A teacher prep candidate sits at her laptop studying for her Missouri certification exams. She is wearing a hijab and holding a pencil against her head while she reads.
1.3 hours

Prepare for Missouri Certification Tests

Learn about the exams you need to take and how to prepare.

Before you can teach in Missouri, you’ll need to pass at least one test related to your subject area. If testing stresses you out, you’re definitely not alone. We’re here to help you find the right tools to ace your exams.

For most Missouri teachers, the most important tests will be the core academic skills test and the content area assessment.

We’ll go over each exam in detail—what they cover, who they’re for and what resources can help you prepare. 

Get a leg up on test requirements in your program checklist. If you have any questions about your teaching program applications, reach out to a TEACH Missouri coach or admissions staff for support. We’re here for you.

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All About the Core Academic Skills Assessment

What is the core academic skills test?

The core academic skills test is an exam you’ll take before you start an undergraduate teaching program. You do not need to take a core academic skills test if you already have a bachelor’s degree.

When you apply to a teaching program as an undergrad, you’ll need to submit scores from an approved test that covers basic skills in reading, writing, math and social studies. You may have already taken this exam—the ACT counts! If you haven’t taken the ACT, you can also take the Missouri General Education Assessment, or MoGEA.

When do I need to take the core academic skills test?

Usually, you’ll need to include your core academic skills scores with your teaching program application—so you’ll need to take the test, or get an official copy of your previous test scores, before you apply. Some programs only require you to be scheduled to take the test when you apply.

What score do I need?

Each teaching program sets its own required scores for both the ACT and MoGEA exams.

For the ACT, most programs require a score of at least 20. Programs generally require 170-220 for each section of the MoGEA. You can see a full list of score requirements for Missouri teaching programs at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) statewide passing scores page.


All About the Content Area Assessment

What is the content area assessment?

To get certified to teach in Missouri, you’ll need to pass an exam in your subject area. This is to show that you know your subject matter well enough to teach it.   

In Missouri, the approved test is the Missouri Content Assessment, or MoCA. Depending on what you plan to teach, you might take multiple MoCA exams.

When do I take the MoCA?

The timing of your MoCA will depend on your teaching program. For some programs, you’ll need to pass your content exam before you apply. Other programs only require you to register for your content test before submitting your application. And in other programs, you’ll take the MoCA while you’re enrolled, before you start student teaching.

Check with the programs you’re considering to find out when you’ll need to take your content area test. 

Which MoCA do I need to take?

Your content area test will depend on the subject you plan to teach. Look at the Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments testing page to see a full list of test options, test codes and grade levels for each exam. 

I’m certified to teach outside of Missouri. Do I need to take a test?

Your Missouri certification process will depend on your experience and what certificate or license you hold. If you’re certified to teach in another state, the Missouri DESE will need to review your credentials. You’ll need to fill out a Non-Missouri Graduate Application as well as a Verification of Teaching Experience form.

In most cases, your previous certification will transfer to the equivalent Missouri certification, and you won’t need to take another test. Visit the Missouri DESE Becoming a Certified Teacher page for more details.

Getting test-ready

If you’re not the most confident test-taker, that’s okay. There are a lot of resources and support to prepare! We’ll go over some general test strategies, and we’ll share specific resources for your particular exam.
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    Step one: Remember why you’re doing this

    Certification tests are required—but remember, your scores don’t necessarily reflect the kind of teacher you will be. Exams like the MoCA are just one more step on your way to certification, and you can take them more than once.

    You’re on a mission, and you’ve got this!

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    Step two: Make a schedule

    You’ve worked hard to get where you are. You’ve put together an amazing application, and you’re pretty sure you aced your teaching exam. But just as you’re submitting your materials to your program, you find out that your test scores won’t be available until after the application deadline.

    Don’t let this happen to you! Making a test schedule can save you application frustration and stress later on. You’ll want to know:

    • Your program’s application deadline.
    • What test scores your program requires.
    • The dates that your test is offered. 
    • How far in advance the test-maker requires you to register before you take your test.
    • How long it takes to get your scores after you’ve taken the test

    Once you know these important dates, we recommend adding at least an extra week or two of cushion. That way, if your test is rescheduled or your testing equipment isn’t working, you won’t be scrambling to take the test in time.

    After you register for your test, you can work backward: Figure out how much time you have between now and your testing date. Then, make yourself a study schedule that maps out how and when you’ll study for your exam (more on that in Step 4!)

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    Step three: Register for your test

    Check with your teaching program to find out when you need to have taken and passed the ACT, MoGEA or MoCA, and to verify which tests you’ll take. 

    ACT Registration

    If you’re taking the ACT, visit the ACT test registration page, where you’ll create an account and pay for your exam.

    The ACT exam fee is $60 for the full test, or $25 for a single exam.

    MoGEA and MoCA registration

    If you’re taking the MoGEA or MoCA, head over to the Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments registration page. Once you create an account, you can schedule your test, access preparation materials and check your scores.

    The MoGEA test fee is $59 for all tests (math, reading, writing and social studies), or $25 for a single exam.

    The MoCA test fee is $73

    Alternative testing arrangements

    All exams have options to request special accommodations, such as alternative testing locations or extra time. 

    Learn more about available accommodations and how to request them for each exam:

    ACT Testing Accommodations

    MoGEA and MoCA Testing Accommodations

    Make sure you schedule your exam far enough out so that your accommodations request can get processed. Depending on the exam, this extra processing time can be anywhere from ten days to six weeks.

  4. 4

    Step four: Plan your study time

    Once you’ve registered, make a list of everything you need to do between now and your test day.

