The Praxis Core Writing test consists of two types of sections that test two very different kinds of writing skills. The first section tests your ability to read sentences, locating and correcting grammatical errors. This is followed by two essay sections, which will test your ability to write a clear, coherent essay in a limited amount of time.
Keep in mind that this test is not designed to discover the next Ernest Hemingway or Maya Angelou. Instead, this test assesses your ability to adhere to the basic rules of written English and to avoid common grammatical errors and traps.
Your approach to the Writing test should vary depending on the section. As with all other sections on the Praxis Core Writing test, strategic time management and understanding what the test maker is looking for are the keys to success.
Know What to Expect
|Praxis Core Writing|
|Number of Questions: 40 multiple-choice (called “selected response” by the test maker); 2 essays|
|Time: 100 minutes (40 minutes for multiple-choice section; 30 minutes each for essays)|
|Essay Types: argumentative; source-based|
|Multiple-choice section 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)|
Core Writing: Selected-Response Questions
Ironically, the selected-response (multiple-choice) section of the Praxis Core Writing test does not require you to do any writing at all. You won’t be tested on the names of grammatical terms. You won’t need to identify nouns, pronouns, verbs, participles, or gerunds. Whereas a vague sense of how you diagrammed sentences back in the day may help a bit, it’s not an essential skill on these questions.
What the selected-response Writing questions do test is your ability to recognize the elements of good writing, including basic grammar, sentence structure, agreement, and word choice.
As you prepare for the test, read everything—and we mean everything—with an eye toward sentence structure. Look for fragments in advertisements. Find run-on sentences in emails from your friends. Ferret out misplaced modifiers in the newspaper. Develop “proofreader’s eyes” as you read, read, read your way to success.
As you hone your eyes and get ready to spot errors on the Praxis exam, be sure to fine-tune your ears as well. Develop a more critical ear that notes errors and awkward constructions when you hear them. Frequently, you will have to trust your ear to identify errors and avoid trap answers on test day.
Introducing the Question Types
Because these question types may be new to you, you should begin by becoming familiar with the structure of the questions and the directions for each question type you will see on your test. Remember, you have only 40 minutes to answer 40 questions on the selected-response section of the Praxis Core Writing test. Getting familiar with the basics of each question type ahead of time will give you an edge when test day rolls around.
There are four main question types on the Core Writing exam: Usage, Sentence Correction, Revision in Context, and Research Skills. Within these four main categories, you may see some variation in the mode of delivery of the questions. The standard modes of delivery are shown below, but be prepared for some variation. Variations may include interactive questions that require some of the following:
- Selecting all of the answer choices that apply
- Constructing a short response in an entry box•Entering more than one response in different places
- Checking off boxes (usually for all-that-apply questions)
- Selecting regions on a graph or other visual
- Choosing sentences in text
- Moving answer choices onto targets or into positions
- Choosing an answer from a drop-down menu
Each question type will be accompanied by clear directions for how to answer the question, so please read these carefully if you are not familiar with the question’s mode of delivery. For additional practice and to build familiarity with the various modes of delivery, refer to the online resources available to you.