A Muslim woman sits at a laptop studying for her Colorado content area assessment.
1.3 hours

Prepare for Colorado Licensure Tests

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

Before you can teach in Colorado, 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 Colorado teachers, the relevant test will be the content area assessment. We’ll go over your content exam options in detail—what they cover, who they’re for and what resources can help you prepare.  

It’s worth noting that Colorado’s public four-year colleges and universities have gone test-optional. That means that if you’re applying to an undergraduate program, these schools do not require test scores like the SAT or ACT for admission. You can learn more in our teacher prep program eligibility guide

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All About the Content Area Assessment

What is the content area assessment?

To get licensed to teach in Colorado, 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 Colorado, the approved content area tests are:

  • The Praxis. This exam covers almost all teaching licensure endorsements in Colorado. The test-maker is Educational Testing Services (ETS). 
  • The NES Chinese (Mandarin) exam. This exam covers the Mandarin world language endorsement. The test-maker is Pearson National Evaluation Series (NES).
  • Most PLACE assessments.

Did you take a PLACE or NES test (other than the NES Mandarin exam) in the last five years? Colorado no longer uses these tests. But if you’ve already taken them, your scores are still valid and applicable for up to five years after the date you took either assessment (May 6, 2022 will be the last date that Colorado accepts scores from these tests).

When do I take the content area assessment? 

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

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

Which content area assessment do I need to take?

Your content area assessment will depend on the subject you plan to teach. Look at the Colorado Department of Education’s endorsement requirements to see a full list of test options, test codes and passing scores for each exam. Some endorsement areas, such as elementary education, require more than one exam.

If you have any questions about your teaching program applications, reach out to a TEACH Colorado coach or admissions staff for support. We're here for you.

I’m licensed to teach outside of Colorado. Do I need to take a test?

Your Colorado licensure process will depend on your experience and what license or certification you hold. If you’re licensed to teach in another state or country, you may need to take a content exam in order to teach in Colorado—even if you’ve taken a similar test elsewhere. You may also need to have your credentials reviewed by the Colorado Department of Education.  

To learn more about licensure for out-of-state educators, visit the CDE’s Credentialing Guide for Out-of-State Applicants. You’ll find more information about whether your current credential is valid in Colorado, as well as checklists to apply for a Colorado teaching license.

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

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

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

  2. 2

    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.
    • Which tests 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 in 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!)

  3. 3

    Step three: Register for your test 

    Check with your teaching program to find out when you need to have taken and passed the subject area assessment, and to verify which tests you’ll take. 

    Praxis content area tests

    If you’re taking the Praxis, head over to the Praxis registration page. There, you will:

    1. Click Register Now.
    2. Select Create Account.
    3. After you’ve created an account, select Register for a Praxis Test.
    4. To find the test you need, choose Colorado as the certifying state.
    5. Check the box next to the test you need to take. Then you’ll be able to choose your testing location, date and time. You’ll choose the date and time separately for each test you’ve selected (most people only need to take one test).
    6. Choose where you want your score reports sent. You can choose up to four teaching programs to receive your scores. If you know your program’s code, you can use that, or you can look up the program by state. 
    7. Verify your information and pay for your exam. Most Praxis content area tests cost $130.

    NES Mandarin test 

    If you need to take the Mandarin content exam, you’ll do that through the Pearson National Evaluation Series website. Select Colorado from the drop-down menu and create an account. 

    After you create your NES account, you can register for your test and choose where you want to send your scores. When you register, you’ll want to look for the “Chinese (Mandarin)” exam on the drop-down menu. The NES Mandarin exam costs $95. 

    Once you have an NES account, you can also access preparation materials and check your scores. 

    At-home testing

    Due to Covid-19, most test-makers now offer a “test from home” option. This lets you take your exam online through a secure portal or proctoring service.

    Praxis online

    You can register to take your Praxis at home through your Praxis account. Visit the Praxis At Home Testing page to see which Praxis exams are available for at home testing and what equipment you’ll need.

    NES online

    You can take your NES Mandarin test from home through Pearson OnVUE. Learn more about online proctoring at the NES Computer-Based Testing page

    Alternative testing arrangements

    All exams have options to request special accommodations, such as alternative testing locations or extra time. Make sure you schedule your exam far enough out so that your accommodations request can get processed. Depending on the exam, this request processing time can be anywhere from ten days to six weeks.  

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

    Praxis Testing Accommodations

    NES Testing Accommodations

  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 Praxis test prep center has familiarization videos that highlight the exam structure and types of questions, so you’ll know what to expect when the time comes. Not taking the Praxis? You can also check out the NES test overview.
    • Plan your approach. Praxis offers study companions and study plans to help you figure out where you need to focus and get the right resources. This study plan is designed for the Praxis, but you can adapt it for whichever test you’re planning to take! 
    • 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.
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    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:
      • Praxis: The Praxis preparation page offers study companions and testing strategies.
      • NES Mandarin: Check out the NES test preparation page. Click on the links to find free sample questions and testing tips to prepare for your exam. You can also purchase a complete study guide for $22.50 at the bottom of the page.
    • Practice tests: 
      • Praxis: When you register for the Praxis, you’ll automatically receive a free practice test. You can buy an additional practice test for $19.95 at the ETS store
      • Mandarin: You can buy a full-length practice test for $29.95 at the bottom of the NES test preparation page. 

    Third-party study materials

    If you’re taking the Praxis, you also have numerous 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

    • Praxis: Head to your local library and check out Praxis 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

    Tip box: 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.

    • $24.99: Kaplan offers Praxis test prep books that have practice tests, detailed explanations of answers, question banks and content review.
    • $39.99/month: For a monthly subscription fee, 240Tutoring offers access to their full catalogue of Praxis content exam study guides. If you score 90% on their practice test but don’t pass your exam, you’ll get a full refund for up to two months of your subscription.
    • $39.99-$49.99: Test Prep Review offers free Praxis example questions and study tips, plus flashcards and study guide books in both printed and ebook formats.
    • $59.99/month: Study.com offers study materials for Praxis exams. You can get a free 30-day trial, followed by a monthly fee. Test prep materials include a free practice test, plus study guides, practice questions and video lessons.
    • Free-$225: Teachers Test Prep offers support for certain Praxis content area tests. You can get free study guides and practice tests, plus paid test prep courses, one-on-one tutoring, video instruction and more. 
    • $299-$499: Kaplan offers test prep courses for some Praxis content area tests. Courses include content review, hundreds of sample questions, full-length practice tests, video instruction and more.

    TEACH Colorado 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 content area test! (Reimbursements do not include tests that you take after you’ve enrolled.) Visit the TEACH Colorado 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 ETS On Test Day page or the NES 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. 

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. You can choose up to four programs to receive your scores. The Colorado Department of Education 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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