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Required Assessments in North Carolina

Required Assessments in North Carolina

Learn about the exams you need to take in order to apply for licensure in North Carolina.

COVID-19 Update: Many Praxis tests can now be taken at home. Learn more from ETS.

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If you have any questions about the required assessments or this process, reach out to a TeachNC application coach or educator preparation program staff for support. We’re here for you.


Whether you’re an upperclassman entering your university’s educator prep program (EPP) or you’ve already completed your four-year degree, you’ll need to complete a few state-required assessments to obtain your license. This guide will explain the various tests and how you can prepare.

Required Tests: Praxis Core, Subject Area Tests & edTPA/PPAT

To become a teacher in North Carolina,  you will need to prove mastery of academic skills in reading, writing and math. You’ll also need to show you’ve mastered content in your chosen subject area. Ultimately, you’ll likely complete three or more assessments before or during your educator preparation program.

  • The Core Academic Skills Test: SAT, ACT, GRE, or Praxis Core. You’ve probably already taken a core academic skills test—certain scores on the SAT count! If you haven’t met the score requirements, you’ll need to take the Praxis I before you apply to your EPP.
  • The Subject Area Assessment: Praxis II, Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum. You’ll most likely need to take a subject area assessment during your program. The tests required vary depending on the grades and subject you wish to teach.
  • edTPA/PPAT: While you won’t begin the edTPA/PPAT until you’ve entered your program, this guide will give you a head’s up so you’ll know what to expect when the time comes. Your EPP will choose between the edTPA and PPAT.

Out-of-state educators applying for certification in North Carolina must have their credentials reviewed by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Out-of-state educators may still need to take one or more of the required assessments. You can read more on DPI’s Forms & FAQs page.

The Praxis Core

Prior to the start of your program, you’ll need to submit scores from an approved academic skills test in reading, writing and math. If you’re a college upperclassman applying to a an EPP, you will be required to take and pass the Praxis Core. You may be exempted from the exam with qualifying SAT/ACT scores. If you have already earned a four-year degree, the Praxis Core is not required.

Required Scores

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction accepts the following scores for the Praxis Core.

Test Required Score
Praxis I: Core Academic Skills Reading (156), Writing (162) and Math (150), or 468 composite score.
To be exempt from Praxis Core based on SAT scores

1100 scaled score for quantitative and verbal. For a scaled score of less than 1100:

  • With a 550 score on Verbal, you are exempt from the Praxis I Reading and Writing tests.
  • With a 550 score on Quantitative, you are exempt from the Praxis I Math test.
To be exempt from Praxis Core based on ACT scores 24 composite score. For a composite score of less than 24:
  • With a score of 24 on English, you are exempt from the Praxis I Reading and Writing tests.
  • With a 24 score on Math, you are exempt from the Praxis I Math test.

If you find you need to take a core academic skills test, you can sign up for the Praxis Core through the Educational Testing Service (ETS). 

Learn more about, register for and prepare for the Praxis Core Academic Skills test on the ETS website.

The Subject Area Assessment

Subject area assessments let the state know that you know enough about your chosen subject to teach it. In most cases, you will take the subject matter tests for your field while you’re in your program. 

Some graduate-level programs require you to sign up for the test during the application process.

For most license areas, you’ll take the Praxis II exam for your subject area. For elementary and special education, you’ll need to take additional tests.


Special Education

You can learn more about these tests on North Carolina’s Praxis page and on the Pearson’s testing page for North Carolina

To Complete Your Program: The edTPA/PPAT Portfolio

All candidates for initial teacher certification in North Carolina must submit a portfolio of work to be scored through the edTPA/PPAT program. You won’t begin this process until after you’ve entered your EPP (while you’re student teaching), but it’s good to know about edTPA/PPAT in advance. 

What is edTPA/PPAT?

Formerly known as the teacher performance assessment, and now simply edTPA/PPAT, this assessment isn’t a typical test—there’s no multiple choice questions. Instead, as part of your student teaching experience, you’ll develop a portfolio of lesson plans, sample student work and other teaching materials.You will also answer subject-specific questions designed to assess how you work with diverse students, modify curriculum and develop assignments in your subject and grade level to produce learning outcomes.

In other words, your edTPA/PPAT portfolio provides a summary of what you’ve learned in your EPP and how you’ve developed as an educator so far. This summative assessment is then scored by professional educators, and the results are shared with you and your program. 

While you don’t have to prepare for the edTPA/PPAT before you apply to your educator preparation program, you may want to research how the various EPPs help you prepare for the assessment.

Prepare For & Take Your Assessments

The test most candidates have questions about is the subject area assessment(s). We’ll guide you from registration through test preparation and score reporting. Read on!

Prepare for the Core Academic Skills & Subject Area Assessments

There are some universal things you can do to prepare for your tests. There are also more specific study guides available for the SAT, GRE, Praxis, Foundations of Reading, and other tests. We cover them both below.

Remember: You’re taking these tests for a reason. You want to become a teacher in a specific subject, and this is your chance to prove you can handle it. Take the time necessary to truly understand the information. You’ll thank yourself for it (and your students will thank you, too).

We recommend a two-pronged approach to structuring your study time:

  1. Create a work-back schedule. Start by writing down the day of the tests. Then, outline the steps you need to accomplish before that end date: 
    1. Research test prep resources. Check out the next section for our recommendations.
    2. Study your subject matter area. This is where the bulk of your time will be spent. Don't rush it.
    3. Take practice exams. Even when you know the information, you'll need to get used to the test-maker's phrasing and topical area distribution.
  2. Make smart right-before-the-test choices. These are the obvious ones: Get plenty of sleep the night before, eat a decent breakfast the day of, bring a water bottle and show up early. Hanging outside the testing center 20 extra minutes is better than causing your brain undue stress minutes before having to think critically.

Test Prep Resources

There are a number of test prep options available from the test-makers directly, and some third-party services have come up with options, too. These resources offer a variety of prep strategies, from study guides and practice tests to one-on-one coaching.

  • Provided by Third Parties

  • Provided by the Testmakers

Take the Tests

You’ve settled on a content area, verified which test is required for your program application, studied hard, and now you’re ready to take the test.

Make sure you:

  • Verify your test location. Even if you think you know where your exam is being held, double-check that the test center schedule hasn’t changed.
  • Bring required materials, which may include a printed admission ticket, your ID, a calculator or other materials.
  • Dress in layers. Test centers can be chilly, and you’d rather be able to remove a jacket than be uncomfortably cold for the duration of your exam.
  • Show up early. You will not be admitted if you miss your reporting time.

View, Share & Report Your Scores

Find out how you did—and make sure your program does, too!

Each of the test providers allows you to create an online account, register for tests, view your scores and send them to the schools or programs of your choice.

Keep in mind:

  • You can usually have your test scores sent to your university or program automatically. You’ll do this when you register for the test. Your program has a code, so ask your EPP before you take the test.
  • You can manage your score reports through your online account. You can order extra copies or have copies sent to programs at any time after you take the test and receive your scores. 
  • Make sure you know your program’s deadline for receiving scores. Make sure you take the test earlier enough that your scores will be available on time. 

When you apply for licensure, you’ll need to upload your score report to the Department of Public Instruction portal.

Still have questions about the tests or your application process?

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