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Life Science 7-12
Study & Test Strategies

Strategy 1

Submitted by Traci

Study Strategy

I started by reviewing the manual at http://cms.texes-ets.org/files/3213/6577/2883/life_science_7_12_238.pdf, making notes of the domains and their percentages on the test.
Once I understood what I needed to know, I began watching Crash Course Biology on YouTube. I loved this series - free and really engaging.
Once I registered for the exam, I counted 6 days prior to administration and signed up for 5 days of free Study.com, which was AMAZING! I would have happily paid the $59 to use it for a month of prep once I saw what it offered. I started this 5 day free trial taking the practice test at the end of the manual cited in the .pdf link above and used the questions I got wrong to use Study.com's tutorials in those areas.
I also purchased the book Biology for Dummies, which was practically of no use whatsoever.
I ALSO typed a test prep link in these test suggestions that re-routed me to Exam Edge. The tests were terrible, terrible, terrible - they were not understandable, super punitive and not at all representive of what was on the test.

Testing Strategy

The test was more or less what I expected, but I was not confident leaving the testing center. It took me a full 3 hours to complete the 100 questions and I had a ton that I have flagged for review and had to give a best guess.
Once completing the ones I knew for sure, I went back and read the ones I was not sure of. Two questions that I did not know had "hints" later in the test in additional questions, so this approach certainly improved my score.
I was thrilled to score a 280!

Strategy 2

Submitted by Texas Teachers

Study Strategy

I used Mometrix Secret Study Guide Life Science 7-12, TexesPrep.com (bought 5 tests, only used 2), all of the Crash Course Biology and Ecology episodes (Youtube), College Bio Textbook, College Genetics Textbook, and Khan Academy. Utilizing different methods really helped me grasp the content. First I read through the Mometrix, which was very broad but it gives a decent overview. I purchased practice tests from TExES Prep. Some of their questions seemed poorly worded and a few of them didn't seem founded properly in what an educator should be expected to know. It was good to practice the motions of taking the test. I'd recommend finding actual test questions somewhere else. I must have gone through the Crash Course Ecology & Biology episodes a dozen times. If I got confused reading my book, I'd go back and watch the video and usually it helped. Every test answer that I had no idea what it was supposed to be - I looked those up, because if it's in an answer choice, it's there to make you doubt yourself. Khan Academy helped me stay savvy with older subjects I hadn't reviewed for a while. I don't have a degree in Biology or Science, but I did take a few entry-level Science courses throughout my college education.

Testing Strategy

I was really nervous about this test and actually postponed it a month after I took my first TExES Prep practice exam (which was MUCH harder than the real test). With two months of intensive free-time/weekend studying, I passed with a 277. The test was far easier than I ever possibly could have anticipated. Keep your study references general, but understand the concepts fully. You don't need to know every single protein involved in photosynthesis, just have a general idea of what's going on and you'll be fine. There are lots of diagrams, so brush up on your vocabulary.

Strategy 3

Submitted by Texas Teachers

Study Strategy

I took the test within 6 months of graduating with a BA in Biology, so I had the background to only need a review for this exam even though I used other techniques. I picked up a temporary tutoring job where I would tutor Biology about once a week 2 months prior to the test. This helped me identify my weakness as I tried to teach other students the same content that I needed to study for. Super helpful and would recommend if possible for you. Teaching is better studying than actual "studying" most of the time. I picked up a TExES study book from Amazon that was $10 (TExES Life Science 7-12 (238) Study Guide: Exam Prep and Practice Test Questions for the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards). It was helpful as a broad brush of what I needed to learn and what I needed to casually work on, but the practice tests were not helpful and were not representative of the test. Around 1 month before the test, I decided to come back on this comment board for help and saw two people mentioned buying practice tests from http://www.texesprep.com/. This was by far the best thing to prepare with. I initially bought 5 tests and got scores ranging from 241 - 263 about two or three weeks before the test. Still worried, I purchased 5 more tests about a week before the test and did them all (scores 251 - 263) before taking the actual test. This gave me a great deal of confidence and helped me not stress during the test. Going into the actual test was easy because these tests were almost perfectly representative of what was on the actual test.

Testing Strategy

Taking the test was a breeze since I had paced myself through all of my studying. I ended up getting a 279 on the actual test. I felt very prepared, and by the end of it, I knew I had passed and just needed to wait for the scores. I would say that all the things I did were a perfect combination for studying and gaining confidence for the test. I would 100% recommend (if you prefer studying by taking practice tests) going over to TExESPrep.com and ordering a bunch of practice tests. These were so representative of what I saw on a conceptual and wording level and it helped me know what the questions were looking for. It helped me avoid psyching myself out as much because I usually knew the right answer, but would doubt and change my answers. If you don't pass those tests with easy to moderate difficulty, then you must start studying at least a month before you take it.

