Taking a teacher certification exam is exhausting. While you’ve probably spent the majority of your time studying, it’s also important to know what to do in the days leading up to and following your exam. The right mind-set is crucial, especially after you take your exam. With the lack of sleep, jitters, and scary testing environment, it’s very common for your nerves to be SKY HIGH after your exam. In fact, this often leads test-takers to think they bombed their test, even when they haven’t. So managing expectations is VERY important. We’ll touch on things you need to do before and after your exam, plus offer test-taking tips to guide you through the process.
At 240 Tutoring, we’re here to help you through every step of becoming a certified teacher. We have over 60 years of collective experience teaching students in the classroom and developing curriculum for educators. We’ll provide you with test taking tips, study material, interview questions, and first-year teacher tips.
What to Do BEFORE Your Teacher Certification Exam
You know you need to study before your exam — but what else should you be doing? Let’s take a look at what to do during the days leading up to your teacher certification exam.
The Week Before Your Exam
During the week leading up to your exam, it’s time to start focusing on reviewing rather than studying new material.
Now is a great time to take one last practice test. This will help you identify the areas you need to focus on most as you review. (Bonus: If you do well on the practice test, this will give you a boost of confidence going into your exam.) Use the results of your practice test to identify concepts you still need to work on, then create a daily schedule of when you will review each topic. Remember, your 240 Tutoring study guide includes three timed practice tests. You can also find a free practice test for your exam on our test series resources page.
If you’ve found yourself in a stressful situation and need to do a lot of studying this week, take a look at our article and video on effective cramming strategies.
The Night Before Your Exam
Do a BRIEF Review of Your Notes
If you’ve been sticking to a schedule and studying well in advance, chances are you don’t even need to do much studying tonight. (The only exception to this is if you’re cramming for your exam.) Some people may feel more confident going into their exam if they do a brief review of their notes. Others may want to relax and not overload their brain with information. Either way, don’t plan on doing in-depth studying or learning any new concepts the night before your test.
Review Your Testing Center Procedures and Location
Make sure you are aware of the specific procedures and requirements for your exam. Our free test series resources typically include this information, but it can also be found on your official exam website. Specific things to take note of include: Do you need to bring any paperwork? How many forms of ID are required? What is not allowed in the testing center? How early do you need to arrive?
In addition to reviewing procedures, double-check your center’s address, route, and drive time. You should also check for emails or notifications from your testing provider regarding any last-minute updates or reminders.
Set Out What You’ll Need for the Next Day
Much like your first days of school as a kid, get everything ready the night before your test. This includes your ID (some test centers require two forms of ID), directions to your testing center, your wallet, any required paperwork, keys, and even the clothes you plan to wear. This small step will make your morning go much more smoothly, leading to less stress and anxiety as you go into your test!
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
It can be tempting to stay up late studying and reviewing your notes the night before your exam. But sleep is crucial for brain function and memory. Research has shown that there is a positive correlation between hours of sleep and test scores. If you’ve used the 240 Tutoring guides to study and you’ve scored 90% or above on our practice test at the end, we guarantee you will pass your exam. So keep this in mind and try to stay calm. You’ve studied well, you know the material, and you’ll do great! Now it’s time to get some rest.
The Morning of Your Exam
Eat a healthy breakfast on the morning of your exam. Your breakfast should include protein and whole grains, such as whole-wheat toast with peanut butter or oatmeal and eggs. Stick to your usual habits as much as possible. For example, if you normally have a light breakfast with a small coffee, don’t choose today to have an overly filling meal and three cups of coffee. While you won’t be able to take food or drinks into the testing room, you may want to bring a small snack to eat on the way.
Give yourself plenty of time to get to your exam location. If you checked your drive time the night before, check it again in the morning – you may be affected by morning traffic! Remember, you will go through security screening at your testing location to make sure you don’t have unauthorized materials, and this will take extra time.
When you arrive at the testing center, head in several minutes early so that you have time to check-in and get settled. Keep in mind that many testing locations will require you to keep personal items (such as cell phones, purses, watches, etc.) in a locker, so try to limit the number of items you bring with you.
Keep in mind that while some tests allow for scheduled breaks, every time you need to take an additional break during the test takes away YOUR test-taking time – it can also be highly disruptive. You often will have to be let out, show your ID again and go through a security check.
What to Do AFTER Taking Your Certification Exam
Congratulations – you finished your exam! Now what? Let’s take a look at some of the next steps to take.
Immediately After Your Exam
If your exam has only multiple-choice or selected-response questions, you may get an unofficial pass/fail report immediately after your exam. Find out ahead of time if this is the case for your exam – discovering if you passed or failed right away can be surprising for many test-takers! Check your exam website or our resources to find out if you can expect an unofficial pass/fail report at the end of your exam. We have written extensively about test scores and results for TExES, Praxis, FTCE and the other major exams.
Before you leave the testing center, check with the test administrator to make sure there is nothing else you need to do, such as signing out or collecting additional paperwork.
After that, it’s time to come back down to Earth. Of course, your brain is fried and you’re going to be amped up for a while, but it’s time to start to chill. Take a walk, get out in nature, go to a movie. Do the everyday activities that you know WORK FOR YOU when you are stressed. As much as possible, try not to think about whether you passed. The work is done, and it’s out of your hands for now. Whether you get an unofficial pass, an unofficial fail, or no results yet, you’ve done your best. Enjoy the rest of the day – you can start the next steps of becoming a teacher tomorrow after you’ve had a good night’s sleep.
While You Wait for Your Results
Find out when to expect your results
You can check your exam website or our free test series resources for information on when to expect your results. If your exam included essays or constructed-response questions, your wait time may be a bit longer than it would be for a multiple-choice exam.
Prepare for any additional exams
Many future educators have to take more than one certification exam. If this is the case for you, go ahead and start studying for your next exam while you wait for your results. Remember, as a 240 Tutoring subscriber, you get access to all of the study guides in your test series, so you won’t even have to pay an additional fee to keep studying!
After Your Get Your Results
Make sure your scores were sent to your educator preparation program
Chances are, you already did this step when you registered for your exam. However, it never hurts to double-check. Contact your educator preparation program (this is either your college or your alternative certification program) to confirm that they received your results.
Apply for certification
It’s a common misconception that you’ll automatically be certified after you pass your exam. And while passing your exam is the hard part, you still have to apply for certification through your state’s education department. This typically involves fingerprinting and a background check. You’ll also need to pay an application fee. To find more information on your state’s process for becoming a certified teacher, visit the U.S. Department of Education website, select your state, and follow the link to your state’s department of education. If you want to become a teacher in Texas, we have a series of articles that walk you through all of the steps.
Now that you’ve passed your exam and applied to become a certified teacher, it’s time to get ready for the next step in your career – job searching and interviews! Check out our tips for writing a stellar resume and nailing your interview.
Need help studying for your teacher certification exam? We helped 49,649 educators pass their exams last year — and we are ready to help you! Start studying today.