Some time ago, I took and passed the TExES Bilingual Target Language Proficiency Test for Spanish (190), better known as the BTLPT.
I’ve got some BTLPT tips to help you do the same.
The BTLPT is a language assessment that measures how well one has the linguistic ability and knowledge to teach Spanish within a bilingual classroom context.
I share with you 9 solid BTLPT tips that will help you understand the nature and structure of the BTLPT exam.
Are you stressing out over passing the BTLPT? Does your job depend on it?
Maybe you’re trying to get your foot in the door with teaching and bilingual education seems like a good, natural fit.
I’ve been there!
I was part of the Texas Teachers of Tomorrow alternative certification program and was encouraged to go the bilingual route since there is such a high need for dual-language, Spanish-speaking teachers.
I read and heard about how difficult the BTLPT test is.
So I studied a bit, familiarized myself with the general structure of the exam, followed many helpful btlpt tips, registered, took the test, and then waited…waited…and waited some more for the results (Sometimes the waiting is the worst part!).
Honestly, I didn’t think the test was so difficult, but as a native Spanish-speaker who lived, worked, and went to college in a Spanish-speaking country, I definitely realize my advantage.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have the same results.
One of the keys to passing the btlpt is understanding how the test is structured and assessed. The purpose of this post is to answer questions that I’ve received from others about the structure and nature of the BTLPT test.
These BTLPT tips will give you an understanding of what to expect.
If there’s a question you want answered that’s not here, feel free to contact me.
BTLPT Tips You Should Know
1. What does the BTLPT consist of?
One of the first BTLPT tips I have for you is to save time at the test center by familiarizing yourself with the outline and basics of the exam before test day.
You’ll want to use all the time you have on test day to actually focus on the content.
The BTLPT test consists of 4 domains: listening, reading, oral expression, and written expression.
Part I: Listening Comprehension
- 36 multiple-choice questions
- 21% of the test
Part II: Oral Expression
- 4 constructed-response tasks
- 29% of the test
These 4 constructed-response tasks consist of a 1) simulated conversation, 2) 2 answer/question tasks, an 3) oral presentation, and a task requiring the test-taker to 4) support a situation/opinion.
Part III: Reading Comprehension
- 48 multiple-choice questions
- 26% of the test
Part IV: Written Expression
- 3 constructed-response tasks
- 24% of the test
The 3 constructed-response tasks for the written expression include a 1) response to an email or memo, 2) lesson plan, and 3) a position/opinion essay.
2. What is it like at the testing center?
If you’ve ever taken any other type of formal test for a job, the testing center is pretty similar.
You go in, sign some paperwork, wait, and then get taken to your computer station.
What’s interesting about the BTLPT is that your biggest distraction will probably be another BTLPT test-taker. During the oral expression section, you’ll hear everyone else talking.
That is pretty distracting, and there’s not much you can do about it.
Get used to working around light distractions.
3. How long do I have to finish the test?
The entire test takes approximately 3.5 hours, and each section has its own allotted time frame.
According to a TExES preparation manual, these are the times for each part:
- Listening comprehension is approximately 50 minutes.
- Oral expression is approximately 20 minutes.
- Reading comprehension is about 70 minutes.
- Written expression is about 70 minutes.
There’s an optional 10 minute break after part II, the oral expression.
For the writing and reading sections, you can go back and review questions and tasks within those respective sections as long as you have time left within that particular part.
For the listening and oral expression sections, this is not permitted.
4. How many times can I take the BTLPT exam?
All test-takers are limited to five attempts to take the BTLPT exam. This wasn’t always the case, but guidelines change over time, and so this is what it is.
This rule has many potential BTLPT test-takers nervous.
A good BTLPT tip is to take the test as if it were your last try. Really, give it everything you’ve got the first time around.
Study hard, practice speaking Spanish with native speakers, build your stamina, ~do whatever you need to do to be your best!
Unlike the Core Subjects EC-6 (291) exam, you don’t have the option to retest only the section you didn’t do well in.
Let’s say you don’t pass the BTLPT exam.