    Make a study schedule that includes time to:

    • Get a general test overview. The Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments site has testing tutorials that cover how to navigate a MoGEA or MoCA exam, as well as test frameworks that go over test structure and content areas for each exam. 
    • Plan your approach. The Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments site offers test preparation videos to help you figure out how to prepare, where to focus and how to ace your exam.
    • Research test prep resources. Figure out what study materials you want to use, and give yourself plenty of time to order the right books, manuals or other resources (see our resource list in Step 5).
    • Study your subject matter. This is where you’ll spend most of your time. Plan regular time to look over study guides, revisit textbooks or old class assignments, review flashcards, work with a study group… there are lots of ways to get the material down! The most important thing is to pace yourself so you’re not cramming at the last minute. 
    • Take practice tests. Even if you know all the information, you’ll want to get used to the test-maker’s phrasing and test structure. Practice tests can help you know what to expect on test day and learn how to approach questions you’re unsure of. You can find practice test options in the next section.
  5. 5

    Step five: Gather your study materials

    Whichever test you’re taking, there are study guides to help you prepare. Some come directly from test-makers, while others come from other educational organizations and universities.

    We’ll share a few resources here. 

    Study materials from test-makers

    • Test prep materials: Most tests come with free preparation materials from the test-maker. These materials cover everything from study tips to sample questions to strategies for answering multiple-choice questions. Find the free prep materials for your test:
      • ACT: The ACT test prep page features study guides, online practice, writing samples, test prep webinars and more.
      • MoGEA and MoCA: The Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments preparation page offers study guides, sample questions, test-taking tips and testing strategies.
    • Practice tests: 
      • ACT: You can create an ACT account to get a free online practice test
      • MoGEA and MoCA: If you’re taking the MoGEA or MoCA, you can access sample questions and review for free. You can also buy a practice test for $17.50-$29.95.

    Before you purchase any test prep materials, check with your program to see if any discount codes are available for your test prep option of choice.

    Third-party study materials

    You also have several test prep options from third-party companies. Here are a few suggestions to get started. While we have not personally vetted all of these resources, you may find them useful in your test preparation.

    Free test prep options

    • ACT: Head to your local library and check out ACT prep books from test prep gurus like Kaplan or CliffsNotes. (If you’re planning to mark up your book, you should probably buy the book instead!)

    Paid test prep options

    • $19.95: If you’re taking the MoCA, you could consider purchasing a Praxis practice test for your content area. Many states use the Praxis as their teacher certification exam. Although the test is not identical to the MoCA, you may find it helpful to practice another test for your content area. The Praxis page also offers other free test prep materials. 
    • $29.99-$39.99: Mometrix offers study guides, flashcards and online courses to prepare for either the MoGEA or ACT. You can also take free practice quizzes for both exams. 
    • $59.99/month: Study.com offers study materials for ACT, MoGEA and MoCA exams. You can get a free 30-day trial, followed by a monthly fee. Test prep materials include free practice tests, plus study guides, practice questions and video lessons.

    TEACH Missouri offers $100 in reimbursement for any test fees that are required for you to apply and enroll in a teaching program. That could include registration fees and test prep materials for your MoGEA or ACT exam! (Reimbursements do not include tests that you take after you’ve enrolled.) Visit the TEACH Missouri Fee Reimbursements page to learn more about eligibility and how to apply.

On Test Day

You’ve registered, studied and taken practice tests—and you’re ready for your exam! 

How should I prepare for test day?

Remember to take care of yourself before your test:

  • Verify your test location. Even if you think you know where your exam is being held, double-check that the test center schedule hasn’t changed.
  • Get plenty of sleep the night before.  
  • Eat a decent breakfast the day of the test.
  • Bring a water bottle.
  • Show up early. If you’re late for your test, you won’t be allowed in. Hanging outside the testing center for 20 extra minutes is better than stressing yourself out minutes before you have to think critically for an exam. 
  • Dress in layers. Test centers can be chilly, and you’d rather be able to remove a jacket than be uncomfortable for the duration of your exam.
  • Bring required materials. You’ll need identification when you arrive for your test. Depending on your specific exam, you may also need other materials, like a calculator. Check out the ACT On Test Day page or the Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments Day of the Test page for more details about what you’ll need. 

Testing from home? 

Some of the suggestions above, such as getting enough sleep and eating a good breakfast, are important for at-home testing as well. You can also consider these at-home testing tips:

  • Check your equipment. If you’re testing through your home computer, the testing company may require you to download specific software or other computer equipment. Make sure everything is running smoothly before test day, to save yourself a headache the day of the exam. Check your equipment at different times of day to ensure that you’ll have enough bandwidth to take your exam without interruptions. 
  • Set up your examination space ahead of time. The test-maker may have specific requirements about how your computer or desk needs to be set up and what your testing room should look like. Make sure you understand these requirements ahead of time so you can start testing with confidence. 
  • Find a quiet space. You may not be allowed to wear earbuds or headphones for your test—so make sure you’re in a place where you’ll be able to focus without distractions. 
  • Log on early. Just like an exam at a test center, you’ll need to start your at-home test on time. Log on with plenty of time to spare, to make sure your computer won’t suddenly freeze or restart right when you need to start testing. 

If you’re testing from home, try setting up your exam space the way it will look on test day, and use it to take practice tests! If you’re studying in your test environment, it can help you recall information when it’s time to take the test for real.

When can I see my scores? 

Score availability will depend on which exam you take and when you take it. 

  • MoGEA and MoCA: You can find your exact score report date on the Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments Scores page.  
  • ACT: Learn how and when to see your score at the ACT Scores page.

How do I report my scores?

When you register for your exam, you can request that your scores get sent to your teaching program or prospective programs. The Missouri DESE will receive your scores automatically.

You may also need to report your scores on your program application itself. Your application checklist has a step for submitting scores!

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