Prepare for Texas Certification Tests
Prepare for Texas Certification Tests
Before you can teach in Texas, you’ll need to pass some tests. 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 Texas teachers, the most relevant tests will be the Pre-Admission Content Test (PACT) and the Texas Examination of Educator Standards (TExES). The PACT is sometimes required for teaching program applications, while the TExES is required to get certified.
We’ll go over both the PACT and TExES in detail—what they cover, who they’re for and what resources can help you prepare.
Let’s start with the PACT.
If you have any questions about your teaching program applications, reach out to a TEACH for Houston coach or admissions staff for support. We’re here for you.
All About the PACT
What is the PACT?
The Pre-Admission Content Test, or PACT, is an exam that some students take before starting a teaching program.
You might take the PACT if you already have a bachelor’s degree and you’re applying for an alternative certification or post-baccalaureate program.
If you’re working towards your teaching certificate and your bachelor’s degree at the same time, you won’t need to take the PACT.
Texas changed its teacher certification testing process in January 2020. Before this change, TExES exams and PACT exams were the same test used for different purposes. These are no longer the same test—but in your test preparation, you might come across resources that seem to use PACT and TExES interchangeably. This is why!
What does the PACT cover?
The PACT covers subject matter for your future teaching area, but doesn’t cover teaching practices—also called pedagogy.
Who needs to take the PACT?
Before you enroll in a teaching program, Texas law requires that you take the PACT if you:
- Have a GPA below 2.5 from your college or university OR
- Have not completed at least 12 credit hours (usually 3-4 classes) in your subject area (15 hours if you are planning to teach math or science).
Some programs require you to take the PACT regardless of your GPA or credit hours. Check to find out if you need to take the PACT, or if they have ways to waive the requirement.
Who is eligible to take the PACT?
You can sign up for the PACT if you:
- Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university OR are within one semester of getting your bachelor’s.
- Have never been admitted to a Texas-approved teaching program, or if you are transferring from a different program. If you are transferring, your new program may request a Candidate Transfer Form.
Which PACT do I take?
The right PACT for you depends on your teaching interests. Check out the official exams page to see which test matches the subject and grade level you plan to teach. Click the PACT tab and scroll down to see the full list of PACT options.
All About the TExES
What is the TExES?
Before you can teach in Texas, you’ll need to pass a certification exam for your subject area and grade level. In Texas, this is called the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards, or TExES. This test is for all future teachers, even if you took the PACT.
What does the TExES cover?
The TExES covers grade level subject matter, as well as teaching strategies and best practices.
Who needs to take the TExES?
All future teachers need to take the TExES. If you don’t pass your exam the first time, don’t panic. You have five attempts to pass the test and get certified.
When do I take the TExES?
You’ll typically take the TExES around the time you finish your teaching program. If you don’t take it before graduation, you should at least have registered for the exam before you graduate.
Who is eligible to take the TExES?
Your teaching program needs to approve you to take the TExES. Some programs use GPA and overall academic history for approval. Others may require you to take a qualifying exam first. Check with your program to see how their TExES approval system works.
Which TExES do I take?
Your TExES will depend on the subject and grade you plan to teach. Visit the official exams page to see a full list of TExES options. Click the TExES tab and scroll down to see all exams.
What if I have a teaching certification from outside of Texas?
If you already have a certification in a state or country outside of Texas, you’ll need to apply for a credential review to be a Texas teacher. In the credential review application, you’ll need to provide:
- Your official transcripts from any college, university or teaching program you’ve attended.
- Copies of your certification(s).
- Proof of English language proficiency, if you earned your degree outside the U.S. (more on that in our Teacher Prep Program Guide)
- A $164 credential review fee.
If you haven’t taken certification tests or if you don’t have all the test exemption documentation, you’ll need to register to take the TExES as well.
Remember why you're doing this
State tests are required—but remember, your scores don’t reflect the kind of teacher you will be. Exams like the PACT and TExES 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!
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!)
