Praxis English Language Arts (5039) Study Guide

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Praxis English Language Arts - Content & Analysis (5039): Practice & Study Guide

Use this Praxis 5039 study guide to learn what the Praxis English Language Arts: Content and Analysis exam covers. The test is required for prospective secondary English teachers to demonstrate professional understanding in the area of English Language Arts. The test measures skills, knowledge, and abilities within three content categories :

  • Reading
  • Language Use and Ability
  • Writing, Speaking, and Listening

The exam contains two question types: selected-response (SR) and constructed-response (CR). SR questions represent 75% of the final score and include question types such as multiple-choice, matching, and single-selection. In addition, two CR questions provide a short passage that candidates will analyze to identify important literary elements and conventions in a short-essay format. The total time allotted for the exam is three hours: 150 minutes to answer all SR questions and 30 minutes for the two CR questions.

Praxis English Language Arts Content and Analysis Study Guide (5039)
Reading 40% (~48 SR questions and 1 CR question)
Language Use and Vocabulary 19% (~33 SR questions)
Writing, Speaking, and Listening 41% (~49 SR questions and 1 CR question)
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The reading content category of the exam covers literature such as non-fiction and rhetorical texts. In addition to several selected-response questions, this category features one constructed-response question.


This subsection measures test-takers' knowledge of U.S., British, and world literature, including their understanding of textual meaning through cultural and historical context and characteristics of literary genres. Additionally, candidates should be familiar with the forms within different literary genres. For example, the poetry genre contains different forms such as epics and sonnets. The exam includes questions about literary themes, elements such as setting and plot, and the use of figurative language and poetic devices.

This section also assesses the candidate's ability to perform the following skills:

  • Support literary interpretation through textual evidence.
  • Use reading strategies for textual understanding.
  • Understanding of literary theory.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with teaching strategies focused on reading.

Informational Texts and Rhetoric

This portion of the exam measures candidates' knowledge of interpreting and understanding non-fiction, informational texts, and rhetoric. Topics covered in this subarea include:

  • Use of evidence from the text to support an interpretation.
  • Understanding of the organizational structure of rhetorical texts.
  • Interpretation of authors' use of word choice and construction for a particular effect.
  • Knowledge of the major rhetorical strategies and how to use supporting arguments.

For example, candidates should demonstrate an understanding of how to identify logical reasoning, relevancy, and sufficiency of facts within a text. Questions also focus on the interpretation of media and digital formats and how they are used to effectively persuade an audience.

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Language Use and Vocabulary

The language and vocabulary content category assesses one's knowledge of standard English, including grammar conventions, context and syntax, and vocabulary. All of the questions in this section are selected-response. This competency tests the examinee's understanding of key concepts such as:

  • Parts of speech
  • Common grammatical issues
  • Punctuation
  • Sentence components (such as clauses and antecedents)

Another focus of this content category is the application of contextual clues and syntax to better understand word meaning and to demonstrate knowledge of the nuances within word meaning. Additionally, candidates should understand common figures of speech such as euphemisms and metaphors.

Test-takers will demonstrate their understanding of the use of regional dialects in writing and when its use is suitable, as well as how language and vocabulary can be enhanced with the use of reference texts. For example, knowledge of various texts and digital references can include style manuals and spell-checking software. This exam area also measures the candidate's knowledge of research-based methods of language adoption and vocabulary expansion.

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Writing, Speaking, and Listening

This section of the exam covers writing, speaking, and listening as they pertain to the use of standard English. The exam questions in this content category are mostly selected-response, but it does feature one constructed-response question.


Candidates will be assessed on their knowledge of the characteristics of different types of writing such as informative, narrative, and argumentative essays. Additionally, candidates should be familiar with common forms of writing such as blogs, letters, and opinion-editorial pieces. Examinees must understand when each format should be employed.

Test-takers will need to understand how coherent writing is developed through an understanding of purpose and audience, the components of articulate writing such as introduction, body, and conclusion, and the development of sound research methods. Candidates will also demonstrate knowledge of various researched-backed methods of teaching writing.

Speaking and Listening

This subarea covers methods for effective speech and presentation. For example, candidates should be familiar with the specifics of delivering a speech that engages the audience with the use of eye contact, visual enhancements, and a clearly formed arguments. Candidates will demonstrate the ability to facilitate effective discussions and oral communication and evaluate participation strategies for engaging classes in discussion.

Finally, test-takers will demonstrate knowledge of various researched-backed methods of effective speech and presentation. Finally, candidates will demonstrate awareness of the variety of opinions, backgrounds, and cultural aspects and identities students bring to their classes along with the ability to foster a safe learning environment where students are comfortable expressing themselves.

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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.

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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.

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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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