Praxis 1 vs Praxis 2: What's the Difference?

If your state uses the Praxis exams to certify teachers, you will take what many refer to as the Praxis I and the Praxis II. Education testing Services (ETS) is the company that makes all of the Praxis exams.

What is the Praxis I?

The Praxis I is the Praxis Core, which is a basic skills test that assesses reading, writing, and math. The reason it is referred to as the Praxis I is because in the past, prospective teachers took this exam first and then they took their subject area exams.

While the Praxis Core is considered a “basic skills” test. It is quite difficult.

You will be required to read long passages and answer comprehension questions for the reading portion of the exam; you will be required to correct grammar mistakes and even write two essays for the writing portion of the exam; and you will be required to work through number sense, data, probability, and statistics, and algebra and geometry for the math portion of the exam.

What is the Praxis II?

The Praxis II is the subject area exam you will take based on the grade and content area you want to get certified in.

There are over 90 different Praxis II exams that range from Agriculture to World Languages and everything in between.

For example, the Praxis Elementary Education 5001, Middle School Social Studies, High School Biology, Economics, Art Content Knowledge, are all subject area exams.

If you want to be a middle school math teacher, you are required to take the middle school math subject area exam. Similarly, if you want to be a high school English teacher, you will take the English Language Arts exam. And finally, if you want to be an elementary education teacher, you will take one of the Praxis Elementary Education exams.

The reason people call it the Praxis II is because, traditionally, this was the second test prospective teachers took during their certification journey.

Why did the names of these tests change?

Certification has changed a little over the years. Now, many states allow teachers to enter the classroom full-time before completing all of the tests, so some teachers take their subject area exams first. This way, they can get hired in a school and continue to work on other tests. Usually states give teachers 3 years to pass their exams.

This is why ETS no longer refers to these tests as the Praxis I and Praxis II. Instead, they refer to the Praxis I as the Praxis Core, and the Praxis II as whatever specific subject area exam it is. However, the Praxis I and Praxis II names stuck, and some people still refer to these tests as such.

To recap, the Praxis I is the Praxis Core, which is a basic skills exam, and the Praxis II is the subject area exam teachers take based on the content area and grade level they are seeking certification in.

What states require Praxis I and Praxis II?

Right now, 36 states require one or more Praxis exams. However, every state is has its own credential requirements. That’s why it is very important to check with your state’s Department of Education to determine which tests you need to register for.

You can also check your state requirements on the ETS website. There you can search by state and see exactly what exams are required for each type of teacher.

Here’s what it looks like for New Jersey. I searched New Jersey in the search bar on the ETS state requirement page and then clicked licensure requirements. There I have the option to choose different content areas that apply to me by clicking the plus signs next to each content area:

Notice, to be certified as an elementary teacher in New Jersey, I have to take the Praxis 5001, which includes the subtests 5002, 5003, 5004, and 5005.

While the ETS website is an amazing resource to find your state requirements for certification, I recommend you also check your state Department of Education’s website under teacher certification to cross reference this information. This ensures you are registering for the right exam.

There are also different tests for the same subject area and grade level. For example, there are many different Praxis Elementary Education tests. Some states, like New Jersey, use the 5001 but others use the 5901, the 7811, the 5006, the 5017 or the 5018.

There are two different high school English Language Arts tests –the 5038 and the 5039. Even PE has two different Praxis exams–the 5091 and the 5095. That’s why it is very important to check your state’s specific guidelines for certification.

Is the Praxis II harder than the Praxis I?

Some people might think one test is harder than the other, but the reality is, these are very different exams, and it is impossible to compare the two in terms of difficulty.

The Praxis Core (Praxis I) is like an ACT or SAT. It assesses your abilities in reading, writing, and math.

The Praxis Subject Area Exams (Praxis II) assess all different types of content depending on the content area they test. For example, the Praxis Physics exam is very difficult for someone who is trained in elementary education. Similarly, the Praxis Elementary Education exam would be difficult for someone who has a background in physics.

I recommend you check out our webinars for the Praxis exams by visiting this link and filling out the form. There you will get access to videos, sample study guides, free practice test questions, and discounts on our paid resources.

We have an extensive program for the Praxis Core (Praxis I). Check out these free webinars, mini study guides and study plans by filling out the form below.

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