TExES CORE Subjects 4-8 Ultimate Guide2019-12-09T21:14:58+00:00

TExES CORE Subjects 4-8 Ultimate Guide and Practice Test

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TExES CORE Subjects 4-8 Quick Facts

The Texas Educator Certification Program requires “every person seeking educator certification in Texas to perform satisfactorily on comprehensive examinations. The purpose of these examinations is to ensure that each educator has the prerequisite content and professional knowledge necessary for an entry-level position in Texas public schools. The Texas Examinations of Educator Standards™ (TExES™) program was developed for this purpose.”

Cost: 

The cost is $116 for the total exam or $58 for a subject exam taken separately.

Scoring: 

A 240 total score is needed to pass.

Study time: 

The amount of study time depends on the test taker. However, creating a workable plan, and breaking the study time into manageable time frames, is recommended. Of course, you will need more study time to review concepts with which you are less familiar or comfortable. The following tips will help you develop a study plan:

  1. Pre-assess your knowledge: What do you know? Not know?
  2. Consider the materials needed: What do you have? What do you need?
  3. Plan a date and time to study each concept.

Information and screenshots obtained from:

http://www.tx.nesinc.com/content/docs/211PrepManual.pdf

English Language Arts and Reading

Overview

The Reading subject test has 74 multiple-choice questions. These questions account for 37% of the entire exam. You have 1 hour and 55 minutes to complete this section.

This subject test can be neatly divided into 9 competencies.

  • Oral Language
  • Early Literacy Development
  • Word Identification Skills and Reading Fluency
  • Reading Comprehension and Assessment
  • Reading Applications
  • Written Language – Writing Conventions
  • Written Language – Composition
  • Viewing and Representing
  • Study and Inquiry Skills

So, let’s focus in on a few of them.

Early Literacy Development

This section tests your knowledge of typical literacy development, how to best promote the skills involved in learning to read, and various ways to assess a child’s reading development. 

Let’s talk about some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.

Phonological and Phonemic Awareness

Phonological awareness is an understanding of oral language units, such as words, syllables, onsets, and rhymes. Phonological awareness is a broad skill that includes phonemic awareness. 

Phonemic awareness is one aspect of phonological awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate phonemes in a word. A phoneme is the smallest individual unit of sound in a word. For example, the word “dog” has three phonemes (/d/-/o/-/g/). The word “grab” has four phonemes (/g/-/r/-/a/-/b/). The amount of phonemes does not always correspond to the amount of letters. For example, the word “chat” has four letters, but only three phonemes (/ch/-/a/-/t/). Phonemic awareness is important in the foundation of early reading development, and is one of the first steps in teaching phonics to children. 

A typical sequence for phonological and phonemic awareness development is described below:

  • Rhyming: Students first identify words that do and do not rhyme. Later, students will develop the ability to generate their own rhyming words. 
  • Counting syllables: Students will learn to count the syllables in a word, often by “clapping” out the syllables as they say a word. 
  • Segmenting and blending onsets and rimes: An onset is the initial sound of a word or syllable, and the rime is the remaining sounds. At this stage, students would be able to hear something such as, “/c/ – /at/” and blend it to say “cat.”
  • Segmenting and blending phonemes: At this stage, students would be able to segment a word into its different phonemes. For example, if they heard the word “back,” they would be able to say, “/b/-/a/-/ck/.” They should also be able to blend a word together after hearing the individual phonemes. For example, the teacher would say, “/b/-/a/-/ck/” and the student would say, “back.”
  • Deleting and manipulating phonemes: This involves changing a word by removing or changing one or more phonemes. For example, a teacher might ask, “What is farm without the /f/?” and the student would say, “arm.”

Literacy Assessments

Literacy assessments can be both formal and informal and contain many components:

Screening Devices:

The most commonly used screening device for early literacy in Texas is the Texas Primary Reading Inventory, or TPRI test. However, any screening device should allow for quick assessment of students individually and the results should indicate which students do not need detailed reading assessment. The screening device should also help the teacher gain a more in-depth understanding of a child’s level of risk for reading problems. Teachers should use this data to set specific learning goals for every student.

Criterion-Referenced State Tests:

Criterion-referenced state tests are tests given to students and after completion students are given a percentage score based on the number of questions they answered correctly. In Texas, an example of a criterion-referenced test would be the STAAR tests and EOC exams. All students in the state take the same test as their peers and are given a score based on their performance or mastery of the skills assessed.

Curriculum-Based Reading Assessment:

A curriculum-based assessment is a brief weekly assessment that measures student progress and based on the scores of the student, the teacher will decide to continue instruction in the same way, or change instruction to better meet student needs. For example, a student might be asked to read out loud for a minute, then the teacher will chart whatever data he/she is measuring on a graph for the student and compare it to what the expectation was for that skill. Here’s an example of how a teacher might graph the data:

Informal Reading Inventories:

Informal Reading Inventory, or IRI, is a diagnostic tool used to assess a student’s reading level based on both comprehension and accuracy. IRI measures independent, instructional, and frustrational reading levels. The independent level is the level the student can read at with no help, the instructional level is the level a student can read at with some intervention, and the frustrational level is the level that a student is not successful reading at. Fiction and nonfiction passages are used to diagnose a student’s reading level and students are required to read silently and out loud. A student’s score is based on a combined score of points gained by answering comprehension questions correctly as well as accurately recognizing words. 

Norm-Referenced Tests:

Norm-referenced tests compare a student’s test scores to what an average student at his/her grade level would be expected to score. A student’s score will typically be reported by percentile compared to peers on a norm-referenced test. For example, Amy scored in the 90th percentile on a norm-referenced test meaning that she scored higher than 90% of her peers.

Running Records:

Running records are taken by listening to and observing a student’s reading. Running records are typically only done in grade levels where students are working on basic reading skills and collects data that includes both how many words a student reads, but also what their behaviors are while reading. Running records are taken throughout the year as a tool to determine student progress, or the lack thereof.

