What Is The Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA)?

What Is the RICA Test?

The Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA) is an exam used by the state of California to comply with its commitment to improve the reading and literacy skills of students. The RICA is designed to ensure that educators in California have the skills needed to effectively teach students to read.

Who Is Required to Take It?

RICA is used as part of the certification process for individuals who are seeking multiple-subject teaching credentials or their initial education specialist instruction credentials.


There are some educational professionals who do not need to take the RICA test. These include education specialist instruction candidates who are preparing to teach early childhood education grades and some individuals who completed their teacher training in another state. Individuals who are exempt are noted online on the California website for credentialing educators (www.ctcexams.nesinc.com).

What Test Formats Are Available?

Individuals can choose to take a written version of the RICA exam, or they can complete a video performance assessment.

Written Exam

The written exam is a computer-based test that contains multiple-choice questions and constructed-response questions.

Cost: The fee for taking the RICA written exam is $171. Additional fees may apply if individuals wants to receive extra copies of their test results or if they want to have their scores on the constructed-response section of the exam rechecked.

Time: Individuals are given up to 4 hours to complete the exam. This does not include time for completing non-disclosure agreements and receiving instructions about how to take the test. Fifteen minutes are allotted for those tasks.

Video Exam

The video exam allows individuals to be evaluated on their performance while instructing students. Individuals selecting this test format must submit three video packages and complete forms to accompany each of them.

Cost: There is a registration fee of $80 that individuals must pay when signing up for the RICA video exam. Test-takers must also pay a $91 exam fee when they send in their videos. If they opt for express delivery of the materials packet required for this test format, then they must also pay a $20 fee.

Test Deadlines: All materials must be submitted by one of three deadlines. The only remaining deadline for the 2017-2018 test cycle is June 15. Registration must be completed by June 1st.

What Is on the RICA Exam?

There are 5 content areas covered in the RICA exam.

Planning, Organizing, and Managing Reading Instruction: This part of the RICA exam looks at a test-taker's ability to develop reading instruction that meets curriculum standards. Individuals should be able to develop a strong curriculum plan that complies with state guidelines and know how to adjust instruction to address issues students are having with the material. Candidates must also understand how to vary their lessons to appeal to students with different learning styles and monitor students' progress. Examinee's ability to adjust instruction for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEP) is tested as well.

Word Analysis: This section of the exam measures test-takers' understanding of how words break down into different parts, such as syllables. It also looks at their ability to help students recognize patterns and relationships in words, such as those found in rhyming words, and break words down into sections in order to build students' reading, spelling and vocabulary skills.

Fluency: This part of the exam looks at test-takers' ability to promote reading fluency and oral fluency. Examinees' knowledge of strategies used to support word recognition and accuracy among students of varying backgrounds and ability levels is assessed.

Vocabulary, Academic Language and Background Knowledge: This part of the exam looks at test-takers' understanding of how students' reading skills are affected by their vocabulary and background knowledge. Test-takers also need to show that they know how to support academic language development.

Comprehension: Test-takers must show that they understand the relationship between readers' vocabularies and their comprehension of what they're reading. Prospective teachers must also demonstrate that they can help students understand the focus of a text and identify relationships within the text, such as patterns. Test-takers must understand strategies for promoting reading comprehension in their students.

Where Can I Find RICA Test Resources?

This RICA Exam: Test Prep & Practice course has 124 self-paced lessons that are designed to help individuals review all of the relevant material for the RICA exam.

Continue reading: RICA Test Registration & Costs

California offers educators and prospective educators two RICA assessment options. Read on for study and preparation tips to help you pass whichever RICA assessment you plan to take.

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