In my last blog post, I started sharing some tips with you guys on how to pass the ALST, the first test required for certification to teach in New York State. The last post was more about logistical concerns, scheduling the test–all that jazz. Now I want to talk about how to study for this thing. Be encouraged, my friends. It is indeed possible to pass the ALST.
- Practice Reading and Interpreting Graphs:
There’s a portion of the test where you’ll have to read and interpret graphs. Do some self-study and figure out how to become a pro at this. Then when you get to the test, reading those graphs will be something you’re so used to doing that it will be…easy.
- Read. Read. Read Some More and Practice Your Writing:
The ALST is all about testing your literacy skills. You need to be practicing and cultivating these skills in order to pass. Read books, but not just required books for school. Read books you enjoy, but start reading some nonfiction, because that’s what’s going to be on the test. Read news articles, books, and essays about subjects you might not normally be interested in, and try to tear apart the arguments the authors are using. Challenge yourself to become better at argumentative writing. Make outlines of the arguments the authors’ are using. Analyze. Think critically about what you’re reading. What works about the argument? What doesn’t work? Is there information the author is missing? Write short essays from one side of an issue, and then switch to the opposing side and write another essay.
- Practice and Plan:
I’m going to be real with you. If you want to pass this test, you need to practice the literacy skills that your professors have been talking about in class. Passing the ALST isn’t dumb luck or a magical formula, just ask any of the people you know who have passed it. You’re going to have to put the work in if you want to pass, so plan out when you’re going to practice. If you’re planning on taking the test next Fall then plan to study over the summer.
Steep this test in prayer. My roommate and I often remind each other that God is sovereign even over our certification exams. He deeply cares about you passing this thing. Pray about it.
Friends, I’m not going to lie, the ALST is a difficult exam, but it is not an impossible exam. It will take time and effort, work and prayer, and patience and perseverance to pass it, but remember that the entire Education Department is cheering you on–and I am too. Be encouraged. You got this.