Few people are neutral on the subject of mathematics. Math tests generate strong reactions, both from students in school and from Praxis test takers. Whether you are looking forward to the Praxis Core Mathematics Test or dreading it, there is good news: becoming familiar with the test’s structure and format, along with doing some solid review of math fundamentals, will put you in position to succeed.
The subject matter of the Praxis Core Mathematics test should be familiar. The test covers arithmetic, simple data and statistics (such as charts and averages), and middle school–level algebra and geometry.
Even those who feel rock solid with their math skill set can benefit from practice on Praxis Core Mathematics questions. That’s because the standardized test format rewards those who can answer questions quickly and accurately. A large majority of the questions on the Praxis Core Mathematics test are multiple-choice questions. This format has two important implications.
First, you need not show your work. In some cases, it may be faster to work backward, by testing the answer choices, than to work forward by doing lengthy calculations.
Second, the presence of wrong answer choices can lead to mistakes, especially for a math whiz. Success on Praxis Core Mathematics requires learning to avoid careless errors, even when you have no trouble completing the math.
Know What to Expect
The Praxis Core Mathematics test covers a wide range of math topics. More on that shortly. First, here are the basics of the test format.
|Praxis Core Mathematics|
|Number of Questions: 56|
|Time: 85 minutes|
|Question Types: multiple-choice (called “selected response” by the test maker)—one correct answer; multiple-choice—one or more correct answers; numeric entry (the test taker enters the correct answer in a blank box on the screen)|
|On-screen four-function calculator available|
|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)|
There are a few ways in which you can take advantage of the test format to improve your score.
- Manage your time effectively. With 56 questions in 85 minutes, you have just over 1 1/2 minutes per question. Make sure to give yourself time to see every question.
- Guess strategically. There is no penalty for selecting a wrong answer. If a question has you thoroughly confused, or if you feel that it will take you too long to answer, eliminate any clearly incorrect answer choices, select your best guess, and move on. The next question may be one you can answer quickly and confidently.
- You can answer questions in any order. You should plan to move through the test more or less in order, but you may skip or guess on a question that is confusing or threatens to take too much time. Be sure to note any questions you skip or guess on so that you can return to them if you have time left at the end of the section.
According to ETS, the Praxis Core Mathematics exam “measures academic skills in mathematics needed to prepare successfully for a career in education.” While the test covers a range of math subjects, the test draws primarily from math content that corresponds to material you learned in eighth- or ninth-grade math classes.
The following table provides a quick breakdown of the math content that appears on the Praxis Core Mathematics test. It shows the approximate number of questions per content area and the percentage of the test they represent.
|Praxis Core Mathematics Content|
|Number and Quantity||17 questions: 30%|
|Algebra and Functions||17 questions: 30%|
|Geometry||11 questions: 20%|
|Statistics and Probability||11 questions: 20%|
In short, Praxis Core Mathematics is a standardized exam, largely composed of multiple-choice questions. That means that there will be opportunities throughout the test to use the answer choices to help you solve problems, especially when you’re in a pinch. Since there is no penalty for incorrect answers, you have a one-in-five chance of selecting the right answer, even without reading the question. After reading the question and plugging in an answer or two, you’re well on your way to finding the correct answer, even on questions that cause you trouble.
Multiple-Choice Single-Select. By far the most common is the familiar multiple-choice question with five answer choices and one correct answer. Of the 56 questions on the test, approximately 49 will be of this type.
Multiple-Choice Select-One-or-More Answer Choices. Occasionally, the test maker will give you a multiple-choice question in which more than one answer choice may be correct. Sometimes, a question of this type will ask you to choose the “correct response(s),” meaning that one or more answer choices may work. You get credit for a question of this type only if you select all of the correct answer choices and none of the incorrect ones. At other times, the instructions for a question of this type may specify the number of correct answer choices. If, for example, a question gives you four answer choices and tells you to click on “two correct responses,” you will get credit for that question only if you select the two correct choices and neither of the incorrect ones.
Numeric Entry. The third question type you’ll see on the Praxis Core Mathematics test is the one that is most like the typical questions on math tests in school. These problems present you with a question and then a box in which to type your answer. You may do your work on scratch paper and type in your answer. If you use the on-screen calculator, it has a button marked “Transfer Display” that will automatically enter whatever is on the calculator screen into the answer box.
The Kaplan Three-Step Method for Praxis Mathematics