Special Education: Core Know. & Mild to Moderate App. Ultimate Guide2019-12-09T21:09:46+00:00

Praxis®️ Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications Ultimate Guide and Practice Test

Preparing to take the Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications exam?


You’ve found the right page. We will answer every question you have and tell you exactly what you need to study to pass the Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications exam.

Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications Quick Facts

The Praxis®️ Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications exam assesses the following six content categories: Development and Characteristics of Learners; Planning and the Learning Environment; Instruction; Assessment; Foundations and Professional Responsibilities; and Integrated Constructed-Response Questions. The purpose of this assessment is to assess those that are pursuing a career in the field of special education and, therefore, can demonstrate knowledge and application in the six content areas.




The score range and passing score of the Praxis®️ Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate assessment vary from state-to-state. In order to identify your state’s score range and passing requirements, you will need to go to the ETS Praxis®️: State Requirements page

What test takers wish they would’ve done: 

  • Purchase a study guide
  • Take practice tests 
  • Collect study materials (i.e. previous notes and textbooks from related classes, go to your local library, etc.)
  • Develop a study plan to create a realistic schedule of what and when to study
  • Practice explaining main concepts
  • Join a study group

Information and screenshots obtained from the ETS Praxis®️ website.

Development and Characteristics of Learners


This content category has 17 selected-response questions. These questions account for 14% of the entire exam.

So, let’s talk about some key concepts you are more than likely going to see in this content category.

Key Concepts

Developmental Delay versus Developmental Disability

A developmental delay is a condition when a child is less developed mentally and/or physically compared to his/her same-aged peers. A developmental disability is a group of conditions (physical, learning, language, and/or behavior delays) that impact a child’s day-to-day tasks and will usually last throughout the child’s life. Even though these two terms sound very similar, they are different. A developmental delay is when a child is behind on developmental milestones (i.e. sitting, walking, talking, etc.), but then, later on, will catch up to his/her same-aged peers. A developmental disability is a disability that will impact a child’s education and day-to-day skills for life and is diagnosed when the child is older. Some examples of this would be ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, etc.

Major Disability Categories

The major disability categories under IDEA are autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairment (including blindness). For more information on the major disability categories, check out the IDEA website.

Learned Helplessness

Learned helplessness is when students believe they have little to no control over a situation. When students believe this continuously, they will make less of an attempt to do the task, behavior, etc. This can also impact students’ self-esteem. An example is when students struggle in math continuously and begin to fail in that subject. Many students will get to the point where they won’t even try and make negative comments (i.e. “Why bother? I’m so stupid. I’ll never understand math.”).

Planning and the Learning Environment


This content category has 20 selected-response questions. These questions account for 17% of the entire exam.

So, let’s talk about some key concepts you are more than likely going to see in this content category.

Key Concepts

Inclusion Programs

An inclusion program is a program in which children with special needs receive instruction in the least restrictive setting. When they are in the general education classroom, students will usually receive accommodations, modifications, and possibly the assistance of a paraeducator. The important thing to remember is that inclusion program may vary depending on children’s needs. Listed below are examples of inclusion programs:

  • Inclusion in general education classroom with collaboration
  • Part-time placement in a general education classroom with support in a special education classroom
  • Full-time placement in a special education resource room (and would have 
  • opportunities to interact with peers at lunch, recess, hallways, P.E., etc.)
  • Part-time placement in a self-contained special education classroom
  • Part-time placement in a day treatment, therapy program, or special school
  • Full-time placement in a day treatment, therapy program, or special school
  • Placement in a residential, hospital, or home program

There are several characteristics of successful inclusion programs. These characteristics can include the following: 

  • Leadership at many levels working together (i.e. superintendents, principals, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and parents)
  • Collaboration among special educators and general educators
  • Take a look at the purpose of assessments (Why are the assessments being used? How are they being used? Are students spending more time on assessments than instruction?)
  • Provide support for students and staff (i.e. training, open communication, providing necessary materials)
  • Help parents become involved in making educational decisions for their children (i.e. communicate their rights, provide information and supports)
  • Use collaborative teaching models (i.e. co-teaching, parallel teaching, consultation, teaming)
  • General education teachers use classroom adaptations and instructional strategies
  • Provide needed funding (i.e. services, technology, cost of paraeducator, training for special educator and paraeducator)

