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 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 120 and 121 (Previously 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. This free course provides current Wheelock 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 the full year MTEL prep schedule for the most up to date session information.

ACD 501-Focuses on three key areas of writing: 1) the practice of writing; 2) technical skill building; and 3) reflection on the writing process. Open to current Wheelock Graduate students and recent alumni who continue to take MTEL exams for licensure purposes only. Current students should register through the Wheelock portal.  Recent alumni should complete the appropriate  non-matriculated student registration form.

  • 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. Current students should register through the Wheelock portal.  Recent alumni should complete the non-matriculated student registration form.

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.
    • 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.

D. Tips and Suggestions for Taking this Exam

  • Take one subtest (Reading or Writing) per test administration. Taken together, you have four hours to complete both the reading and writing subtests; taken separately, you have 4 hours for each subtest. Students who have taken one subtest at a time, have passed at significantly higher rates than those who took both the Writing and Reading subtests together.
  • 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 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.

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