Exams are accepted in a wide variety of states. In order to get accurate and up-to-date information about individual state requirements, please visit your state’s Department of Education website, or follow the links on the NES website.

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