I Can't Pass the Praxis Core Writing! 

I hear from prospective teachers all the time who say, "Writing is my favorite subject. I have been a proficient writer all my life. And I can't pass the Praxis Core Writing?!"

The truth is, even people who are really good writers are rusty when it comes to proper grammar. For example, you may write prepositional phrases easily and effectively in your day-to-day communication.

However, identifying which sentence has the correct prepositional phrase on a multiple choice question may stump you. Also, we often think we are using proper grammar when we really aren't, and that carries over into the way we answer grammar questions on the test. 

And then there's the essay portion of the test. This can cause a lot of anxiety because you have to show competence in your writing in an incredibly short amount of time. If you had all day to proof and revise, you'd probably be fine.

However, you only get 30 minutes for each essay and time flies when you have to think, plan, draft, edit, and submit your essay. 

What's on the Praxis Core Writing Exam?

There are two main parts of the Praxis Core Writing: the multiple choice section, and the essay section.

The multiple choice includes questions that require you to identify mistakes in a sentence, determine where a sentence would best fit in a paragraph, and even rearrange sentences for clarity. For this part of the test, it is best if you brush up on the old-fashioned grammar you haven't studied in a long time. I have a whole grammar playlist on YouTube that covers every grammar situation you'll encounter on the test. 

The essay portion of the exam requires you to construct two essays: one argumentative, and one source-based. The argumentative essay asks you to form an opinion about a topic and defend that opinion with specific examples and evidence. The source-based essay requires you to read two academic opinions on a topic and summarize both options while citing important information. 

It's not easy.

How is the Praxis Core Writing Scored?

The multiple choice part of the test is graded like any other standardized test: by a computer. However, the essay portion of the Praxis Core Writing exam is scored by people--trained evaluators who are considered knowledgeable about the skills tested on the exam.

These evaluators use a standardized scoring rubric to assess the quality of your response to the prompts on the exam. 

The scoring rubric used for the Praxis Core Writing exam is designed to determine the quality of your essay in terms of its content, organization, development, and language use. The rubric is broken down into four main categories:

  1. Content: This category assesses the extent to which your essay addresses the prompt, provides relevant and appropriate examples, and develops a clear and well-supported position.
  2. Organization: This category assesses the coherence and logical flow of your essay, as well as the effectiveness of the introduction and conclusion.
  3. Development: This category assesses the depth and breadth of your analysis and argument, as well as the extent to which your essay supports your position with evidence.
  4. Language use: This category assesses the effectiveness of the language and vocabulary used in the essay, including grammar, usage, and mechanics.

Each of these categories is scored on a scale from 1 to 6, with 6 being the highest score. The scores from each category are combined to provide a final score for the essay.

The essay portion of the Praxis Core Writing exam is scored in this way to ensure that it is fair and objective, and to provide a consistent basis for evaluating the quality of the essays written in response to the prompts on the exam.

How do I get a passing score on the Praxis Core Writing?

For the multiple choice section, the best thing you can do to prepare for the exam is to practice your grammar. You can do this a variety of ways. We have a study guide and an online course that provide comprehensive preparation for the test. These resources contain tons of practice test questions and answer explanations to help you prepare for the exam. 

Tip: I always recommend getting at least 75% of the practice questions correct before you attempt the actual test.  

For the essay portion of the test, you have to practice your writing. Use writing prompts and practice regularly. You will never know what prompt you'll get on the exam, so I recommend using different prompts so you're prepared for anything.

It's also helpful to set a timer, so you can see just how long it takes you to plan, organize, write, and proof your essay.

The most important thing you can do when practicing your writing is use the rubric provided in the ETS study companion to evaluate your essay. It's not enough for it to be a "good" essay. It must meet the specific requirements outlined in the rubric.

The good news is, you do not need a super high score on the essay to pass. A score of 4 is considered competent. Below are the two rubrics essay graders use when scoring your exam. After you write your essay, use this to determine if you indeed scored a 4 or higher. 

For the argumentative essay, a score of 4 means you:

  • Clearly stated your position 
  • Showed control in the organization and development of ideas 
  • Supported your ideas or positions with specific and adequate reasons, examples, or details
  • Used adequate language
  • Demonstrated proper grammar, usage, and mechanics, with only a few errors

For the source-based essay, a score of 4 means you:

  • Demonstrated the importance of the concerns are adequately explained and supported with some links between the two sources and adequate reasons, examples, or details
  • Incorporated information from both sources to identify and explain important concerns discussed in the sources
  • Control in the organization and development of ideas is shown
  • Used adequate language
  • Demonstrated proper grammar, usage, and mechanics, with only a few errors
  • Cited both sources when paraphrasing or quoting

After you write the essay, use the bulleted points above and ask yourself if your essay meets this criteria. If you're lacking in some areas, revise the essay briefly so it meets the expectation. When you use the rubric to score and revise your essay, you are studying most effectively. 

I promise, it works.

Finally, be sure use specific examples in your essay to support your ideas and positions. Abstract concepts lacking support will bring your writing score down. Check out my writing playlist where I show you how to do this for any writing task. 

Where can I find extra practice tests for the Praxis Core Writing?

The best place to start is a study guide. Our study guides have many practice test questions with answer explanations that will help you practice your grammar skills. 

However, if you're on a budget or if you need even more practice, you can use released ACT and SAT tests. The grammar portion of these exams mimic the same content and format as the Praxis Core Writing multiple choice. I show you how to access and use these released tests in this video.

Simply taking practice exams is not enough. Be sure to review your answers and evaluate why you got something correct or incorrect. 

Where can I find extra writing Prompts for the Praxis Core Writing?

These are a little harder to find than multiple choice questions. The first place you can go to is the ETS Praxis Core study companion. Towards the end of the document you will see practice prompts and examples of essays ranging from highly competent to not at all competent. Seeing what a bad essay looks like is very helpful, so be sure to check that out.

You can also use our study guide. We have 10 argumentative prompts and 3 source-based prompts with examples to help you practice.

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