Strategy 4

Submitted by Texas Teachers

Study Strategy

It was worth the money to sign up for study.com. There is a specific block dedicated to this exam and I truly believe that had I used this method to study from the beginning I would have passed the exam on the first attempt versus the 4th. It is not a contract, you can enroll and then cancel your subscription at any time. I signed up for the basic and received 5 free days. It is by far the absolute best method out there.

Testing Strategy

If someone just purchases the study guide, they will not succeed as there are many more complex areas of study embedded within each domain and competency. The study guide actually isn't worth the money. Study.com is actually cheaper in the long run than purchasing the study guide. Out of the four attempts combined, only 5 - 10 questions came from the study guide that was recommended. Good luck!

Strategy 5

Submitted by Texas Teachers

Study Strategy

I bought the Mometrix Secrets manual for Life Science 7-12 238 and passed with a 271! The manual is very comprehensive, but don't think deeper study isn't required. I am a Biology major; still, to ensure I was truly prepared I used the manual as a guide and wrote over 65 pages of notes over content. You have to expand on the concepts - know them in and out. At the end of the Mometrix manual there is an exam and subsequent answer key with full explanations. Make sure you take the practice test and read all the answer explanations carefully. Anything and everything is fair game: general biology, ecology, environmental science, genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, chemistry, etc. I also went to TExESprep.com and paid for 5 of their practice exams (only $50). These exams provide you with a taste of the real thing. The question format is identical and content is spot on. Also, go through the prep manual provided by ETS. Read through the answer explanations on both the TExESprep.com questions and ETS TExES manual. Do not take this exam lightly. Begin studying at least a month prior, especially if you do not have a strong background in the life sciences.

Testing Strategy

I felt the exam was fairly easy compared to all of the practice exams I took. I suppose that's the benefit of taking so many practice exams - the real deal doesn't seem so abstract. There were 100 questions, only 80 of which were graded. You do not know which are graded and some questions seem as though they have 2 correct answers. Really read the question/scenario and all answer choices before selecting the BEST response. Pick the question and answers apart and take your time. The exam allows you to "mark" answers for "review"; so, if you don't know the answer right away, mark it and move forward. Review all your answers before submitting; I went through the exam at least 3 times. You are given 5 hours to take the exam, it only took me about 2. Pace yourself and stay positive. Don't second-guess yourself.

Strategy 6

Submitted by Texas Teachers

Study Strategy

I have a bachelor degree in Biology, but that was over 10 years ago so I needed a refresher. I used the state prep manual to figure out what exactly I needed to study first. I used my freshman college Biology book; but that was too much content for effective studying. The XAMonline.com Life Science 238 test prep, by Sharon A. Wynne, was very helpful on really narrowing down the topics so I could focus better. I also used Khan Academy and Crash Course Biology videos. I found the Khan Academy videos too detailed and slow-paced, however they're really good if you're completely at a loss; Crash Course is by far the better of the two. Study.com is also a great site; you can sign up for a 5-day free trial or pay $50 for a month. I used it at the very end of my studying, so I only needed it for the free 5 days. They only have one video for composite Science (so it included videos for Physics and Chemistry), but other the other Science videos were helpful too. The most invaluable of the materials that I utilized were the 5 practice tests from TEXESprep.com that I bought. It really gave me a sense of my weaknesses and a real feel for what the test would be like. I studied a few hours every night and 5-6 hours one day a week during the month prior to my scheduled exam. Knowing the test was already scheduled provided a timeline and helped me not procrastinate studying.

Testing Strategy

TAKE YOUR TIME. You have four hours to take this test. You've got time, I promise. Read the questions slowly and thoroughly; my biggest obstacle is always skimming the question and not getting a full overview of what it is really asking. The way I handled the exam was to not spend too much time on any question that I couldn't confidently answer relatively quickly; I just marked it for "Review" and moved on. Once I'd completed the test, I went back and tried to puzzle out the ones I'd marked. There were about 22 questions I marked for "Review" that I had to go back and really pick apart. After that, I skimmed through all of my "confident" ones, to make sure I hadn't shot myself in the foot by misreading a question/answer choice. In the end, I went through the test about 3 times and it took me about 1.5-2 hours. I left feeling reasonably confident that I had passed. There were some questions that I floundered on and I just had to guess an answer because I had no clue, but there weren't many like that. I want to stress that the TEXESprep tests were the best preparation. Some of the questions have bad wording, or are really out of left-field, but they were exactly like the real test (in terms of types of questions, how they're asked/worded, etc). I passed with a 287! As long as you focus on the competencies, take your time, you'll do fine!

Strategy 7

Submitted by Texas Teachers

Study Strategy

I used the Xamonline.com Life Science 238 test prep by Sharon A. Wynne and I must say that it was great. The prep guide hit every single subject that was tested. I also used Khan Academy to practice the cellular respiration and the other cycles in the cell.

Testing Strategy

The test definitely seemed a lot like the prep guide. Even though the questions seemed simple, they were a bit tricky.