Reading Comprehension and Assessment

This section tests your knowledge of reading comprehension strategies, as well as how to best help students acquire these comprehension strategies. 

Here are some concepts that are likely to appear on the test:

Metacognitive Skills

Metacognition means being aware of your own knowledge and learning. It is often referred to as “thinking about thinking.” Students with good metacognitive skills are able to think about what they already know, what they do not understand, and develop a plan for learning new information. Two important components of metacognition are self-evaluation and self-monitoring. 

Self-evaluation means being aware of how well you did on a certain concept or reading passage. Teachers can help students develop this skill by modeling good self-evaluation skills and by asking students to reflect on how well they think they did on a book or passage. For example, modeling this skill might mean that a teacher finishes reading a book to the class, then says, “I really enjoyed that book, but I had trouble reading some of the words. Next time I read this book, I’ll try to work on those words.” Students can also be taught self-evaluation skills by having them track their own reading progress on a chart or online. 

Self-monitoring means being able to monitor your own learning and think about how well you understand something while you are reading. This is slightly different from self-evaluation because it is done during a reading passage, as opposed to before or after. In lower grades, students who are able to self-monitor will often go back correct themselves while reading aloud when they realize that a certain word or phrase did not make sense. They might also ask, “What does that mean?” when they encounter a word they don’t know. 

As with self-evaluation, teachers can help students develop self-monitoring skills by modeling during read-alouds. A teacher might pause during a story and say, “I wonder what that word might mean. Maybe I can learn more about that word as I read further or check the glossary.” Teachers can also encourage this skill by asking students questions while they read, such as, “Did that sentence make sense the way you read it?” or “What were some words on that page that you did not understand?”  As students get into upper elementary and intermediate grades, they can practice good self-monitoring skills by annotating while they read and taking notes of words or concepts that they do not understand. 

Comprehension Strategies

The development of comprehension strategies is a crucial part of reading development, so it is important that students are given direct instruction on this skill. This skill is best taught through modeling, or “thinking aloud” during reading instruction. This means that the teacher pauses while he or she is reading and shows what a good reader would be thinking. Comprehension strategies include: previewing, self-monitoring, visualizing, retelling, summarizing, paraphrasing, inferring, and identifying text structure. Each of these is explained below, along with some examples of what modeling could look like for that strategy. 

Previewing: Previewing refers to looking ahead or “skimming” over a text to get an idea of what you will be reading. It helps students activate background knowledge and establish a purpose for reading. In younger grades, previewing can be modeled by doing a “picture walk.”  This means that you look through the pictures ahead of time and say what you think might be happening in the story. As students progress into more complicated texts, previewing might mean looking ahead at headings, subtitles, and other text features to get an idea of what each section will be about. 

Self-monitoring: Self-monitoring is described in more detail in the previous section, but it basically means being able to stop and think about what you understand and don’t understand while you are reading. To model this skill, a teacher might stop during a read aloud and say, “Hmm, I’m not sure I understood that page. Maybe I should go back and read it again.”

Visualizing: Visualizing means creating a mental image while you read. It is something that many readers do without realizing, but it still needs to be taught to students. This can be done by teacher modeling, or by reading a page to students before showing the pictures during a read aloud. You can ask students what they are picturing in their mind, then show them the picture and talk about the similarities between their mental image and the images in the book. 

Retelling: Retelling means to tell what happened in a book in your own words. A retell typically includes more details than a summary. Students should be taught to use transition words such as, “First,” “next,” and “after that,” when they are retelling a story. This can be encouraged by giving students sentence starters or writing prompts such as, “First, _______. Then, _______. In the middle, ______. After that, ______.” If students are having trouble retelling the events in the correct order, a graphic organizer or flowchart may help them organize their thoughts. 

Summarizing: Summarizing means to tell the most important parts of the story or text. Summarizing is different from retelling because it includes fewer details. Think of what you would tell a friend if they asked you what a book was about. Students can be taught summarizing skills by having them talk or write about the beginning, middle, and end of a book, as well as important characters in a fiction text. In a nonfiction text, students will share the most important “take away” messages from the text. Encourage students to look back to the headings and subtitles when summarizing a nonfiction text. 

Paraphrasing: Paraphrasing means to explain part of a text in your own words. It is similar to retelling but does not involve retelling the entire story or passage. Students can be taught paraphrasing skills through teacher modeling, or through a “turn and talk” or “think, pair, share” activity where they tell a partner what they read in their own words. This can be done quickly during a read aloud by having students paraphrase a page that was just read. 

Making Inferences: Making inferences means combining information you have read with knowledge you already have to draw a conclusion about something, even though it wasn’t explicitly stated. In order to make an inference, students need to be taught to think about what they know and what they read and then make a “smart guess” about what is happening. It is important that students are taught how to make inferences so that they can understand what they are reading, even when something is not directly stated or explained. 

Identifying text structure: As students progress into different varieties of texts, it is important that they are able to identify the text structure of what they are reading. Text structure means how information is organized and presented in a reading passage or book. Understanding text structure is an important part of comprehension because it helps students organize their thoughts while they read. The main types of text structure are: chronological, cause and effect, compare and contrast, and problem and solution. Let’s look a little more closely at each of these:

Text that is organized in chronological order will present information in a sequence. It will have a beginning, middle, and end to the story. Narratives and fiction stories are generally organized in this way. 

Text that is organized by cause and effect will discuss something that happened and an event or consequence that happened because of it. An example of this would be a passage that talks about how animals are losing their habitats due to forests being cut down. 

Text that is organized by problem and solution will have a problem that needs to be fixed and a solution, or way that the problem gets resolved. This can be easily confused with cause and effect. To use a similar example like the one above, text that is organized by problem and solution might discuss forests being cut down and then present possible solutions to this, such as designating land that cannot be disturbed.

Text that is organized by comparing and contrasting will explain the similarities and differences between two or more topics. For example, a paper that discusses how two different government systems are alike and how they are different would be organized by comparing and contrasting.

