Undergraduate students take mathematics coursework as part of their program
at Westfield State College. The four mathematics content courses Math 150,
251, 252, 253 are aligned with the areas of the Massachusetts
Curriculum Frameworks. These courses are designed to cover the various content
areas tested on the mathematics subtest of the General Curriculum test. This, combined
with what the student already knows from their high school experience, will help students
to effectively demonstrate their knowledge of content areas.
As you start preparing for the mathematics subtest of the General
Curriculum MTEL (03), here are a few points to keep in mind.
Take as many of the "Foundations of Mathematics" courses as you can fit into your schedule
(Math 150, 251, 252, 253). If possible, take Math 253 Foundations of Number Systems.
If you are anxious about taking the mathematics test (or testing in general), seek support for working
with testing anxiety. Make a pact with yourself not to abandon the test half-way. When you notice anxiety,
put down your pen and give yourself a few minutes to check in with your body and to calm yourself.
Create a study guide for yourself. The General Curriculum test objectives are available online.
These objectives give you a great framework to build your study guide around. We encourage
you to purchase a binder and divider tabs. Each divider tab should represent one objective.
The contents within each section should answer to the terms outlined in an objective area.
Setting up a binder like this may take some time, but with advanced planning will be well worth it!
Collect and organize your resources: e.g. your class portfolio, text books, handouts, the Van de Walle book,
high school textbooks, online resources etc.
ALEKS or some other foundational mathematics course of study (e.g. Mary DeSouza's book). While not
aligned with the MTEL, you will have a chance to gain practice and confidence with basic arithmetic and
Practice Exams. One of the best ways to prepare for the General Curriculum test is to work with the practice
exam, or at similar practice exams for other states.
Almost all of the problems on the Practice Exam are multi-step problems. A single reading is not enough to unravel
what you need to do. There is no obvious formula to solve any of these problems. You will need to
grapple with the material to make sense of it, and you will need to give yourself the time and focus to
do that. That's normal and expected.
Read carefully: it may help to underline or mark the important concepts listed in the problem.
Write down whatever you know about that concept. As you prepare for the exam, write down the
resources you have to fill in details about this concept.
The commented solutions below are intended to show you a framework how to approach
using MTEL-like problems in order (a) to identify mathematical concepts that you understand,
(b) to identify mathematical concepts that you do not understand, (c) to assemble information about
your resources, and (d) to observe a step-by-step process that might help you in problem-solving more
Below are sites that offer practice exams which may prove to be helpful study tools:
The General Curriculum practice test. This is the closest thing to the MTEL and should be at the top of the list for everyone who is preparing for this exam.
Additional Resources. Please note that some of these suggestions are based on student recommendations and are not designed to ensure passage on this test, but to help provide you with supplemental information.
Van de Walle, Elementary and Middle School Mathematics-Teaching Developmentally is
the text book required for all Mathematics Foundations courses at Westfield State College.
The references given here are for the seventh edition. If you have a different edition, use the Index
of your book with your key words in order to guide your search.
Note: The "Activities" listed throughout the Van de Walle book are all considered
"good types" of problems to work on in your elementary school class. They are also excellent
activities or contexts to use in creating the Math MTEL problems. Compare, for instance, MTEL
problem (4.) about Neptune with Activity 23.3 in Chapter 23, on p. 478.
Have a game plan for how you are going to approach the test.
The great thing about the MTEL is that you are not required to take the test in chronological order-how you take it is entirely up to you. We encourage you to look at the open response items first, set-up an outline about how you are going to approach answering these questions, and then go back to get started on multiple choice items. Approaching the test this way may help to alleviate some test anxiety and set a good pace for yourself with the rest of the test.
Be clear and consistent with your responses.
One of the goals of the MTEL is to determine whether or not you will be able to communicate clearly with students and parents alike. This being the case, it is essential that your handwriting on open response items is legible, your spelling and grammar are exceptional, and your answers are well thought out.
To calm your nerves once the test begins, it is best to give yourself a few minutes to relax and look over the test in its entirety before getting started. Given that you have a full four hours to take the test, take advantage of a restroom break. Getting up from the test for a few minutes and throwing some cold water on your face will work wonders.
Please note that there are many different ways to solve these
problems! Memorizing any particular methods or answers will not help
you in the actual exam. Use the process of working on the problems to
identify areas of mathematics content or reasoning that you need to
refresh or review. Your understanding is solid if you are able to
explain precisely why certain steps are taken in solving a problem.
No calculator was used and none is allowed for taking the MTEL.
The following list outlines steps you can take in approaching