Praxis 5018 Study Guide
Individuals seeking beginner certification or an endorsement in elementary education must successfully pass the Praxis Elementary Education Content Knowledge exam. The exam assesses a candidate's understanding of core elementary subjects and their ability to teach successfully. This Praxis Elementary Content Knowledge study guide will help examinees demonstrate knowledge of a range of topics in reading and language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. Responses to questions will be based on multiple factors, including theoretical knowledge, understanding of processes and relationships, and ability to apply knowledge to practice.
The exam is computer-based, containing four content categories covering approximately one hundred and forty questions with two hours and thirty minutes of test time allocated. The exam consists of selected-response (multiple-choice) and numeric-entry questions. Candidates will also have access to a scientific calculator on the computer screen. Below is a table representing the exam's content categories and the percentage and number of questions in each content category.
|Content Categories||% of Questions|
|Reading and Language Arts||35% (≈ 49 questions)|
|Mathematics||29% (≈ 41 questions)|
|Social Studies||18% (≈ 25 questions)|
|Science||18% (≈ 25 questions)|
Reading and Language Arts
The first content category of the exam covers topics representing a broad range of reading and language topics, including fundamental and emergent skills, various text types, writing and language conventions, oral communication, and listening.
Reading: Foundational Skills
Future educators need to understand basic reading skills to guide students in learning to read. For the first section of the exam, candidates must be familiar with how sound structures in words relate to beginning reading skills. Applicants must recognize how specific sound patterns are used to determine syllable/vowel relationships, and they should also understand the differences between (and functions of) a range of phonological learning stages, including blending.
Examinees should understand how phonics is related to other areas of reading development and its significance to literacy skills. The following concepts from this study guide for Praxis II Elementary Education Content Knowledge provide information on the knowledge and skills required to complete this content category:
- Teaching the sounds of letters
- Decoding strategies
- Non-decodable and complex words
- Language development phases
- English language learning instruction
- Syllable types
- Fluency and reading comprehension
Reading: Literature and Informational Text
Candidates must recognize terms and concepts related to several text types, such as informative/expository and literary works. Applicants must be able to identify specific parts of these types of texts, including the main and supporting ideas of each. Examinees must identify if claims made in a passage can be supported by evidence and define the validity of that evidence. Candidates must be able to read a passage and select the most important information.
Applicants must be able to determine the main themes of a narrative and be able to draw from details in an informational piece to understand connections. Examinees should demonstrate knowledge of a range of genres and their different components, including literary structures and techniques, graphic and functional features, and organization. Candidates must also know how to assess writers' perspectives as they relate to provided evidence and works by other writers.
Examinees should also demonstrate knowledge of the following concepts and practices related to channels/mediums of communication and the assessment of works, as represented in this Praxis 5018 study guide:
- Illustrations and other visual components
- Oral and audio features
- Different interpretations and adaptations of literature
- Thematic comparisons
- Multi-media formats
- Supporting details
- Aspects of evaluating the difficulty of a work
- Correlating reading levels to reading stages
Besides understanding the necessary skills to teach students reading skills, examinees must also understand writing concepts related to specific writing forms. Candidates must recognize a range of writing forms/styles and be able to identify key themes and characteristics of each form (e.g., narrative and persuasive). Applicants must be able to determine if a written passage meets the requirements of a specific writing form.
Examinees must understand the basic qualities of skillful writing. For this specific section of the exam, candidates must recognize the following concepts, as represented in this Praxis 2 Study Guide: Elementary Education Content Knowledge:
- Focused and tailored writing
- Structural and rhetorical choices
- Revision strategies
- Consistency in writing
- Connections between drafting/refining stages
- Writing learning phases
Applicants must demonstrate knowledge of the impact of using digital resources in teaching student writing. Candidates must recognize a range of digital platforms and devices used to produce quality writing samples. Additionally, candidates should know how digital writing platforms create a space for student writers to expand their audience and encourage meaningful collaboration.
