Praxis English Language Arts: Content Knowledge: Ultimate Guide and Practice Test
Preparing to take the English Language Arts: Content Knowledge exam?
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Praxis English Language Arts Quick Facts
The Praxis English Language Arts: Content Knowledge exam tests the knowledge of prospective teachers in reading, language use, and vocabulary, and writing, speaking, and listening. Its purpose is to gauge an individual’s readiness by testing English Language Arts standards.
You are allowed 2.5 hours to complete 130 selected-response questions.
The score range is 100-200. The passing score is set by the state or licensing agency and ranges from 147-167. Most states require a passing score of 167.
The pass rate percentage is 89%.
You should set aside time each day to devote to studying. Familiarizing yourself with the content that will be on the test will help you decide what areas you should study each day. Make sure to start studying early and allow enough time to adequately cover all areas that will be tested on the exam.
What test takers wish they would’ve known:
- Test takers tend to overestimate their abilities to perform well on Praxis assessments. Many students regret not putting more time and effort into preparing for Praxis assessments beforehand. Fortunately, it’s easy to avoid this mistake by using test preparation materials.
- It’s a great strategy to track your time while taking the test. You can monitor your time by periodically checking the timer in the upper right-hand corner of your screen.
- Because time management is crucial, skip questions you find extremely difficult and move forward to questions you find easier to answer. Don’t worry, you can mark the questions you skip as you take the test. Try to finish the other questions with 10 to 15 minutes remaining and use that extra time to return to the more challenging questions. If you are unsure of an answer, it is better to guess than to leave a question blank.
- When answering the selected-response questions, you should read all possible answers before marking the correct one. You don’t want to miss out on the best answer by not reading all of the responses!
- Always check your answer before moving to the next question. Many test takers are surprised by how they’re able to find overlooked errors in their work by using this strategy.
Information and screenshots obtained from the ETS Praxis website.
This content category has 49 selected-response questions. These questions account for 38% of the entire exam.
The Reading content category can be broken down into two sections:
- Informational Texts and Listening
This section tests your knowledge of literature by looking at major works and defining characteristics, themes, structures, and elements. You should also be able to understand reading strategies, research-based strategies and literary theories in the literature. When looking at informational texts you should be able to understand textual evidence, organizational patterns, text structure, word choice, rhetorical strategies, and methods authors use.
Let’s talk about a couple of specific concepts that are likely to appear on the test.
The following table defines the typical characteristics and terminology of major literary genres.
As I walked outside I felt the chill in the air. The cool breeze blew my hair across my face. I looked up into the sky and recognized the dark, gray clouds. They were as dark as night. I knew I only had minutes to get to my car safely. As soon as I slammed the door, it began to rain cats and dogs.
In the text, there are multiple examples of figurative language used to add depth to the text. Imagery is created by using senses to describe how the sky looked and how the air felt. When comparing the clouds’ color a simile was used. Hyperbole was used when saying it began to rain cats and dogs.
Common Strategies for Reading Instruction
Informational Texts and Rhetoric
This section tests your knowledge of textual evidence, organizational patterns, text structures, word choice, methods and rhetorical strategies of authors, and the interpretation of media in informational texts.
Check out these two specific concepts from this section.
Organizational Pattern of an Informational Text
Common organizational patterns:
- Problem-solution is a pattern that has a solvable way to fix the dilemma in the text. It is often confused with the cause and effect pattern but has a clear resolution.
- Cause-effect pattern explains the reasons why something happens. Readers can usually find this type of structure being used in expository and persuasive texts.
- Sequence order is used to put text in order of when it happens. It is usually used in procedural texts and usually uses time-order transition words.
- Compare-contrast is a pattern used to list the similarities and differences of two or more things. Words like same, different, unlike, both, and similar can be found in this type of text structure.
Rhetorical strategies are tools that help the author play on words to create an effect to their writing.
- Satire is the use of humor, exaggeration, or criticism to try to change the reader’s stance on an issue. An author sometimes uses it to influence the reader’s political or social opinion.
- Irony is when the unexpected happens in a situation that is expected. Example : Raining on your wedding day. Being offered a free dessert after you’ve already paid for yours.
- Understatement is making something seem less important. The author might use an understatement to be polite or sensitive to the reader.
- Hyperbole is an exaggeration or overstatement. The author might use hyperbole to be more dramatic or add a level of humor to the text.
