Study Guide

Preparing for the Test

This section of the preparation guide offers suggestions on how to prepare for a test in the CTCE program. Candidates planning to take a test may find the suggestions helpful. However, this guide is not intended to address all possible strategies for preparation.

Understanding the Content of the Test

The first step in preparing for the test is to identify the information the test will cover. The test objectives can be a helpful study tool because they define the content that will be assessed by the test.

The test objectives can be found in the preparation materials available at www.ct.nesinc.com, and in section 3 of this preparation guide. The components of the test objectives are described below.

The test objectives reflect subject-matter knowledge that the Connecticut State Department of Education has determined to be important for teachers in Connecticut public schools. The content described in the test objectives is typically learned through college-level coursework and other educational experiences at Connecticut educator preparation institutions.

Using the Test Objectives
Developing a Study Outline

You may wish to use the test objectives and descriptive statements to prepare an outline of the content likely to be covered on the test, especially the content about which you are unsure. The process described here, which is designed to be used with the Study Outline Chart links to a PDF, may help you organize your thoughts and your future studies for the test both in college coursework and through other educational activities.

You may follow this process by yourself or with others in your program, such as the members of a study group. As you read the test objectives, remember that some of the test objectives may refer to content that you are currently learning or will learn in the near future during your college preparation, while other test objectives may refer to content you may have learned earlier or elsewhere.

  1. The first column of the chart lists test objective numbers. In the second column, briefly summarize the topic of each test objective, using a two- or three-word phrase (e.g., "Reading Comprehension," "Early Childhood Development").
  2. Read and consider each test objective and its associated descriptive statement and envision the content likely to be covered. Try to imagine the types of questions that might be asked about that content. Consider the content in relation to courses or other educational activities that you have undertaken in college or that you might undertake in the future. Brainstorm as many ideas as you can. Participation in a study group may be particularly helpful for this task.
  3. In the third column, indicate the extent of your knowledge and educational preparation regarding the content of each test objective. Use symbols such as "checkmark" to indicate adequate knowledge and preparation, "X" to indicate partial knowledge and preparation, and "?" to indicate little or no knowledge and preparation.
  4. Beginning with areas you identified where you have partial (X) or little or no (?) knowledge and preparation, devise a plan to increase your knowledge or enhance your preparation. See the next section on "Identifying Resources" to help you find solutions to your individual needs. Note in this column resources that may be particularly useful to you.

At the conclusion of this process you will have a chart listing the test objectives (and parts of test objectives) about which you will need to learn more in preparing for the test. You will also have a plan for addressing your preparation needs.

Identifying Resources

After you have identified the test objectives on which you will focus your time, consider the resources you may use in studying the content of those test objectives. You may determine that you have not taken some relevant courses that would have covered content that will be assessed on the test. Consult with your advisor and, on his or her recommendation, take courses that will help you strengthen those areas where your content knowledge may be less strong.

Other resources include written materials, such as textbooks from relevant classes, your class notes and assignments, textbooks currently in use in Connecticut public elementary and secondary schools, state curriculum frameworks, and publications from local, state, and national professional organizations. In addition, people can be important resources, including other students who have taken courses related to your needs and instructors who teach such courses. Instructors may be able to guide you in finding and reviewing notes and textbooks.

Approaching the Test Items

Multiple-Choice Item Formats

The multiple-choice items in the CTCE program are designed to assess subject-matter knowledge described in the set of test objectives for each test field. You will be expected to demonstrate more than your ability to recall factual information; you may be asked to think critically about information, analyze it, apply it, consider it carefully, compare it with other knowledge you have, or make a judgment about it.

You may see several multiple-choice item formats in the CTCE tests. Not all types of test items that may appear on a test are illustrated. Actual test items are not necessarily identical in wording or format to the sample items in this guide. Not every test will include all the item formats discussed in this section, but it is in your best interest to be prepared to answer all types of items in the event that they are included on the test(s) you elect to take. Following are examples of the most common multiple-choice item formats and descriptions of approaches you might use to answer the items.

For each multiple-choice item there are four response options, one of which is the best response of the choices given. Each multiple-choice item counts equally toward a candidate's total multiple-choice section score. There is no penalty for guessing.

The tests may include a number of test items that do not count toward a candidate's score because they are being tried out for future administrations of the CTCE. Approximately 15 percent of the multiple-choice items on each test are nonscorable. Nonscorable items are included so that data can be collected on their psychometric characteristics for possible use as scorable items on future tests.

Multiple-Choice Item Format One: The Single Test Item

In the single test-item format, a problem is presented as a direct question or an incomplete statement, and four response options (A, B, C, and D) appear below the question. The following sample test item from the Foundations of Reading (090) test is an example of this type. (The * indicates the best response of the choices given.)

Example of multiple-choice item format one: a single test item

In which of the following nonsense words is the vowel sound likely to be the same as the vowel sound in the word on?

  1. goan
  2. goble
  3. *gobb
  4. gowl

For test items in this format, a suggested approach is to read the entire item carefully and critically. Think about what it is asking and the situation it is describing. It is best to read and evaluate all four response options to find the best answer; you should not stop at the first answer that seems reasonable. After reading all four response options, eliminate any obviously wrong answers, and select the best choice from the remaining answers. There is no penalty for guessing.