Common Strategies

There are many common strategies that teachers can use to help students with various special needs succeed in the general education. Listed below are some examples of common strategies:

  • Use a checklist to help students become organized
  • Provide additional breaks as needed 
  • Provide additional time to complete assignments (as well as quizzes and tests if stated in students’ IEPs or Individualized Education Plans)
  • Use graphic organizers
  • Shorten assignments 
  • Break assignments into smaller tasks
  • Develop a plan with the student to complete long term assignments (i.e. research papers and projects)
  • Provide outlines, study guides, copies of notes (either given verbally or printed)
  • Allow for an oral response on assignments, quizzes, and tests
  • Provide additional accommodations as stated on students’ IEPs

It is important to note that each student is different and has different needs, learning styles, etc. and that one strategy that may work for one student, may not work for another. The important thing is that there is communication between the special educator, general educator, student, student’s family, and IEP team members.

Preparing Students for Adulthood

There are many things that special educators can do to prepare students for adulthood. In order to do this though, it is important to know what students’ postsecondary plans are (i.e. life after high school). This will guide the special educator in the different types of skills that students will need to learn prior to leaving high school. Listed below are some ideas in how special educators can prepare students for adulthood:

  • Daily living skills (i.e. cook, clean, sewing holes and buttons on clothing, laundry)
  • Develop skills to advocate for self
  • Community living skills (i.e. how to access the community for leisure/recreational activities, transportation)
  • Pay bills (i.e apartment, utilities, Internet, cell phone, credit card)
  • Set up a budget and stick to it
  • Medical care (i.e. when to see a doctor, when to go directly to an emergency room, how to read and follow the directions on prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines) 
  • How to dress and interview for a job
  • How to complete forms (i.e. job applications, resumes, medical forms, federal and state income tax forms, application for apartments, applications for postsecondary education)

Teaching these skills to students with mild to moderate special needs will help them become independent and contributing members of society.



This content category has 20 selected-response questions. These questions account for 17% of the entire exam.

So, let’s talk about some key concepts you are more than likely going to see in this content category.

Key Concepts

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning or small group learning is a way to teach a small group size of students to work on a task. The benefits of cooperative learning are providing active learning, encouraging problem-solving, improving social interactions with peers, encouraging student discussion, and increasing students’ confidence and motivation. Students in special education benefit in the same ways as their peers, but they also learn how to develop social skills with their peers, be exposed to different settings and skills as well as teaching methods. This is true with all students with special needs, but especially for those that are in a self-contained setting more than in a general setting. It also provides an opportunity for neurotypical students to learn that everyone is different and that is okay.

Assistive Technology

According to the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), assistive technology is any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities. There are two types of assistive technology: high tech assistive technology and low tech assistive technology. High tech are the most complex devices or equipment, that have digital or electronic components that will possibly require training and effort to learn how to use them as well as cost the most money. Some examples of high tech assistive technology are electronic augmentative communication devices, hearing aids, computers, and different computer features (text to speech, voice recognition, word prediction, etc.). 

Low tech assistive technology are devices or equipment that do not require much training, are less expensive, and do not have complex features. Some examples of low tech assistive technology are large font worksheets, audiobooks, sandpaper to place under writing paper to receive sensory input while writing, pencil grips, raised lined paper or highlighted paper, graphic organizers, reading guide highlighter strips, highlighter tape to assist with note-taking, colored transparencies to use for reading, grid paper for math (assists children with making sure their numbers are in neat rows with doing math), kitchen timers, visual schedules, and velcro that can be used for folder activities or visual schedules.