Written Language – Composition

This section tests your knowledge of standard writing conventions, different purposes for writing, and your ability to use effective teaching strategies when conveying this information to students. 

Let’s look at some concepts that will most likely pop up on the test.

Stages of Writing

The stages of the writing process include prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. The instructional strategies used at each stage will differ. For example, students at the drafting stage are writing to get their ideas onto paper and do not necessarily need to be corrected on grammar and spelling at this time. On the other hand, a student at the publishing stage needs to make sure that they have corrected mistakes at a developmentally appropriate level. At each stage, the teacher can provide different ways to help students. An explanation of each stage and some suggested instructional strategies are listed below:

Prewriting: This is the planning stage of writing. During this time, students will brainstorm ideas and/or research information, then put these ideas into a logical sequence. You can help students during this time by modeling how to come up with ideas, providing younger students with a starting point for their ideas, and providing students with graphic organizers, such as outlines or storyboards for them to plan the sequence of their writing. 

Drafting: This is when students create the first draft of their writing. Even though it is a draft, students should still attempt to use proper punctuation and write complete sentences. You can help students during this process by modeling how to use a prewriting outline to create complete sentences and paragraphs. You can also encourage students to use transition words such as, “First, next, then, and last” when necessary, and provide younger students with sentence starters to help them put their thoughts into sentences. 

Revising: This is when students read over their work and rearrange, add, or delete sentences and/or paragraphs. Revising helps students improve the content of their writing so that it makes more sense to the reader. During this stage of the writing process, you can encourage students to read their writing out loud to themselves to make sure it makes sense. You can also read a student’s work out loud to them for the same purpose. Students can also benefit from reading their paper to a peer and asking for suggestions.

Editing: During the editing stage, students review their work to correct grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. Students at this stage in the writing process may benefit from a “checklist” that they can use to make sure they have looked for correct spelling, capitalization, punctuation, etc. It can also be helpful to have students peer edit each other’s papers.

Revising and editing can often be confused with one another. Revising focuses on content, while editing focuses on mechanics and grammar. 

Publishing: This is the final stage of the writing process where students create their final draft of their writing. You can help students at this stage by reminding them to use the corrections and revisions they have already made and by providing them with various ways to publish their writing, such as a computer, lined paper, or even a class website or blog. 

Audience and Purpose

When writing, it is important for students to consider both their audience and their purpose for writing.

Audience refers to who will be reading the writing. Are they writing a letter to a friend? A research paper to present to the class? A narrative to share with their teacher? A blog entry to share on a class website?  Each of these scenarios will have a different intended audience. 

Purpose means the reason they are writing. The author’s purpose is often divided into three reasons: to persuade, to inform, or to entertain. However, there can also be other purposes for writing. Different purposes will require different strategies. For example, if a student is writing to persuade the school lunch department to offer more choices, they will use different strategies and a different format than if they were writing an entertaining narrative to share with the class.

It is important for students to have opportunities to write for various audiences and with various purposes so that they can become well-rounded writers who are prepared to write in many different situations. 

And that’s some basic info about the English Language Arts and Reading subject test.

Mathematics

Overview

The Mathematics subject test has 42 multiple-choice questions. These questions account for 21% of the entire exam. You have 1 hour and 5 minutes to complete this section.

This subject test can be neatly divided into 19 competencies:

  • Number Systems
  • Operations and Algorithms
  • Number Theory
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Linear Functions
  • Nonlinear Functions
  • Foundations of Calculus
  • Measurement
  • Euclidean Geometry
  • 2D and 3D Figures
  • Transformational Geometry
  • Graphical Data
  • Probability
  • Statistical Inference
  • Problem Solving
  • Connections and Communication
  • Mathematical Skill Development
  • Instruction
  • Assessment

So, let’s dive into a few of them.

Number Theory

This section tests your knowledge of number theory and its related concepts. 

Let’s talk about some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.

Prime Factorization

The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic is the idea that every number is either a prime number or can be written as a product of prime numbers. Essentially, prime numbers are the basic building blocks of all other numbers. 

One way to write a composite number as a product of prime numbers is through the process of prime factorization. A common method of prime factorization is making a factor tree. 

For example, look at the number 32. 32 is not a prime number because it has factors other than 1 and 32. 32 can be written as a product of prime numbers as follows:

First, start by picking any two factors of the original number, and write them as the first to branches of the factor tree. In this case, we chose 4 and 8. Neither of these factors are prime, so we can continue factoring. Create two more branches off of each factor, and add two more factors off of each. Avoid using 1 as a factor. Two factors of 4 are 2 and 2. Two factors of 8 are 4 and 2. 2 is a prime number, so these factors cannot be factored further. The 4 in the third row can continue to be factored into 2 and 2, so two more branches are added. In the end, five 2s are remaining. Repeated multiplication of the same number can simply be written using exponents, so 32=2•2•2•2•2=2⁵.

It does not matter which factors you chose to start with. For example, we could have chosen to start with 16 and 2, and the results would be the same:

Consider the prime factorization of 72 for another example.

The order in which the factors are written, because of the commutative property of multiplication. 72==.

Counting Techniques

The Fundamental Counting Principle is the rule for finding the total number of ways to accomplish two things. If there are x ways to do one thing, and y ways to do another thing, then there are x times y ways of doing both.

For example, if you want to roll a die and flip a coin, you can figure out how many ways there are to do both. There are two ways to flip a coin (heads or tails) and six ways to roll a die. That means there are 12 ways (2 x 6) that you can flip a coin and roll a die. If you want to draw three cards from a deck of 52 cards without replacing them, then there are 52 ways to draw the first card, 51 ways to draw the second card, and 50 ways to draw the third card. So, there are a total of 132,600 (52 x 51 x 50) ways to draw the cards.