Methods of Appeal or Persuasion
- Expert opinions gives the reader statistics and facts that make the author seem knowledgeable.
- Generalizations are statements based only on one or two sources that make assumptions based only on those sources.
- Testimonials feed into the reader’s emotions to persuade them to feel sympathetic.
Language Use and Vocabulary
This content category has 33 selected-response questions. These questions account for 25% of the entire exam.
The Language Use and Vocabulary content category can be broken down into 5 competencies:
- Conventions of Standard English
- Word Meaning
- Reference Materials
- Dialect and Diction
- Language Acquisition and Vocabulary Development
Let’s look at each of these competencies and discuss a specific concept from each one.
Conventions of Standard English
This competency tests your knowledge of the use of conventions, grammar, syntax, and mechanics.
- Simple sentences are complete thoughts that contain a subject and a verb. They are referred to as an independent clause.
Example: The girl ran.
- Compound sentences have two independent clauses connected by conjunction or semicolon.
Example: I like running and he likes running.
- Complex sentences begin with an independent clause and have conjunction that connects a dependent clause. The connected dependent clause does not express a complete thought.
Example: I missed my bus because I was late.
- Complex-compound sentences have two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses connected by conjunctions.
Example: Paul did not run in the race because he was sick so he was disappointed.
This competency tests your knowledge of understanding word meaning by using affixes, context clues, and applying your knowledge of syntax.
Affixes are 1 or more letters added to a base word to change its meaning. If you understand the meaning of the affix, it can help you to determine what the derivative means.
This competency tests your knowledge of the use of print and digital references used to enhance language.
Digital Reference Materials
Online dictionaries can be used to define unknown terms.
Online encyclopedias teach students to do research with reliable sources.
Online almanacs can be used to follow timelines and do research for specific eras and times in history.
Online atlases can be used to do research on specific geographic areas.
Online websites can be used as a source to teach students the research process and create projects on animals, a specific area of geography, and more.
Examples: https://kids.nationalgeographic.com or Britannica Kids
Dialect and Diction
This competency tests your knowledge of the different dialects used across cultures, regions, and time periods.
Dialect is specific to each region, cultural, group or time period. It is the way language is expressed within a group of people that they understand. In the United States you can recognize where a person is from based on how they greet someone.
Example: If you live in the south you might greet someone with a “Howdy” while in the north a simple hello or hi would be used.
Dialect can even be specific to a genre of literature that is specific to the time period. For example, Shakespearean dialect usually needs to be translated into modern English to understand the text.
Language Acquisition and Vocabulary Development
This competency tests your knowledge of how to use, evaluate, and interpret research-based strategies to develop language acquisition and vocabulary for diverse learners.
When children develop their first language it is usually automatic and effortless, but second language acquisition takes more time. Students progress through 5 phases of language development.
- Pre-production has minimal comprehension and relies on more nodding and pointing than verbal responses.
- The early production has more comprehension and one or two-word responses.
- Speech emergence has good comprehension but makes grammatical errors and frequently does not understand the slang of peers or jokes.
- Intermediate fluency has great comprehension and makes fewer grammatical errors.
- Advanced fluency is close to the equivalency level of a native speaker.
Students should progress through each stage and receive specific support to help them succeed in school. When teachers provide appropriate support for students they create a safe environment for students to learn and grow.
Writing, Speaking, and Listening
This content category has 48 selected-response questions. These questions account for 37% of the entire exam.
The Writing, Speaking, and Listening content category can be broken down into 10 competencies:
- Modes of Writing
- Task, Purpose, and Audience
- Clear and Coherent Writing
- Research Practices
- Speech and Presentation Delivery
- Teaching Students to Use Digital Media
- Teaching Components of Writing
- Assessing Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening
- Oral Communication
- Incorporating Student Diversity
Let’s look at each of these competencies and discuss a specific concept from each one.
Modes of Writing
Task, Purpose, and Audience
This competency tests your knowledge of identifying, choosing, and evaluating the appropriate type of writing for a specific task, purpose, or audience.
The purpose of writing is dependent on the task and the audience. An author writes a piece of writing to state their opinion, create a literary work, inform, entertain, or persuade their reader. Effective writing starts with an author understanding what their purpose is for writing so they can create a piece of writing. Understanding their intended audience is important so they can use elements and figurative language to connect to their reader when appropriate.
