MTEL Communication & Literacy Skills Test
The Communication and Literacy Skills test is used to determine a licensure candidate's ability to effectively communicate with students and parents alike. The exam consists of two subtests: a Reading Subtest and a Writing Subtest. The Reading Subtest requires candidates to define general vocabulary terms and also to read passages and answer related multiple-choice items. The Writing Subtest requires test takers to answer mechanics-related multiple choice items, grammar and usage-related multiple choice and open response items, a summary statement, and an essay on a debatable topic.
Preparing for the Exam
A. Program specific supports for Wheelock Students preparing for the exam:
- Undergraduate students take English 110 and 111 as a part of their General Education Requirements; as well as the Wheelock Communication and Literacy Exam (WLCE), which is a prerequisite for education concentrators going in to upper-level coursework. Combined, these requirements are one of the best ways for students to prepare for the Communication and Literacy Skills exam.
- Graduate students have the option to take "Building a Foundation for Graduate Writing" (ACD 501)-a course designed to enhance a student's writing skills. Students may also take the Graduate Writing Exam (GWE)-an exam designed for students to demonstrate their communication skills. These initiatives provide students with excellent support as they prepare for the exam.
- Depending on their program of study, graduate students will take related coursework. All of these courses, combined with departmental initiatives and supports, build a solid foundation for students planning to take this test.
- Myth-buster. You do NOT need to pass the Wheelock Literacy and Communication Exam (WLCE) prior to taking the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills Test. In fact, we encourage students to start this portion of the MTEL as early as the second semester of their first year, whether or not they have passed all sections of the WLCE.
B. Preparation Sessions and Workshops:
Unless otherwise noted, most of these sessions are free to Wheelock students and alumni only and are not open to the general public. Be sure to check back regularly for updates.
- ACD 510-Focuses on three key areas of writing: 1) the practice of writing; 2) technical skill building; and 3) reflection on the writing process. Graduate students and alumni only. Students must register through Academic Records and Registration. Visit the student portal for course schedule information
- Communication and Literacy Skills Preparation Sessions-Each of these three sessions cover different topic areas related to the test and are designed to help the students build upon their writing and reading comprehension skills. Open to alumni, undergraduate, and graduate students. Look for email announcements about the next session planned for late April/early May.
C. Suggestions for Self-Guided Preparation:
- Practice Exams.One of the best ways to prepare for the Communication and Literacy Skills test is to do as many practice exams as possible. Below are sites that offer practice exams which will prove to be helpful study tools:
- The Communication and Literacy Skills full-scale practice test. This is the closest thing to the MTEL and should be at the top of everyone who is preparing for this exam's "To Do" list.
- The exams for the following states have a math component, which are not relevant in your preparation for the Communications and Literacy Skills test.
- Illinois' Basic Skills test.
- New York State's Communication and Quantitative Skills Test. This exam has a math component, which is not relevant to Communications and Literacy Skills test.
- Wheelock Literacy and Communications Exam. Required of all Wheelock undergraduates, this exam asks students to demonstrate many of the same concepts as found on the MTEL. This has a practice exam and answer key in pdf.
D. Tips and Suggestions for Taking this Exam
- Take one Subtest per test administration. Taken together, you have four hours to complete the exam; taken separately, you still have four hours. Students who have taken one Subtest at a time passed at significantly higher rates than those who took both the Writing and Reading Subtests together. Be sure not to mark in the Subtest that you do not take-just filling your name out can result in a failing score on your testing history.
- Allocate your time wisely. You should plan on spending at least 1.5 to 2 hours on the Reading Subtest and at least 2.5 to 3 hours on the Writing Subtest. If you plan on taking the subtests together, rather than at different administrations as recommended, you will want to try to stick to 1.5 hours on the Reading Subtest and 2.5 on the Writing Subtest.
- Approach the exam in a way that maximizes your strengths. The great thing about the MTEL is that you are not required to take the exam in chronological order-how you take it is entirely up to you. So, why not take advantage of that and tailor the exam around you? For example, students who take the test in chronological order express that all they think about are the open response items on the Writing Subtest and ultimately wind up not having enough time in the end to do a sufficient job on the essays and do poorly on all the other questions because they feel rushed. These students would then want to consider doing the open response items first, that way the fear is gone and they have hopefully set a great pace for themselves on the rest of the test.
Others have expressed that they feel the passages in the Reading Subtest are varied and require the test-taker to continually switch gears. These students would then want to consider doing a quick review of each passage and then ordering them in a sequence that puts the more technically-ended passages together and the more subjective passages together.
- Be clear and consistent with your responses. One of the goals of the MTEL is to determine whether or not you will be able to communicate clearly with students and parents alike. This being the case, it is essential that your handwriting is legible, your spelling and grammar are exceptional, and your answers are well thought out. For example, when defining terms on both Subtests, if your response for one is written using descriptor words, then all responses should be written using descriptor words. Same thing goes if you decide to write your responses in sentence format.
- Get focused! To calm your nerves once the test begins, it is best to give yourself a few minutes to relax and look over the test in its entirety before getting started. Given that you have a full four hours to take the test, take advantage of a restroom break. Getting up from the test for a few minutes and throwing some cold water on your face will work wonders.