A permutation is the way objects can be arranged, without repetition, and in a specific order. Another way to describe permutation is the number of arrangements that are possible. A permutation will always be a whole number because it is a number of ways that objects can be arranged. The formula for permutations is:

The value of n is the total number of objects to choose from, and the value of r is the number of objects that are actually being used. For example, if you were asked to list all the three-letter permutations of the letters in the word HAND:

If you were not asked to make a list of all the permutations, and  just needed to know how many possibilities there are then you could just use the formula:

 ₄P₃ = 4! / (4-3)! = 4! / 1! = 24 / 1 = 24 

There are 4 letters, and you are using 3 at a time, and there are 24 different combination possibilities.

A combination is an arrangement of objects, without repetition, and does not take order into consideration. You can think of combinations as the total amount of possible arrangement of objects.

The formula for combinations:

The n and r in the formula represent the total number of objects to choose from and the number of objects in the arrangement. The main point of a combination is that there is no repetition of objects allowed, but the order isn’t important.

For example, if you were asked to list all the possible letter combinations for the letters ABCD in groups of 3, there would only be four (ABC, ABD, ACD, and BCD).

An example where the formula would be necessary would be if you needed to know how many 5 card poker hands are there with 3 clubs and 2 diamonds.

There is no repetition of cards in a hand, and the order doesn’t matter, so we are looking for a combination. 

  • Since there are 13 clubs and we want 3 of them, there are C(13,3) = 286 ways to get the 3 clubs. 
  • Since there are 13 diamonds and we want 2 of them, there are C(13,2) = 78 ways to get the 2 diamonds. 
  • Since we want them both to occur at the same time, we use the fundamental counting principle and multiply 286 and 78 together to get 22,308 possible hands.

Nonlinear Functions

This section tests your knowledge of various nonlinear functions and how to analyze these functions using graphs, tables, and other strategies. 

Let’s look at some concepts that will most likely pop up on the test.

Quadratic Function

A quadratic function is a function in algebra in the form  f(x) = ax² + bx + c, where a, b, and c are numbers (not zero). When graphed, a quadratic function looks like a “U” or curve called a parabola that can open upward or downward and can be very narrow, or wide.

Example of a quadratic function graphed:

http://dl.uncw.edu/digilib/Mathematics/Algebra/mat111hb/PandR/quadratic/quadratic.html

Solving Quadratics – Factoring

Graphical Data

This section tests your knowledge of various graphic representations of data, as well as your ability to analyze the data using statistics concepts. 

Here are some concepts that are likely to appear on the test:

Data Distribution

Data distributions are ways of organizing and presenting data to help show trends. Data distributions show all of the possible values in a data set and how often each of these values occur. Some important concepts involved in data distribution are center, spread, shape, and skewness. Let’s look at each of these a little more closely. 

Center: Center can be either the mean or median value, depending on how the data is presented. The center is the value where half of the data is on one side and half is on the other side. 

Shape: Shape is used to describe the way the data looks when it is graphed. Data distribution can be described as symmetrical (or bell-shaped) or as asymmetrical. If the graph of the data is symmetrical or bell-shaped, this means that the left side and right side of the center are mirror images of each other. The graph shown below is a symmetrical/bell-shaped graph.

On the other hand, the data distribution can also be asymmetrical or skewed. This means that the left and right side of the center are not mirror images of each other. The data can either be skewed left, meaning the data points trail more towards the left, or skewed right, meaning the data points trail more towards the right. The graphs below show graphs that are skewed left and skewed right. At first, this can be confusing because the “peak” of a graph that is skewed left is actually on the right side of the graph. Instead of looking at where the peak of the curve is, look at which side trails further out or has the longer “tail.”

Measures of Central Tendency and Dispersion

A measure of central tendency is a way to identify a typical value for a set of data. Ways to measure central tendency include mean, median, and mode:

Mean is another word for average. In order to find the mean for a set of numbers, you need to find the sum (or total) of all of the numbers, then divide that sum by the amount of numbers or values in the data set. 

For example, to find the mean of 98, 95, and 83 you would add 98 + 95 + 83 to get 276. You would then divide 276 by 3 because there are 3 different numbers (98, 95, and 93). 276 divided by 3 equals 92, so the mean of this set of data is 92. 

Median is the middle value when a set of numbers are put in order from least to greatest. If there is an even amount of numbers and two numbers are in the middle, you would find the average of those two numbers. 

For example, to find the median of 34, 33, 38, 37, and 29, you would need to arrange the numbers in order from least to greatest:

29, 33, 34, 37, 38

Since 34 is in the middle, 34 is the median. 

The following data set has two numbers that are in the middle:

12, 14, 15, 17, 20, 21

So, you would find the average of 15 and 17 to get a median of 16. 

Mode is the number that appears most frequently in a set of numbers. For example, the mode of the following set of numbers is 18, because it appears 4 times in the set while other numbers appear one, two, or three times:

13, 10, 13, 18, 12, 12, 18, 18, 12, 18

If no number is repeated in a set, then that set of data has no mode. 

A set of data can also have more than one mode if more than one number appears most frequently. 

Dispersion refers to how much variation there is in a set of data is, or how spread out the data points are. A set of data can have a large distribution, such as 0, 4, 50, 102, 300; or a smaller distribution, such as 20, 21, 21, 23, 24. Dispersion can be measured in several different ways, such as range, interquartile range, variance, and standard deviation. These measures of dispersion are explained below: 

Range: The range is the difference between the largest and smallest value in a data set. For example, if the values are 8, 3, 7, 10, and 9, the largest value is 10 and the smallest is 3, so the range is 10 – 3, or 7. 

Interquartile range: Interquartile range, often referred to as IQR, is considered the “middle 50%” in a set of data. When the data is divided into quartiles, or four sections, the interquartile range is the data values that fall between the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile. The image below demonstrates how the interquartile range is the “middle 50%.”  Q3 refers to the cutoff value for the 75th percentile and Q1 is the cutoff value for the 25th percentile. Therefore, the interquartile range is the difference between these two values: Q3 – Q1.

https://www.sfu.ca/~jackd/Stat203_2011/Wk02_1_Full.pdf

Variance: Variance is a measure of how spread out the values are from their mean, or average. It can be thought of as how “varied” the values are. Two different data sets can have the same mean, but look very different. The two data sets below both have a mean of 10, but the second data set has a much higher variance.

