Muddling through the blogosphere

Passing the CTEL Exam…


ctelI won’t know for about 6 weeks if I passed the California Teachers of English Learners (CTEL) test , which I took yesterday at CSU, Sacramento. Taking the CTEL is an all day affair, if you’re planning to take all three sections. I signed up for all three.

From the parking lot, I joined a few other teachers also on their way to the test. Two were PE teachers, who were questioning the value of having to know the difference between a diphthong and a digraph; the other two were returning to retake the two sections they had previously failed and were fairly frustrated by both the certification requirement and the testing format. I kept my mouth shut.

What I did not share with my fellow CTEL test takers was how deeply interested I am in the topic of English language learners (ELs). Nor did I share my frustration at not being able to find some affordable workshops on the topic.  Our local COE canceled their CTEL workshop series based on low enrollment (with close to 300 of us showing up for Saturday’s event, that seems puzzling). And I also did my best not to get in a huff over the fact that I am permanently out $303 (something, admittedly, I could have avoided had I opted to take the test a few years back), whereas my four walking companions mentioned they will be reimbursed for the exam fee as soon as they have proof of passing.

But I’m not writing this post to complain about the CTEL exam. I’m writing to acknowledge four people who helped me prepare for the test, either in print, online, or face-to-face.  The first three people I’ve not yet met f2f; the 4th person, I know well:

  • Lynne Diaz-Rico – Thank you for your helpful book A Course for Teaching English Learners.  You provided the first step in preparing for the scope and sequence of the exam – and you reminded me, through research and samples, of the importance of promoting and supporting bilingual education.
  • Jeffery Heil – Thank you for your contributions to the CTEL wiki! Your PowerPoints helped prep me for the fact that careful reading of the multiple-choice questions would be critical (and sort of got me over the hump that although it was easy to eliminate two of the choices, for many of the questions, deciding between the two remaining answers, choosing the better of the two would not always be obvious). Lucky SDCOE to have you as a resource!
  • Carol Booth Olsen – Thanks to the Know Els ning (part of the National Writing Project network), I found your Cognitive Strategies Approach to Reading and Writing: Instruction for English Language Learners in Secondary School. On Friday, I had hit rock bottom in terms of getting bogged down with CTEL  EL-related acronyms and laws (which were completely missing from Saturday’s test, I might mention).  So, in search of a pre-test jitters/blues antidote, I headed to the Know ELs ning – and found your article. As I read about the Pathways Project, and noted the excellent strategies for building ELs’ language toolkits, my interest and enthusiasm for the topic resurfaced.  I ended my Friday study session feeling prepared  to sit for the test and hoping that the essay sections would provide a venue for showcasing powerful teaching strategies from Writing Project teachers.
  • And one last person I want to thank Lesley McKillop, 4th grade teacher, A3WP TC, and my friend. Through classroom visits, often extended via phone calls during my daily commute, I have watched you engage your elementary students and build EL strategies, much like Carol Booth Olson has done for secondary students. Three out of four of my CTEL essays were based on best practices from your classroom:

If you also spent Saturday taking the CTEL, I hope you passed!

And if you have CTEL stories and/or resources to add to this post, I’ll hope you’ll add a comment.


  1. I just came across your site today… I too, took those insane tests on Dec 4th. UGH! What a day! I am new to California. I have a teaching certificates in 3 states (and now CA) and found out I *needed* this also to get any sort of job. It’s been a frustrating journey… All the hoops, all the red tape, all the jobs passed by due to *must have CLAD* But now I am all passed, and need to apply for the CLAD certificate! Yeah!

    I hope you had success too! 🙂

  2. Kristen,

    Where ever you are in California, you might have heard me hootn’ and hollor’n about 11:44 yesterday, when 3 CTEL emails came into my box…with “pass” on each one.

    Congratulations to you, too!

  3. HAHAHA! Congrats! I did not hear you because I was also screaming! (and crying) I was so relieved!!!! This is my 4th state I have had to test to get my credentials… California is very different from other states… but then, I’m sure you knew that already! But I am fully qualified now in CA! It only took 8 months! HA!

  4. Kristen,

    I’m wondering if you, like me, had to prepare for the CTEL on your own? Lynne Diaz-Rico’s book addressed many of the exam questions, but not all. I would have been comfortable/confident sitting for the exam if there had been a definitive, comprehensive guide available.