Outside Support Services

Schools can use outside support services to create a supportive learning environment for students with special needs in the following ways:

  • Work collaboratively with different community organizations to help students develop needed skills at school, home, and in the community
  • Provide services in the school that the student would not otherwise receive or school does not have available (i.e. Adaptive P.E., occupational therapy, speech services, prevocational skills)
  • Provide an opportunity for neurotypical members of the community to work with students with special needs (i.e. Best Buddies, Special Olympics)
  • Help students prepare for postsecondary plans
  • Identify organizations that can provide further assistance to families of students with special needs



This content category has 17 selected-response questions. These questions account for 14% of the entire exam.

So, let’s talk about some key concepts you are more than likely going to see in this content category.

Key Concepts

Recording Observations

Recording observations is a way to track students’ academic progress and behaviors. It is important to record observations as a means of assessment because it will give the special educator a simple, but resourceful way to determine students’ progress in behaviors and academic progress. It also allows the special educator to see where students are at in those areas in many different settings (i.e. special education classroom, general education classroom, recess, hallways, community for vocational and life skills). The table below identifies the different ways to record observations and what they are.

Discriminatory Test Practices

Test practices may be considered discriminatory when they do not take into consideration the external factors of test takers. This could include having a bad day, test anxiety, wording that is not used in their community, questions that are based on experiences that they have never had before (i.e. if they live in the city and have never been to a farm, they may not have knowledge regarding that kind of environment), etc. When these external factors occur, it can prohibit students from demonstrating their true knowledge in the assessed areas.

Constructing Tests

Teachers construct their own tests to assess what exactly is being taught in the classroom. Not all assessments that are premade are useful in all classrooms and all subject areas. Teachers can develop assessments that reflect what was being taught in the classroom and what students learned in the assessed areas. The information from this can guide the special educator to make instructional decisions (i.e. move on to next skills, reteach, provide further opportunities to practice assessed skills).

Foundations and Professional Responsibilities


This content category has 16 selected-response questions. These questions account for 13% of the entire exam.

So, let’s talk about some key concepts you are more than likely going to see in this content category.

Key Concepts

Discussing Students

You can discuss your students and their needs to anyone on the students’ IEP team. These members can include the following: special educator, general educator (that has students with special needs in class), parents, students with special needs, school principal, paraeducator, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech and language pathologist, school nurse, bus driver (especially if students have medical and/or behavioral needs), etc. Students’ therapists, specialists, and physicians can be in communication with the school only if parents have filled out a release of information form. It is important to keep students’ basic information and needs confidential. If it is not, communication and collaboration, especially between the school and students’ families, will break down.


IEPs, Individualized Education Plans, are developed by IEP team members to provide appropriate instructional services in the least restrictive environment. The members of the IEP team may include the following individuals: special educator, general educator (that has students with special needs in), parents, students with special needs, school principal, paraeducator, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech and language pathologist, school nurse, bus driver (especially if students have medical and/or behavioral needs). The school is held accountable for students’ IEPs.  The school must provide special education and appropriate services to children with special needs as well as must make their best effort to assist students to achieve their IEP goals, objectives, and benchmarks.

It is also important to note that those that are on students’ IEP teams must provide services, instructional services, accommodations, modifications, etc. as stated on students’ IEPs.

Personal Cultural Biases

Personal cultural biases can affect teachers in the following ways:

  • Reinforce negative stereotypes on students of different cultures
  • Set up a negative classroom environment
  • Have lowered expectations for students
  • Have different expectations for each group of individuals of different cultures, genders, etc.

There are ways to counteract these personal cultural biases. Teachers can conduct a self-study that allows them to reflect and take another look at their biases and how it affects their students. This self-study focuses on four components: self-awareness, physical environment, pedagogical environment, and relationships with families and communities. After completing the self-study, special educators will have a better understanding of what their cultural biases are and how they can change them.

Integrated Constructed-Response Questions


This content category has 3 integrated constructed-response questions. These questions account for 25% of the entire exam.

Use 240Tutoring’s Constructed-Response Guide to learn how to craft your responses.

Key Information

The constructed-response questions will assess the knowledge of the following three areas: instruction and assessment, learning environment and classroom management, and collaboration. This portion of the assessment allows you to create your own response to three different areas in essay and short-answer format. It is recommended to save a minimum of thirty minutes of this assessment to focus on this section. You will still have two hours to complete the whole exam, but it is recommended to spend 90 minutes on the multiple choice portion and 30 minutes on the constructed-response questions.