Set 1: 8, 8, 9, 10, 10, 12, 13

Set 2: 2, 2, 3, 8, 10, 20, 25

Standard Deviation: Standard deviation means how far the data values typically are from the average, or how spread out the data points are. A lower number for the standard deviation means that the values are more tightly clustered together, while a higher standard deviation means the values are more spread out. 

And that’s some basic info about the Mathematics subject test.

Social Studies

Overview

The Social Studies subject test has 42 multiple-choice questions. These questions account for 21% of the entire exam. You have 50 minutes to complete this section.

This subject test can be neatly divided into 7 competencies.

  • History
  • Geography
  • Economics
  • Government and Citizenship
  • Culture; Science, Technology and Society
  • Social Studies Foundations and Skills
  • Social Studies Instruction and Assessment

So, let’s take a close look at a few of them.

History

This section tests your knowledge of important events in Texas, the United States, and the World, and the impact that these events had on modern society. 

Let’s talk about some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.

Texas History

There are several important people and events related to Texas History that may appear on the test. Each of these is described below:

  • Moses Austin (1761-1821):  Moses Austin founded the American lead industry and was the first American given permission to bring Anglo-Americans to settle in Spanish Texas. Moses Austin had five children, but the most well known of his children was his son, Stephen F. Austin who carried out his father’s dying wish to settle Texas, also known as the “Texas Venture.”
  • Sam Houston (1793-1863): Sam Houston was a politician and soldier who is best known for leading the Texas Revolution and then leading the push for Texas to be annexed into the United States. Sam Houston served in the U.S. military (War of 1812), was the Governor of Tennessee, President of Texas, a U.S. Senator, and Governor of Texas. He is the only person to serve as the governor of two different states through a popular election. Sam Houston signed the Declaration of Independence and he also led the Texas Army at the Battle of San Jacinto which is where the Texans won their independence from Mexico when they defeated and captured Santa Anna and the Mexican Army. He served as the president of the Republic of Texas twice, and when the U.S. annexed Texas he was elected to the U.S. Senate. Sam Houston strongly opposed Texas seceding from the Union at the start of the Civil War because he had worked so hard for many years to get Texas annexed. He knew the Civil War would bring a great amount of loss to Texas, and he did not want any part of it. He demanded a vote in Texas to decide, and when Texans voted to leave the Union, Houston stepped aside, not willing to break away from the United States. 
  • Erasmo Seguín (1782-1857)- Erasmo Seguín was a prominent politician during the years leading up to and during the Texas Revolution. Seguín was a supporter of Texas independence and used his power in politics to change policies that allowed the colonization of Texas. When the Texas Revolution began, Seguín remained in his home, rather than fleeing like many around him. He supported the Texas cause by providing beef, weapons, crops, and money to Texans fighting for independence, but eventually he was forced to leave his ranch. Ultimately, Seguín returned to working in politics as a judge and continued ranching until his death.
  • Antonio López de Santa Anna (1794-1876)- Santa Anna was a Mexican soldier and politician who gained notoriety in 1829 when he fought against Spain and kept them from conquering Mexico. That victory helped him gain the presidency in 1833. He remained president of Mexico until 1836 when he traveled to Texas to squash a rebellion of settlers. Santa Anna’s army defeated Texas forces at Goliad and the Alamo, however, he was captured and his army was defeated at San Jacinto. Once he was captured, Santa Anna signed a treaty that ended the war and recognized Texas independence. Santa Anna was sent to Washington D.C. where Andrew Jackson questioned him and was then sent back to Mexico where his title had been stripped and he was no longer president.
  • The Fredonian Rebellion (1826-1827)- The Fredonian Rebellion was the first attempt by U.S. settlers to secede from Mexico. The rebellion was led by Haden Edwards when he declared independence from Mexico and created the Republic of Fredonia near present-day Nacogdoches. The rebellion caused the Mexican President to increase the military presence in the area which meant that several hostile Native American tribes in the area quit raiding settlements and agreed to peace. The Mexican government began to fear that the United States wanted to gain control of Texas, so Mexico began to slow immigration to the region from the United States. U.S. colonists were angry at the new policies in place, and the push for independence only grew from this point forward.
  • The Battle of the Alamo- In December 1835 Texans seized control of the Mexican garrison at the Alamo as well as San Antonio. A few months later, James Bowie and William B. Travis took command of Texan forces at San Antonio and prepared for a fight with Mexican troops. Bowie and Travis were confident that reinforcements would be sent to San Antonio, however, they never came and the total number of defenders of the Alamo were never more than 200. Just two months after taking control of the Alamo, the Mexican Army of between 2,000-6,000 men led by General Santa Anna began to attack the fort. Texas forces held the fort for 13 days, but on March 6th Santa Anna’s troops overpowered the Texans. Santa Anna ordered his men to take no prisoners, and only very few women and children were allowed to leave. Santa Anna sent Susannah Dickinson (whose husband was killed in the battle) to Gonzalez to warn Sam Houston that a similar defeat would occur if the Texans continued to rebel. The defeat of Texans at the Alamo became a rallying cry for Texans, rather than a deterrent in fighting for independence from Mexico.
  • The Battle of San Jacinto (April 21, 1836)- Santa Anna defeated Texans soundly at Goliad and the Alamo, and many believe he did not take the Texans seriously as a threat. Santa Anna made camp in present-day Harris County in a spot that his officers urged him not to due to the lack of protection, and lack of ways to retreat if necessary. The Texan Army led by Sam Houston camped close by in a better location and prepared for battle. The day before the Battle of San Jacinto, two small skirmishes occurred between the Texans and Mexicans, but the Texans fell back. This gave the Mexican Army time to fortify their camp and wait for reinforcements to join them. Reinforcements arrived, but they were inexperienced soldiers who had just marched for almost 24 hours with no food, so Santa Anna let them sleep. While the Mexican Army was resting at 4:30 in the afternoon, Houston and his Texas troops fired their cannon and began the battle. This surprised Santa Anna and the Mexican troops, and they were very disorganized. In less than twenty minutes the Mexican Army began retreating, but the Texans showed them no mercy. Houston tried to control his men and stop the killing, but they kept yelling the famous phrase, “Remember the Alamo!” “Remember Goliad!” in one of the most one-sided victories in history, eleven Texans were killed compared to 650 Mexican troops were killed and more than 300 captured (including Santa Anna). Santa Anna was held as a prisoner of war for three weeks until he signed a treaty that ended the war and recognized Texas as independent from Mexico. 
  • The annexation of Texas (December 29, 1845)- The Republic of Texas was annexed into the United States in 1845 as the 28th state in the Union. Texas declared independence from Mexico in March of 1836 and at that time most Texans favored annexation. However, political leaders in the United States did not want Texas to join the Union because Texas supported slavery, and there was already a battle in Congress over slavery in Congress. Also, the United States wanted to avoid a war with Mexico, who did not recognize Texas as independent. 

