# Math Praxis 5161

Discussion in 'Single Subject Tests' started by MrCoach615, May 12, 2016.

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Aug 6, 2017

I would not worry too much about the English because when I took the Praxis 5161 nearly all of the questions had little to no words. Yes, some had words but you don't need to focus so much on the words, but the key pieces of information given in the problem. All word problems boil down to this: Start with what you are given (initial conditions) and go to what we want (the answer). Start by writing out formulas that may be useful as well as the information given. Then try to translate the verbal model (words) into an algebraic model (equation).

NOTE: The format of the test may have changed somewhat from when I took it. However, you can deduce how to solve the vast majority of questions from the context alone (e.g. Find lim (x -> 0) sin(x)/x or find the volume of this truncated cone with dimensions blah and blah).

To show you what I mean, let's say they had you multiply square matrices (2x2 matrices) and fill in the entry for the product. To demonstrate, let A = [1 2; 3 4] and let B = [4 5; 6 7]. Then A*B = [1(4) + 2(6) 1(5) + 2(7); 3(4) + 4(6) 3(5) + 4(7)] or [16 19; 36 43], where the first two numbers (16 and 19) represent the numbers in the first row of 2x2 matrix AB and the second two numbers represent the numbers in the second row (36 and 43) of said matrix.

Now, this is more than the problem can ask. They might just have you fill in maybe one or two of these entries. For example, they could have given you [16 blank; blank 43]. It remains for YOU to fill in the two blanks.

NOTE TO MODERATORS: These are made up examples. These are not actual test questions.

In case you were curious. The algorithm to multiply 2x2 matrices is as follows:

[a b; c d]*[e f; g h] = [ae + bg, af+ bh; ce + dg, cf + dh]

If you are a kinesthetic learner (i.e. learn by working with your hands) you can use your fingers to point which entries you are multiplying and it makes it easier to remember. For example, point to entries "a" and "e" with your index and middle finger and then add their product to the product of entries "b" and "g" (point to those two entries in the same fashion as before). This helps my students a lot when they learn about matrices.

Edit: Try to recognize in what situations you would use certain formulas based upon the information given. Knowing when to apply the formulas is just as important as being able to use them correctly. And concerning the language barrier, math is a UNIVERSAL language. It is the same no matter what language you speak. For example, I was a math foreign exchange student to Japan twice -- once in middle school and once in high school. Both times I had absolutely no idea what the Japanese instructions were saying but I was still able to deduce what the problem wanted me to do because I recognized the math symbols and notation used in the initial problem.

Last edited: Aug 6, 2017

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Aug 6, 2017

The calculator can be considered a full scientific calculator but it also has graphical capabilities. Yes, it can do everything your TI-84 Plus CE can do. The difference is that you have to type in certain commands. For example, to evaluate tan(x) at x = pi/4, you would literally type "t," "a," "n," followed by "(pi/4)" and then hit evaluate or the equals button. I can't remember what the button says exactly, but it should be obvious what to click. I think you can also "click evaluate" by pressing Enter, if my memory serves.

NOTE: There are drop-down menus that you have to navigate to and from on occasion. Make sure that you are familiar with those because if you have to use a calculator function and cannot find it, then you are tough out of luck.

NOTE: Not all of the calculator functions are under the same menu!!!

Last edited: May 31, 2019
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3. ### RNSPRookie

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Aug 6, 2017

Thanks. Yah I need ti be fast and divide well my time to be able to complete the test and make sure I will be able to answer all the questions I know correctly. I have the calculator in my computer and I kind know how it works. Khan Academy is helping me a lot with things I need to remember. I kind know most the topics there, but I need review: Polynomial factorization and reminder, probability. Limit and derivatives. CliffsNotes is very good to make us ready with what we need to know to take the test. I did the test in April and I was ready to it, I hope now I will be able to do better because I know what I can expect from the test.
Good luck to you all and answer the questions can you? in the Study Companion in the ETS website. I let you know if I pass in the end of August.

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4. ### Ash GRookie

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Aug 7, 2017

Hey, the calculator does a decent amount but doesn't do as much as the TI-84. I would just download the trial version to get used to the calculator. One example is you can have some calculators do derivatives, calculate determinants, etc. but this new on screen calculator won't.

Good job on the test because I think the Cliff Notes test is harder. If you're passing on Cliff Notes I think you should definitely pass on the regular Praxis 5161 Exam.

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5. ### NanagyiziNew Member

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Aug 8, 2017

Wow what happened here???? Mad shots fired!!! QueenBee, I know you got this. Just always look at any math problem in three ways when it comes to the test- algebraically, geometrically and analytically. It does not matter if the question is in the algebra, trig, geometry, statistics or discrete math. I t might sound pretty vague but these questions on 5161 will asked in any of these three forms. For example, a question testing for knowledge on one-to one functions will be in a form of a diagram which can be thought provoking if you are not looking in that direction. I will be hard pressed to see future math prof come to any inner city and be successful because he will be highly frustrated. The sole purpose of this site is to empower each other not to tell us what you have accomplished because most people on this site are not underachievers. The stories here of people doing this test 4 or 5 times are those stories that people want to hear and get motivated by them. Good that you had 194 your first trial but this site is not for people like you. People come here either to get hope or motivation and if you cannot provide that , then you should continue with your MENSA conference. A lot go into being a good math teacher and 5161 is just a small portion of it. For those who are struggling, remember that perseverance will almost and always take you to the promise land-160 is the same as 194 on 5161( I will let that marinate for a while)

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6. ### PrettyQueenBeeRookie

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Aug 13, 2017

Nanagyizi,

Thank you for your kind words! Your point about looking at the questions algebraically, geometrically, and analytically makes perfect sense to me. I will remember to do so. Also, you are absolutely right! That was the only point I was trying to make: The site should be used to empower each other and offer advice. I'm sure everyone on here has some type of great success. I don't see anyone on here as a failure or a loser just because they didn't pass a test on the first try or they're struggling to manage their class. I try to ignore those who come on just to boast and be hateful. Especially when they actually hope and wish I don't pass the test. It must be terrible to live like that! I get happy when I see stories of people taking the test more than a few times and finally passing. Shows perseverance! Yes, a lot does go into teaching math and it goes much deeper than 5161.