  5. Yes, I was on my own. Being new to the state made it even more daunting for me to study. I used 2 books: California Teacher Review for the CTEL Exam, Extended Edition and The Crosscultural, Language, and Academic Development Handbook: A Complete K-12 Reference Guide (4th Edition). I am surprised I passed, but I did study for 2 months, highlighted, took notes, outlined chapters, and made flash cards. I felt I *really* needed to pass to even be considered for a job. Many jobs I was unable to apply for due to the CLAD requirement. So with that under my belt, I feel I am in competition finally for employment!

    California is a hard nut to crack to get a teaching credential all lined up.

    • I see this thread was a long time ago, but just came across it as I just moved to CA from OR and have to get my CLAD certificate. Do any of you know if you have to take the CLAD coursework or can you just study on your own and take the test? In looking at CLAD programs, it’s over $2000! I would love to just study on my own and try the exam, but don’t know if that’s an option. Thoughts???

      • Hi Lisa,

        Welcome to California! I did not take the CLAD coursework – and passed the test:-). I had actually planned to take the course at our local county office of education – but it was cancelled, so I was on my own. You can do it, but you’ll need to do the reading. I’d start with the resources I’ve listed in the post. Also check to see if Lynne Diaz-Rico has any new materials out.

        Good luck to you!

        • Hi,
          I am a credentialed but unemployed teacher and took the CTEL in May. I used the same study materials you’ve mentioned and studied for 2 months but I did not pass the Culture and Inclusion section. I’m really bummed I have to take it again!! I think it’s an opinion section and I don’t feel the same way about assimilation as the test writers do. Although I thought I gave them what they wanted to hear it wasn’t good enough. I did great on all the essay questions but failed half the multiple choice questions in that section. There aren’t enough study materials for that section since it’s short. On all the practice tests I got 90% for that section so I thought I was prepared. Here I go again! An additional $91 down the drain.

          • Monica,

            I’m so sorry that you’re having to retake the Culture and Inclusion section. I will do a little checking to see if anyone can recommend some new resources for nailing the multiple choice part of that test. I do want to congratulate you on passing 2 out 3 parts of the test. I remember being surrounded by people who were doing retakes – so you are by no means alone. What I found a bit frustrating was not being able to find some kind of definitive manual that had all the right answers – kind of like the manual for a state drivers license.

            Sending good thoughts your way,

          • I too have taken the
            Culture and Inclusion test more than once! It is truly frustrating because I thought I did well each time I took it and got as close as 219!!! Frustrating is not the only word I would use, but gotta keep it clean! Have changed my methods and know that on Tuesday I am taking it for the last time!!

  6. Thanks for this great resource. I too had to take the CTEL exam. I had taken a break from teaching for a few years (with 3 kids and a dog to show for it!) and needed to update my credential. I felt that taking the three tests in one day was just way too grueling, especially since I was also hosting a huge Thanksgiving dinner at the same week. (Believe me, I tried to get out of it but this year it was my turn.) I did pass the 2 sections (1 & 3) and was surprised that I did slightly better on the essay questions than the multiple choice. You are right: for some of the multiple choice questions, the information is not in any of the texts, at least as far as I saw. Part of the difficulty was how the multiple choice questions or answers were really a combination of items.
    I’m planning to take section 2 this month. I’m going to review a lot of lesson plans so that I’m ready for the essay question. I teach French, and I found it easier to just make my essay answer about a hypothetical elementary school lesson, not a French lesson. Not that I don’t use ELL strategies in the classroom, but for the purpose of passing a test, I felt it was easier to use a more general lesson plan. Good luck and congratulations to those of you who passed!

    • Thanks, Maureen, for your thoughtful comment. Heading into part 2, with parts 1 & 3 already under your belt should be a confidence builder. I agree with your strategy of using a hypothetical elementary classroom – or better yet, maybe visit one. I built my essays around 3 elementary teachers who were (still are) doing an amazing job of taking students’ language skills to higher levels. Good luck!

    • Hi Maureen,
      I feel your pain, as I am also a career educator, but have to go back to take the CTEL. Argg.

      Can you give me some help with what to study for the essay questions?

  7. HELP! I am scheduled to take the CTEL on Friday, and am so worried about the free response essay questions. Can anyone give me a heads up about what I should be expecting? Are the essays only based on lesson plans?

    thank you!!

    • Hello Renlynn. Will put out a call to ELL friends to see if they have additional tips and resources to add.

