MTEL Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and answers about the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL) have been broken down into the following topic areas:

  1. Wheelock College's MTEL Policy
  2. When should I take the MTEL?
  3. General MTEL Test Administration
  4. Alternative Testing Accommodations
  5. After the Test
  6. The MTEL and Seeking Teacher Licensure

1. What is Wheelock College's MTEL Policy?

According to Massachusetts law and regulations, to receive a first Initial license to teach in Massachusetts public schools, you must complete a state approved program of study and pass the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL). The purpose of the series of tests called the MTEL is to ensure that each licensed educator has the knowledge and skills essential to teach in Massachusetts public schools.

MTEL Policy at Wheelock College:

All students in Wheelock educator licensure programs must meet the following requirements:

  • Students in undergraduate educator licensure programs must pass the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills test (including the Reading and Writing subtests) exam prior to registering for the first pre-practicum (Elementary Education) or practicum (Early Childhood and Special Education: Moderate Disabilities).
  • Students in undergraduate educator licensure programs must pass the necessary MTEL subject matter exams prior to registering for their education capstone course.
  • Graduate students in a master's degree program leading to educator licensure must pass the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills (including the Reading and Writing subtests) and licensure-specific subject exam(s), including the Foundations of Reading test (if required), prior to registering for the appropriate Capstone course. Please note eligibility for summer Capstone requires that you have passed all required sections.
  • Students in graduate educator licensure programs not leading to a master's degree are required to pass the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills test, as well as the necessary licensure-specific subject matter exams prior to entrance into their program. These students do not need to pass the Foundations of Reading test before entering their program, but will need to pass it prior to registering for their Capstone course.

The College has a system of support for students preparing for the MTEL test. There is a sequence of test preparation support sessions or courses that should enhance a students' ability to perform well on the MTEL. Students have an obligation to work with faculty members and advisors to develop a preparation plan that utilizes the College's resources and offers students maximum opportunity for timely success on the MTEL.

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2. When Should I Take the MTEL Test?

Use the planning table to determine what MTELs you must pass to complete your program and when each MTEL test needs to be taken and passed.  The MTEL "At a Glance" planning table is distributed at orientation and is found in the latest MTEL Matters booklet.  Your academic advisor can assist you in making an individualized MTEL test plan. 

When do I take the separate MTEL tests?
Take required MTEL exams as soon as you are prepared to pass them. Begin early; plan ahead, prepare, and pass.

Undergraduate Wheelock students, transfer students, and graduate students are advised to follow this test-taking plan:

  1. Take each subtest separately on a different test date unless you have no difficulty taking timed standardized tests. It costs more to register for each test separately. However, the total personal cost is usually reduced by higher test scores when students devote more time to the individual preparation and taking of each test.
  2. Use the test objectives found online at www.mtel.nesinc.com to prepare for each test. Pay attention to each element under every test objective. Take notes, define terms, prepare thoroughly, and pass each test.
  3. Take the Communication and Literacy Skills Reading and Writing Subtests as soon as you are prepared to pass each subtest. First year students should take these two subtests (separately, if needed) as or after they complete ENG 111. The WLCE helps with preparation for the MTEL, but you do not need to wait until you pass the WLCE to take the MTEL. Passing scores on the MTEL exempt undergraduate students from passing the WLCE.
    • Transfer and graduate students should attend a test prep support session and begin taking the Reading and Writing Subtests as soon as they apply to or enter Wheelock College. (See previous section on MTEL Prep Support Sessions.)
  4. Take the Foundations of Reading Test as or immediately after you complete your second reading course and after the 7-session test prep sequence offered by the Language and Literacy Faculty. (Graduate students might need to prepare for this test following their first reading class.) Register in the portal for ACD 315 (undergraduates), or ACD 515 for post- baccalaureate students (for support needed to use course content to take the test).
  5. Undergraduates take the Early Childhood Subject Test in the junior year, or in the summer or fall of the senior year. Register appropriately in the portal for ACD 306, or 506 for post-baccalaureate students, and take advantage of Early Childhood Subject Test Prep Support.
  6. Undergraduates take the General Curriculum Multi-subject and mathematics subtests in the junior year after completing most of the general education requirements. Taking the test preparation support is important, in addition to personal preparation using the test objectives and practice tests found on the website at www.mtel.nesinc.com.

Note: The same licensure-specific test requirements apply to undergraduate and graduate students and to all teacher applicants.

3. General MTEL Test Administration Question and Answers

When is the MTEL given?

As of September 3, 2013, the following MTEL exams are only offered on computer:

  • Biology (13)*
  • Chemistry (12)*
  • Communication and Literacy Skills (01): reading subtest
  • Communication and Literacy Skills (01): writing subtest
  • Early Childhood (02)
  • Earth Science (14)*
  • English (07)
  • Foundations of Reading (90)
  • General Curriculum (03): multi-subject subtest
  • General Curriculum (03): mathematics subtest
  • General Science (10)*
  • History (06)
  • Mathematics (09)*
  • Mathematics (Elementary) (53)*
  • Mathematics (Middle School) (47)*
  • Mathematics/Science (Middle School) (51)*
  • Physical Education (22)*
  • Physics (11)*
  • Reading Specialist (08)*

Computer-based testing is available year-round, by appointment, Monday through Saturday (excluding some holidays). Register as early as possible before your desired test date. You can check seat availability at: www.pearsonvue.com/es/sa.You must wait 45 days after taking a computer-based test/subtest before retaking the same test/subtest.

