The Test of Academic Proficiency (formerly the Basic Skills Test) is a state-wide requirement for Admission to Teacher Education. It is strongly recommended that candidates take measures to prepare for the test in order to maximize their potential for success. Given the high stakes nature of this test and other required certification tests, we urge you to be prepared. Sitting repeatedly for a test will also require paying to take the tests multiple times, which will be costly.
Effective January 2010, there is a limit on the number of times that an individual can take the Test of Academic Proficiency. No individual will be allowed to take the Test of Academic Proficiency more than five times. For this reason, individuals not passing the test should not repeat the test without taking measures to remediate their areas of weakness.
Effective September 2010, the State of Illinois increased the minimum passing scores required on the Test of Academic Proficiency. In order to pass the Test of Academic Proficiency individuals must achieve passing scores on the three multiple choice sub-tests (Reading Comprehension, Language Arts and Mathematics) and achieve a passing score on the Writing sub-test (Writing Sample). The minimum passing scores for the three multiple choice sections require individuals to get approximately 80% of the items correct for each given sub-test. Currently, less than 50% of individuals taking the test state-wide are passing on their first attempt. For this reason all individuals planning to take the test are strongly encouraged to follow the study plan below.
Individuals who took the Test of Academic Proficiency on or after September 2010 and were successful on one or more of the sub-tests will only need to retake the sub-tests on which they were unsuccessful.
Registration information and materials for all Illinois Teacher Certification Tests are available online at http://www.icts.nesinc.com/. The test can be taken either in paper/pencil format or in a computer based testing format (at selected sites, on selected dates). Please watch test registration and score report deadlines carefully. When registering for all tests please be sure to report NIU as a score recipient.
Suggested Study Plan/Preparation Resources
1) Review the Test Framework (http://www.icts.nesinc.com/PDFs/IL_fld300_FW.pdf) – The Test of Academic Proficiency Framework provides information on the content covered on the Test of Academic Proficiency in the areas of Reading Comprehension, Language Arts, Mathematics, and Writing. The framework is a great starting point to preparing for the test.
2) Take the Test of Academic Proficiency Diagnostic Test (http://www.icts.nesinc.com/IL_practest_opener.asp) – The Test of Academic Proficiency Diagnostic Practice Test is an interactive computer program that contains a full-length practice test form for the Test of Academic Proficiency, including questions for the Reading Comprehension, Language Arts, and Mathematics sub-areas of the test. In addition, a constructed-response writing assignment and sample responses to the practice test writing assignment is provided to assist in the preparation for the Writing sub-area. The program also includes a tutorial providing instructions on how to use and navigate through the practice test, and correct answer explanations for the multiple-choice questions. Once you have completed the practice test, print out and review the score report for each sub-test. Remember, the passing score for each sub-test is now 80%. If your score is less than 80% for any given sub-test you are encouraged to utilize the resources below.
3) Utilize Commercial Guides (Test of Academic Proficiency and ACT Study Guides) – Many commercial test preparation publishers have developed study guides for the Illinois Test of Academic Proficiency. These study guides can be found at bookstores or on-line through sites such as Amazon. In addition to the Illinois Test of Academic Proficiency test preparation books, many students have found ACT Study Guides a help in preparing for the test.
4) Review High School textbooks (especially in Mathematics). Many of the concepts covered on the Test of Academic Proficiency are taught primarily at the high school level.
5) Seek help from a tutor – Ask a former teacher, friend or acquaintance with exceptionally strong skills in the given area in which you need help. Share with them the results of your diagnostic test and then work with them through an ACT of Commercial ICTS Prep Book.
6) Purchase Test of Academic Proficiency Test Prep Software – Some individuals have found software such as that available through Longsdale Publishers (http://www.longsdalepub.com/) helpful in preparing for the test.
7) Watch for workshops designed specifically on preparing for the Test of Academic Proficiency – Northern Illinois University College of Education provides students with one-on-one tutoring and workshop assistance to prepare for the Test of Acadmic Proficiency and the Assessment of Professional Teaching exam. The tutoring sessions and workshops are held throughout the year in the Learning Center (The Learning Center – College of Education, Gabel Hall, Room 8.
(815) 753-1241, email@example.com.)
8) Utilize other online skill building resources: - There are numerous online resources designed to help build your reading comprehension, language arts, math, and writing skills. Some of these resources are:
a. Math.com (http://www.math.com/)
b. Math Power (http://www.mathpower.com/) This site provides information about basic math, algebra, study skills, math anxiety and learning styles.
c. Math Forum @ Drexel (http://www.mathforum.org/) This site provides help in all levels of mathematics in a question and answer format.
d. Grammar Tutorial (WIU) (http://www.wiu.edu/users/mfamf/languageinuse)
e. Purdue Online Writing Lab (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts) This site contains handouts and online quizzes on a variety of writing topics such as the writing process, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and essay writing.
f. Townsend Pres Online Learning Center (http://www.townsendpress.com/) Click on online learning center, and then Try TRP Exercises.
REMEMBER THAT EFFECTIVE PREPARATION WILL REQUIRE SEVERAL HOURS A WEEK FOR MULTIPLE WEEKS.
DO NOT LEAVE STUDYING FOR THE TEST OF ACADEMIC PROFICIENCY UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE!