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Passing the LAST and ATS-W Tests
About this Book & TestWare®
This book provides a complete and accurate representation of New York state’s LAST and ATS-W tests. Known formally as the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test and the Elementary and Secondary Assessments of Teaching Skills-Written, these tests are part of one of the most broadly-based teacher certification programs used in the United States today.
We include subject reviews correlating to each of the test sections on the LAST and ATS-W exams, along with a full-length practice test for each exam based on the current format of the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations, or NYSTCE. REA’s practice tests contain every type of question that you can expect to encounter on the actual exam. We also present detailed explanations of each answer—as well as sample essays—to help you master the test material. The full-length practice exams are presented in two forms—in written form in the book and in our exclusive TestWare® format on the enclosed CD. We strongly recommend you take the practice exams on CD first, to get the full benefit of enforced time conditions and instantaneous scoring.
About the Test
Who Takes the Test and What Is It Used for?
The LAST and ATS-W tests are taken by individuals seeking certification to teach in any of New York state’s 704 public school districts. In most cases, candidates are beginning their teaching career or seeking additional certification.
While you’re free to take the LAST or ATS-W at any time during college, most candidates find it best to attempt the former in their sophomore or junior year (after they have most basic liberal arts and sciences coursework behind them) and the latter after having completed pedagogical coursework and fieldwork (and in some cases even student teaching).
Senior year is the time to consider taking the Content Specialty Test to help you peg what additional coursework will be required in your area of concentration. Finally, to do well on the Assessment of Teaching Skills-Performance, you should have at least two years of classroom experience under your belt.
Who Administers the Test?
The LAST and ATS-W tests are administered by Pearson Education’s Evaluation Systems Group, in conjunction with the New York State Education Department. A comprehensive test development process was designed and implemented specifically to ensure that the content and difficulty level of the exam are appropriate. This process involved hundreds of teachers and teacher educators from across the state.
When and Where Is the Test Given?
The LAST and ATS-W are usually offered seven times a year at a number of locations throughout the state of New York. Selective administrations are offered in Puerto Rico as well. To receive information on upcoming test dates and locations, contact either of the following:
New York State Education Department
Office of Teaching
Room 5N Education Building
Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 474-3901
P.O. Box 660
Amherst, MA 01004-9008
Phone: (413) 256-2882 or (800) 309-5225
TTY for Deaf: (413) 256-8032
Registration information, as well as test dates and locations, is provided in the registration
bulletin and on the NYSTCE website. Information regarding testing accommodations
for candidates with special needs is also included.
Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
Alternative testing arrangements for students with both physical and learning disabilities
are available for the NYSTCE exams. Please visit the NYSTCE website at
www.nystce.nesinc.com for more information, including registration and documentation
Is There a Registration Fee?
You must pay a registration fee in order to take the LAST or ATS-W. A complete outline
of registration fees is provided in your registration bulletin.
The NYSTCE Program
The NYSTCE Program embraces seven tests to measure a candidate’s knowledge and
skills in the liberal arts and sciences, in teaching theory and practice, and in the content
area of the candidate’s field of certification.
• Liberal Arts and Sciences Test (LAST)
• Elementary Assessment of Teaching Skills—Written (ATS–W)
• Secondary Assessment of Teaching Skills—Written (ATS–W)
• Content Specialty Tests (CSTs)
• Bilingual Education Assessments (BEAs)
• Communication and Quantitative Skills Test (CQST)
• Assessment of Teaching Skills—Performance (ATS–P) (Video)
Format of the LAST
The Liberal Arts and Sciences Test is composed of roughly 80 multiple-choice questions
and one essay. You will have four hours to complete the exam. The five subject areas
it covers are as follows:
• Scientific, Mathematical and Technical Processes
• Historical and Social Scientific Awareness
• Artistic Expression and the Humanities
• Communication and Research Skills
• Written Analysis and Expression
The exact number of questions in each area will vary, as will the total number of questions
on the exam and in each subarea. The test administrators often include a number of
so-called pretest, or experimental, questions that do not count toward your score but are
used to prepare future exams. In general, be prepared to make broad assessments and pick
out underlying assumptions and inferences.
Format of the ATS -W
Like the LAST, the Assessment of Teaching Skills-Written is composed of roughly 80
multiple-choice questions and one essay. The test is offered in two versions: Elementary
and Secondary. Candidates for K-12 Certification may elect to take either test. The number
of questions may vary. The breakdown of the ATS-W subject matter is as follows:
• Knowledge of the Learner
• Instructional Planning, Assessment, and Delivery
• The Professional Environment
Computer-based testing (CBT) for the NYSTCE LAST and the ATS-W tests is available
Monday through Saturday (excluding holidays) at Pearson Professional Centers. The
computer-based test is more expensive than the paper-based test but you can choose to
take the test at a convenient time that is convenient to you. For more information visit:
Scoring the NYSTCE
How Do I Score My Written Practice Test?
