Praxis Government/Political Science (5931) Study Guide

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Government Praxis Study Guide

Candidates desiring to become a high school government or political science teacher may be required to pass the Praxis Government/Political Science (5931) exam by their state. Some states use this test as part of the teacher certification process. The exam covers a range of topics about United States government and politics, including the Constitution, civil rights, and international relations. Test takers will need to answer 120 selected-response questions in 2 hours. In order to prepare, test takers should utilize a Government Praxis study guide. These guides typically contain information about the exam's format and content. Explore our Praxis 5931 study guide to learn more about what will be tested.

Government Praxis Study Guide (5931)
United States Constitution22% (~26 questions)
United States Government: Federal, State, and Local Institutions28% (~34 questions)
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: Landmark Court Decisions16% (~19 questions)
United States Politics20% (~24 questions)
Comparative Politics and International Relations14% (~17 questions)
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United States Constitution

Candidates will need knowledge of how the U.S. Constitution came into existence. They should be familiar with the political theorists and their ideas that helped shape the government in the country. Test takers also need to know about the other important documents that helped lead to the formation of the Constitution, such as the Declaration of Independence.

Candidates must understand the Constitution development process from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution's ratification and how the government changed throughout this process. They will need to know all of the different sections of the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights and how it is designed to protect citizens.

As well as understanding the different parts of the Constitution, test takers must demonstrate their understanding of the various processes outlined in the Constitution. Candidates need to know how the Constitution can be amended and be able to explain topics outlined in the document, including:

  • Enumerated powers
  • Reserved powers
  • Concurrent powers
  • Implied powers
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United States Government: Federal, State, and Local Institutions

Test takers need to know the structure and function of local, state, and federal governments. At the federal level, test takers must be familiar with each branch of government: the executive branch, legislative branch, and judicial branch. This includes knowing the requirements for becoming president, how the Senate and House of Representatives differ, and how federal judges are selected.

Candidates will have to understand the federal bureaucracy and how powers are separated. They also need to be able to explain how power is checked and balanced between the three different branches of government. Questions may also ask about how bills become laws.

Test takers will need to have specific knowledge of the judicial branch. For instance, test takers should know how the Supreme Court operates and be familiar with the concept of judicial review. They also need to know the differences between various types of courts, such as trial courts.

At the local and state levels, candidates should understand how these governments are related financially to the federal government and be able to explain how state legislatures' powers relate to federal legislative powers. They need to know the purpose of local and state governments and some of the different issues these governments focus on, such as public safety and education.

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Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: Landmark Court Decisions

Candidates need to know the definitions of civil rights and civil liberties and be able to explain how the 14th Amendment helped shape these concepts. Examinees also need to be familiar with the issues and arguments surrounding civil rights and civil liberties throughout American history, including contemporary debates.

Test takers will be evaluated on specific aspects of the relationship between the government and religion. For instance, they need to know about the separation of church and state. They should also be familiar with specific religion-related court cases.

Questions in this content category will test candidates' knowledge of important documents and court cases related to civil rights and civil liberties. Test takers need to know laws including the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They may also be asked about cases such as:

  • Plessy v. Ferguson
  • Roe v. Wade
  • Miranda v. Arizona
  • Mapp v. Ohio
  • Baker v. Carr

United States Politics

Test takers need to be able to explain how America created the two-party system and what the purpose of a political party is. They should also understand minor parties and how these parties are affected by various types of election laws. Test takers should be able to explain the key differences between Republicans and Democrats.

Examinees will be tested on their understanding of political campaigns. They need to know the different methods for choosing presidential candidates within a political party, why incumbents are at an advantage in elections, and how the Electoral College works. Questions may examine candidates' knowledge of interest groups and how these groups influence politics.

Candidates also need to be familiar with the policymaking process, citizenship process, and the role of citizens in the political process. For example, test takers will need to know about concepts such as:

  • Voter eligibility
  • Political participation (conventional and unconventional)
  • Political socialization
  • Public opinion
  • Liberal ideologies
  • Conservative ideologies

Comparative Politics and International Relations

The final content category aims to test candidates' knowledge of different political and economic systems and international relations. Test takers need to understand key differences between these various systems, such as democratic vs. authoritarian systems and capitalism vs. communism. Test takers should also be able to explain how political systems affect economic systems and vice versa. For example, how governments regulate economies.

Candidates should also be aware of governments at the national level and global level and how these governing bodies interact. For example, knowing the role of the United Nations. They need to understand that policies at the national level will influence international relations. Topics in globalization and its relation to state development will also be examined.

Finally, examinees will need to be familiar with the following terms:

  • Nationalism
  • Militarism
  • Colonialism
  • Imperialism

For each of these concepts, candidates should know how citizens participate in politics. This includes both conventional and unconventional forms of participation.

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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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