Examinees must recognize research and inquiry practices, including:
- Research source types (e.g., primary)
- Source authenticity (e.g., checking credibility)
- Accurately finding and attributing sources
Language, Speaking, and Listening
Candidates must have a broad understanding of English language conventions related to a range of learning domains, such as proper grammar with both written and oral communication. Applicants must be familiar with concepts of how words are effectively used, the rules of punctuation/capitalization, and various grammatical components. Examinees must recognize multiple sentence structure formats and understand the purpose of language speech variations used in specific textual contexts. Candidates will need to demonstrate basic knowledge related to comprehension strategies, like using contextual clues. Candidates will also need to know how to break down unfamiliar words and should recognize various figures of speech. Applicants must be familiar with concepts of how diction affects the meaning and tone of writing. Examinees must recognize the differences between language modes/contexts (e.g., academic) and corresponding vocabulary classifications. Candidates must have a thorough understanding of the characteristics of language.
Candidates must also recognize the importance of listening (aural/receptive) and speaking (oral) processes for purposes of sharing and collaborating. This Praxis Elementary Content Knowledge study guide lists the main skills that are tested in this section, which include:
- Diverse communication practices
- Effective listening skills
- Successful presentation skills
The mathematics category of the exam covers a broad range of mathematical concepts, including numbers, arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, and statistics.
Numbers and Operations
For this section of the exam, applicants must demonstrate knowledge of basic math skills and functions. Candidates must know how to express numbers in basic formats and be able to correctly take an individual value of a large number and record it correctly. Examinees must understand place value, or what a digit represents based on its position within a number. Applicants will need to know how to use place value rules to round numbers. Candidates must know how to use exponents to express multiple numbers with a base power of ten.
Examinees must demonstrate number sense with a comprehensive understanding of number models and applications. The following Praxis Study Guide: Elementary Education Content Knowledge list provides details on the knowledge required to complete this section of the exam:
- Basic arithmetic operations
- Fractions (e.g., their components and how to break them down)
- Order of mathematical operations and their fundamental properties
- Problem-solving with rational numbers
- Arithmetic operations models (e.g., multiplication arrays)
- Numerical representations (e.g., number line)
- Ratios, proportions, and percentages
- Converting rational numbers
- Number theory (e.g., prime numbers and factorization)
- Verifying calculations (e.g., estimating)
This Praxis Elementary Content Knowledge study guide discusses key algebraic concepts and applied practice skills that candidates should understand for this section of the exam. Applicants must recognize the difference between a range of algebra functions, know the correct algebraic formulas to use, and understand how to solve equations and write expressions. Examinees must know algebraic terminology that defines various algebraic expressions and know how to represent word statements/written scenarios as numerical equations. Candidates must know how to apply formulas to solve for variables and recognize variables that represent function inputs and outputs.
Examinees must recognize various concepts of linear relations in different formats, including applying multistep problem-solving techniques, representing solutions to equations, and solving inequalities. Applicants must be familiar with geometric and numeric patterns and know how to complete them. Candidates must know how to describe number patterns that follow a given rule and identify features of a pattern. Examinees must recognize how to correctly predict if a number pattern will continue based on observation and mathematical reasoning. Applicants must know how to create coordinate pairs containing related terms from patterns.
Geometry and Measurement
Candidates must demonstrate knowledge of various shapes in different dimensions, types of lines and relationships (e.g., perpendicularity), and angles (e.g., right). Applicants must know how to combine shapes to form new shapes and split shapes into other shapes. Examinees must visually recognize 3-D figures and polygons based on their properties, such as vertices and number of sides.
Candidates must be able to solve a variety of geometrical problems by using the correct formula for a given shape. Applicants should recognize the following geometrical concepts:
- Identifying 3-D objects and calculating surface area
- Different shape formulas (e.g., volume of a cylinder)
- Observing changes to a figure's dimensions
Applicants must be familiar with the concepts and features of the Cartesian coordinate plane. Candidates must be able to graph points and solve problems by understanding how the x- and y- axes intersect at the origin (coordinates 0,0) and how the plane is divided into quadrants.
