After Teach for America informed me that I would be teaching social studies, they indicated that the next step was registering for the GACE (Georgia Assessment for the Certification of Educators) examinations. The purpose of the GACE is to assess the knowledge and skills of prospective Georgia public school educators. The GACE is required for educator certification.
The GACE has a Basic Skills component. It is possible to exempt this component with certain SAT or ACT scores. If you attempt to exempt this portion of the test, be sure to request your score reports from SAT and ACT quickly, especially if your scores are from a decade ago! It will take them some time to locate them, if they are able to locate them at all. I took the SAT in 1994 or 1995, and they were unable to locate my scores. ACT, however, was able to find my scores in approximately two weeks.
The idea of a big, pencil in the bubble test was a little intimidating. I have not taken a test in almost ten years! Especially one in which I have to choose a correct answer. Law school was filled with tests where I could write, write, and write, and explain, explain, and explain. And honestly, in law school, most of the time, there were no “right” answers–it was more about the appropriate analysis of the issue. The GACE was a little daunting, I’ll be honest!
I registered for three GACE examinations: middle grades social sciences, political science I, and political science II. I had absolutely no idea what subject matter the tests may cover, so I opted to purchase study guides. I selected the XAM GACE study guides. Note, they will be significantly cheaper on Amazon than your local Barnes and Noble or Borders, but you can still expect to pay somewhere between $20 and $40 per book. You may also get lucky and find them on eBay.
My experience with XAM: Well… in hindsight, they were ok. The study guides did give a framework of material that could be covered on the test. But the reviews on Amazon are correct–these books have some problems. You will find some discrepancies in the narrative sections of the study guides. For example, one section of the book will report that a significant piece of legislation was passed in year X. A few pages later, it will report that the legislation was passed in year Y. In the practice tests, the question numbers do not always appropriately align with the answers. Some questions are repeated, and when they are repeated, they sometimes have different answers! Some of the test questions covered information that was not presented in the text of the study guide. Frustrating. When I studied using these materials, I kept my computer close at hand to double check the information presented and to get further information on the internet. I was not entirely comfortable with the books when I was studying for the tests, and immediately after the tests, I would have reported extreme disappointment with the study guides.
I did not use any other study materials, so I am not sure if there are other study guides or materials that may be more effective in preparing for the GACE or certain sections of the GACE.
The tests were administered very efficiently at my test site. I found the tests themselves to be challenging and nuanced. And after the tests, the month-long wait for the results began.
Yesterday, I received my score reports and learned that I passed all three tests. Very thankful! Although I was displeased with the XAM books, I guess they got the job done, so in hindsight, I will say they are ok. But proceed with caution.
So now, the GACE is behind me, and I have a job lined up for the fall. Time to start doing some intensive reading about being a teacher. Anyone have any books to recommend?