The Praxis PLT tests focus on the basic principles of learning and teaching that are essential for running a classroom. These principles are drawn from the theoretical foundations provided by key educational theorists and developmental psychologists.
Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching Test Structure and Format
The following tables show you what to expect from the Principles of Learning and Teaching test.
|Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching|
|Number of Questions: 70 multiple-choice (called “selected response” by the test maker); 4 constructed response|
|Time: 120 minutes|
|Test may include pre-test questions that do not count toward your score|
|No penalty for incorrect answers|
|Scratch paper is available during the exam (it will be destroyed before you leave the testing center)|
|Content Covered||# of Questions, % of Exam|
|Students as Learners||Approximately 21 questions, 22.5 percent of the test|
|Instructional Process||Approximately 21 questions, 22.5 percent of the test|
|Assessment||Approximately 14 questions, 15 percent of the test|
|Professional Development, Leadership and Community||Approximately 14 questions, 15 percent of the test|
|Analysis of Instructional Scenarios||Approximately 4 constructed response questions, 25 percent of the test|
Taking the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching Test
The four Praxis PLT tests share a similar format. Each is 2 hours long and consists of 70 multiple-choice questions and two case studies accompanied by four short essay questions. The test makers suggest spending approximately 1 minute on each multiple-choice question, leaving 50 minutes to read, evaluate, and answer the case study questions.
These guidelines are helpful, but it’s important to note that you need not take the sections of this test in order—in fact, Kaplan recommends against taking this test front to back.
Ideally, you should spend a little less than an hour on your first pass through the multiple-choice section. Even the most prepared may find that a few questions on this test are outside their areas of expertise. Don’t spend too much time when this happens; if you run into a stumper, “mark” the question using the computer interface, then move on.
Case History Questions
The questions associated with the case histories can test a variety of subjects. You will always have at least one question from the content category of “Students as Learners” and at least one from “Instructional Process.” You may also see up to one question each on the topics of “Assessment” and “Professional Development, Leadership, and Community.”
Although questions may differ in terms of subject matter, their formatting is formulaic. First, you will be provided with a summary of part of the case or a direction to review a particular section or document. Next, you will be asked to identify two specific things, such as two behaviors that are typical of an age group or two modifications to a failed activity. Finally, you will be instructed to justify your examples on the basis of various educational principles.
Short answers, technically known as constructed responses, don’t have right or wrong answers in the same way that multiple-choice questions do. Instead, each response is assigned a score of 0, 1, or 2 by a team of professional educators. Multiple graders will review your answers, and their grading habits are in turn statistically reviewed by a computer to ensure consistency.
Case History Strategies
Read the questions first.
- Before you begin analyzing the case, take a look at the questions. Doing so can help focus your reading. If you look at the text first and then are surprised by an unusual question prompt, you may have to re-read part or even all of the case history looking for information you didn’t think was relevant the first time through. If you know what you need, you can use that knowledge to go through the case history efficiently.
Make a “map” of the case history.
- It’s important that you take notes, either by circling or underlining parts of your test booklet or jotting down the location of key details on your scratch paper. Your goal here is not to summarize or copy information—you can and should review pertinent details directly from the text itself. However, misplacing or forgetting about those details can cost you time. When you need that information, you want to be able to locate it instantly. We refer to these notes as “maps” because they are meant to help you find your way!
- Don’t just write the first two ideas that come to your head. Spend a few minutes thinking of three or four possible responses. Then pick the two you are most comfortable with. Your final response will be much stronger this way. More importantly, you’re less likely to find yourself halfway through composing an answer before realizing you can’t justify your argument and need to start over from scratch.
Refer to the case.
- It may seem as though you can answer some case history questions, especially those related to pedagogical practice, in purely theoretical terms. However, such an answer would never score higher than a 1. The question will always ask you to relate your suggestions to the students or teachers in the case history in some way. Follow this instruction.
Keep it simple.
- Don’t overcomplicate. One good piece of supporting evidence is sufficient to demonstrate deep understanding. However, one weak example can undercut your answer, even if you present it alongside other, more compelling points.
Use one idea per paragraph.
- As mentioned before, scores of 2 are awarded regardless of formatting. However, many lower-scoring answer samples take the form of a single paragraph that goes in depth about only one part of the prompt or that loses sight of the goal and meanders off-topic. You should write one paragraph for each of the two parts of your answer so you can more easily check your work and ensure that you’ve completed your task.
- Always double-check your work. Once you’ve written both responses to one case, re-read each question and answer. Make sure you’ve answered the question thoroughly and, though you aren’t graded on grammar, make sure your work is at least intelligible.
Once you’ve wrapped up your case study answers, head back to the questions you marked earlier. Some of them might be easier to answer once you take a second look. Others may take a little longer. At this stage, you’ve done enough that you can afford to spend some extra time on the last few problems. Make sure to keep your eye on the clock, though. There is no wrong answer penalty on the PLT, so you should never leave a question blank. Use your last 2 minutes to randomly make choices for any unanswered questions.
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