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Section 2: Preparing to Take the RICA Written Examination

The following suggestions are offered to examinees as one possible way to prepare for the RICA Written Examination.

Preparing to Take the RICA Written Examination: Before the Test

Study the content of the examination. The first step in preparing for the RICA Written Examination is to identify the information that the examination will cover. The RICA Content Specifications (see Section 4 of this test guide) provide the set of teacher knowledge and skills important for the provision of effective reading instruction to students. Also review the performance characteristics related to the constructed response questions and the case study assignment found in the relevant sections of this test guide.

First, read through the entire set of Content Specifications to obtain an overall picture of the material that will be covered on the examination.

Focus your studies. After obtaining a broad overview of the covered content, read each element of the Content Specifications carefully to get a more specific idea of the knowledge that will be required for the examination. When you have become familiar with the Content Specifications, make a list of the areas about which you feel you know the least. Use this information to set priorities for your study and preparation time.

Testing options. The RICA Written Examination provides two testing options for candidates:

Learn more about these options on the RICA Written Examination test page at

You may decide, based on your review of the Content Specifications, that you will register for and attempt only one or two subtests during a single test session, leaving one or more subtests for another time. This will permit you to expend preparation time where you judge it will do the most good and to address at a later time the area(s) of the Content Specifications in which you need more concentrated study or additional coursework.

Identify resources. After you have identified the areas of the Content Specifications on which you will focus your time, consider the resources you may use in studying the content of those areas. The most appropriate resources may well be your college textbooks. You may also wish to consult your class notes and other papers, textbooks currently used in California public elementary and secondary schools, and publications from local, state, and national professional organizations.

Section 11 of this online test guide contains an annotated bibliography recommended for the RICA by California educators. You are encouraged to use this list in preparing for the examination.

Develop your study techniques. Develop a sound study plan and schedule if you have not already done so. There are many books available on study skills, and you may wish to consult one. Some people find it helpful to study with others who will be taking the examination. If you are comfortable with this approach, consider forming or joining a study group.

Review the sample questions. For each RICA subtest, sample multiple-choice and constructed-response questions are provided. Read each sample question and try to answer it. Write your answers on a plain sheet of paper for later review.

Next, check your answers to the multiple-choice questions against the correct answers and your responses to the constructed-response questions against the sample responses provided. To assess the quality of your responses to the constructed-response questions, you may need to ask a mentor, advisor, or teacher to help by evaluating your responses against the scoring guidelines provided.

Overview of RICA Written Examination Questions

Each RICA Written Examination subtest includes a multiple-choice section and a constructed-response section. Questions are designed to ensure that California candidates for Multiple Subject Teaching Credentials and Education Specialist Instruction Credentials (special education) possess the knowledge and skills important for the provision of effective reading instruction to students. Questions on all subtests of the RICA Written Examination are intended to be straightforward, not tricky attempts to elicit a wrong answer.

Multiple-choice questions. The typical multiple-choice question will present a question or an incomplete statement that may be answered or completed correctly by only one of four possible responses, labeled A, B, C, and D. The examinee's task typically will be to identify the one best answer to the question. Multiple-choice questions may be preceded by additional material to which they pertain, such as a passage of text, a drawing, a chart, a table, or a similar stimulus.

To answer each question, examinees will often have to use more than recall of factual information; they may be asked to think critically about the question or the material presented, analyze it, apply it, consider it carefully, compare it with other knowledge they have, or make a judgment about it.

Constructed-response questions. For the constructed-response questions, examinees will generally be presented with an introductory paragraph, situation, quotation, excerpt, drawing, map, or other resource, followed by a specific assignment relating to that introductory material. For example, examinees may be asked to discuss, describe, analyze, explain, interpret, correct, transform, or evaluate the introductory material or to compare it with another resource presented at the same time.

More specific information about the type of questions that are likely to appear on each subtest of the RICA Written Examination is included in sections 5–10 of this test guide.

Scoring. Responses to the multiple-choice questions are scored electronically. Scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly. There is no penalty for guessing.

Responses to constructed-response questions are scored by qualified California educators using focused holistic scoring. Using this method, scorers judge the overall effectiveness of each response while focusing on a set of performance characteristics that have been identified as important. Each response is assigned a score based on an approved scoring scale. Score scales for each subtest can be found in the appropriate section of this test guide.

An examinee's performance on a subtest is evaluated against a standard approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Preparing to Take the RICA Written Examination: The Day of the Test

The following are strategies that you may consider using to prepare to take the RICA Written Examination. For more information about RICA Written Examination test administrations, refer to The Day of the Test at

Physical preparations. If you are testing at a test center, leave plenty of time to get to the test session without anxiety. Arrive on time so that you are as relaxed as possible and ready to begin the examination when instructed to do so. If you are testing remotely, ensure that you have taken the system test—to determine if your equipment is eligible for online proctoring—prior to the day of your appointment.

Dress comfortably, wearing layers of clothing that can be removed or added as the temperature in the testing room changes. It is best to wear soft-soled shoes so that you will not disturb other examinees when you leave your seat.

Be sure to bring your government-issued identification and other materials, as described on The Day of the Test page at

Note that eating and drinking will not be permitted in the testing room. At a test center, any break time you take will be deducted from your testing time. If you are testing remotely, breaks are not allowed.

Follow directions. At the beginning of the session and throughout the test, follow all directions carefully, including the oral directions provided by test administrators/proctors, any directions presented on audiotape or videotape, and any written directions. The test will contain general directions for the examination as a whole and specific directions for individual questions and groups of questions. If you do not understand something about the directions, raise your hand and ask a test administrator.

One subtest at a time. The test session is designed to give sufficient time for completion of the subtest(s) for which you registered. You will be free to allocate your time within the test session to address the different types of test questions (multiple-choice and written constructed-response questions) within each subtest.

Read carefully. Read the directions and the questions carefully. Read all response options for multiple-choice questions. Remember that the multiple-choice questions typically call for the best answer. Do not choose the first response option that seems reasonable; read and evaluate all choices to find the best answer. It is often the case that your first choice, based on your knowledge and a thorough reading of the question and all options, is in fact the best answer. Questions are intended to be straightforward, not tricky.

Read the questions closely so that you understand what they ask. Do not skim the questions in an effort to save time; you may misread key words and select the wrong answer. For example, if a question calls for an approximate answer and you skip over that detail, you could waste time performing a long computation.

Similarly, read all parts of the assignment accompanying constructed-response questions. These questions often involve more than one task (e.g., summarizing and evaluating an argument); be sure that you address all tasks before considering your response complete.

Guess wisely. As you read through the response options for the multiple-choice questions, try to find the best answer. If you cannot quickly determine the best answer, try to eliminate as many of the options as possible. Then guess among the remaining answer choices. Your score on the multiple-choice section of each subtest will be based on the number of questions you answer correctly. A blank answer and an incorrect answer are scored exactly the same; therefore, it is better to guess than not to respond at all.

Check accuracy. Take some time to check the accuracy of your answers to the multiple-choice questions and the quality and completeness of your responses to the constructed-response questions. Return to questions that gave you difficulty and verify your work on them.

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