Sam Houston worked tirelessly to work out a deal with Mexico so that Texas would be recognized as independent, and the United States would not have to worry about going to war with Mexico if they wanted to annex Texas. In 1843, John Tyler who was President of the United States broke away from all political parties and popular opinion and decided independently to pursue the annexation of Texas in hopes to gain supporters for his second term in office. Tyler secretly negotiated with Houston and created a treaty of annexation in April of 1844. When this treaty was presented to the Senate for ratification, the issue of the annexation of Texas took precedent in the U. S. Government which also made it the biggest issue in the presidential election of 1844. James K. Polk who was pro-annexation won the Democratic (pro-slavery) nomination and he defeated the anti-annexation candidate in the 1844 election. In December of 1844, President Tyler asked Congress to pass his annexation treaty, which they did. In his last act as President, Tyler signed the annexation bill. When Polk took office he encouraged Texas to accept the offer, and Texas ratified the agreement with popular opinion. President Polk signed the bill that accepted Texas to the Union on December 29, 1845, and Texas formally joined the United States on February 19, 1846. Once Texas officially became part of the Union, U.S. relations with Mexico began to deteriorate due to to a disagreement over the Texas border. This would soon lead to the Mexican-American War.

  • The Mexican-American War (1846-1848)- The Mexican-American War followed the annexation of Texas to the United States. American President James K. Polk saw the annexation of Texas as a step towards U.S. expansion and Manifest Destiny. Mexico did not agree with the United States on the boundary of Texas, so Polk sent U.S. troops into the disputed area and he also sent diplomats to Mexico. However, after Mexican forces attacked U.S. forces in this disputed area, Polk asked Congress to declare war on Mexico.

The United States quickly mobilized and occupied Mexican holds in Santa Fe, along the upper Rio Grande, and along the Pacific coast in California. Also, the U.S. Navy blockaded the Pacific coast in the Baja region of California and Major General Winfield Scott captured Mexico City. 

In 1848, Mexico had no other choice than to sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the war, gave up land in California and Santa Fe to the United States, recognized the loss of the State of Texas, and accepted the Rio Grande as Mexico’s northern border with the United States. The U.S. agreed to pay $15 million in damages to Mexico.

Although a victory that inspired patriotism in the United States, the war and treaty were costly. The U.S. Government and Polk were criticized for the amount of money spent as well as the amount of lives lost in the war, and when the U.S. acquired new land through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo the question of expanding slavery in new territories began to sweep across the country.

Westward Expansion

Westward expansion in the United States occurred in the Early to mid 1800’s when settlers moved west. Westward expansion began with the Louisiana Purchase, and was fueled by:

  • The Gold Rush
  • The belief in Manifest Destiny
  • The building of the transcontinental railroad. 

Westward expansion increased economic production, increased political tension, had a catastrophic impact on Native American populations, and was a time of extreme growth for the United States. 

Important factors that contributed or were a direct consequence of Westward expansion were:

  • The Louisiana Purchase (1803):  As more and more settlers came to the United States, the United States government looked to expand its land and acquire new territory. U.S. President Thomas Jefferson worked out a deal with France (Napoleon Bonaparte) to buy the entire Louisiana Territory for $15,000,000. Napoleon sold the land because France was desperate for money and fearful of Britain taking control of the Louisiana Territory. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States and added over 800,000 square miles which included present day Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, and part of Louisiana, Texas, Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The Louisiana Purchase gave the U.S. control of the Mississippi River and New Orleans which were used for importing and exporting goods.
  • Monroe Doctrine (1823)-  The Monroe Doctrine was a speech given by President James Monroe to Congress on December 2, 1823. The speech was written primarily by John Quincy Adams who was Secretary of State at that time. The Monroe Doctrine stated that any attempts by European countries to colonize land in North or South America would be viewed as an aggressive act and would require U.S. intervention. The Monroe Doctrine also stated that the United States would not interfere with European colonies that were already existing. 
  • Building U.S. Forts- The U.S. expanded rapidly during the 19th century. Forts were built primarily as military posts and to protect pioneers from Native Americans. As forts were built and the military presence increased west of the Mississippi River, tensions between Native American groups, the U.S. Military, and settlers increased. Many cities were built around forts due to the security forts provided. 
  • Destruction of the buffalo- An estimated 30-60 million buffalo roamed the plains in 1850, but as the United States began to expand westward and the Transcontinental Railroad was built, the buffalo population because to steadily decline. Around 1850, trappers who had depleted the beaver population began to hunt buffalo for hides and tongues. Native Americans used buffalo as food, shelter, clothing, weapons, etc. Unlike the Native Americans who used all parts of the buffalo, hunting parties began to hunt buffalo for sport, or hides only, which led to the decline of the buffalo and devastated Native Americans.
  • Indian Removal Act- The Indian Removal Act was a law passed in 1830 and signed by President Andrew Jackson. The law gave the U.S. President the power to force Native American tribes to move west of the Mississippi River. Some tribes remained peaceful and signed treaties with the government before moving west, and some resisted and were forced to march west in horrible conditions in what is now called the “Trail of Tears.”
  • Trail of Tears (1831-1838)- Following the Indian Removal Act (1830), Native Americans from the Muscogee, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Seminole, Cherokee, and Choctaw tribes were marched at gunpoint across the south-eastern United States to reservations in present day Oklahoma. Native Americans were given no choice but to move, not because they wanted to, but because they knew they had no chance in fighting off the U.S. military. Native Americans were not only marched at gunpoint, but many times were not given adequate food, shelter, and protection from various elements. 
  • Red River Indian War (1874)-  The Red River War marked the end of nomadic Indian populations in the Southern Plains. The military campaign was launched by the U.S. Army in an effort to remove the Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Comanche tribes from the Southern Plains. There were no major battles, but the U.S. Army had to work very hard to locate, fight, and capture the nomadic warriors of the tribes, but in the end, the last of the Southern Plains tribes were moved to reservations.

