Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Taking the MTEL Tests

MTEL Test Mistakes To Avoid MTEL Testing
MTEL / Testing

Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Taking the MTEL Tests

In my 24 years of MTEL preparation, I have heard and corrected many fallacies and mistakes my students have made. In this blog, I will point out some of the most common things that have led to MTEL test failure over the years, along with some simple solutions.  

1. Skipping Questions

Not understanding the structure and nature of any exam you take in school or on a standardized test like the SAT or MTEL makes passing much less likely. For example, test-takers are penalized for wrong answers on some College Board exams like the SAT. This isn’t the case here—Never leave a question blank on an MTEL.

2. Not Understanding How the MTEL Tests Are Scored

MTEL subject matter tests consist of a certain number of multiple-choice questions and one or two open-response questions. The open-response questions are always worth 10% of the total score (this is different on the Communication and Literacy Writing exam (Click here for an explanation of that MTEL), and the multiple-choice questions are worth 80% or 90% of the overall score. This means that most of your time and effort should be spent on the multiple-choice questions. 

3. Taking the MTELs In the Wrong Order 

The open-response questions show up at the end of an MTEL—after the multiple-choice questions. While they are worth only 10% of the score, writing an open response takes much more energy and effort than completing multiple-choice questions. You do not want to write an open response after sweating over 100 multiple-choice questions; your brain will be mush. Do the open-response questions first!

4. Spending Too Much Time On Open-Response Questions

While writing open responses takes lots of energy and concentration and should be written first, they are still only worth 10% of the score—do not spend too much time on them. The goal is to spend 15 minutes on each open response. At most, you should spend 20.  

5. Bad Writing

Open-response questions are not essays—they do not require five paragraphs and a persuasive argument. However, they do require solid basic writing skills. Statements must be clear, concise, and direct and contain adequate support. Many open responses are poorly written, a jumbled mix of ideas that never fully explain what is required.  Paragraphs need to be strong with a good topic sentence and well-reasoned development in your open response, just as in any writing task.  

6. Poor MTEL Test-Taking Skills

If I had to generalize about the 1000s of students I have had over the last 24 years, I would say that most of them—90% or more—identify as “poor test-takers.” They do not have a plan of attack when faced with a multiple-choice, standardized exam; the most common reaction is panic and negative thoughts (“I’m gonna fail again!,” “I hate these exams,” “I’m so stupid,” “I’ve wasted my education,” I’ll never be a teacher”). Sound familiar? If so, you need a method and system to approach an exam. ETI’s programs utilize an easy-to-follow, logic-based test-taking system. If you have never been taught, really taught, how to take a standardized exam, you are not giving yourself a fair chance to pass.

7. Falling For Attractors and Underperforming

Attractors are answer choices that are written to trick you. They attract your attention away from the correct answers. Attractors are insidious. If you are not a confident test-taker—a “poor test-taker”—you are at great risk of underperforming—scoring less than your ability—because of these multiple-choice landmines. After learning how to “Avoid the Attractor,” many of our students can pass without learning actual test content. If you struggle with test-taking, our programs will prove to be invaluable. You will learn to score higher than your actual ability by using logic to turn the advantage in your favor—you will understand how the questions are written and how to logically approach them to increase your score.

8. Lack of Quality Preparation

There are scores of MTEL test preparation resources available online. When I started in 1999 (the MTEL itself was first given in 1998), I knew only one other private company. For the most part, MTEL preparation was provided by colleges and universities.

As prospective educators began to struggle, dozens of other companies began to offer MTEL preparation. Most of these companies are after a money grab; they offer help for many exams and make money by changing the cover of their book, so a Florida certification prep book becomes an MTEL test prep book. Other companies have excellent preparation for content in general, but the content is not specific to MTEL. Few of these companies present any reasonable content on test-taking skills and strategies. I know this from listening to my students’ complaints over the last two decades as these companies have come and gone. Make sure you access competent and professional MTEL preparation services.

9. MTEL Test-Taking Anxiety & 10. Wasting Money

The above eight mistakes lead to these final two, increased test-taking anxiety, and wasted money. Test-takers who lack confidence and proper preparation face even more anxiety than usual. A vicious cycle starts where anxiety makes you more susceptible to attractors, lower scores, and more failures. More money is spent—wasted—on inferior programs and taking the MTEL tests again and again.  

ETI offers a solution for all these mistakes. We provide cost-effective and guaranteed MTEL preparation. We cover the necessary content for your specific exam and a logic-based test-taking system that will improve your confidence and decrease your anxiety. Experience the difference we make and get certified this year. We would not have been able to guarantee results and stay in business since 1999 without making a difference in the lives of thousands of educators. Contact us to get started today.

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