Multiple-Choice Item Format Two: Test Items with Stimulus Material

Some test items are preceded by stimulus material to which the test items relate. Some examples of stimulus material that may be included on a test are maps, charts, tables, graphs, reading passages, and descriptions of classroom situations. In some cases, there is only one test item related to the stimulus provided. In other cases, two or more test items are related to a single stimulus. Each stimulus is preceded by a direction line. The following sample from the Foundations of Reading (090) test includes an excerpt from a textbook as the stimulus for one sample test item. (The * indicates the best response of the choices given.)

Example of multiple-choice item format two: a test item with stimulus material

Use the information below to answer the question that follows.

Students in a fourth-grade class read the following passage from their science textbook.

You can sometimes feel static electricity in action. As you take off a sweater over your head, some of the negatively charged particles from the sweater rub onto your hair. This gives your hair extra negative charges, while your sweater is left with extra positive charges. Notice how your hair sticks to the sweater as you pull it over your head.

This passage illustrates which of following types of text structure?

  1. comparison and contrast
  2. *cause and effect
  3. thesis and evidence
  4. problem and solution

The following approach is suggested when responding to test items with stimulus material. First, examine the stimulus. Note how the information is presented.

Next, address the sample test item associated with this stimulus. As you consider each response option, look back at the stimulus to determine which type of text structure is used in the excerpt. The type of text structure used in the excerpt is cause and effect (taking off a sweater causes charged particles from the sweater to rub onto a person's hair, leading the person's hair to stick to the sweater). Therefore, B is the correct response.

Open-Response Item Formats

The CTCE tests include two open-response items for which you are asked to prepare a written response. These items are designed to measure the depth and breadth of the candidate's knowledge in the subject area, the candidate's understanding of fundamental concepts of the discipline, and the candidate's familiarity with field-specific methodologies.

The open-response items are designed to require the integration of knowledge from one or several subareas and to be comparable to each other in terms of information presented, the type of response required, and the difficulty of the items from one test form to the next. Responses to each open-response item typically require about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. For the open-response items that require written responses, each item will generally include:

  1. contextual or background information that presents the topic of the open-response item; and
  2. one or more specific directions or assignments that advise you of the elements that you are expected to provide in your response.

The following open-response item from the Early Childhood (002) test illustrates the components of a typical open-response item. The first paragraph introduces the topic of the assignment. The second paragraph, and accompanying bulleted instructions, describes the writing task candidates must undertake and the elements they must include in their response.

Use the information below to complete the exercise that follows.

An important learning standard for first-grade students is to identify and explain the meaning of American national symbols (e.g., the American flag, the bald eagle, the White House, the Statue of Liberty).

Using your knowledge of U.S. history and child development, prepare a response in which you:

  • describe the meaning of two American national symbols;
  • summarize a learning experience that would help first-grade students learn to identify and explain the meaning of American national symbols; and
  • explain why the experience fosters learning and development for first-grade students.

Scoring of Open-Response Items

Open-response items are scored holistically according to standardized procedures, using approved scoring scales. In judging the overall effectiveness of each response, scorers use scoring scales that describe varying levels of performance.

As a whole, the response to each assignment must demonstrate an understanding of the content of the field. Responses are scored on the extent to which they achieve the purpose of the assignment, are appropriate and accurate in the application of subject-matter knowledge, provide high-quality and relevant supporting evidence, and demonstrate a soundness of argument and understanding of the subject area.

Open-response items are scored holistically by two or more qualified educators during scoring sessions held after each test administration. Scorers are oriented before the scoring session to ensure that all responses are scored according to standardized procedures.

Performance characteristics and scoring scales are available in section 5 of this preparation guide.

The Day of the Test

Planning for the Day of the Test

The following are tips to help you prepare for the day of the test.

Start early.
Dress comfortably.
Arriving at the test center.

Test-Taking Tips

The following tips for taking standardized tests are offered as suggestions that may contribute to your success and confidence during the test session.

Watch the tutorials.
Follow directions.
Pace your work.
Read carefully.
Choose wisely.
Check your accuracy.
Review the open-response items carefully.

After the Test

Score Reporting

Score reports are available for 2 years in your account. From your account, you may view, print, and save your score report during that period. Your testing history for all tests taken, reported as pass/fail status, is always available to you through your account.

After the 2-year period, you may request a copy using the reprint request form.

The score report you receive is for your information and for your personal records. Your test scores will be reported to you, the CSDE, and the institution(s) that you indicated when you registered. The institution(s) will receive information about whether you passed the test and, if you did not pass the test, your total test score. Information about your performance on the individual subareas of the test will be released to the institution(s) only if you give explicit permission with your registration.

Interpreting Your Score Report

Each CTCE test has its own passing score set by the Connecticut State Board of Education. In order to report test scores in a consistent way, the scores for all the tests are reported on the same scale. Test results are reported as scores in a range of 100 to 300. The passing score for each test may be found on the test landing page for the field (select your field from the table on the Tests page). Therefore, a total test scaled score equal to or higher than the passing score is required to pass the test.

Your total test score is based on your performance on all sections of the test. Your multiple-choice score and scores on open-response items are combined to obtain your total score, reported on the 100 to 300 scale. The scaled score for the multiple-choice items is obtained from the number of test items answered correctly. The scaled score for the open-response items is obtained from the scores assigned to the candidate's written responses. If a candidate does not attempt an open-response item on the test, no points are contributed to the candidate's score for that test item.