All other MTEL exams are offered in paper-based testing on the following 4 dates for 2013-2014:

October 26, 2013
March 1, 2014
May 10, 2014
July 12, 2014

Where is the MTEL given?

Computer-based testing is available at more than 225 Pearson Professional Centers throughout the United States and its territories (e.g., Puerto Rico), as well as at over 30 international test centers, including Canada and Mexico.  Locate a test center at www.pearsonvue.com/es/locate.

Paper-based testing is available for select exams in: Boston Area, Central Massachusetts Area, Springfield Area, North Adams Area, Hyannis Area and New Bedford Area.  Consult the test vendor website for the most current information on test administrations: www.mtel.nesinc.com.

How do I register to take the MTEL?

Registration for computer-based testing is only available online at the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure website.

Registration for paper-based testing is available online at www.mtel.nesinc.com or  by phone at 413-256-2892.

Students needing alternative test arrangements (those whose religious practices do not allow them to take tests on Saturdays or candidates with disabilities should visit the MTEL website www.mtel.nesinc.com/MA16_altarrangements.asp#cbthow for specific instructions. (See (Alternative Testing Arrangements below.)

Which Wheelock undergraduate and graduate programs require MTEL tests, and which tests are required?

Undergraduate Education Programs that require MTEL tests include:

  • Early Childhood Inclusive Classroom Teacher (PreK-2): Communication and Literacy Skills Test (both the reading and writing subtests); Foundations of Reading Test; and the Early Childhood Subject Test
  • Elementary Teacher (1-6) Major: Communication and Literacy Skills Test (both the reading and writing subtests); Foundations of Reading Test; and the General Curriculum Test (both the multi-subject and mathematics subtests).
  • Special Education Major - Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8): Communication and Literacy Skills Test (both the reading and writing subtests); Foundations of Reading Test; and the General Curriculum Test (both the multi-subject and mathematics subtests).

Graduate Education Programs that require MTEL tests include:

  • Early Childhood Teacher (PreK-2): Communication and Literacy Skills Test (both the reading and writing subtests); Foundations of Reading Test; and the Early Childhood Subject Test
  • Integrated Elementary and Special Education Master's Program (1-6): Communication and Literacy Skills Test (both the reading and writing subtests); Foundations of Reading Test; and the General Curriculum Test (both the multi-subject and mathematics subtests).
  • Teacher of Reading (All Levels), an advanced specialist master's program: Communication and Literacy Skills Test (both the reading and writing subtests); Teacher of Reading Subtest.

Note that Undergraduate major in Early Childhood Education: Birth to Five, PreK-Kindergarten, and Infant-Toddler, the former Child Development Specialist major, and the Graduate Care and Education Master's Program do not have MTEL requirements, although they are also nationally recognized programs that lead to a teacher credential from the MA Department of Early Education and Care.

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4. Alternative Testing Accommodations

How do I know if I am eligible to register for alternative testing arrangements? If I am eligible how do I register?

The Massachusetts Department of Education lists the following criteria for test takers who are eligible for alternative testing arrangements:

  • Candidates whose religious practices do not allow them to test on Saturdays;
  • Candidates with physical disabilities(e.g., visual impairments, motor disabilities, illness, or injury); or
  • Candidates with disabilities other than physical

Requests for test administration modifications must specifically relate to an appropriate documented disability and must be reasonable in the context of the licensure test. To submit a request for alternative testing arrangements, visit the MTEL website at www.mtel.nesinc.com/MA16_altarrangements.asp for specific instructions.

If you have documentation filed with the Office of Academic Advising and Assistance and have further questions about your documentation and how it relates to registering for the MTEL, please contact our Coordinator of Disability Services Rachel Buday at rbuday@wheelock.edu.

5. After the Test

How do I have the test re-scored?

If you are not satisfied with your test score, you may have your test re-scored by submitting a written request (including your name and test date). This option is only available for paper-based testing. You will be charged a $25 fee for this service. When the test is re-scored, keep in mind that the testing company is re-scoring multiple choice items only. When open-response items were initially reviewed, there were at least two scorers reviewing your exam, so the testing company's position is that the grades remain. Therefore, your paying for a re-score applies to multiple choice items only.

What do I do with my scores? Does Wheelock need to see those scores?

Each program has specific dates by which certain parts of the MTEL need to be passed. In order to be eligible for entrance into certain required coursework, you will need to show passage of the required MTEL exam(s) for that particular gateway. We advise you to select Wheelock College as a recipient of your test scores when you register for the test. If the college does not receive the official scores, you will need to bring your official score report to officials in the Office for Records and Registration on first floor in ACW (the registrar's office).

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6. The MTEL and Seeking Teacher Licensure

How do I apply for a credential from the MA Department of Early Education and Care?

