Is the ParaPro Exam Difficult?

Is the ParaPro Exam Difficult?

There are over 1.2 million paraprofessionals currently working in the United States. Paraprofessionals are essential members of our public school districts, assisting teachers and providing specialized care for students.

If you’ve always dreamed of working in a school but aren’t sure you want to become a teacher, it makes sense to become a paraprofessional. While you don’t have to complete as many years of higher education, there are still steps you have to take.

One of the most important steps is taking and passing the ParaPro test. The question is, what should you expect from the ParaPro test? What subjects does it cover, how can you prepare, and is it hard? We’re here to help. Read on to learn everything you need to know about conquering the ParaPro exam with ease.

What Is the ParaPro Test?

In 2002, the federal government passed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which was designed to ensure that all public schools provided students with a high-quality education. The NCLB was eventually replaced with the Every Child Succeeds Act, which is still in effect today. One of the requirements of these two educational acts was that paraprofessionals (aka teacher’s aids or paraeducators) must have one of these three qualifications:

  • An Associate of Arts degree (with no preference for one associate of arts degree over another)

  • Two completed years of college at an accredited school

  • A passing score on the assessment of your district’s choice

Many districts have selected the ParaPro Test as the assessment you can take to fulfill the third option. The ParaPro test was developed by the ETS (Educational Testing Service), a non-profit organization responsible for developing other tests like the GRE.

What Does the ParaPro Test Cover?

The ParaPro test aims to establish that you have the knowledge and skill set needed to assist grade school students of all ages. The test is divided into three sections based on subject matter, and you will have 2.5 hours to complete the entire thing. While these subjects are all part of the core public school curriculum, you will want to brush up on each before taking the test, even if you excelled in them in school.


The first section of the ParaPro test is the reading section. It covers topics including:

  • Reading skills and comprehension

  • Application of reading skills in the classroom

  • Identification of structure, context, primary themes, supporting ideas, and organization of individual passages

  • Comprehension of graphs, charts, and other visual aids

This section aims to establish that you are a strong and attentive reader and can help students achieve those same skills.


The second section of the ParaPro test is the mathematics section. It covers topics including:

  • Algebra

  • Geometry and measurement

  • Data analysis

  • Number sense

  • Application of mathematics skills in the classroom

If you’re not a math wiz, don’t worry. While you can’t use a calculator when taking the ParaPro exam, the math questions aren’t meant to stump you. This section aims to demonstrate that you understand the basics of common mathematical theories and applications and that you can help students achieve those same skills.


The final section of the ParaPro test is the writing section. It covers topics including:

  • Basic writing skills and writing knowledge

  • Identification of grammatical or structural errors in written language

  • Identification of parts of speech

  • Use of appropriate reference materials

  • Application of writing skills in the classroom

Compared to many other standardized tests, the writing section is made up of multiple-choice questions, and you will not need to provide long writing samples to pass. The goal of this section is to demonstrate not that you are an excellent writer but that you understand the basics of writing and can help students achieve those skills.

What Structure Does the ParaPro Test Have?

The ParaPro test is considered a multiple-choice test. However, not all questions follow the standard multiple-choice format where you are asked a question and given three to four possible answer choices. You may also need to:

  • Type a numeric answer into a box

  • Use the computer mouse to click on parts of a graphic

  • Click a specific sentence in a written passage

  • Drag and drop answers from a list

  • Choose an answer from a drop-down menu

In each section, you will have two different kinds of questions or problems to solve. Some questions will ask you to demonstrate your skills or knowledge regarding the different subtopics. About one-third of the questions will ask you to prove that you can apply these skills or knowledge in a classroom setting.

In each ParaPro section, you will be required to answer questions that don’t count toward your overall score. However, you will not know which questions are scored and which are not. You are not penalized for getting questions wrong; all point accumulation comes from the questions you get right, which is why we never recommend skipping questions you don’t feel confident about.

What Is Considered a Passing Score?

When you take the ParaPro test, you will earn both a raw and scaled score. You get one point with each question you get right, contributing to your raw score. However, it is your scaled score that matters most.

After taking the test, you will receive your unofficial score immediately. However, you can only submit your results to your school district once you receive your official (reviewed) score, which can take two to three weeks.

Most ParaPro exams are taken on a computer, where test takers can receive between 420-480. How do you know if your score is high enough to pass? It will depend on where you live.

Is the ParaPro Test Hard?

As we mentioned already, ParaPro questions aren’t meant to stump you. The subject matter is at most a high school level, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will find the test easy.

For example, while you may have learned the parts of speech or geometry in high school, you may not have retained that information in the years since. Even if a subject comes naturally to you, it’s important to brush up on your knowledge and skills and familiarize yourself with the types of questions you’ll encounter on the test.

How Often Will You Need to Take the ParaPro Test?

What if you want to make a lifelong career out of being a paraprofessional? Public schools will always need people to fill this role, and many paraprofessionals find the work vibrant and rewarding. Will you need to take the ParaPro test more than once?

Assuming that you do not go to college for two years or get an Associate of Arts degree, you will need to take the ParaPro test once every ten years to renew your paraprofessional certification.

Tips for Preparing for the Parapro Test

Plenty of ParaPro test prep materials will help you hone in on the specific skills and knowledge you’ll be tested on, as well as understand the format of the questions. Let’s look at how you can use them to study for the test.

Study the Right Way

Start studying several weeks before you’re scheduled to take the exam. The earlier you start studying, the longer you give yourself to master the material, rather than trying to cram last minute. Spend a few hours each day focusing on one subject at a time, reviewing study guides, and testing your knowledge using ParaPro flashcards.

Take Practice Tests

ParaPro practice tests are widely available online, and you should use them several times. Not only will this help you to understand the types of questions you’ll encounter on the test (and the types of answers you’re expected to give), but it will also help you identify any subjects you need to study more. This can help you prioritize the topics that are eluding you rather than devoting equal time to all the materials.

Don’t Cram Right Before Test Day

It can feel tempting to spend the entire day before your exam cramming. However, your time is better spent relaxing and getting the rest you need to get through 2.5 hours of testing. Cramming works against the brain’s ability to retain information and can do more harm than good.

Union Test Prep Is Here to Help

If you’re getting ready to take the ParaPro exam, it’s time to start brushing up on the skills and knowledge you’ll need to demonstrate on test day. Union Test Prep is here to make studying easier and more effective, free of charge.

Take a look at our ParaPro test prep materials and start planning your study schedule. You’re bound to excel on your ParaPro exam with some time and effort channeled the right way!

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