Congratulations! You’ve finished your graduate coursework in Speech-Language Pathology. Now for the next step on your road toward certification: the SLP board exam!
The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) requires the Praxis examination in Speech-Language Pathology (5331) for national certification.
(Many states also accept Praxis scores for state licensure and/or certification from the Department of Education. Be sure to check state boards’ requirements.)
The exam, taken on a computer at an authorized testing center, lasts two-and-a-half hours. It consists of132 selected-response questions that cover these content categories (each makes up a third of the exam):
- Foundations and Professional Practice
- Screening, Assessment, Evaluation and Diagnosis
- Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating Treatment
Specifically, the questions test your mastery of ASHA’s “Big Nine” practice areas:
- Voice, resonance, and motor speech
- Receptive and expressive language
- Social aspects of communication
- Cognitive aspects of communication
- Communication modalities
The passing score is 162, on a 100-200 point scale.
Before your anxiety level goes through the roof, here’s some good news!
At Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS), we recently surveyed 53 Speech-Language Pathologists in Pennsylvania. A whopping 92% of them passed the SLP board exam the first time they took it.
We also gathered information about what test preparation methods this group of SLPs had found most helpful.
Follow These Proven Paths to Passing Your Praxis Exam
You’re best off taking your exam soon after completing your coursework. The information will be fresh in your mind, and you’ll have plenty of time for a retake if needed.
But here are five tactics for increasing your chances of success on your first try.
1. Take a practice exam.
In PTS’ recent survey, 65% of SLPs who passed the Praxis on their first attempt took a practice exam. You can create one yourself, find one online, or use one from a study guide.
Many test-takers find the structure and formality of an assessment such as the Praxis challenging. If sitting in front of a screen answering timed, multiple-choice questions sounds stressful, you may find a practice exam beneficial. Many online practice exams and those in study guides model the actual test’s content and length.
Taking a practice exam may also give you practice pacing yourself. Use a stopwatch to track your time.
2. Review your class notes.
Your coursework was designed to prepare you for the SLP board exam. Take time to review your class notes.
But be sure to prioritize. Do not attempt to re-read every note you took in every class! Focus on the courses you found most difficult.
Reviewing the courses you took at the beginning of your graduate years may also be a good idea. Focus on the main ideas and avoid trying to memorize minute details.
3. Know your own study style.
Everyone’s style of studying is different. What’s yours?
Think about the most success you’ve had preparing for an exam. What did you do then that you could do now? You’ve made it this far—you should have a pretty good idea which study methods work for you and which don’t.
Our survey showed SLPs’ study methods varied. For example, some Praxis passers studied with a group, while others looked through online resources. Four surveyed individuals even said they did absolutely no studying. (We don’t recommend that approach!)
People also spent different lengths of time studying. Individuals who passed the Praxis spent anywhere from zero to 20 hours or more studying.
4. Consider investing in a study guide.
According to our survey, 59% of first-time SLP board exam passers used a study guide or book to prepare.
Several companies have developed study guides you may find useful. Generally, these guides include an overview of each area assessed on the test. Many include practice exams.
Don’t want to buy a guide? Make your own! Individualize it to fit your needs by choosing the areas where you’d most like to place your focus.
5. Take care of yourself.
Perhaps our most important tip for you is this one: Take care of yourself! Your mental and physical health can affect your ability to perform on any examination.
Here are suggestions for making sure you’re at your best on test day:
- Pace your studying. Cramming right before the exam may make you feel overwhelmed and fatigued.
- Go for a walk. If you’ve been spending a lot of time studying indoors, get some fresh air!
- Eat right. Eating a full, balanced meal on the day of the test will help you stay focused and do your best.
- Get a good night’s sleep. You’ll need to be fully awake and attentive the day of the exam.
- Relax. If you’re feeling stressed before the test, try relaxation exercises. Take deep, controlled breaths. Meditate. Do yoga.
PTS Can Help You Serve Students and Build Your Career
Here’s extra encouragement: You’re getting into the speech therapy field at an opportune time.
Job opportunities for SLPs are expected to grow 27% by 2028—much faster than the average for all occupations. While the aging U.S. population accounts for much of that demand, the country’s students with disabilities and disorders will also need SLPs’ services.
Once you pass your SLP board exam—and you will pass!—consider working with PTS to help kids achieve the communication outcomes they need to access their education. You can always see our available SLP positions on our website.
We’ll help you find the right place for making the biggest possible positive impact. We’ll also help you lay the foundation for a long, satisfying career in pediatric therapy.
Hopefully you’ve found our study tips helpful. Now go show that test what you’re made of! You’ve got this!