One thing's for sure: The school district or the state's Dept. of Ed. isn't going to care about a high score on the praxis exam. Wanna know why? When praxis sends a report to the department, all they see is "pass" or "no pass." The Dept. of Ed. won't get the same detailed report we receive a couple weeks after testing (the one that shows the score and the areas where we excelled or need to work on). Trust and believe the salary won't change over a praxis score.

I make the same amount of money as the other math teachers in my district who either have a math degree or have passed 5161. ;-)

Thank you and I will hold on to your piece of advice!

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7. ### PrettyQueenBeeRookie

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Aug 13, 2017

Yea, my calculator does derivatives, integrals, determinants, etc. There's very little that it doesn't do.. lol! But I will definitely play with their calculator so I can get used to it and see what all it will (or won't) let me do.

Also, thank you! You're not the first person I've heard say that the Cliff Notes questions were tougher.

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8. ### RNSPRookie

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Aug 18, 2017

I did not pass again and it was my second time. This test was very hard and long world problem. I do not think it measure what anyone know. There was questions with 7 choices.... to find all correct, a lot probability questions. Anyway I will take it again in September and see. Very sad. I did study a lot this time. I need to get more practice using the calculator and try to controls better my time. Good luck to you all.

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Aug 18, 2017

RNSP, I am very saddened to hear you did not pass. You'll get it next time!

Some things to think about: You know what types of problems they asked this time. Write down what you remember and study those concepts so you'll know what to do next time. Secondly, the test DOES measure what you know. As a high school math teacher, you are expected to know Algebra 1 and 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, Probability and Statistics, and Calculus through and through. This is because you may end up teaching *any* of those courses and so your students need an instructor who is WELL VERSED in those subjects and can answer pretty much any type of problems in a variety of different circumstances. You have no idea how many times I have had to answer questions that were very challenging in terms of the thought process involved. I was able to do them easily, but it was difficult for the students to even begin because they had to be extremely clever.

Keep at it!!! I'm rooting for you!

Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
10. ### PrettyQueenBeeRookie

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Aug 19, 2017

Aw man. :-( Better luck next time ! Just remember you are not the first and definitely won't be the last to come up short on 5161. Do you have a good grasp on the English language?

Also, the test has a variety of question types: Multiple choice, choose all that apply, drag-drop, etc. I disagree with you on one thing: The test *does* measure what you know about all aspects of mathematics. What is DOESN'T measure is how good of a teacher one will be. 5161 is strictly for testing your content knowledge. Nothing more, nothing less.

You will get it ! We both will.

Good luck in September !

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11. ### RNSPRookie

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Aug 19, 2017

Thanks everyone. I will think more about the kind questions will be there, I know a lot of the concepts only need to apply it correctly.

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12. ### NanagyiziNew Member

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Aug 22, 2017

That's Riiiiggght!!!!!!!

13. ### Ash GRookie

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Aug 24, 2017

If you don't mind me asking.... What was your scaled scored and how close are you?

14. ### RNSPRookie

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Sep 23, 2017

Thank you everyone who spent your time try to help. I passed today in my praxis Math 5161. I did 172, I could not be more happy. I did listen everyone advise and I did not study a lot, but I did have my strategy to pass. First do whatever you know, so skip what you need more time to find the answer. Second learn how to use the calculator there because you will need it a lot if the question. I had answer yes or no for everything in the study companion they have something Can you? in the ETS website you can open the material cover in the math 5161, I said I can not do it I take notes and watch videos khanacademy to learn what I could not do.
Good luck everyone and I'm so happy I did pass this in my 3 time.

Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
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15. ### Ash GRookie

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Sep 23, 2017

Congrats and I knew you were going to pass!!!

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16. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Sep 23, 2017

Well done, RNSP!

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17. ### RNSPRookie

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Sep 23, 2017

Thank you!!

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18. ### rebezuniNew Member

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Feb 16, 2018

Idk if anyone is still following this post, but I thought I’d share my experience.

Just took 5161 for the first time today and got a raw score of 15/7, scaled to 138. Guess you could say I bombed it! Honestly though I was not surprised. I got about a week of solid study in, and my undergrad (currently in a masters program) was in history, not math. I got a good score on my ACT math (maybe 28?), but I haven’t taken a math class in 6 years! Also never took calculus. When I took the GRE last year I can’t remember the math score I got, but I was only in the 50 or 60th percentile. I have to pass it by April 1 to continue with my program next semester.

I did not focus enough on functions in my study for this test, and knowing some basic rules for that and trig would have helped me a lot. I think I also didn’t make myself do enough practice problems. I just ordered the cliff notes guide, and I plan on studying systematically from the ETS free study guide pdf at least one hour a day. Any tips are appreciated!

19. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Feb 16, 2018

All right, so you've got some ground to make up in math. That's not at all uncommon.

Work your way through Khan Academy, www.khanacademy.org, starting with levels of math you're fairly certain you already know cold. If Khan's little videos don't do it for you - and they don't appeal to everyone - try working through Math is Fun, www.mathsisfun.com. If that doesn't take either, rummage through www.freetech4teachers.com to find other suggestions (and there are others). AP math books can be useful sources of practice problems.

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