    • Hi, I just passed the ctel. Had to retake the first section, because I didn’t pass the essay part the first time. But I passed it the second time around. None of my essays related to lesson plans.

    • The essay is the easiest part, unlike the multiple choice, you’ll get points for getting part of the answer right. I would recommend scrolling down at the beginning and reading the question first. Then as you answer the questions jot down notes to help you with your ideas for the essay questions. Just know your definitions of SDAIE, ELD, etc. and how to implement it in the classroom- lots of questions on that. One of my essay questions was about listening comphrension in the classroom so if you know lesson plans that incorporate SDAIE teaching syles you should be fine.

  8. Thank you, ladies!!

    Any help you can give is great! I have been in education for over 15 years, but due to serving as a teacher, then in admin, was never required to actually have the CLAD. I guess i slipped through the cracks.

    So, here I am trying to re-learn things I guess I should know. But, hey maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks?

  9. Lisa, if the essay topics were not lesson based, then can you give me a clue of what to prepare for?

    thank you!!

  10. does anyone think that using wiki wetpaint review is enough material to pass the tests?

  11. I took the ctel part 2 a second time and failed it. the format was nothing like the previous one I took.
    Obviously it doesnt matter if I have taught English in two foreign countries, have taught for 50 years and have two masters. It makes me feel “dumb”. I paid $220 for three days at SCOE taking the second part tutoring.
    Hmmmmm now, who’s the dumb one…me? I think ctel just keeps people in jobs…I guess that’s good eh? Good luck…I will hold off as long as I can……oh, I also paid money to take the test….+ the three days of “tutoring”…hmmmmmmmm. would appreciate a response from the state dept of ed.

    • Hi Ralph,

      I still remember the feeling I had leaving my long day of CTEL testing. I was pretty sure I had passed Part 1. But Part 2 seemed more like a gamble. I too have a pretty solid background in language (undergrad degree in Romance Languages and an active association with the National Writing Project and the National Council for Teachers of English, etc.). Because I do not currently have my own classroom, I based my essay components on what I considered powerful instruction in 3 elementary classrooms I’ve been privileged to work with in my role as a district technology integration specialist. In all 3 classrooms (at high poverty sites), three talented, dedicated teachers used a variety of approaches to provide their ELs with authentic opportunities to practice both informal and academic language. Students were highly engaged – and, yes, test scores showed positive gains.

      Yes, I passed Part 2, but not with the flying colors worthy of classroom scenarios I had shared.

      Not only do I remember leaving kind of scratching my head, but also leaving in the company of teachers who, like you, were repeating the tests – with the feeling that they had just entered a contest without having access to the rules.

      Hang in there, Ralph.

  12. Just passed all three sections of the CTEL exam. Took them all in one day. I knew I passed each section the minute I took it. Just had that confident feeling. I picked up Diaz-Rico’s book and studied it for six weeks before the exam. It’s the only thing you need to study. All the other study aids that are printed out there are useless. The questions are very much like the ones on the CTEL website. Don’t bother memorizing all kinds of names, facts, dates and theories. There almost non-existent on the exam. The exam focuses on practical application of knowledge, just like the practice questions on the CTEL site. With that said, it’s beyond absurd that the state makes you take a seven-hour exam. So overkill. One subset would suffice focusing on the SDAIE part. All the questions seem all the same in all three subsets. Typical state of California: stifling over-regulation.

    • Thanks Gail for starting this great resource! My question is about books. Diaz-Rico has two books that people report helping for CTEL. The “A Course for Teaching English Learners (2nd Edition)” and “The Crosscultural, Language, and Academic Development Handbook (4th Edition)”. Is the “Course” book recommended over the other one? *Please* reply if anyone has insight on this. They are not cheap books!

  13. Hello,
    I am going to be taking the CTEL this year and have decided to take it in separate parts, instead of the 6 hour test. I would ideally like to take part 2 in February and parts 1 and 3 in May. Those of you who have taken the test, do you think it’s necessary to take the parts in order? Would it make sense to do it this way? Also, which part did you all find the most difficult?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Jen,

      I don’t think it’s necessary to take the parts in order, but you are asking an interesting question. And since it has been two years since I took the CTEL, I hope other readers will jump in with an opinion.

