College graduates who want to become teachers without taking education courses take Praxis II exams to demonstrate their knowledge of a specific subject area. The tests, administered by the non-profit Educational Testing Service, last one to two hours. The Reading Specialist test is for candidates being considered for supervisory or instructional positions related to teaching reading.

Topics Covered

The Reading Specialist test features 120 questions. These questions cover four content categories that test an examinee's knowledge of facts and their ability to apply literacy principles to reading problems. Examinees answer approximately 22 questions based on basic concepts of literacy development. An additional 54 questions evaluate a test-taker's ability to apply these concepts and to comprehend the use of literacy strategies. Examinees also see around 32 questions related diagnosing reading problems and general assessment. The final 12 questions of the test assess a candidate's ability to take on a leadership role in literacy programs.

Sample Questions

The Praxis II Reading Specialist test is made up of multiple-choice questions related to the four content categories. Questions can take different forms, though. For instance a question about applying reading knowledge may be a scenario, such as: "The teacher uses a particular reading strategy during instruction. What is her purpose?" Testing literacy knowledge can also take the form of a scenario; you may have to designate what reading level a passage is based on number of words misread. The test certainly assesses examinees' comprehension of theories, and you may be asked to evaluate "the most important" of a given set of reading activities. The test even contains questions based on specific studies related to current instructional strategies.

Study Plan

ETS recommends developing a concerted study plan for anyone who has been away from reading classes for more than a few months. ETS puts out study guides for all their Praxis tests; you can conduct internet research for additional resources. Start by going over what the test covers and identifying your strong and weak areas. Evaluate whether you already have resources for study or if you need additional materials. Create a workable schedule for studying the test areas and commit to that schedule. Keep track of your progress on a calendar so that you have a visual record of keeping to your study schedule.

Study and Test Tips

ETS publishes sample test questions of all their tests, complete with explanations of the answers. This is a useful place to start your preparation for the Reading Specialist test. Likewise, know ahead of time how you receive scores and what scores are necessary to pass. Passing scores depend on each state, but you can find them on the ETS website. Just prior to taking the Praxis II for Reading Specialist, take a timed practice exam to evaluate your readiness. On the day of the test, practice good test-taking strategies, such as getting a good night's sleep, eating well and dressing comfortably. During testing, skip over difficult questions but return to them before the conclusion of the test. You don't lose points for guessing, so never leave answers blank.