Keeping Up with the NYS Teacher Certification Exams

It’s been a long time since I posted something about the NYSTCE. Not that nothing is going on – this world of test prep, like so much else, has been thrown into a state of chaos by the COIVD-19 pandemic. There are still good links to updates about the exams, and the same easy access for information about test prep for the NYSTCE is still offered. And some of the old rules of good test prep still apply – for a thorough look at my advice for preparing, take a look at my free “A Watson Guide – Intro to Calm and Effective Test Prep.”

But here’s a key difference: the appointment availability game. What was once pretty straightforward – find an appointment at a convenient location, pay for the exam, and register for it – has gotten, for many students, very frustrating. Once upon a time, a search for a seat would show you lots of appointments going forward several months. But in parts of NYS, a recent Friday search turned up NO appointments far into the fall. But by Monday, lots of appointments showed up. (“Lots” by the new measure of lots – we’re nowhere near the numbers of appointments that pre-COVID days offered.)

The take away? Search, then search some more. Many students use this process: a) look for a date –Here’s a LINK for NYS seats b) register for a date even if it’s months after when they’d hoped for c) keep looking, and d) move their appointment up as they find open dates. Students report to me that it is very easy to reschedule exams.

This situation is unfortunate and, given that big jump in available dates over a weekend, it appears to be not entirely unavoidable. Various stakeholders are complaining about the seat availability problems to the NYS Education Department – if you’re having difficulty finding appointments for the exams you need, be sure to contact your Certification Officer to let them know. Every college campus that offers programs that lead to teacher certification in NYS has a Certification Officer. If you are going through your local B.O.C.E.S. office, they’ll have an equivalent person there. In this case, information is power – if you have experienced trouble finding an appointment, let your Certification Office know. Together, we make it better.

Letting Go of that 2nd Website

For a couple of years I’ve maintained two websites. One offered my ideas about how best to prepare for the NYS Teacher Certification Exams (NYSTCE), with links to my own and the state’s free materials. The other (this one), I used for the rest of my writing life.

Today I’m retiring the site devoted to test prep. I’ve always had some overlap between the two sites – my free Introductory pdf has been available here, for instance – and I’ll keep up my NYSTCE page on this site. (If you have ideas about what else you’d like to see on this page, let me know. )

Why the shift now? The most obvious reason is that the rent is coming due, so it’s a good time to call it quits on the second site. The other is that I’m preparing for the SLICE Writers’ Conference in Brooklyn and that “the rest of my writing life” is the much stronger call.

So, back to those query letters and first five pages, and back to my reading (which is, after all, at least half the ‘work’ of the craft of writing).