The MTEL exams, also called the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure, is a set of different tests that are required to become a licensed teacher in the state of Massachusetts.
There are a number of tests in this category and any candidate for a license will only need to take the test, or tests, that pertain to his or her intended license. The tests are provided by the Massachusetts Department of Education and are designed to judge the knowledge of people who want to teach pre-K through 12th grade; vocational and technical school; or in an adult basic education program.
Tests can be taken in pencil and paper format or on a computer, and they all include some multiple-choice questions and some questions that may require essay or problem-solving answers. Aspiring teachers will need to register for the exam they wish to take in advance, either online or through the mail.
The first type of MTEL test is the one that needs to be taken by most people who wish to become a teacher in grades pre-K through 12 in Massachusetts. Called the Communication and Literacy Skills test, this exam has two main areas, one focused on reading skills, the other focused on writing. The questions on this test include both multiple-choice and essay questions that assess reading comprehension, grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence construction and the ability to write an essay.
In addition to this test there is a second group of exams that many pre-K to 12th grade teachers may need. Each of these tests is devoted to a different subject area, and applicants may need to take one or more depending on what type of teacher they wish to become. The subjects covered in this group of tests range from the sciences and history to art, business and music. There is also a test of General Curriculum that has questions on language arts; history and social science; sciences; technology/engineering; and mathematics.
For people who aspire to teach in a vocational or technical program the MTEL program provides the Vocational Technical Literary Skills Test. Similar to the Communications and Literary Skills test, this exam assesses a licensing candidate’s reading and writing skills in both multiple-choice and essay questions.
The Adult Basic Education test is another type of MTEL which judges the knowledge and skills of people who are attempting to get a license to teach Adult Basic education in areas including language arts, math, history and science.
Passing scores on these tests vary from exam to exam. Test takers can use study guides, flashcards and practice tests to prepare.
Once a student takes one or more MTEL test they can usually obtain early results online, including their pass/fail status, which is available the same day they took the test. Final results will be sent through the mail, and filed with the Massachusetts of Department of Education for licensing purposes. Students who fail an MTEL exam will be able to take the test again, and in the case of the Communications and Literacy Skills test and the Vocational Literacy Skills test the test taker can retake just the subarea that he or she failed.
How to become a teacher in Massachusetts
Anyone attempting to become a teacher in the state of Massachusetts will have to take one or more of a specialized group of exams offered by the Massachusetts Department of Education in order to obtain a teaching license. These tests are required for people who wish to teach children between pre-kindergarten and 12th grade; in a vocational or technical school; or adult basic education.
The exams are called the MTELs, or the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure. Each of these tests is designed to judge the skills and knowledge of a potential teacher in certain subject areas. Many teachers will be required to take additional tests for subject areas they wish to teach.
Students who wish to take the MTEL exams may register online or through the mail. At some testing locations the exams are offered on a computer set-up while others require the tests be taken with pencil and paper.
All of the exams have multiple-choice questions plus more open-ended queries that can require essays or problem-solving work, such as mathematics. The tests come in four main varieties, depending on what type of teaching the candidate wishes to pursue.
The first type of test offered is the Communication and Literacy Skills test. This exam contains two main areas: reading and writing. It is required for most people who intend to teach elementary school, middle school or high school. In this test, applications will need to answer multiple-choice questions and write two essays. The purpose is to judge the test taker’s reading and writing skills through questions about reading comprehension, grammar, sentence construction, spelling and other areas.
The subject matter tests are a large group of exams that are designed to assess the test takers’ knowledge in specific subject areas they wish to teach to students. There are exams on topics such as mathematics, the sciences and foreign languages, plus other tests for subjects such as music, physical education, and health. Some teachers may need to take more than one subject area test depending on their intended teaching job. This group of tests also includes one on General Curriculum, which has a broader scope of questions for teachers that may be teaching all subjects, such as in an elementary school setting. The General Curriculum tests has two sections, one covering a range of topics including language arts, history and social science, science, and technology and engineering. The second section of this exam is a mathematics test.
For teachers who wish to instruct students in a vocational or technical program there is a Vocational Technical Literacy Skills Test. Similar to the Communication and Literacy Skills Test, this exam assesses reading and writing skills through multiple-choice questions and essays.
Another type of MTEL test is the Adult Basic Education Test. This exam is intended to assess the skills of people who are interested in teaching Adult Basic Education and asks questions about language arts, English as a second language, math, history, social science and the sciences through multiple-choice and essay questions.
After taking the MTELs, an aspiring teacher will be able to get his or her results either online or through the mail. Test takers can also have the results sent to the Department of Education as part of the license application process.
Passing grades on the MTELs varies depending on which test is taken. If a candidate fails the exam he or she will be able to retake it, sometimes at the same testing location. With some of the multi-part exams students may be able to retake just the portion that was failed.