  14. Hi,
    I’m looking to take all 3 sections of the CTEL soon. However, I’ve also been looking at the CTEL online courses (that offer the certificate at the end) that some colleges offer. My license says I “must earn a CA EL authorization” to renew. Does anyone know, do I *have* to take one of these courses or can I study on my own and attempt the tests? Also, if I do the studying, how long do you suggest to prepare? I’m looking at the Feb. test dates, but they do seem pretty close.

    • From what I have researched, you have the option to either earn the certificate through the courses or take the test. The courses are quite pricey (at least in San Diego), so financially the test is the way to go. I am also planning to take the test in February and am going to start studying this weekend. I heard 6 weeks is sufficient to prepare, depending on study habits, but then again a few on here said 2 months. Good luck!

    • I took all three tests without taking a prep class. I passed tests 1 and 2. I failed the 3rd test twice. The first time I was 4 pts short and the second time I was 14 pts from passing. I decided to take an online course from Knowledge Delivery Systems http://www1.kdsi.orgSo far, I took the first test for test 3 and got 100% I feel like I know the material. I guess I’ll have to be more careful choosing the multiple choice answers. Either that, or I need more information about what makes a good essay …

  15. Hi, I am also thinking of taking the test in 3 parts. I taught high school for 13 years then have taken the last 8 years off to raise my twins. I took CLAD through USD but never applied for the credential. When I went to apply a year ago, I was told I was out of luck and I needed to redo everything. Since I cannot afford to pay for another university program, I will be taking the test. Do you recommend one long testing day or breaking it up? So bummed I have to do this and still kicking myself in the butt for not applying right away when I was done with my CLAD coursework. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Joanne,

      I opted for “one long testing day,” but I know many who’ve joined this conversation opted for “breaking it up.” In some ways, part 1 helped build on part 2, and the questions and verbiage from both were fresh in my mind as I went into part 3. I also wanted to allow myself maximum time if I needed to retake any of the sections.

    • I am taking part 3 in May and part 1 in August leaving part 2 for the next round that comes up. I am horrible at tests so I knew taking all 3 parts at once would be too much. I am studying the Diaz book and the study guide and getting really familiar with SDAIE. I have always been great with essay questions so I’m not worried about that part at all. Any tips on the multiple choice questions?

  16. Does anyone have any of the study guides they’d like to sell? I am taking all three tests in May, and I want to start now to make sure I pass, but the study guides are expensive.

  17. There are many advantages to taking all three exams on one day. It will be a 7 hour day, that’s for sure. First of all, it’s cheaper to do so. Secondly, you just might pass all three sections and be done with it. But the biggest reason is you can eliminate one to two sections by passing them for which you will no longer need to study. If you can pass two of the three, then you can laser-focus in on studying for the part you didn’t pass. This is a HUGE advantage. Perhaps the biggest advantage is that you get exposure to the exam and know what kinds of questions will be asked as well as the nature of the essay questions. Memorize all of the essay questions on exam day so you can review the ones that were part of the exam you didn’t pass. This will help to predict what other types of essay questions might be on the part you will take again. The score on the essays on the part you didn’t pass will also give you valuable feedback to see if you were even close to giving them what they wanted. The multiple choice and essay questions will all most certainly be similar in nature the next time you take it so having the exposure to the exam is essential. Taking all three parts on the same day is brutal, but gives you a great advantage in retaking any part you didn’t get around.

  18. Taking the test on Thursday! My goodness. Have been studying for over a month. However haven’t the slightest clue on what would be on these essays. Hope I have absorbed enough from all the studying! If anyone has any insight on past questions please share!! Thank you!

  19. Hello,

    I am glad to found this blog. Thank you.

    I am an out-of-country teacher and have to get the clad certificate and decided to go with the ctel exam.

    Since I did some research I have to decide about the prep books. I found these three higly recommended books on amazon:
    – CTEL California Teacher of English Learners, Sharon A Wynne
    – A Course for Teaching English Learners (2nd Edition), Lynne T. Diaz-Rico
    – The Crosscultural, Language, and Academic Development Handbook: A Complete K-12 Reference Guide (4th Edition, Lynne T. Diaz-Rico

    Since this books are expensive I would like to have an opinion of somebody, who may used one or all of this. Which of these prep books are necessary? All three or one of them or just the two Lynne Diaz-Rico? Or anyother suggestions?

    Thank you

    • Hello Regi,

      I can’t comment on Sharon Wynne’s book as I don’t have a copy. I definitely owe much of my CTEL success to Lynne Diaz-Rico’s A Course for Teaching English Learners and definitely recommend it. I’m sure her Complete K-12 Reference Guide would also be a helpful resource.