Examinees must also be familiar with units of measurement and measurement processes, including the following represented in this Praxis 5018 study guide:
- Real-world measuring problems
- Measurement devices
- Systems of measurement (e.g., metric and standard)
- Measurement conversion formulas
Data, Statistics, and Probability
This segment of the exam requires applicants to demonstrate knowledge of statistics approaches, which are explained further in this Praxis Study Guide: Elementary Education Content Knowledge section. Candidates will need to know how to recognize the steps to formulate and assess a valid statistical question. Examinees will need to know how to calculate the center of a data distribution (i.e., the median) and determine measures that provide the most information about the data. Candidates will need to know how data shifts impact the measures of central tendency, and they should also recognize dataset deviations and trends. Examinees must also be familiar with various data representation models (e.g., scatterplots) and how to correctly analyze results/outcomes from those models. Applicants must also understand which data visualizations are most effective for certain datasets (e.g., bar graphs). Candidates must understand probability and also how to determine the likelihood of a particular event occurring.
This content category covers a range of social studies topics, including geography, world and U.S. history, government, economics, and social studies research, among other topics.
Geography, Anthropology, and Sociology
Examinees must demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the study of spaces and people. The following topics provide information on the knowledge and skills required to complete this exam section, as shown in this Praxis 2 Study Guide: Elementary Education Content Knowledge:
- Spatial concepts
- Regions, including boundaries and geographical trends shaped by politics
- Physical and natural features of the Earth
- Human-environment impacts and relationships
- Resources (capital and natural)
Candidates must also be familiar with practical uses for the study of geography, such as understanding how communities and past environments have evolved to inform and guide future development. Also, applicants must demonstrate an understanding of various themes on the topic of human geography, including the effects of various groups and other societal factors on human populations.
Future social studies/elementary school teachers must demonstrate a broad understanding of world history and civilizations, as discussed in this study guide for Praxis II Elementary Education Content Knowledge. In doing so, examinees must understand how the advancements of ancient civilizations, such as Rome and other ancient civilizations, helped shape the modern world. Applicants must also be familiar with the global impact of major events including World Wars I and II and the Cold War. Examinees must recognize how technological advancements have led to advancements within societies and have contributed to how world societies, businesses, and governments interact. Candidates must also be familiar with the analysis of cultures and the interdisciplinary perspectives used in their study.
United States History
Examinees must have a broad understanding of themes, concepts, challenges, and growth of the United States throughout history. Applicants must be familiar with the following early American themes as explained in this Praxis Study Guide: Elementary Education Content Knowledge:
- Indigenous cultures
- Colonization and Native American/European relations
- American Revolution (development, themes, and ideals)
- Early American struggles
Candidates must also be familiar with a timeline of life- and culture-changing events that have occurred within America's society and government. Applicants must recognize the significance of America's westward expansion, including its effects on Indigenous peoples, land acquisition, and political influences. Examinees must understand the numerous political, social, and economic disputes that resulted in the Civil War and the deep impact the war left on America's growth as a nation. Candidates must be familiar with economic, societal, and cultural changes that led to progressivism, as well as other significant changes.
Applicants must also be familiar with more modern events in America that contributed to economic and political change. Examinees must recognize the significant impact of national and world events, such as the Great Depression and the Cold War, and know how those events contributed to important national changes. Candidates must examine the role of workforce productivity and industrial advancements in relation to economic growth. Applicants must be able to relate significant events that occurred in the United States to the matters leading to those events.
Government, Citizenship, and Democracy
In addition to understanding United States history, candidates must also be familiar with themes of United States governmental processes, political systems, and tenets of good citizenship. This Praxis Elementary Content Knowledge study guide lists the main topics that are tested in this content category, which include:
- Government principles and defining regulations (e.g., checks and balances)
- Federal/local governments
- Branches of government
- Political regimes
Examinees must be familiar with the founding documents that contributed to major changes in United States politics and society, including the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, in addition to historic speeches like the Gettysburg Address. Additionally, applicants must understand American citizen rights that are granted and responsibilities that are inherent to good citizenship, including voting and civic engagement.
