I'm currently working on an AA to transfer from a community college. I still have plenty of time left before I'll be admitted to an education program and need to provide scores from the TAP, but I'm having trouble finding much information about it. I keep seeing stuff about Praxis and CBEST and don't know if that information is applicable to the Illinois test or where to find study materials besides the ILTS official website. Has anyone here taken the Illinois test? I think I heard that it had recently changed and had previously been known by a different name.

The TAP replaces an earlier test of basic skills. The new test is computer-based and - unusually for teacher tests - adaptive: a test taker's answer on the first question determines which question she'll get next, and the difficulty level of questions is adjusted upward or downward to the test taker's apparent level. There's a short study guide here: http://dept.clcillinois.edu/lac/tc/APTStudyGuide.pdf. Since this is a basic skills test, you can use any of of a wide range of resources to practice the skills, rather than limiting yourself to a book specifically about TAP. I like LearningExpress's Skill Builders book series for this purpose - the book Reading Comprehension Success in 20 Minutes a Day is especially good. For math, it's hard to beat Khan Academy, http://www.khanacademy.org.

Let me add that the formats and SPECIFIC question types of basic skills tests can vary pretty widely, but there tend to be common elements and content. A good CBEST book could prove useful; a good ACT-prep or SAT-prep book could also work well.

Thanks so much for the advice. I find it very interesting and a little odd that the TAP is adaptive. I have had placement tests that work that way, but never a standardized scored test (as far as I know). I will be enrolling in sequence of classes called Math for Elementary Teachers soon that counts for my general education math at both my current school and my intended transfer school. Do you think that would be a good review for the math portion of the test or should I still invest in specific study materials? I think I might still have an SAT prep book in a box somewhere, but it has been a few years since I took that test. I think I'll check my library to see if they have CBEST books or the Reading Comprehension one. I think I feel pretty confident in my skills, but I'm not sure exactly what might be on the test so I just want to get an idea of what subject matter is covered and how confident I feel once I know that.

Math for Elementary Teachers courses are generally intended to get the taker thinking about how and why math works the way it does. I applaud this - one wants elementary-school teachers to be able to tell whether a child's non-standard approach to a problem works even when it's not represented in the teacher's manual - and one hopes for a number of "aha!" moments for you. That's a somewhat different matter from boning up on basic math, however. The test framework is here: http://www.il.nesinc.com/PDFs/IL_fld400_FW.pdf. The math would appear to be roughly comparable to CBEST math or Praxis I/PPST math; you might find it easier to locate a Praxis I/PPST book in your area, since several of your neighboring states still use Praxis. I'd recommend spending some time with the various books available before you choose one: there's no such thing as the one test-prep book that's right for everyone.

That link is so helpful! I looked through the document and found that I am comfortable with my reading/writing type skills, but want to work on my math. Between the lists of general concepts and the Khan Academy link you suggested earlier I think I'll be alright. I just started at the very beginning on Khan and am quickly working through the easy stuff and plan to go as far as I can with the math practice as I can and use their videos for refreshing as much as I can. I don't plan to take the TAP until summer so I should have plenty of time to see if I need to look for some test prep books as well. Plus, I can get a single practice TAP exam by then as well. I really appreciate the time you took to get these resources together for me, even if you already knew where to find them. Our state's board of education and testing websites were not nearly as helpful as you were and they are supposed to be were prospective teachers go for information! Thank yo.

Fear my Google-fu! Seriously: over the years I've learned a few things about where to look. Basic skills tests for teachers generally assume high-school level skills, at most. A friend of mine once announced that California's high school exit exam ought to be CBEST, partly because of what it tests and partly because the junior or senior year in high school is when most of us are most nearly the masters of the skills. As for me, I say get the darned thing over with. As you work through Khan, keep an eye on the TAP framework (which, by the way, is folded into another study guide doc on the ILTS Web site): at some point you should see that Khan is going beyond TAP, and at that point you can ease up. (Unless of course you find that you now think this math stuff is really interesting, in which case keep on with my blessing.) I'm going to turn one thing around a little now: the prep you're doing now should pay off in your Math for Teachers coursework. Oh, and here are two more of my favorite resources, especially for people who picked up the notion somewhere that math is not for them: Go Figure: A Totally Cool Book about Math, by Johnny Ball, is a beautifully illustrated book about how math is (a) everywhere and (b) wonderful. It's published by DK, and I devoutly hope it's still in print. Algebra Unplugged, by Kenn Amdahl and Jim Loats, is what happens when you get a math-fearer (Amdahl) and a math professor (Loats) together in a bar to talk about what math is really all about. It contains quite possibly the best explanation for adults of fractions; somewhere in the proceedings we find ourselves dividing pizza by tenors, with hilarious results. This is published by a vanity press whose name I can't now recall, but Barnes & Noble has carried it and it should be fairly easy to Google up.

Thank you again. The books both look interesting. (And I've come to realize the DK has many awesome things.) I'll definitely check my library system for them. I've actually always been pretty good at math. I just haven't had to really do much of the more technical stuff in years. The last math I took was in high school about 7 years ago. I finished my required math early and used the extra room in my schedule to finish two high school majors (and the majors seem to be a very unique thing about my school because I've never met someone that went to another high school that had majors) instead of taking Trig and Calculus. It might have helped to take a test when I knew all that stuff, but then again I lived in Oregon at the time and they have an entirely different test.

You've always been good at math? Oh! Then you're worrying too much here. You shouldn't see anything any closer to trigonometry than Pythagorean triples.

That makes me feel better. I'll just brush up on some things and plan my test for this summer when I don't have classes! Thanks for the help and for the peace of mind.