This past weekend I took the PRAXIS II for social studies certification. It consisted of 130 multiple choice questions over the span of several disciplines. Throughout my preparation for the test, I couldn’t help but wonder: what is the point? 

Is it supposed to test my content knowledge? I cannot say it tested this particularly well. It boiled down all of history, government, social sciences, and economics to 130 questions. I don’t really believe that based on a mere 130 multiple choice questions a test can predict that I know enough social studies content to teach it. The questions could also be pretty specific, something I do not think most social studies teachers know off the top of their heads. Not to fear though, you could get the right answer to post questions simply by using common sense to eliminate answers. I felt that anyone with a rudimentary understanding of social studies and good test taking skills could have passed this test with little or no preparation. 

Is it supposed to test my ability to teach? I felt like this test does not measure whether or not you would be a good teacher. There were several test questions which were obviously teaching to the social studies narrative taught in the United States. The test was obviously America-centric, which I do not find to be best practice. Also, just because you can pass this test does not mean that you would make a good social studies teacher. 

I think this test proves very little about either social studies knowledge or teaching ability. Tests like these either need to be more rigorous to truly prove social studies content knowledge or changed to test teaching ability. However, in all honesty I do not think that this test will ever amount to anything meaningful. There is a better way to prove content knowledge and teaching ability through classroom observation.