Clear and Coherent Writing
This competency tests your knowledge of what clear and coherent writing looks like based on the organization, conventions, style, and details used within the piece of writing.
A transition can be a word, group of words or a sentence that creates a flow in the text to connect thoughts and ideas. There are different transitional words or phrases associated with each type of writing.
This competency tests your knowledge of digital and print sources and how to effectively evaluate, identify, and cite sources.
Components of a Citation
The components of a citation include the who, what, when and where of a source.
- The Who = the author of the source
- The What = the title of the source
- The When = the date of when the source was published
- The Where = where the source was published or where to find it online
Rowling, J. K., author. (1998). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books
Speech and Presentation Delivery
This competency tests your knowledge of how to deliver effective speeches or presentations by identifying characteristics, evaluating different media, and determining how information is presented.
Characteristics of Effective Delivery of a Presentation
- Eye contact involves being able to read the room and look for reactions, as well as being able to keep your eyes up and look the audience in the eyes.
- Visual aids could include powerpoints, videos, charts, or graphs. Being able to create a visual helps the audience to see and relate to the topic you’re explaining.
- Tone creates the mood of your presentation. Being able to use your voice effectively to create an appropriate tone for your presentation includes being able to control your volume, clarity, pauses and use emphasis when needed.
Teaching Students to Use Digital Media
This competency tests your knowledge of how to instruct students by choosing technological tools and the effectiveness of technology-based strategies to enhance communication.
Technological Tools for Effective Communication
- Presentation software like Prezi or Microsoft Powerpoint can be used in the classroom to teach students how to present a topic.
- The software can be used in the classroom to communicate between students and parents. Examples: email, Remind 101
- Blogs can be used for students to write and respond to their peers’ writing. They can also gain information from blogs to relate to a topic.
- Wikis allow for a group of people to collaborate and create content on a specific topic. Wikis are helpful when teaching students how to collaborate during group projects.
Teaching Components of Writing
This competency tests your knowledge of research-based strategies to teach the writing process.
Writing workshop is designed to have students become better writers by writing. It consists of 4 main components:
- Mini-lesson is only about 5-10 minutes and in a whole group setting. Teachers bring students together to be direct and focus on specific writing skills. For example, it includes expectations of the writing process, the qualities of good writing, and editing skills.
- Writing usually lasts about 35-45 minutes and is where students are working independently on their writing and going through the writing process.
- Conferring happens during independent writing time. Teachers monitor writing around the room and use this time to pull individual students or small groups who are struggling in an area of the writing process to work with them.
- Share Time is when students choose a part or a whole piece of their writing to share with the entire class. It is a time when students learn how to appropriately respond to other’s writing.
Assessing Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening
This competency tests your knowledge recognizing and evaluating the use of formative and summative assessments of reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
Using Rubrics to Assess Writing
Using a rubric to assess writing sets expectations for students to meet. You should share the rubric when explaining a writing assignment to a student so they are able to use it to guide their writing assignment. Rubrics help set clear expectations and provide feedback to show where improvement is needed. All areas that are to be assessed need to be included on the rubric. Each area assessed needs to be broken down into categories that show where students mastered that area or where they need improvement. The rubric should have a grading scale and each category should show how many points can be earned for each area.
This competency tests your knowledge of identifying and evaluating the effectiveness of strategies and techniques used to create productive and collaborative discussions.
Active listening is intentionally being focused on the speaker and not just passively hearing what they are talking about. It is important to actively listen to your students to create a comfortable, safe, and respectful environment in the classroom. Students should also practice actively listening to their peers. It is important to model active listening so students understand how to actively listen.
- Make eye contact with the person
- Listen to how they feel, not just the content of what they are saying
- Be sincere
- Restate what the person said
- Ask clarifying questions
- Be aware of your body language
Incorporating Student Diversity
This competency tests your knowledge of what strategies to use to create a safe environment based on the needs a student has based on their perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds they bring into the classroom.
Creating a Safe Environment
Understanding that all students bring something different into the classroom based on their background is important. Understanding your student’s backgrounds can help you plan and use sources to connect the learning to something they understand. When students are connected to their learning they feel safe and want to share. They are more likely to participate in discussions and share their work and progress if they feel supported. Setting up background knowledge prior to learning a new topic will help those students who might not have enough knowledge on a new topic be successful.
And that’s some basic info about the exam.