Economics

This section tests your knowledge of basic economics concepts, various economic systems, and the history of economics in Texas, the United States, and the world. 

Here are some concepts that are likely to appear on the test:

Free Enterprise

A free enterprise system is marked by consumers being able to spend money any way they would like, and will most often have several companies to choose from. The competition between business fighting for business usually leads to better quality prices and lower prices. Citizens who live in a country that uses the free enterprise system are able to pursue any type of job or career. The opposite of a free enterprise system would be a socialist government which directly manages citizens spending, jobs, and the prices of goods. 

Benefits of a free enterprise system:

  • Unlimited profit margins 
  • Efficiency
  • High economic growth rates

The government’s role in a free enterprise system is basically to make and enforce the laws and regulations set in place. All regulations put in place in a true free enterprise system are to keep the system free and competitive. The only way to make money in a free market is to provide a good or service that others value enough to buy. 

Ultimately consumers determine if a business succeeds or not throughout the global free market system (including the United States and Texas). Consumers are free to spend their money on any product from any business, so if consumers do not prefer a product from a specific company they either have to change their product or go out of business. 

Economic Indicators

The top five economic indicators to use when measuring levels of economic activity are:

  • Inflation- Inflation measures the cost of goods and services and when inflation is high, savings and investment is discouraged. 
  • Employment- People can only spend and invest when they are making money. Spending and investing are necessary to drive the economy.
  • Spending- As consumers increase spending, the economy grows. Looking at monthly retail sales indicates consumer activity and how healthy the economy is.
  • Housing- New and existing home sales along with building permits indicate the housing demand which shows how banks are lending. 
  • Confidence- When people are confident and are spending the economy grows.

Government and Citizenship

This section tests your knowledge of different government systems used throughout history, as well as important concepts and events related to the Texas and U.S. governments. 

Let’s look at some concepts that will most likely pop up on the test.

Major Political Documents

Some of the major political documents in Texas and United States history include: the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Texas Constitution. These are described below. 

The Declaration of Independence was the document that formally announced that the thirteen colonies were declaring themselves independent states, independent from Britain. The Declaration of Independence was approved on July 4, 1776. It listed and explained the reasons that Congress had voted to free themselves from British rule. 

The Articles of Confederation were created as the “first constitution” of the United States. They were approved by the Second Continental Congress in 1777 and became enforced in 1781 after being approved by all 13 states at the time. One of the main goals of the Articles of Confederation was to limit the power of the central government and give more power to individual states. However, with so little power given to the central government, Congress was unable to effectively govern the states. In 1789, the Articles of Confederation were replaced by the Constitution. 

The U.S. Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation in 1789. It established the three branches of the U.S. government, the rights of the government, the rights of citizens, and the fundamental laws of the United States. 

The Bill of Rights are the first ten amendments to the Constitution. These amendments helped to set limits on the government’s power and give specific rights to U.S. citizens. Two of the more well-known amendments are the First Amendment (freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech) and the Second Amendment (the right to keep and bear arms.)

The Texas Constitution was put into effect in 1879. Much like the U.S. Constitution, it explains the structure and function of the Texas government. It is made up of 17 articles. The Texas Constitution has been amended 491 times since 1879. 

Types of Government

There are many forms of government, and each varies in the effectiveness of meeting the needs of citizens and the reason for limiting the power of government. The five most common forms of government in the world are:

  • Republic
  • Democracy
  • Monarchy
  • Dictatorship
  • Communism

The United States is a republic and a constitutional democracy. The main characteristic of a constitutional government is that a constitution is the ultimate authority and law. The constitution both gives and limits the government’s power. A constitution also provides for a separation of powers by creating a public and private sector. A constitutional government meets citizen’s needs by balancing government power and providing a system of due process for anyone who is charged with a crime.

In contrast to a constitutional government, a totalitarian government allows for no individual freedom and aims to make all citizens subordinate to the authority of state in all aspects of life. Mussolini, an Italian dictator, was the first to use the term totalitario to describe fascist italy. Totalitarianism is used to describe oppressive single-party governments such as Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler and North Korea under the Kim dynasty. A totalitarian government does not try to serve citizens at all, but demands that all citizens serve and obey the government.

And that’s some basic info about the Social Studies subject test.

Science

Overview

The Science subject test has 42 multiple-choice questions. These questions account for 21% of the entire exam. You have 50 minutes to complete this section.

This subject test can be neatly divided into 23 competencies.

  • Safety
  • Tools, Materials, Equipment, and Technology
  • Scientific Inquiry
  • Impact of Science
  • Unifying Concepts and Processes
  • Force and Motion
  • Physical Properties of Matter
  • Chemical Properties of Matter
  • Interactions Between Matter and Energy
  • Transformations and Conservation of Matter and Energy
  • Structure and Functions of Living Things
  • Reproduction and Heredity
  • Adaptations and Evolution
  • Regulatory Mechanisms and Behavior
  • Relationships Between Organisms and Environment
  • Structure and Function of Earth Systems
  • Cycles in Earth Systems
  • Weather and Climate
  • Solar System and Universe
  • History of the Earth System
  • Teaching Science
  • Inquiry in Instruction
  • Assessments

So, let’s dig deeper into a few of them.

