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Frequently Asked Questions about MTEL

Frequently Asked Questions about MTEL

What is the MTEL?

The Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL), although reported as a score, is a series of Pass/Fail tests designed to measure readiness for teacher licensure. A Massachusetts teaching license is required for anyone who wishes to teach in Massachusetts public schools. Consequently, anyone seeking a teaching license in the state of Massachusetts is required to pass the MTEL exam.

MTEL components:

  • The MTEL generally consists of two exams: the Communication & Literacy Skills exam and the Subject-Matter exam. All licensure candidates must take the Communication & Literacy Skills exam. Subject-Matter exams vary depending on the grade levels and subject area(s) you plan to teach. Depending on the license you seek, you may have to take more than two exams.
  • The Communication & Literacy Skills exam is comprised of two subtests: the reading subtest and the writing subtest, which test reading comprehension and writing composition skills. The Communication & Literacy Skills exam is only administered in the morning on test session dates. You may choose to take one or both subtests during a test session. Many test-takers recommend taking the subtests separately for optimal results.
  • The second part of the MTEL is the Subject-Matter exam, which addresses the candidate's specific subject area(s), such as General Curriculum for Elementary, History, Math, English, Science, and so forth. Subject-Matter exams are administered in the afternoon on test session dates. Some teacher licenses require more than one Subject-Matter exam. For detailed information about required exams for the license you are seeking, please see the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's MTEL website: http://www.mtel.nesinc.com/index.asp
  • Additionally, if you are seeking a teacher license in Elementary Education or Special Education for Moderate Special Needs, you must also pass either the Foundation of Reading exam (a morning exam) or the Reading Specialist exam (an afternoon exam).

Simmons MTEL requirements

Students applying to the MAT program (elementary, middle, high school teaching) are required to submit test scores as part of the application process (GREs, Miller Analogies, or the MTEL). If an applicant has not yet taken any exams, Simmons recommends that a student register to take the Communication and Literacy portions of the MTEL since they will need to pass the exam before they student teach. If accepted to a degree program, students will be required to pass the remainder of the MTEL exam(s) before they may begin the student-teaching assignment required by their degree program (also known as the student teaching internship or practicum).

Simmons teaching programs that offer licensure:

  • Master of Arts in Teaching (Elementary, Middle School, High School, and dual degree programs)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language (Grades PreK-6, or Grades 5-12)
  • Master of Science in Education — Moderate Special Needs or Severe Special Needs
Read more information about Simmons MTEL and licensure requirements.

Massachusetts requirements for initial licensure

Elementary (Grades 1-6)

  • Possession of a bachelor's degree
  • Achieve a passing score on the Communication & Literacy Skills exam
  • Achieve a passing score on the General Curriculum multi-subject exam (including the mathematics subtest OR the Elementary Mathematics subject-matter exam)
  • Achieve a passing score on either the Foundations of Reading subject-matter exam OR the Reading Specialist subject-matter exam
  • Complete a Massachusetts approved program in Elementary Education

Middle School (Grades 5-8)

  • Possession of a bachelor's degree
  • Achieve a passing score on the Communication & Literacy Skills exam
  • Achieve a passing score on all required Subject-Matter exams for your area
  • Complete a Massachusetts approved program in Middle School Education

High School (Grades 8-12)

  • Possession of a bachelor's degree
  • Achieve a passing score on the Communication & Literacy Skills exam
  • Achieve a passing score on all required Subject-Matter exams for your area
  • Complete a Massachusetts approved program in High School Education

Teaching English as a Second Language (*Grades PreK-6 or Grades 5-12)

  • Possession of a bachelor's degree
  • Achieve a passing score on the Communication & Literacy Skills exam
  • Achieve a passing score on the English Language Learners subject-matter exam OR on the English as a Second Language subject-matter exam
  • Complete a Massachusetts approved education program in English as a Second Language (for your specific grade level)
* Licensure is not required for students who wish to teach ESL at the adult level.

Moderate Special Needs (Grades PreK-8 or Grades 5-12)

  • Possession of a bachelor's degree
  • Achieve a passing score on the Communication & Literacy Skills exam
  • Achieve a passing score on the General Curriculum multi-subject exam (including the mathematics subtest OR the Elementary Mathematics subject-matter exam)
  • Achieve a passing score on either the Foundations of Reading subject-matter exam OR the Reading Specialist subject-matter exam
  • Complete a Massachusetts approved program in Special Education —  Moderate Special Needs (for your specific grade level)

Severe Special Needs (All Levels)

  • Possession of a bachelor's degree
  • Achieve a passing score on the Communication & Literacy Skills exam
  • Achieve a passing score on the General Curriculum multi-subject exam (including the mathematics subtest OR the Elementary Mathematics subject-matter exam)
  • Complete a Massachusetts approved program in Special Education —  Severe Special Needs

Timeframe for Initial and Professional licensure

The Initial license is good for five years of practice. Within three to five years after you begin teaching under your Initial license, you can advance that Initial license to the Professional level by pursuing more coursework in a Massachusetts approved program for Professional licensure, Simmons offers a 12-credit post-master's licensure program that qualifies students for Professional licensure. We also offer a M.S. in Education program that leads to Professional licensure for people who need a master's degree because they earned their Initial license through an undergraduate program. You are not required to retake the MTEL in order to advance from Initial license to Professional license.

Exam registration, dates, cost, scores, and reports

The MTEL website has the most up to date information about registration, test dates, fees, scores, and attaining score reports: http://www.mtel.nesinc.com/index.asp. The site also offers important information about registering for Alternative Testing Arrangements for persons under special circumstances: http://www.mtel.nesinc.com/MA13_altarrangements.asp.

MTEL preparation and resources

Analyses of students and test scores indicate that MTEL scores tend to be significantly higher when test takers plan ahead, attend test information sessions, and take the subtests early and separately rather than waiting until graduation draws near and taking the entire exam at one sitting.

See Simmons MTEL Prep Sessions for schedules and information. If you have questions about test sessions, registration, or materials, please contact Suzanne Kowalewski in our Education Department at 617-521-2560 or at suzanne.kowalewski@simmons.edu.

Additional resources

  • Current Simmons students can find test preparation materials in Simmons's Career Education Center. Contact the CEC at 617-521-2488 or careers@simmons.edu.  
  • The MTEL website offers test preparation resources including test information booklets that walk you through the specific exams and the types of questions you will encounter, as well as practice tests.