Visit the Department of Early Education & Care website at: www.eec.state.ma.us/tq.

Applying for the Initial license from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: I have completed all the sections of the MTEL that are required of my program, does that mean I am licensed? What do I need to do from here?

Passage of the MTEL alone is not enough to obtain licensure. The first Initial license for PreK-12 public school teachers in Massachusetts must be obtained through completion of a state-approved educator preparation program. The license is issued by the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, not by Wheelock College. After you complete your program and your final transcript is prepared by the college registrar, Wheelock forwards materials directly to the state department in support of your online application for licensure. That process is called institutional endorsement for licensure.

Students who are completing a state approved program apply 3-4 weeks before their final class ends. They must apply online before the institutional endorsement can be valid. Institutional endorsement is a two-step online and paper-based process. Apply online at www.doe.mass.edu/educators. Before beginning the process, know the name and level of the license; for example, Initial (the level) Early Childhood Teacher of Students with and without Disabilities, PreK-2 (the name and age/grade level of the license). Have your credit card, your social security number, and your permanent address available as you follow the step-by-step online directions. The licensure application process is not complete until payment is made.

  1. Log on to www.doe.mass.edu and select ELAR from the drop-down menu in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Click on Create ELAR Profile. Follow these steps and apply for the correct license at the Initial level (unless you hold a first license, have taught for three years, and you have completed the requirements to advance that initial license to the Professional level).
    1. Step one: Every new teacher who completed a state approved program applies for Initial licensure.
    2. Step two: Sign a Wheelock authorization form, asking for recommendation or endorsement to the state department for your license. The Registrar and Licensure Officer work together to send a packet of materials, including your official transcript with a statement of institutional endorsement, to the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The packet also includes evidence of your practicum and other required information (birthday and social security number). The authorization form is available online through the portal and must be submitted in order for the college to know you are applying for the license and need endorsement.

How long can I teach under an Initial license and how do I obtain Professional licensure?

The Initial license is good for 5 years of practice, and the clock begins ticking when you take a position that requires the license. Within three to five years after you begin teaching under your Initial license, you can advance that Initial license to the Professional level.

Teachers who received their Initial license through an undergraduate program usually complete a master's degree approved for Professional licensure as they continue their professional development. If you complete a master's degree that does not relate to the content knowledge of your license, an additional 12- credits of content that is advanced for your license will complete the course/degree requirements for Professional licensure. Other requirements include teaching under the first license for a minimum of three years, mentoring in the early years of teaching, and other requirements that change every few years.

Wheelock College offers state-approved 12-credit clusters for Professional licensure.

Wheelock College offers  five 12-credit clusters that are approved by the state for this purpose. These clusters of coursework approved for advancing an initial license to the Professional level can be taken separately or integrated within any master's degree at the college. Teachers who obtain their Initial license through a master's degree program can advance that license to the Professional level by completing an approved 12-credit cluster of course work that advanced their license and academic experience. Wheelock offers state approved 12-credit clusters in Advancing Mathematics Content Knowledge in Grades 1-6, Advancing Science Content Knowledge in Grades 1-6, ELL/ESL, Reading, and Special Education. See below for more information.

No further MTEL test is required to advance an Initial license to the Professional level. All other state requirements must be met, including mentoring and three years of teaching under the Initial license.

  1. The Wheelock ESL/ELL (English as a Second Language/English Language Learners) 12-credit cluster advances an Early Childhood Teacher of Students with or without Disabilities (PreK-2), Elementary (1-6), or Teacher of Students with or without Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8), Initial license to the Professional level.
  2. The Wheelock Special Education 12-credit cluster advances an Early Childhood Teacher of Students with or without Disabilities (PreK-2), Elementary (1-6), or ESL license to the Professional level. 
  3. The Wheelock Reading 12-credit cluster advances an Early Childhood Teacher of Students with or without Disabilities (PreK-2), Elementary (1-6), ESL, Teacher of Students with or without Moderate Disabilities (preK-8) Initial License to the Professional level.
  4. The Wheelock Advancing Science Content Knowledge in Grades 1-6 12 credit cluster advances an Elementary (1-6), General Science (1-6), Early Childhood Teacher of Students with or without Disabilities (PreK-2), or Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8) Initial License to the Professional level.
  5. The Wheelock Advancing Mathematics Content Knowledge in Grades 1-6 12 credit cluster advances an Elementary (1-6), Mathematics (1-6), Early Childhood Teacher of Students with or without Disabilities (PreK-2), or Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8) Initial License to the Professional level.

Are Wheelock alumni required to take the MTEL when they apply for recertification or for licensure in a new field?

Teachers who have Initial Licensure are not required to re-take the MTEL in order to advance an Initial license to the Professional level. Licensure in a new field usually requires only a passing score on the new subject area test. Three exceptions are the Early Childhood, Elementary, EESL. and Moderate Disabilities licenses. Adding any of those four areas of licensure to an existing, active license requires an additional 150 hour practicum or practicum equivalent. Teachers with Professional licensure do not have to re-take or take new MTEL tests when they renew the Professional License every five years.

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