Candidates must be familiar with a broad range of concepts, practices, and principles within the United States' economic system, as explained in this Praxis Study Guide: Elementary Education Content Knowledge. Examinees should recognize fundamental microeconomic and macroeconomic principles, such as scarcity and supply and demand, among other relevant topics. Candidates must be able to explain the exchange process of money for goods/services and identify processes leading to spending choices. Applicants should understand the role of economics within societies and governmental systems. Examinees must be familiar with economic-related concepts related to personal resource management and wealth building and how technology interrelates with long-term economic growth. Candidates must also recognize the many ways in which the government controls the economy and economic growth through practices of governmental spending and the power of taxation.
Social Studies as Inquiry and Social Studies Processes
Examinees must have a comprehensive understanding of how to teach students to thoroughly investigate social studies topics and themes, as provided by this Praxis 2 Study Guide: Elementary Education Content Knowledge. For this section of the exam, applicants must understand the complete research process, such as generating research questions and effective data collection methods. Additionally, candidates must be familiar with identifying a range of relevant resource formats and differentiating between first-person accounts and other sources of information. Examinees must also differentiate between personal insights/subjective views and factual information. Applicants must also recognize the skills needed to accurately analyze and make inferences from research data by applying the appropriate methods to research.
The final section of the exam covers a broad range of earth/space, life, and physical science topics and ideas. Candidates must have a thorough understanding of various branches of science and their identifying features.
Earth and Space Science
This section will require applicants to recognize the fundamental characteristics of geological processes and structures. When completing this exam content category, examinees must understand the following topics, which support national standards of science instruction as reflected in this Praxis 5018 study guide:
- Earth's internal/surface composition and structures
- Rock types/properties
- Weathering and other sedimentary processes
- Subterranean movement
- Hydrologic cycle processes
- Earth history timeline/geological evidence
Candidates must demonstrate a thorough understanding of the features of and concepts related to Earth's many water systems. For this content category of the exam, applicants should be able to accurately name and locate Earth's largest bodies of water on a map and define coastal processes. Examinees must also recognize defining features of smaller bodies of water and ice formations. Candidates must be familiar with atmospheric elements, including meteorological phenomena and various weather patterns. Additionally, applicants must be familiar with climate patterns and various elements that impact Earth's climate conditions. Examinees must also have a comprehensive understanding of the study of space, including key characteristics of the solar system; relationships between Earth, the Moon, and the Sun; and objects in the universe.
Prospective science/elementary school teachers must know the branches of life sciences that study the processes of living organisms and genetics. For this exam content category, examinees must be familiar with the following details as represented in this study guide for Praxis II Elementary Education Content Knowledge:
- Cellular structure/arrangement, components, and processes
- Organism structures/systems and biological organization
- Fundamentals of genetics
- Genetic conditions and DNA
- Mechanisms of speciation and variation
Candidates must recognize the traits and life processes of living organisms, including plants and animals. Applicants must be familiar with taxonomy groupings (e.g., genus) and main classes (e.g., mammals). Candidates must know about plants, including plant anatomy, reproduction, and water transportation systems.
Examinees must understand animal and specifically human anatomical structures and life-sustaining internal mechanisms. The following list of concepts provides details on the knowledge and skills required in this category:
- Environmental and internal processes
- The role of the skeleton, connective tissue, and muscles
- Reproduction processes
- Nervous system
- Hormones and immune responses
- Organism stability, including homeostasis
Examinees must be familiar with species interactions (such as symbiosis) and how those interactions can be harmful to one species yet beneficial to another within the same habitat. Additionally, candidates need to know the attributes of a range of ecosystems, including trophic relationships and different biomes.
