Suggestions For Preparing for the Mathematics Portion of the Illinois Test of Academic Proficiency (formerly Basic
Skills Exam) for Teachers
- Get a copy of the Basic Skills Study Guide - These are also available https://www.il.nesinc.com/Content/Docs/IL_field400_SG.pdf.
Note that online the Study Guide may be broken into separate pages
and you have to view/print these pages individually. There are also a few
copies in MERO (MG 209) which can be viewed and used in MG 209 (open 8:00
am - 4:30 pm).
- Make a study plan for yourself and make a timetable (start early--don't
expect to be able to cram the week before the exam).
- Consider forming a study group of students in your Math 106 or Math
206 class. You might want to ask your professor to help you form such a study
group in your class. Your study group can form a study plan and timetable.
Your study group might consider hiring a tutor - see below.
- Familiarize yourself with the objectives and the Framework (which is included in the Study Guide.
Read the individual objectives.
- Make sure you know what the terms mean and what the objective
is expecting you to know and be able to do.
- For most objectives you should be able to think of, find on
the sample exam, or find in other resources an example exam question that
could be asked to measure competence on that particular objective. If
you cannot identify such a sample item, then you probably do not
understand the objective.
- Identify the standards and objectives your are particularly
weak on, and plan to study that material more thoroughly.
- Realize you may not use a calculator. You need to be able to add,
subtract, multiply, and divide fractions, mixed numbers, and integers (signed
numbers). You need to be able to solve equations by hand.
- Familiarize yourself with the definitions (notation) and formulas.
Most of the definitions on pages 37-39 of the Study Guide you should know
(without having to look up) because they will be used as part of a bigger
problem on the exam. Furthermore, most of the information on pages 37-39 is
basic information every person should know - especially persons who are going
to be teaching our children. For most of the formulas you should know why
they are what they are (e.g., why is the perimeter of a rectangle 2l + 2w,
or why is the area of a triangle (1/2)bh?). There are three formulas on pages
38 and 39 which you should be able to use, but you may not have them
committed to memory (these are the surface area and volume of a sphere and
the surface area of a cylinder).
- Focus on the mathematics. Spend much of your time doing math problems--yourself--for
which you have not yet looked at the answer. Also spend time understanding
and discussing how to arrive at the answers and why it works. It
is better to do a lot of different problems than to do the same few examples
over and over. At some point you should do the sample exam that is
provided in the Study Guide, but be aware that the sample exam is very short
and provides very limited practice.
- Use our Math 106/206 book to study from. You will not be able (and
it shouldn't be necessary) to study the entire book. Focus on the areas for
which you are weak. Some suggested sections to work on are listed here.
- A Problem Solving Approach to Mathematics for Elementary School Teachers, 9th, by Billstein, Libeskind, & Lott, 2007.
- Section 1-3, algebraic thinking.
- Chapter 5, Rational Numbers as Fractions.
- Chapter 6, Decimals, Percents, and Real Numbers.
- Chapter 8, Data Analysis/Statistics.
- Other chapters/sections for which you are weak.
- Mathematics For Elementary School Teachers, 3rd Ed., by ODaffer,
Charles, Cooney, Dossey, Schielack 2005.
- Section 7.1-7.2 Ratio and Proportion.
- Section 7.3 Percent.
- Chapter 8 (especially 8.1 - 8.3) on statistics if you have not had
much exposure to statistics.
- Other chapters/sections for which you are weak.
- Mathematics For Elementary Teachers: A Contemporary Approach,
6th Ed., by Musser, Burger, and Peterson 2003.
- Section 7.3 Ratio and Proportion - especially the Problems section
(A and B) of the exercise sets.
- Section 7.4 Percent - especially the Problems section (A and B)
of the exercise sets.
- Chapter 10 (especially 10.1 and 10.2) on statistics if you have
not had much exposure to statistics.
- Other chapters/sections for which you are weak.
- Mathematical Reasoning for Elementary Teachers, 5/E, Long, DeTemple, & Millman, 2009.
- Section 7.3 Ratio and Proportion.
- Section 7.4 Percent.
- Chapter 9 on statistics.
- Other chapters/sections for which you are weak.
The importance of understanding statistics is growing in our society and
in K-12 education.
If you have a different book, then find the corresponding sections on these
topics in your book.
- Practice - probably the most important aspect of preparation.
- ICTS Basic Skills
Diagnostic Practice Test available at http://www.icts.nesinc.com/PDFs/IL_PracticeTest.pdf.
I do not recommend starting with the practice test. I recommend you do some
studying and become familiar with the Framework, and then take the
practice test, as a practice test. Then you'll know where you stand
and if you need more study and more practice. This is very useful because
it has many more questions than the Study Guide.
- Basic Skills - Test Preparation - Good information and practice on Language Arts and Mathematics. http://www.basicskillsprep.org/ The WIU Institution Passcode is: H7P3J7IXYP (Case sensitive, with three numbers in it).
- Consider getting a tutor. Be prepared to pay them.
- You (or your study group) can use the free tutors in MERO (MG
209) which tutor for Math 106 and 206 during the hours that they are there.
- You (or your study group) may want to consider hiring a tutor
for more focused study sessions. Some possibilities are:
- Ask one of the MERO tutors if they have additional time
to meet with you (in the evening, for example). Most of these tutors
are Elementary Education majors who have already passed the Illinois
Basic Skills Exam.
- Go the the Mathematics Department (MG 476) and ask the
secretary for the list of individual tutors and see if there is someone
who can tutor for the Illinois Basic Skills Exam.
- Find an Elementary Education majors who is in the mathematics
area of emphasis who would be willing to tutor you or your group -
for pay.
- Ask other teacher education majors in your classes about the exam.
- As with any exam, familiarize yourself with the format of the exam and what
to bring to the exam -- and get a good night's sleep before the exam.
http://www.il.nesinc.com/ - Illinois
Certification Testing System information.
http://www.wiu.edu/coehs/cpep/certification/test_taking_preparation.php - CPEP test preparation page
I.S.B.E. Links - Links I've prepared
to the various frameworks for the various teacher certification exams in Illinois.
If, before or after you take the exam, you have other
suggestions to help other teacher education majors prepare for the Basic Skills
exam, please forward your ideas to Dr.
Jim Olsen.
Page URL: http://www.wiu.edu/users/mfjro1/wiu/stu/prep-basic-skills.htm
Updated:
February 14, 2016
.
This page is maintained by Jim Olsen, Mathematics
Department, Western Illinois University.