And that’s some basic info about the exam.

Now, let’s look at a few practice questions in each area to see how these concepts might actually appear on the real test.

Practice Questions and Answers

Question 1

Which of the following IDEA categories of disability impacts the highest percentage of students?

  1. specific learning disability
  2. physical impairment
  3. intellectual disability
  4. communication impairment

Correct answer: 1. Specific learning disabilities are the most common.

Question 2

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a condition in which the body is unable to remove wastes at a typical rate such as mucus from the lungs. Jack’s parents have notified the school that he will need a special breathing treatment that lasts about 30 minutes once a day at school to help minimize the effects of his disease. Under what category would Jack qualify for special education services?

  1. Other Health Impairment (OHI)
  2. Medical Disability
  3. Speech or Language Impairment
  4. Specific Learning Disability

Correct answer: 1. CF will impact Jack’s ability to be on task and he will miss 30 minutes of instruction daily. This is considered OHI under special education.

Question 3

A high school resource teacher is teaching her math class learning about equivalent fractions. She has taught about fractions at the front of the room and students have tried working problems at their desk. Some of them are continuing to struggle. What other activity can she engage her students in to ensure all learning styles have been addressed? 

  1. using fraction tiles to identify equivalent fractions
  2. provide worksheets as homework so they can discuss with their parents
  3. have them create a presentation on equivalent fractions
  4. make a recipe that has fractions in the amounts of needed ingredients

Correct answer: 1. This allows kinesthetic learners to practice fractions with a manipulative and have hands-on practice.

Question 4

In Ms. Jackson’s emotional behavior support self-contained class, her nine students are most likely to have difficulty with which of the following aspects of communication development?

  1. being able to interpret a speaker’s feelings from their tone of voice
  2. understanding new vocabulary words in context
  3. speech production free of articulation errors
  4. being able to use syntax patterns that are correct

Correct answer: 1. This is the correct answer because students with emotional and behavioral disability don’t understand nonverbal communication, such as tone of voice, very well.

Question 5

A student with a learning disability experiences negative side effects from their ADHD medication. Which of the following accommodations may be appropriate for the ARD committee to consider in designing the IEP for this student?

  1. extended time to complete assignments
  2. one on one instruction
  3. a refocus area
  4. a snack during the morning

Correct answer: 4. ADHD medication can affect hunger, so a snack would be an appropriate accommodation.

Question 6

True or False: The transition plan for a high school student is reviewed and updated every year during the annual Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committee meeting.

  1. True, this is a requirement of the IDEA and the Texas Education Code.
  2. True, it is also updated at the end of every semester.
  3. False, the transition plan only needs to be done once upon the student’s entrance of school and does not have to be done again unless there is no progress made.
  4. False, the transition plan is reviewed and updated during the Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) and not at the ARD meeting.

Correct answer: 1. As required by IDEA and the Texas Education Code, the ARD committee must discuss, review, and update the transition plan annually. The special education teacher implements the procedures needed to facilitate the transition process.

Question 7

Which of the following would be illegal when considering a child for special education services?

  1. qualifying a child in high school that has been able to pass previous grades
  2. testing all children in English
  3. using multiple tests to assess a disability
  4. allowing a committee to make the decision if services are appropriate

Correct answer: 2. Children must be tested in their native language. It is illegal to require all students to test in English.

Question 8

When deciding the least restrictive environment (LRE) for a student with disabilities, what should the IEP team consider?

  1. the disability levels of the other students in the classroom
  2. the opinion of previous educators of the student 
  3. distance of base school as compared to regional program location
  4. frequency, location, duration, and intensity of the identified services needed by the student

Correct answer: 4. This is the correct answer because LRE considerations include frequency, location, and duration of the special education and related services.