If you did very well on the oral expression and reading comprehension parts but less than fantastic on the other two sections, you’ll still have to take the ENTIRE test again.
That’s why understanding these basic BTLPT tips is so important.
You must know exactly what to expect and be realistic about all possible outcomes.
Doing so will keep you focused and more motivated to ace that test!
BTLPT Test Dates
The BTLPT is only given a few times a year. Have a look at the current exam administration schedule.
You can see current score report dates here.
One of the most important BTLPT tips I can give you is to sign up for this test way ahead of time if possible.
The first time I went to register, all slots in my city were filled!
Depending where you live, space could fill up fast, so keep up with registration deadlines.
5. What is the BTLPT passing rate?
Despite what you might have heard, the passing rate for the BTLPT isn’t abnormally low; there are other certification tests with approximately the same or even lower passing rates.
As reference, for the 2016-17 school year, the BTLPT had a 64% first-time passing rate as mentioned in this article about the shortage of bilingual teachers.
6. How is the BTLPT scored and graded?
You have to make at least a 240 to pass the BTLPT.
The maximum score is 300.
As of this writing, the reading and listening sections of the exam consist of multiple-choice questions. The writing and speaking sections are hand-scored by certified bilingual educators.
The results from all tasks are combined to give you a final score. Have a look at this BTLPT example score report.
For a detailed and thorough explanation of your BTLPT exam results, I feel it necessary for you to navigate to this “Understanding Your Exam Results” page, find the appropriate test, and read it carefully.
7. What materials did you use to study for the BTLPT exam?
When I was preparing for the bilingual exam, one of the best BTLPT tips I received was to take the online practice test.
Now that the Pearson company is in charge of administering the BTLPT, it charges a $10 fee for taking the online BTLPT practice test.
Do I think it’s worth it? Sure. Every little bit helps.
The online practice test really helped me understand the structure of the test, and I got a feel for the type of questions and tasks I might see. From the day you access the online test, you’ll have 120 days to access and review your results~approximately four months.
I guess that’s not too bad.
Also check out the prep materials offered by Pearson. They include some helpful BTLPT study tips.
Last but not least, do check out this insightful article with great, practical tips for passing the btlpt! It’s one of the most comprehensive mini-guides I’ve come across.
8. Are their any secret tips you can share?
My biggest BTLPT tip for you is to know thyself.
I mean, really, how is your Spanish linguistic ability?
I know an educator who speaks Spanish well, colloquially. It’s his first spoken language, and we only speak in Spanish with one another.
However, his use of academic Spanish is another story all together. He really does not have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the Spanish language from an academic standpoint.
Upon discovering that, I completely understood why he had exhausted all of his attempts to pass the BTLPT.
I really don’t believe he was honest with himself in regards to his Spanish language abilities. He felt that since he had spoken the language at home with family and friends all of this life, he’d have no problem passing.
The problem was that he’d never studied the language formally. At least not enough to meet the standards of the BTLPT exam.
You know. We all know plenty of native English speakers. That doesn’t mean they understand English well enough to teach it to others.
Sometimes it’s the people who’ve studied a language intentionally who understand it the most. Native speakers have just naturally picked it up.
My point is this…
Don’t assume that just because you speak Spanish you’ll pass. Put in the work, strengthen your weaknesses, and seek one-on-one tutoring or coaching if needed.
There’s no shame in that. It’ll be well worth it!
9. If I’m not a native Spanish-speaker, do you think I can pass the BTLPT test?
When I was preparing to take the BTLPT exam, my biggest support came from non-native Spanish-speaking teachers who had passed the test with no issues.
Most of them teach elementary bilingual or high school Spanish. While being a native speaker is an advantage, for some people, it’s an advantage only up to a certain point.
Do you understand the language colloquially, formally, or both?
Just knowing it colloquially puts you in a position to put in more work.
The BTLPT is a formal language assessment. You’ve really got to know your stuff! You can most certainly pass with the right preparation and mindset!
Along with hard work and persistence, these btlpt tips will be helpful as you move forward in preparing for this career-changing exam. Reach out if you have any questions.
I wish you all the best!
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