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FTCE General Knowledge Test: Passing Score

Instructor: Bill Sands
The FTCE General Knowledge test uses a unique point scoring system to grade candidates. Read on for an explanation of how this system works and what exactly qualifies as a passing score on the test.

Passing the FTCE General Knowledge Test

In order to earn a passing score on the FTCE General Knowledge test, candidates will need to earn passing scores on each of the four subtests.

Candidates will need to score eight points (out of a possible 12) on the essay subtest, and will need to receive a scaled score of at least 200 on each of the other three subtests.

Understanding the Scoring System

Exams under the FTCE umbrella use a distinct format, which is described below.

The Scale System

Rather than using the number of questions answered correctly, FTCE exams that consist of entirely multiple-choice questions have a scaling system. By taking raw scores and converting them using a common scale, it becomes easy to compare multiple forms of a given test.

To pass the English language skills (ELS) subtest with a minimum score, candidates must get 68 percent of all the questions correct. Candidates must get 75 percent of all the questions on the reading subtest correct to earn a score of 200, and 69 percent for the mathematics portion.

The ELS and reading subtests each contain approximately 40 multiple-choice questions, so candidates will need to get approximately 27 and 30 questions correct, respectively, on these sections. The mathematics test contains 45 questions, meaning candidates will need around 31 correct answers in order to earn a passing score.

The Essay Subtest

This performance-based section of the exam presents candidates with a pair of possible topics, and candidates select the one they find most amenable.

Because of this section's format, the scaling system is not used. This section is instead scored holistically by a pair of reviewers. Each rater issues a score ranging from 1-6, and a candidate's final score is the sum of these two numbers. Essays are graded based on a candidate's ability to demonstrate knowledge of several competencies, including:

  • Effective use of transitional devices
  • Proficient understanding of advanced-level English: language conventions, diction, syntax, etc.
  • Use of a concluding statement or section to summarize an argument
  • Maintaining a consistent perspective
  • Adhere to standard conventions of English (no slang, jargon, etc.)

Strong essays (those that score a 5 or 6) are highly focused and organized, with a wide vocabulary range and few mechanical errors. Weaker essays (a 1 or 2) fail to explain a central idea, suffer from a lack of focus, and contain multiple errors.

Retaking Failed Sections

Failing any one of the four subtests means a failing grade for the entire exam. Fortunately, the retake policy states that candidates will only need to retake the sections that they initially failed, rather than having to retake the entire test.

Preparing for the FTCE General Knowledge Test

To help students get ready, the FTCE website contains a few examples of sample questions that are useful in familiarizing candidates with the general tone and format of the assessment.

Study.com also provides multiple guides and in-depth study materials to help you get ready for the test. This FTCE General Knowledge Practice & Study Guide offers a comprehensive review of the entire test, while these English Language Skills, Reading, and Mathematics review guides will prepare you for each respective subtest found on the exam.

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