Each of the NYSTCE tests has a score range of 100–300 points. In each case you
must achieve a minimum of 220 to pass the exam. Achieving a passing score on a particular
test means you’ll have satisfied that portion of the certification requirement. Your total
score will derive from a combination of the number of multiple-choice questions that you
answer correctly and your essay scores; the multiple-choice sections, however, account
for a larger percentage of your overall score than your essays do.
In order to achieve a passing score on the practice tests, you need to answer at
least 60% of the multiple-choice questions correctly and your essay grades can fall no
lower than the middle of the scoring range (as set forth in our Detailed Explanations of
Answers). It may be helpful to have a friend or colleague score your essays, since you will
benefit from his or her ability to be more objective in judging the clarity and organization
of your written responses.
When Will I Receive My Score Report?
Your score report should arrive about six weeks after you take the test. No scoring
information will be given over the telephone. Remember, your score report will show
your scaled score, not the number of questions you answered correctly.
Studying for the Tests
There is no one correct way to study for these exams. You must find the method that
works best for you. Some candidates prefer to set aside a few hours every morning to
study, while others prefer to study at night before going to sleep. Only you can determine
when and where your study time will be most effective, but it is helpful to be consistent.
You may retain more information if you study every day at roughly the same time. A
study schedule appears at the end of this chapter to help you budget your time.
When taking the practice tests you should try to duplicate the actual testing conditions
as closely as possible. A quiet, well-lit room, free from such distractions as the television
or radio, is preferable. After you score the practice test, thoroughly review the explanations.
Information that is wrong for one item may be correct for another, so it will be
helpful for you to absorb as much data as possible.
How to Use this Book & TestWare®
When Should I Start Studying?
We provide a six-week study schedule on page 8 to assist you in preparing for the
exam. Our schedule allows for a great deal of flexibility. If your test date is only three
weeks away, you can halve the time allotted to each section—keep in mind, however,
that this is not the most effective way to study. If you’re fortunate enough to have several
months before your test date, you may want to extend the time allotted to each section.
Remember, the more time you spend studying, the better your chances of achieving a
About the Review Sections
By using our review material in conjunction with our practice tests, you should be
well prepared for the actual exams. At some point in your educational experience, you
have probably studied all the material that’s on the test. For most candidates, however,
this was most likely some time ago. Our review material, while fact-rich, is not intended
to have you memorize dates, names, and places. Rather, it’s meant to provide the narrative
thread to reinforce contextual memory. Because both the LAST and the ATS-W test
review sections contain an essay, the Writing Skills review included in the LAST review
section will be helpful in preparing for either test.
This book includes the best test preparation materials based on the latest information
available from test administrators. The number and distribution of questions
can vary from test to test. Accordingly, prospective examinees should
pay strict attention to their strengths and weaknesses and not depend on specific
proportions of any subject areas appearing on the actual exam.
LAST and ATS-W Test-Taking Tips
Although you may have taken standardized tests like these before, it is crucial that
you become familiar with the format and content of each section of the exam you’ll be
taking. This will help to alleviate any anxiety about your performance. Here are several
ways to help you become accustomed to the test.
• Become comfortable with the format of the test. The exams cover a
great deal of information, and the more comfortable you are with the
format, the more confidence you will have when you take the actual
exam. If you familiarize yourself with the requirements of each section
individually, the whole test will be much less intimidating.
• Read all of the possible answers. Even if you believe you have found
the correct answer, read all four options. Often answers that initially
look right prove to be “magnet responses” meant to distract you from
the correct choice.
• Eliminate obviously incorrect answers. In this way, even if you do
not know the correct answer, you can make an educated guess.
• Work quickly and steadily. Remember, the final question on both
the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test and the Assessment of Teaching
Skills–Written is in essay form. You need more time to compose
a clear, concise, well-constructed essay than you do to answer a
multiple-choice question, so don’t spend too much time on any one
item. Pace yourself. If you feel that you are spending too much time
on any one question, mark the answer choice that you think is most
likely the correct one, circle the item number in your test booklet,
and return to it if time allows. Timing yourself while you take the
practice tests will help you learn to use your time wisely.
• Be sure that the oval you are marking corresponds to the number
of the question in the test booklet. Multiple-choice tests like the
NYSTCE are graded by a computer, which has no sympathy for clerical
errors. One incorrectly placed response can upset your entire score.