Question 9

According to the guidelines, the IEP committee must address all of the following when planning for students with autism except:

  1. typical grade-level peers
  2. behavioral and social strategies
  3. in-home training
  4. community-based training

Correct answer: 1. While curriculum influences a student’s goals, an IEP should be focused on that student as an individual rather than comparing them to grade level peers.

Question 10

Which of the following procedures should be addressed when developing and implementing the IEP objectives in instructional planning for students with disabilities?

  1. The IEP committee develops the IEP in isolation from any existing evaluation data.
  2. The IEP committee develops the IEP based on existing evaluative data from the general education teacher and related services personnel, current campus, district, and/or state assessments, and any evaluations and information provided by the parents.
  3. The IEP committee develops the IEP with input only from the general education teacher and parents.
  4. The ARD committee develops the IEP based on existing district and state assessment data.

Correct answer: 2. All relevant data from the stakeholders is important in the planning, development, and implementation of the IEP objectives to ensure student access, participation, and progress within the general education curriculum.

Question 11

A parent attends an initial IEP committee meeting. After review and discussion of the evaluation, the parent disagrees with the results presented. Which of the following is not an appropriate response from the IEP committee chairperson?

  1. provide information regarding Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) criteria
  2. offer information on how to obtain an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)
  3. inquire why the parent disagrees with the evaluation
  4. inform the parent that they do not have the right to express their disagreement with a formal evaluation

Correct answer: 4. Parents have the right to disagree. The Procedural Safeguards outline the process for parents who disagree with the evaluation.

Question 12

When the IEP committee determines that a student’s behavior is a manifestation of the student’s disability, the IEP committee must conduct or complete which of the following?

  1. an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)
  2. a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA)
  3. a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP)
  4. an Individual Educational Plan (IEP)

Correct answer: 2. An FBA is necessary to evaluate how the behavior is impacting the student’s ability to function and learn. An FBA refers to a problem-solving framework to address student behavior, determine strategies to identify the reason for the behavior, review and consider the social, emotional, and cognitive factors of the behavior, and design interventions to address and redirect behavior. The special educator must be cognizant of the ethics, the LEA (Local Education Agency) policies, state and federal laws, and Procedural Safeguards relative to planning, facilitating, and implementing discipline procedures for students with disabilities.

Question 13

Children may qualify for services through special education before entering school. What is the name of the plan designed for a child under 3 years old?

  1. Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)
  2. Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
  3. Early Childhood Intervention Plan (ECI)
  4. Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)

Correct answer: 1. An IFSP identifies a child’s needs and goals prior to entering school.

Question 14

In order for a special education teacher to monitor IEP progress on reading goals on fluency and accuracy for a small group of fourth-grade students, which is the best assessment procedure?

  1. record each student’s accuracy and speed on a weekly graph 
  2. create a reading portfolio that lists words read accurately monthly
  3. complete an error analysis of students’ reading every 30 days
  4. perform an informal reading inventory every 30 days

Correct answer: 1. This is the correct answer because a weekly basis is essential to providing feedback.

Question 15

Ms. Cooper uses think-pair-share as a way to evaluate progress and adapt instruction. Which type of assessment is this?

  1. guided practice
  2. summative assessment  
  3. formative assessment 
  4. standardized achievement testing

Correct answer: 3. This is the correct answer because a formative assessment is a process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students’ achievements of intended instructional outcomes.

Question 16

The secondary teacher of students with learning disabilities has been teaching the students to use Cornell Notes in all of the content classes. The best benefit of this strategy would be which of the following?

  1. engages students in the lessons
  2. provides an opportunity for the students to write
  3. serves as an organizational tool for due dates and upcoming projects
  4. creates a study guide to use for the content classes’ tests

Correct answer: 4. The focus is on the students’ responsibility and higher order thinking skills: the synthesizing of the learning presented by targeting the main idea and summarizing the text. The student-generated questions and answers serve as a self-designed study guide.

Question 17

As the IEP committee designs the student’s plan, which statement best describes how the IEP correlates with the state assessment?

  1. The IEP is designed independently from the state assessment.
  2. The IEP is a living document and will evolve as the state assessment evolves.
  3. The IEP must be designed in close correlation with the state assessment.
  4. The IEP is designed solely on the individual students’ educational needs with no reference to the state assessment.