Force and Motion

This section tests your knowledge of force and motion, the relationship between the two, and ways to measure these values. 

Let’s talk about some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.

Universal Forces

All forces in nature can be classified into four types. We call these the universal forces. 

  • Gravitational force– Gravitational force is the force that pulls all objects on Earth towards the center of the Earth as it spins, and it is also the force that keeps planets in their orbits around the sun.
  • Electrical forceThe attractive or repulsive interaction between any two charged objects.
  • Magnetic force– Two objects that contain a charge with the same direction of motion will have a magnetic attraction between them.
  • Nuclear force– A force that keeps protons and neutrons together in a nucleus and is the force responsible for specific types of nuclear reactions.

Newton’s Laws

Newton’s Three Laws of Motion state that:

  1. An object at rest remains at rest and an object in motion remains in motion unless acted upon by another force. This means that until something is acted on by another force, it will keep doing what it is doing, whether that is moving or staying still. A ball that is lying still will not roll unless it is pushed. That same ball will not stop rolling until it is stopped by some force. Keep in mind that this force that will stop the ball can be friction. So even though it eventually seems to stop on its own, the force that is acting upon the ball is friction. 
  2. Force is equal to mass x acceleration. This also means that acceleration is equal to force divided by mass. (a=Fm). This means that when you increase the force that is exerted on an object, the acceleration will also increase. As you increase the mass of objects, the acceleration will decrease. 
  3. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This means that when force is exerted on an object, the object itself also puts out an equal force. Imagine if you were on roller skates and pushed against a wall. You would roll backwards on the skates. This is because when you exert a force on the wall, the wall exerts a force back on you. 

The formula used for finding the force of an object is to multiply the object’s mass times the object’s acceleration. The vector nature of force describes the direction of the force and has sizes dependent on how strong the force is. The magnitude of force is measured in Newtons, but vectors (or the direction of force) are shown in arrows. An example of the vector nature of force being demonstrated:

Interactions Between Matter and Energy

This section tests your knowledge of energy, matter, and the concepts or properties related to energy and matter. 

Here are some concepts that are likely to appear on the test:

Energy

Some important concepts related to energy are: work, power, potential energy, and kinetic energy. 

Work, in a scientific definition, is what happens when force is applied to an object to move that object a certain distance. Moving a bookcase across the room involves work because a force is applied to move the bookcase. 

Power is the rate at which work is done. Power is often measured in watts, using the symbol W. 

Potential energy is stored energy, or energy that an object has based on its location or position. When a sled is at the top of a hill but is not moving, the sled has potential energy. 

Kinetic energy is energy that an object has when it is in motion. Once a sled is moving down the hill, the sled has kinetic energy. Energy can be converted back and forth from kinetic to potential energy by applying force to an object. For example, when you push the sled from the top of the hill, this converts the potential energy to kinetic energy. Pulling the sled back to the top of the hill converts the energy back into potential energy. 

Waves

Water, electromagnetic, sound, and seismic waves are simply disturbances that move energy through a medium such as water or air. Waves can be described by type (longitudinal and transverse), property (wavelength and frequency), and behavior (reflection, refraction, dispersion.)

Types of Waves:

  • Water- Ocean waves are caused by moving wind creating friction between air molecules and water molecules. This causes energy from the wind to be transferred to the water which causes waves.
  • Electromagnetic- Electromagnetic waves can travel through empty space (a vacuum) and don’t need a medium such as air or water. Electromagnetic waves travel through magnetic and electrical fields and are formed by charged particles. These include x-rays, microwaves, and radio waves.
  • Sound- Sound waves are formed by objects vibrating and traveling in waves through water, solids, or air. When the waves reach the eardrum, the eardrum vibrates and that is the sound we hear.
  • Seismic- Seismic waves are formed when energy between rocks beneath the surface fracture and release energy. 

Waves can be described by type:

  • Longitudinal- Waves that move parallel to the motion of energy. An example would be sound waves moving through air.
  • Transverse- Waves that move through a solid object like a rope or trampoline.

By property:

  • Wavelength- A wavelength is the measure between a wave’s two highest peaks.
  • Frequency- The number of waves that pass a specific point in a set amount of time. Frequency is measured in Hertz.

By behavior:

  • Reflection- Waves essentially “bounce” back at the same angle they hit the reflective surface at.
  • Refraction- Waves refract when they change direction when passing from one medium to another. An example would be when light passes from air into water.
  • Dispersion- Dispersion occurs when a wave separates into components with different frequencies.

Relationships Between Organisms and Environment

This section tests your knowledge of living and nonliving components of ecosystems and how various factors can influence the population of different species. 

Let’s look at some concepts that will most likely pop up on the test.

Abiotic and Biotic Components of an Ecosystem

An ecosystem is a group of living and nonliving things interacting together in a certain area. The living components of an ecosystem are referred to as biotic components. This includes all of the plants and animals in that ecosystem, but also the smaller living organisms such as bacteria or fungi. The nonliving parts of an ecosystem are called abiotic components. This includes any nonliving things, such as rocks, minerals, or water. It also includes the physical conditions of that ecosystem, such as the temperature or humidity. Both the biotic and abiotic components interact with either other to form an ecosystem. 

Ecosystem Populations

Ecosystem populations are greatly influenced by many different factors. Anything that can influence these populations in a negative way is called a limiting factor. Limiting factors can be natural or man-made. Natural limiting factors can include water, predators, prey, temperature, and sunlight. For example, if an ecosystem receives too much water, not enough sunlight, or experiences a decrease in the amount of prey, this can lead to major changes within that ecosystem if certain species are not able to survive. Man-made limiting factors include deforestation, pollution, and human traffic. All of these limiting factors affect the growth rate of a species. The growth rate refers to how a species’ population is increasing or decreasing over time.

And that’s some basic info about the Science subject test.

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