      Hoping maybe others can weigh in on book recommendations.

    • I used the first 2 books on your list to study. I thought the practice test in the first one was quite helpful. I just took the official tests yesterday though, so I’ll have to wait a month to find out if I actually passed any of them.

  20. Thanks for the replies!

    Angela, I already thought about the books you used. Were these books really helpful? It doesn´t sound like this in your post.
    I hope you passed this test! My best wishes to you!

  21. Hi,

    I bit the bullet and bought the Diaz-Rico book. It seems less daunting in a book than the practice questions did on first glance. Terms are explained well enough so I hope it will do the trick. Only one problem. My second hand copy did not include any access codes for the myeducationlab website. Did anyone use that resource? Is it useful? Would anyone like to ‘lend’ their code???

  22. Hmm I see that it doesn’t work like that. You have to be enrolled on an online course to be able to access the materials. Can anyone recommend any other online sources of exercises relevant to the topics in the Diaz-Rico book? Highlighting key words just doesn’t seem enough. I’ve seen the practice exercising on the main CTEL website.

  23. Regi:
    I wasn’t sure if the books were helpful enough. I felt pretty good after taking the tests, but there were definitely some questions I wondered about. However, I got my scores back today and I passed all 3 tests!! So, I guess they were enough 🙂

  24. Congrats, Angela! I was browsing through the webpages to look for test prep for CTEL. I’m also a out of state teacher who needs to obtain my EL authorization. I plan to take the CTEL exam in May. Can you sell me your books?

  25. I am thrilled to have found this blog! I taught in CA from 2001-2006 at which time I moved to NC and have been teaching here. I am moving back to CA in June and discovered that some districts will not even interview if I don’t have the CLAD/EL certification. So…I have been researching everything about taking the exams versus taking the coursework. Then I found out how much the coursework was and thought…why not try to study on my own and see how I do. It is great to see that others have done this with partial/full success! I printed out all the KAS’ from the CTEL website and hope to get the Diaz-Rico book so highly recommended by many of you. If I sign up to test in May, do those of you who have followed before me feel this is sufficient time to study and give myself a decent chance?

  26. I am also taking the test in May. Any of you in Orange County, CA want to start a study group?

  27. Thanks, Monica! Your feedbacks are very helpful!

  28. I live in Redondo Beach and would love to join a study group too! I am taking part three in May and part one in August. Trying to find a job in CA too, just got my license out here in December.

  29. Have you started the study group yet? Also, I purchased the Diaz book new from Amazon but it did not come with the code for Is the lab necessary? Have any of you used it to study the chapters as suggested by the author?

  30. I live in Irvine. Anyone wants to join me to study? I found it really hard to push myself to study while working at the same time…:(

    • Sammie,

      Just a suggestion, but you might want to think about using Google Hangout for your study get-togethers. That way, distance is not an issue and you can save and archive your sessions.

      Gail (blogwalker)

  31. I am very nervous about taking the CTEL next month. Does the book by Lynne Diaz-Rico’s A Course for Teaching English Learners come with sufficient information and practice test questions to pass the exam? I have been studying but do not feel confident with the online study guides and information I have. I am taking all three exams in one day. Yikes!

  32. The book by Diaz-Rico is the main book you need to study. I have the book for sale on Ebay right now for an extremely reasonable price along with some other study aids including 10 pages of my own personal notes I took on the book. Search CTEL and you will find the book for sale on Ebay.

  33. Hello All,
    Thank you blogwalker for creating this blog. I am a frustrated out of country credentialed teacher. Who finally after having jumped through multiple hoops got her Multiple Subject. Been applying for teaching positions without success when someone suggested that there is a possibility CTEL could be the reason for no responses. I was planning on taking the plunge and taking it this Saturday (Language and Arts section) but after having read this blog. I am not so sure….but the next round is not until August and by that time all schools will be done hiring. 🙁
    Will I be wasting my money by doing it??

    • Abida,

      I’m sorry to hear about your lack of responses to your applications. I have found that an easy entry into a school district is to register as a substitute teacher. You’re sure to get calls as well as start building a job network. In California, as the economy starts to pick up, so will the job market for teachers. I would definitely plan to take the next CTEL round in August, in case that’s been an obstacle to getting an interview (and it may well be).