Examinees must also be familiar with concepts and characteristics based on the study of non-living things. For this section of the exam, applicants must know basic chemistry terms/concepts and their role in the study of matter, including different substance types, the various forms that matter can take, and atomic structure/theory. Candidates must be familiar with chemical element properties as represented in the periodic table.
Examinees must also understand energy, with the following concepts represented in this Praxis 5018 study guide:
- Law of conservation
- Energy conversion
- Thermal energy
- Phase transitions
Applicants must know the concepts and terminology related to chemical reaction types and processes, including bonding, energy transformations, and equations/formulas. Examinees must recognize the characteristics of natural/altered properties for a range of chemicals and know how to measure acid solutions. Candidates must know a range of physics concepts, processes, and terminology that are focused on the studies of motion, force, and gravity, and candidates should be able to apply those concepts to specific situations.
Examinees must recognize the following electromagnetism concepts and themes:
- Magnet types/functions
- Electrostatic forces and electricity
- Light principles/behaviors
- Sound wave properties
Impact of Science and Technology on Society
Applicants must recognize both the beneficial and detrimental effects of scientific advancements on the natural environment and populations, including those listed in this Praxis Elementary Content Knowledge study guide:
- Greenhouse emissions
- Product manufacturing/consumer waste removal
- Waste management processes
- Sources of energy
- Energy demand/supply impacts
Examinees must be aware of why science is applied to real-world problems to solve a broad range of societal challenges and health issues. Candidates should understand the basic chemistry behind household items and know how to apply physics to everyday situations. Applicants must be familiar with how traditional and modern agriculture/farming systems affect crop production and the dangers and benefits of vegetation management processes that involve chemicals or genetic engineering. Examinees must recognize the importance of technology within healthcare and medical research advancements. Candidates must be familiar with food safety, disease prevention measures, and technological procedures to determine medical diagnosis and prognosis.
Science as Inquiry and Science Processes
Applicants must demonstrate knowledge of the application of scientific study and theories. Examinees must be prepared to identify terms and steps of the scientific method. Candidates must be familiar with all components to conduct science experiments, such as identifying variables in research and making inferences. Applicants must understand how science often involves empirical experiments and how outcomes may change in response to new discoveries or findings while following the same fundamental approaches. Examinees must be familiar with the evolution of scientific principles and should be able to identify some significant contributors to the field of science.
Candidates must recognize best practices for data collection, interpretation, and presentation. Key methods are presented in the following Praxis Study Guide: Elementary Education Content Knowledge grouping:
- Tools and instruments to obtain/record data
- Graphs and other visual data representations
- Studying dataset trends
- Inferential statistics processes
- Analyzing variables
- Identifying and assessing errors
In understanding scientific research processes, examinees must recognize specific devices and instruments used in a range of research/lab experiments. Applicants must understand the importance of hands-on and observational safety protocols by identifying practical approaches to student safety. Examinees must understand the proper application of safety kits and gear and should be familiar with proper laboratory conduct and emergency response plans.
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Bryan McMahon, M.A. is a high school biology and special education teacher in New Jersey with over 14 years of teaching 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.
Jeryl-Ann Asaro, M.Ed. is a retired teacher with over 19 years of experience in all levels of education, from the elementary classroom to post-graduate workshops. She has passed the Praxis exam and has extensive experience assisting students and adults prepare for a variety of standardized tests. As an educator and educational leader, she is committed to excellence by empowering collaboration, fostering innovation, and nurturing achievement. Jeryl-Ann completed a B.A. in English Education at Montclair State University and a Masters degree in Education at Marygrove College.
Kasey Sindel, Ph.D. has worked in education for over 11 years. She began her career as an Education Specialist, developing life science lessons for grades 6-12. She currently works as a middle school science teacher with a focus on the Earth, plant, and chemical sciences. She earned her Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership from Lindenwood University. She also holds a Master's degree in Science Education from Webster University and a Master's degree in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
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