Strategy 8

Submitted by Texas Teachers

Study Strategy

I have a degree in Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. My main focus throughout school and work was on ecosystems. My knowledge of cellular biology was shaky at best and I never had to take Organic Chemistry. I had 4 days to study for this test, devoted 6-12 hours per day to studying, and passed with a good score. Obviously, use the official manual for the exam. Study the answers and explanations to the practice questions provided: this will give you clues as to similar questions you might be asked on the real exam for each topic. Next, I highly recommend the practice exams from texesprep.com. I used this as the backbone of my study plan. They're about $15 each, but they are so worth it. The topics covered and most of the questions were spot-on. Again, study the wonderfully detailed answer explanations thoroughly. If you see a term you don't know, look it up immediately. I used Quizlet to make some flashcards for the definitions to those terms that I found most difficult to remember (especially those within cellular biology). I re-tried practice exams daily. For the TexesPrep tests, if you want to reset your score and retake a test, click on the live chat link and ask for a reset. It's a quick service; I had mine reset several times even on a Sunday afternoon and never waited more than 5 minutes. Maybe 1-2 questions per test are throwaways, due to weird wording or recently outdated information. This did not diminish the overall usefulness of these tests for me. The format is also extremely similar to the computer program you'll be using for the real exam. I bought two of their Life Science 7-12 tests (there were no repeat questions, and both tests were equally valuable). Since they took me about 3 hours to complete each time, I thought that was enough for me. If I'd had more time and money, I would have bought a bundle of 5. If you have fast WiFi and don't mind obnoxious ads, the "for dummies" website is a great resource for content areas where you need a lot of help. Khan Academy has a great "Biology Crash Course" series, too. I didn't have time to watch all of the videos, but I know that the few I did watch allowed me to answer several questions correctly that I would have otherwise gotten wrong.

Testing Strategy

Relax. Keep in mind the average score on this exam is a 235, which is not a passing score. If you don't pass the first time, your life/career is not over. The test is hard. I felt I'd failed by the end of mine. Remember, only 80 of those questions are scored, and if the test seems extra hard, you probably got a harder version and they are going to adjust your score accordingly. Also, as another person pointed out, ask yourself, on EVERY question, what is this question really asking? What piece of knowledge do they really want me to demonstrate? This tip saved me several points, I'm sure. You will have enough time to finish. I'm dyslexic and ADD, and it takes me about 5 minutes to read an average page of text. I still had time to finish without worrying about my pace, and then more time to go over every question that I marked, write out my thought processes, etc. I was out the door in just under 4 hours. I can't see any reason why you would choose not to have your scores reported at the end. Most of the people I've talked to felt like they failed by the end, but it turned out they'd passed. Employers don't seem to care about, or ask for, the score you earned as long as you passed. Report those scores and know that, worst-case scenario, you'll be better prepared if you fail and have to retake it. I passed with a competitive score when I was sure I would fail. You can do this. Give it your all, study hard, and just keep moving forward one step at a time.

Strategy 9

Submitted by Texas Teachers

Study Strategy

I studied using a Texas High School Biology book, XAM study guide, Texes Secrets study guide by Momedia, Khan Academy, and Texas Prep Manual. I first took a practice exam out of XAM study guide and used that to diagnose weaknesses. I studied all the weak areas in the biology book and crash courses in Khan Academy. I retook the same practice test open book and researched every answer option. Then I read through each of the study guides and took a different practice test following the same study and research procedures. Two days before the exam I retook both practice exams and did well on all covered material. It identified the weak areas each time to target my study. I had been out of college for 19 years so I had to review a lot, but my BS is in Biology so it came back fairly quickly. Review your test taking strategies and make sure you SLOW down. I passed the first time with about a month of preparation (sporadic) and about of week of heavy review.

Testing Strategy

SLOW down. Reread the question twice. What is the question really asking? After you choose your answer, ask yourself... "Does that really answer the question? Write out your thought process if you are having difficulty as it can trigger memories. The test was difficult as it was all application, however, it could have been much harder. Make sure you are strong on genetics,(punnet squares) Mendel, evolution, cell structure and processes, Hardy Weinberg ecology, population growth and scientific method. (Yeah pretty much everything...)

Strategy 10

Submitted by Texas Teachers

Study Strategy

I have my degree in Biology, so my course work and experience from that helped a ton. I bought the XAM study guide, which had the competencies and basic information laid out nicely. However, as far as quality and content of information goes, it was really subpar. I used khan academy for a lot of information, and basically took myself through a biology/ecology refresher. I would just use the prep-manual provided by ETS as a layout of what you need to study, and use Khan Academy or other text books, or AP study guides to learn any material you need help with. I think the

Testing Strategy

I studied a little bit each day for about a month. It was super easy and I passed with a 287. Focus on your weak areas and build those up, it was a pretty basic test. Just read slowly and carefully and go with your instincts.

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