  34. I am taking all three parts on Monday, 5/20. Can anyone tell me….are you able to look at the essay questions before taking the multiple choice? Can anyone who has taken it share what the topics of the essays were….I notice that is lacking in most of the previous posts. Thanks!

    • Hello Alane,

      Sorry for the delay in approving your comment, but I was out of the country for 10 days – without Internet access. It’s been a couple of years now since I took the exam, so I don’t remember actual essay questions, but I do remember that being able to provide teaching strategies that matched language levels was important. Also, when I took the exam, each was collected before the next was handed out, but the multiple choice questions served as a reminder to me of points I should include in the essay questions.

  35. Hi everyone,

    A horrible experience today. I live in NC but am hoping to move back to CA this summer…which is why I am attempting the CTEL exams. I was scheduled for this morning, 5/20 at 9:30. After taking a day off from work and driving an hour, I show up at my testing site (a community college) at 9:00. At 9:20 a woman comes out of her office and asks me what the tests are because she has never heard of them, has never administered them before and doesn’t know the protocol for taking breaks or lunch or anything else. When I explain that it is English Language Learner and that I am moving back to CA, she makes a rude comment “yeah I guess you would need that going back there”!! NOT a good way to start getting into test mode. At that point I questioned proceeding further. When she asked for my ID I gave her my NC driver’s license which had expired on my birthday but I realized that so I stopped at the DMV before testing and got it renewed. She denied me based on the fact that my DL was expired and that my temporary paper license had no picture. It kept going from bad to worse. She called and gave an incident report based on my DL and I called and gave an incident report based on her not having a clue as to what she was doing!! If I pay almost $300 to test, should I assume I am going where they have experience giving these exams? I feel I deserve to be rescheduled

  36. I took the CTEL for the third time on Wednesday. What I noticed about the test is that you have to thoroughly read each answer and eliminate the wrong answers. This is time consuming but necessary. I got a 30 minute warning to move on to my essay and still had 6 questions to answer. I had about 20 minutes left to write my essay. Arggh! I rushed through the last six questions and then rushed through my essay. I just hope I passed. The essay was about nonverbal communication and its relationship to academic achievement and school experiences. I agree with posts that it is difficult to figure out what you need to do as an out of state prospective teachers. Fortunately, I got a job in my home state, in Colorado, and will be working as a sped teacher in the fall.

  37. A shout out to all taking the CTEL in August and living in or around Pasadena. Want to start a study group? Lets come together to crack this nut. 🙂

    • Hello Abida,
      I’m taking the CTEL in Aug. I’m in Lompoc but possibly we could communicate via web? Mary

      • I’m also taking the CTEL in Aug. I’m near Sacramento. If you communicat via web, I’d like to join you.

      • I am so sorry, I just saw your message. I had a few other things going on. Yes let’s a google hangout or something.

      • I just created a hangout account but not sure how to share it with you’ll or how to invite you guys….if you know how, let me know and I will send out the request. I am taking CTEL 1 on August 24.

  38. I got my results back for the CTEL 3 test. I finally passed. This was my 3rd try to pass the test. I think once I realized that I wasn’t being asked for instructional answers, but cultural answers — in other words, what could I do to make EL students more comfortable — I was able to figure it all out. It also helped to take the online preparation course from CRTeacher. I really think it helped me to eek out my essay at the end of the test – I only left myself with 20 minutes to answer the prompt! I had done so many essays on the CRTeacher website that it was second nature to whip out an essay in 20 minutes. I highly recommend the course. Good luck to you all!

  39. To update my last email: The online class can be accessed by going to
    Once you register, you will be directed to CRTeacher

  40. Lori, that’s great news!! Congratulations!! And, thanks for the link to the online class you so highly recommend.

  41. Thank you so much for your blog, I took the test in May and passed all 3! I have taught for 6 years in another state and had to take the CTEL in order to get my California credential. I read your recommendations and bought the Lynne Diaz-Rico book. I, too, read the entire book carefully and reflected on my reading. I also took the quizzes on the CTEL site after reading the book to see where I needed more work and went from there. I think you do need to understand the language of the questions and look for key phrases in order to pass. Read the essays on the CTEL site carefully, they will help you when you need to write your essay. Thank you for this site! It worked 🙂

  42. Earlier I shared what happened to me when I showed up for the May exam. I protested the decision due to the incompetence and lack of politically correct behavior as the examiner was signing me in. That didn’t seem to be of interest to CTEL. The fact that my actual license had expired and my temporary license for the renewal did not have my picture on it rendered the decision that I do not get a refund and cannot reregister unless I pay again. I am moving back to CA in a couple of weeks from NC. Luckily I am returning to my prior school district where I already had 5 years experience so I was able to land a job (5 offers out of 7 skype interviews) and they will put an extension on my license to help me get caught up with anything that is lacking since my 7 year absence. That’s the good news! I have appreciate this blog very much!

