Getting geared up to take the Praxis can feel like a daunting task. I took the test in 2006 (yes, I’m old) while I was just finishing up my master’s degree from Northwestern University. I passed the first time I took it and you will too — because you’re a badass! Here’s how:
- It’s not as bad as you think. For me in life, I’ve found that the anticipation of a future event is worse than said event. There’s got to me some kind of equation for that. If not, I’m going to go ahead and create one. Where E = event, An = anticipation, Ac = actual, and S = stress, S (An(E)) > S (Ac(E)). That’s a badass equation. Try to tell yourself this is just one point of time and in a few years, you will barely remember the Praxis.
- Take it cold. If you got excellent grades in graduate school and you normally do well on exams, you probably won’t have any trouble on the Praxis. Ain’t no thing! If you just graduated or are about to graduate, you will never have any more generalized knowledge over the vast landscape of communication disorders than you had before. Once you are done with school, your neurons are going to organize themselves as you specialize in pediatric speech and language or voice disorders or whatever area speaks to you. So, consider just going to take the test without any special preparation – just a good night of sleep. You’ll be fine.
- The exam’s questions are mostly general, not specific. The exam is going to have a small number of questions from every area of communication disorders from stuttering to aphasia. So don’t worry if you aren’t an expert in Wernicke’s aphasia – it may not be a question on the test. However, even to this day I remember there was a question about language disorders among people with Downs Syndrome. I’ll never know if I answered that question right. I think I did, but maybe I didn’t. It’s okay. I was okay and you will be okay, too.
- Review only your deficit areas. When I getting ready to take the test, I kind of took it cold. All I did was review the core concepts in areas in our profession that were weaker for me. Those included dysphagia and voice disorders. I got out my binders from those classes and went over the notes I’d taken and any exam study guides. I spent 30-45 minutes going over that information. I took the test and passed the first try. Bam!
- Take it while you are still in school. I took the Praxis before I graduated. I decided to take it during my last quarter at Northwestern. It was a good thing I did because it turned out to be a requirement towards getting my temporary state license. I know some people who registered for it after the program ended and the state waited to issue them their certification until scores posted.
- Practice using the questions on the ETS website. Why study your notes when there’s a really good chance stuff you study will not appear on the Praxis? Let’s face it: there will be some random questions that will make you raise an eyebrow. Take the practice exam on the ETS website. Check the Study Companion, which has 24 practice questions: https://www.ets.org/praxis/prepare/materials/5330
- Take it on paper. When I took the Praxis, it was so long ago that it was only offered on paper. Now you can take it on the computer or by paper. If the computer-based test makes you nervous, consider taking a paper-based test. You will not get the results as fast, but it might be easier to be able to flip through pages and gauge the time needed to finish. Paper might be right for you, hipster friends.
- Don’t overthink it: You only need to get a 70% to pass. Most of the speech pathologists I know are amazingly organized women who work their butts off to plan therapy and perform evaluations. While it’s important to be thoughtful about taking the Praxis, don’t overdo it. You only need a 70% to pass – you don’t have to be perfect. In fact, you can miss three out of ten questions and still be okay because (repeat after me) you are a badass.
- Get sleep and drink lots of water. There is one thing that will impact your ability to do well and that is sleep and hydration. In the four days before the exam, go to bed early and drink enough. Research shows that how you feel today is a result not just of last night’s sleep, but the previous four nights of rest. With respect to drinking water, your brain cycles through cerebral spinal fluid every seven hours. So stay hydrated and keep your brain clear.
- Think of it as just another hurdle. There were so many hurdles to jump over to become a speech pathologist. From the start there’s the graduate school application, recommendation letters, the GRE, etc. And then, while you’re in school, you have to have so many different courses you must pass and so many client contact hours dispersed across the spectrum of communication disorders… the list goes on and on. The Praxis is one of the last hurdles you need to cross at the end. Not any bigger than any of the other major hurdles you have already jumped over.
Last thing – get a drink afterwards with your friends when you’ve finished the Praxis. You killed it! When it’s over, be sure to go ahead and celebrate. It really is an accomplishment to jump over one of these final hurdles. You are just moments away from becoming a practicing speech-language pathologist!