Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL)

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The Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) assessment program was implemented in 1998.[1] The suite of assessments was created through collaboration by the Massachusetts Commissioner of Education, Board of Education, and Department of Education; National Evaluation Systems, Inc. (NES); teachers from Massachusetts' public schools; and faculty from colleges and universities.[2] In 2004, the MTEL suite of assessments was expanded to cover licensure in vocational technical and adult basic education.[1]

In 2006, NES was acquired by Pearson, Inc.[3] Pearson is the current vendor and administrator of the MTEL examinations.

Function of the Test

MTEL Study Guide

The MTEL suite of assessments are used by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in its teacher certification process. All candidates for certification must take the Communication and Literacy Skills examination as well as a subject matter examination.[4]

Between February 16 and April 12 of 2015, 5,788 candidates took at least one MTEL exam or subtest, 3,746 of whom (64.7%) were first-time test takers and 2,042 of whom (35.3%) were retaking an exam. The most popular assessments were Communication and Literacy Skills (1,399 first-time test takers at an 89.3% pass rate), Foundations of Reading (556 first-time test takers at a 63.1% pass rate), General Curriculum: Multi-Subject (470 first-time test takers at a 74.9% pass rate), and General Curriculum: Mathematics (416 first-time test takers at a 50.5% pass rate). As a rule, pass rates for those retaking exams were lower. For the four examinations mentioned above, retesters had pass rates of 43.5%, 46.8%, 48.4%, and 37.8%, respectively.[5]

Test Administration

MTEL Flashcards

Computer-based MTEL examinations are administered at Pearson Professional Centers,[6] while paper-based MTEL examinations are typically administered on specific set dates at certain public schools in Massachusetts.[6] Exams' schedules vary widely. Some computer-based exams such as English, Mathematics, and Communication and Literacy Skills are offered year-round by appointment. Other exams, especially the paper-based exams, may only be offered in a few limited exam windows each year.[7] Exam fees also vary based on the subject of the exam and whether it is computer-based or not.[8] Due to how diverse the fees and policies for MTEL examination are, candidates should confirm their own examinations' fees, test dates, and testing sites on the MTEL website.[9]

There are forty MTEL examinations, many of which are subdivided into subtests.[9] MTEL examinations are scored on a standardized scale from 100 to 300. The passing score is 240. Guessing is not penalized on multiple-choice exams; raw scores are determined by the number of questions answered correctly.[10]

Exam scores are typically released about three weeks to a month after a test date.[11][12] Unsuccessful candidates may retake any exams or exam subsections on which they failed to achieve passing scores. There are no limits to the number of times candidates may retake an exam; however, candidates must wait 45 days between testing dates for the same exam. In cases of long wait times before results are released, candidates should not retake a test prior to receiving the results of their first seating of the test.[6]

Candidates with disabilities who require special testing accommodations must complete and submit an Alternative Testing Arrangements Request Form along with documentation supporting the request. MTEL encourages candidates to submit this information as early as possible, because candidates cannot schedule testing appointments with accommodations until requests have been reviewed and resolved.[13]

Test Format

Test Structure

The MTEL tests cover a wide range of topics to certify educators in Massachusetts for different subjects and settings. Tests vary on whether they're computer-based or paper-based, but most tests consist of 100 multiple choice questions and two constructed response questions. Generally, the tests allow four hours and fifteen minutes to complete.[14]

Test Environment

For computer-based testing, test takers are expected to arrive at least 30 minutes before the test is scheduled to begin. For paper-based testing, test takers should arrive before or at the time their exam is scheduled to begin. Candidates are expected to bring a valid government-issued, photo identification containing a name and a signature for admission into the testing center. Paper-based tester are required to bring their own pencils and erasers, as they will not be supplied at the testing center.[15]

Test Content

  • Sample MTEL Foundations of Reading Practice Questions
  1. Sea and see, fair and fare are called:
    A. Homophones
    B. Antonyms
    C. Homophobes
    D. Twin words
  2. "Coarticulation" affects:
    A. Blending awareness
    B. Phonemic awareness
    C. Sequencing
    D. Aural awareness
  • Sample MTEL History Practice Questions
  1. Where was the first great human civilization located?
    A. Egypt
    B. Greece
    C. mesopotamia
    D. Samaria
  2. Which of the following documents would be most appropriate to determine a historical figure's personal opinion on an event in which he was involved?
    A. A biography written by a close friend of him or her
    B. The historical figure's personal journal
    C. A biography written by a noted historian with a related specialty
    D. Letters written by the historical figure's aide or assistant
  • Sample MTEL Early Childhood Practice Questions
  1. Piaget's first stage of cognitive development involves:
    A. Operations with concrete things
    B. Sensory input and motor output
    C. Operations with abstract things
    Intuition and animism, not logic
  2. If parents do not pick up children from an ECE center on time, what is true of the ECE center's legal responsibilities?
    A. ECE staff are more likely to incur legal liability keeping a child at the center.
    B. ECE staff are not likely to incur legal liability taking a child home with them.
    C. ECE staff must discuss reasons and solutions with chronically tardy parents.
    D. ECE staff should not tell the police if they must remove a child who was left.
  • Sample MTEL General Curriculum Practice Questions
  1. By the end of which grade are children generally expected to read aloud with good expression at a rate of about 90 words per minute?
    A. first grade
    B. second grade
    C. third grade
    D. fourth grade
  2. Which of the following would NOT be included among the social skills and values acquired through participation in physical activities?
    A. Reducing the risk of musculoskeletal injuries
    B. Learning to communicate and cooperate with others.
    C. Developing respect for school rules and property.
    D. Identifying constructive uses for leisure time.

More free MTEL practice test questions.

Recent Developments

A large number of MTEL examinations have been being converted to computer-based tests in recent years. As of September 2014, paper-based examinations were completely phased out for the following examinations: Academically Advanced, Adult Basic Education, Business, Health/Family and Consumer Sciences, Latin and Classical Humanities, Middle School Humanities, Political Science/Political Philosophy, Speech, Technology/Engineering, Visual Art, and Vocational Technical Literacy Skills Test.[16]

Answers to Sample Questions

Foundations of Reading: 1;A 2;B History: 1;C 2;B Early Childhood: 1;B 2;C General Curriculum: 1;B 2;A


  1. ^ a b MTEL - About the Tests May 20 2015
  2. ^ Dr. Kevin P. Duffy - MTEL Information and Resource Guide May 26 2015
  3. ^ Pearson - Evaluation Systems Backgrounder May 26 2015
  4. ^ MTEL - Licensure Requirements May 26 2015
  5. ^ MTEL - Number of Examinees and Percent of Examinees Passing Each Test by Examinee Category, Test Administration: February 16, 2015 - April 12, 2015 May 26 2015
  6. ^ a b c MTEL - Frequently Asked Questions May 26 2015
  7. ^ MTEL - 2014-2015 Test Schedule May 26 2015
  8. ^ MTEL - Fees and Payment Information May 26 2015
  9. ^ a b MTEL - Tests May 26 2015
  10. ^ MTEL - Score Report Explanation May 26 2015
  11. ^ MTEL - 2014-2015 Score Report Dates for Computer-Based Testing May 26 2015
  12. ^ MTEL - Get Results May 26 2015
  13. ^ MTEL Alternative Testing Arrangements and Submission Requirements May 26 2015
  14. ^ MTEL Tests 11 May 2015
  15. ^ Test Day 11 May 2015
  16. ^ MTEL - What's New in 2014-2015? May 26 2015

External Links