The Difference Between Praxis® 1 and Praxis® 2


What is the Praxis Exam Suite?

The Praxis Exam suite is a series of exams offered by the ETS to test candidates' knowledge and skills for teaching in a classroom setting. Many states utilize these exams as part of the teacher certification process, but each state determines which exams are required as well as the passing scores for each exam. Praxis Exam eligibility is available to anyone, but candidates should only take the exams required for their state and specific certification area. The Praxis consists of the Praxis Core, or Praxis 1, Praxis Subject Assessments, or Praxis 2, and the Praxis Content Knowledge for Teaching (CKT) exams. Test takers can find a range of ETS study materials, including Praxis test questions, to help prepare for test day.

What is the Praxis 1 All About?

The Praxis 1, or Praxis Core, is an exam designed to test candidates' academic skills in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. The Praxis 1 Core is the current version of the exam, as opposed to the older Praxis 1 Pre-Professional Skills Test. The current Praxis Core exam format has 3 subtests in reading, writing, and mathematics that can be taken all at once or on 3 separate test days. The reading subtest must be completed in 85 minutes and consists of 56 selected-response questions. The writing subtest has 40 selected-response questions that must be finished in 40 minutes, as well as 2 essay questions that have to be completed in 60 minutes. Finally, the mathematics subtest has 56 selected-response questions that have to be answered in 90 minutes.

The Praxis passing scores vary by state, but many states, including Kentucky, Connecticut, and New Mexico, require the exam. An example of passing scores for the state of Kentucky is a 156 for the reading subtest, a 162 for the writing subtest, and a 150 for the mathematics subtest. It is also common for colleges and universities to require the Praxis Core for admission to educator preparation programs. Therefore, even if a specific state does not require the exam, a student's teaching program may.

What is the Praxis 2 or Praxis Subject Assessment Test?

The Praxis 2, or Praxis Subject Assessment tests, consists of over 90 exams in a wide range of subject areas. The Praxis II exam format and length varies by exam, but in general, these exams take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours to complete. Test takers may need to answer selected-response questions, constructed-response questions, or a combination of both. Again, the ETS provides Praxis test questions and study guides for each available Praxis Subject Assessment.

The Praxis passing score for each Praxis Subject Assessment also varies by exam and by state, as each state determines its own qualifying score for each exam. Many states, including Colorado, Missouri, and South Carolina, require one or more Praxis Subject Assessment as part of the teacher certification process. Some examples of passing scores for the state of Colorado include a 147 on the Agriculture exam, a 157 on the Marketing Education exam, and a 165 on the Middle School Math Praxis exam. These exams may help certify candidates in a specific content area and/or grade-level range.

Praxis 1 vs Praxis 2

There are many differences between the Praxis Core and the Praxis Subject Assessments. A primary difference between Praxis 1 and 2 exams is how states use the exams. Generally, the Praxis 1 is used for entrance into educator preparation programs, but some states may still require all aspiring teachers to take these exams. Praxis 2 exams are typically used to certify candidates in a specific content area and/or grade levels for teaching in the classroom. Based on this usage, the content of the Praxis Core vs. Praxis 2 is usually more basic and general. The Praxis Core is used to test candidates' basic abilities in reading, math, and writing. The Praxis 2, however, is designed to evaluate candidates' specific content knowledge and skills in teaching this knowledge in the classroom. Therefore, in general, the Praxis 2 is more difficult and advanced than the Praxis 1.

Other differences between these exams come down to format. The Praxis Core consists of 3 subtests in math, reading, and writing, while there are over 90 Praxis Subject Assessments that ask very subject-specific questions. The time requirements and number of questions vary from exam to exam, as well as the types of questions (selected-response, constructed-response, or a combination). Test takers can still utilize available Praxis test prep materials for either the Praxis 1 or Praxis 2, including Praxis practice exams.

Exam Test Format Time Requirement Types of Questions Level of Difficulty
Praxis 1, Praxis Core 3 subtests 5 hours (when taking all 3 subtests at once) Selected-response and constructed-response Intermediate
Praxis 2, Praxis Subject Assessments Over 90 subject tests 1 to 4 hours Selected-response, constructed-response, or combination Hard

How to Prepare for the Praxis

Aspiring teachers should be sure to check with their state's education department to fully understand the various requirements for becoming a teacher. Once they know which Praxis exam(s) they need to take for certification in the state, they should begin with their Praxis test prep. While the ETS offers unlimited retakes on the exams, students should still prepare in order to pass their exam(s) in as little time as possible. It is very important for students to gather the necessary study materials to help ensure they fully understand the content of the exams. Praxis 1 preparation tips include:

  • Downloading the Study Companion for each subtest
  • Identifying areas of strength/weakness
  • Creating a study plan
  • Utilizing Praxis practice questions and Praxis practice tests

Preparing for one or more Praxis 2 exams can follow very similar steps. Test takers may want to:

  • Download the Study Companion, or Praxis II study guide, for the exam
  • Fully understand the format and grading of the exam
  • Find weak spots to focus on during studying
  • Gather additional study materials for the content, such as textbooks or library books
  • Take practice exams

Although the Praxis is not offered in other languages, students who need accommodations can check the ETS website to see the list of available Praxis test accommodations.

Is Praxis Hard?

The Praxis is a difficult exam because it is designed to test the skills and knowledge of aspiring teachers in order to qualify as a licensed educator. However, with the appropriate preparation strategy, test takers can go into test day feeling confident. Candidates can use resources to fully understand the format of their required exam(s) and know what to expect on test day. Taking advantage of the different study materials in our Praxis prep course can help test takers become as familiar as possible with content covered on these exams.

How Long Should You Prepare for Praxis?

While test takers may want a magic number of hours needed for Praxis preparation, the time duration for Praxis exam preparation will vary from candidate to candidate and even exam to exam. The time that is required will often depend on a candidate's personal strengths, weaknesses, and familiarity with content. Candidates may want to begin by identifying content areas they need to focus on and working backwards from their test date to help ensure they have enough time to study and feel prepared. Test takers can also find Praxis practice exams that simulate the real exam, and therefore, may take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours to complete. Good luck to those preparing for the Praxis!

Expert Contributor

Bryan McMahon

Bryan McMahon, M.A. is a high school biology and special education teacher in New Jersey with over 14 years of experience. He has hundreds of hours of experience tutoring aspiring teachers to take the CSET/CBEST exam suite. He has successfully passed the science and special education Praxis exams. Bryan completed a B.S. in Education from Seton Hall University and an M.A. in Teaching from Mangrove College.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I take Praxis 2 before praxis?

    Yes, students are allowed to take a Praxis 2 Subject Assessment prior to taking the Praxis 1 or Praxis Core. However, students should be sure to check their state and educator preparation program requirements to see which exams are needed.

  • What does Praxis core mean?

    Praxis Core, or the Praxis or Praxis I, refers to the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators tests. The Praxis Core consists of 3 subtests in reading, writing, and mathematics that some states and/or educator preparation programs require.

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