Correct answer: 3. IDEA mandates student participation in state and district assessments. The instructional goals should be written based on each student’s present level of performance and provide the opportunity to access, participate, and progress within the general education curriculum.

Question 18

A new student just moved into a small town and qualifies for special education services because he is hard of hearing. He primarily communicates using sign language. The Local Education Agency (LEA) does not have a certified sign language interpreter, but they do have a certified special education teacher. What is the district required to do in this situation?

  1. immediately hire an interpreter
  2. hold an emergency IEP committee meeting to add a goal for the student to learn lip reading
  3. offer a fully written/visual curriculum
  4. provide support through the special education teacher

Correct answer: 1. This is the correct answer because this is the student’s only way of fully accessing the curriculum.

Question 19

A student with fine motor coordination and writing difficulties who receives in-class support with the occupational therapist would benefit from what accommodation?

  1. use of adaptive writing utensils 
  2. directions simplified and repeated
  3. special lighting
  4. separate setting

Correct answer: 1. This is the correct answer because adaptive writing utensils, such as pen grips and weighted holders, are handwriting tools geared to help these children become more successful with writing tasks.

Question 20

A student with a learning disability needs help with mathematical computation skills. The special education teacher is planning to teach basic math skills and mathematical reasoning through software for reinforcement. This type of software would be valuable for the teacher’s purpose because of its ability to produce:

  1. immediate feedback on answers.
  2. fun visual graphics.
  3. instructional grouping profile.
  4. unlimited examples of different skills.

Correct answer: 1. This is the correct answer because research has shown that using math software is an effective instructional strategy to use with students who have a specific learning disability in mathematics because it provides students with immediate feedback that helps ensure that students are not learning facts incorrectly.

Question 21

A high school sophomore recently became deaf after an unfortunate accident. Since the accident, the student has hardly left his home and is becoming more and more socially reclusive because of the fear that his friends will become bored with his limited options for activities. Which of the following would be the special education teacher’s best response to this situation?

  1. Ask the student what social activities he would like to partake in and work with him to develop the skill set. 
  2. Help the student learn Braille.
  3. Help the student explore home activities suited for deaf individuals that his friends and he can partake in.
  4. Encourage the student to begin socializing with other peers who are deaf.

Correct answer: 1. The student will be more engaged in learning if they have input in how they are taught.

Question 22

Which of the following strategies would be most effective for assimilating and training a student with a disability to be a product stocker at the school snack shop?

  1. Have another student work beside the student to mentor and model proper behavior.
  2. Have a list of tasks to be completed each day by the student.
  3. Have an in-depth training on the duties of the job and provide a list of tasks for the student to complete.
  4. Train the student in a classroom setting before the student begins work.

Correct answer: 1. Learning through mentoring and modeling is the most effective way for students with disabilities to effectively learn new skills.

Question 23

A transition plan must be addressed in the IEP during an annual committee meeting when the student reaches which age?

  1. 16 
  2. 12
  3. 10
  4. 18

Correct answer: 1. A transition plan must be addressed when a student reaches the age of 16. The special education teacher implements the procedures needed to facilitate the transition process.

Question 24

Which of the following elements of a lesson plan is most beneficial for Ms. Jackson to use for her ADHD students on an instructional objective related to avoidance behaviors?

  1. guided practice
  2. anticipatory set
  3. modeling
  4. evaluation

Correct answer: 2. This is the correct answer because the anticipatory set occurs at the beginning to engage the students in the topic which is when avoidance behaviors occur.

Question 25

A special education teacher has been working with her students to use the textbook’s glossary to find the meanings of unknown words during instructional reading. Which of the following is the greatest benefit to this approach?

  1. allows students to take active control of their learning process
  2. promotes the development of critical thinking skills
  3. allows the special education teacher to spend more time addressing the needs of other students
  4. allows students to relate new information to prior knowledge

Correct answer: 1. By teaching the students how to use the glossary, the teacher is providing the students with a life-long skill that they can use independently in the future to assist with their own learning.

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