Register for your test
Once you know which exam you’re taking, head over to the online registration page. Pearson Education runs both the PACT and TExES, so you’ll use the same registration for either test. When you create an account, this page will ask you to share your contact information and Texas Education Agency Login (TEAL) number.
If you don’t have a TEAL number, you’ll want to create one with the Texas Educator Certification Online System.
After you create an account, you can schedule your test(s), access prep materials and check your scores. For more details on test registration, check out the Texas Educator Certification Examination Program guide.
Note that not all subject area tests are offered on a continuous basis. Some are only offered in specific windows—so be sure to check your exam’s schedule with plenty of time to spare!
Alternative testing arrangements
When you’re registering for your test, this is also when you’ll want to request any accommodations you’ll need. Currently, Texas offers testing accommodations, such as alternative testing locations or extra time, for:
- Teaching candidates with disabilities.
- Teaching candidates with health issues that interfere with testing.
- Teaching candidates who are nursing.
Visit the Requesting Alternative Testing Arrangements page to learn more about alternative arrangements and how to get them.
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 Pearson test prep center has step-by-step exam instructions, including a tool to see exactly how long each exam is and what kinds of questions it includes.
- Plan your approach. The Texas Education Agency has a Student Profile Worksheet to help you figure out where you need to focus and get the right resources.
- 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 below).
- 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.
Gather your study materials
You have many options for study guides for both the PACT and TExES. Some come directly from Pearson, while others come from other educational organizations and universities.
We’ll share a few here.
Pearson study materials
- Test prep manuals: Each PACT and TExES has a free preparation manual. These manuals cover everything from study tips to sample questions to strategies for answering multiple-choice questions. To access the manual for your test, visit the preparation manual page and find your test in the drop-down menu at the bottom.
- Practice tests: You can take online practice tests that include sample questions and immediate feedback. Each practice test is $10. Visit the interactive practice exams page to learn more and see available options.
- Testing tutorials: Your PACT or TExES will be a computer-administered test, or CAT. Watch a tutorial and get a sense of what to expect at the computer-administered testing tutorials page.
Study tips: Get a comprehensive overview of how to prepare and what to expect with the Texas Education Agency’s study tips guide.
Third-party test prep materials
You also have numerous test prep resources from universities and test prep companies. Here are a few we recommend.
Free test prep options
- TExES Mathematics: The University of Houston’s TExES 4-8 Mathematics preparation site offers preparation for math certification, based on the TExES Mathematics 4-8 exam. Get access to online quizzes, discussion boards and more.
- TExES Music: The Texas Music Educators Association’s TExES Music preparation and review page offers support for music certification. Review course topic areas, frequently missed topics on practice tests, a selected bibliography of resources and a short practice exam.
- Various TExES: Texas A&M offers the TExES Certification Exam Review for Teachers (T-CERT), with preparation for exams including math, special education, science, social studies and core subjects. Get practice questions, video review sessions and study handouts.
Paid test prep options
Tip: Before purchasing any test prep materials, check with your program to see if any discount codes are available for your test prep option of choice.
- $19.99-$39.99: Mometrix offers flashcards practice tests and highly rated study guides for both PACT and TExES exams. You can also take a TExES Core Subjects prep course for $59.99/month. You can return your study materials for a full refund for up to one year after you purchase them.
- $21.95: Exam Edge offers a handful of free practice tests, plus the option to purchase individual practice PACT and TExES exams (with lower rates if you bundle multiple practice exams together).
- $37-$80: CertifyTeacher offers interactive practice tests, study guides and an accompanying app, which range in cost depending on your test. CertifyTeacher is included in many educator preparation programs’ study guide recommendation lists.
- $39.99/month: For a flat rate, 240Tutoring offers access to all PACT and TExES study guides, with the ability to cancel any time. If you score 90% on their practice test but fail your TExES, you’ll get a full refund for up to two months of your subscription. You can also get a free practice test without subscribing. Check out their Facebook page for user reviews.
TEACH for Houston offers reimbursements for PACT registration fees and test prep materials! (This does not apply to TExES costs.) Visit our Fee Reimbursements page to learn more about eligibility and how to apply.