Test prep for the win
How TWU student Skylar Plummer used a test prep service to pass her Texas teaching exams on the first try. (And how you can too, for free.)
Author: Jen Cooper
⏱ 5 mins
Picture Skylar Plummer in first grade, dressed in her dad’s blazer and carrying a clipboard on loan from her mom. Surrounded by first grade doctors and artists at her school’s career day, she already knew she would be a teacher someday.
Fast forward through middle and high school in Joshua, Texas, through college at Texas Woman’s University, past part-time jobs and graduation day to now. First grade Skylar would be thrilled to know she was about to begin work at Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD as a communications teacher in a self-contained class for students with autism.
Read on to find out how a free month of 240 Tutoring test prep help Skylar achieve her dream, or claim your own free month.
But first, the hurdles
When she entered TWU’s teacher preparation program, Skylar knew she’d have coursework, lesson planning and student teaching in front of her. Those goals excited her. But she also knew that she’d have to take and pass certification exams—and that was another matter. She needed a good study strategy and lots of practice.
According to data from the Texas Education Agency, about 70 percent of test takers passed the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards (TExES) over the past few years, with some years seeing higher or lower pass rates. Skylar was on a mission to stay out of the other 30 percent.
Note: The TExES is also known as the Pre-Admissions Content Exam (PACT) when you take the test before enrolling in a teacher preparation program.
To study for her certification exams in EC-6 and special education supplemental, Skylar started with the free prep materials offered online by Pearson’s Texas Educator Certification Examination Program. She also checked out guide books from TWU’s student center, and she even took prep courses after school. Yet none of these options offered her the depth of content preparation that she was looking for.
Finding her test prep fit
Skylar heard about 240Tutoring from other TWU students and got a discount code for a free month. After using the service over those 30 days, she had already seen progress with the right combination of practice and feedback.
She improved on each practice test she took, and when she got an answer wrong, the responsive testing software gave a detailed explanation of what went wrong and how to solve it.
“240Tutoring gave me all the materials at once so I could go at my own pace. They gave detailed practice questions, which was really helpful for the history section. It was also really helpful that they give rationale for each answer. The explanations helped me learn to think critically through questions.”
In total, she used the service for about three months—until she passed all the practice tests. In hindsight, it turns out that the practice questions and tests mirrored what was on the real thing.
PACT prep tips from Skylar
If you’re taking the PACT, Skylar recommends studying with 240Tutoring, plus checking out these tricks:
- Use a planner. For Skylar, that means going analog: “I love a good paper planner. I keep it with me and write down everything. You know you have to take certification tests. Have a plan in mind for how you’re going to get it all done.”
- Plan in study time. If you’re in class like Skylar was when she was studying, you’ll need to know how much time you have available for coursework and for test preparation. Skylar’s pro tip? “I definitely think you should plan twice the time you spend in class for studying outside of class.” If you’re taking a three hour class, plan at least six hours to study each week, and bake in a little extra for your test prep.
- Make use of fee reimbursements and free offers. Skylar was able to try 240Tutoring because of the free month she received. She says that, like her, “TWU students are working and going to school at once, and having to pay for practice tests and the extreme cost of the certification test.” Get your month of free test prep!
- Leave early on test day. Skylar had to drive from one side of Dallas to the other. And in DFW, that means traffic. You don’t want to arrive late, or be stressed out about being late, so leave early and relax before your exam.
- Be prepared for a long day. Most TExES tests take about five hours. Skylar warns, “It’s a long test, and you need to go through each section carefully—the content can be tricky!”
Skylar took her tests on a Monday and received the good news by Thursday. (Some test results may take longer longer to arrive—so don’t blame us if you’re waiting around!)
Thanks to her hard work and strategic test preparation, Skylar passed on the first try.
“Oh my gosh, I was so excited. I had to pause at work to check my score. It was so relieving. I wanted to sit and cry. I was so excited—it’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.”
With her degree in hand and passing TExES scores, Skylar could move confidently to the next—and biggest—step. A teaching job. She’s excited to begin her career with Carrollton-Farmers Branch this fall.
Take the PACT with confidence
If you’re ready to apply to a teacher preparation program and need to take the PACT, take advantage of a free month of study materials with 240Tutoring and TeachDFW.
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