    • Welcome back to California, Alane. I hope the flexibility your new/prior district is offering you makes up for the horrendous CTEL experience in NC. Your district obviously values having you back!


  43. Just stumbled across this blog. Wow! Thanks for all the great info. Don’t know if it made me feel better or more nervous about taking the 3 tests in August.

    I’m starting my 4th year teaching next month (retired Air Force teaching JROTC) so my degrees, background, training isn’t in teaching. Was just notified in June that if I didn’t get my CLAD by the end of this school year “I would be given my pink slip.” Really frustrated because I just received my clear credential last school year. Had I known CLAD was a requirement or even what it is, I would have started sooner.

    Rented the Diaz-Rico book previously mentioned from Amazon; taken the pre-tests on the CTEL website; borrowed notes. Believe I will do well on the multiple choice but the essay questions are scaring the crap out of me. I thought the military had a lot of acronyms! The material doesn’t “stick” with me to the point I believe I can regurgitate the answers to the level the essay grader wants.

    Any advice??? I LOVE teaching and believe I’m pretty darn good at it, but this test is making me want to throw in the towel and do something different.

    Sorry if I sound like I’m whining…just frustrated. Thanks!!

  44. Is there anyone in the San Diego/Chula Vista area who has the book, A Course for Teaching English Learners by Lynne Diaz-Rico that they would be willing to lend or sell?

  45. Hi,

    Thank you for all of the helpful information! I am kind of nervous about taking the CTEL. I plan on taking all 3 tests this November and have started studying.

    I was wondering if anyone around the Culver City/westside area would want to study together?

  46. I read through many of these posts and am about to take the exam tomorrow. I used the Diaz book only. I’m nervous after reading those posts! Someone made flashcards on quizlet in case you’d like to check them out:

  47. Hi everybody!

    I am back after I skipped the Ctel test twice (May and August test dates). However, I am willing to pass the test in November!

    Is here anybody out of the San Luis Obispo County and interested in a learning group?

    Did somebody use this book: “CTEL Exam Secrets Study Guide”?

    Thank you!

    • Regi,
      I took the 3 tests in August and just received my passing scores on Monday. I borrowed the Diaz book from the Black-Gold Library system and outlined every chapter, Most of them in Word. I’m happy to share my notes.
      I don’t want to scare you but be aware that as many people have said before the test is not predictable. I have always known internally how I did following a standardized exam, but not so with this one. I studied harder than I ever have and had no clue when i walked out of the exam how I did. It made me so angry. I almost wanted to fail and receiving passing scores didn’t make me feel good because the report coupled with the exam gave me no real idea of what I did right and wrong. Contact me directly if you’d like the notes i have in Word.

  48. Like many have mentioned, I have taught for years, have my Masters, and am credentialed in three other states. I received my 5 year “emergency” credential in 2008. Well wouldn’t you know, I’ve been busy teaching and obviously not noticed that my certificate will be void this coming January 2014! Aaah!! The ONLY test date available remotely near where I live is on Nov. 25th in which I have to take all three tests on the same day. Not a problem, however this means it is the ONLY chance I have to pass it. Sigh.

    What recommendations does anyone have so that I WILL PASS?! Thankfully, I have 2.5 months to study, but nonetheless, that doesn’t guarantee I’ll pass the tests. Any help is greatly appreciated!

  49. I have been following this blog since I began studying in June. I want to say thank you for all of the suggestions. The Lynne Diaz-Rico book was a huge help in preparing for this exam but I would not have passed it (yes , I just found out today that I passed all three subsets) i I did not take the Elizabeth Jimenez course, Teaching English Language Learners. This review course is available online through Knowledge Delivery System. It was a bit lengthy (21-90 minute lectures) but I was able to pace myself and finish the course in two months. It is set up as a review course for LAUSD. The lectures were filled with pertinent information relevant to CA teachers of EL. I’m not sure if I would have passed with just studying the text alone. The lectures built a lot of background information on Teaching EL which in return prepared me for the essay portion of the exam. I currently hold two out of state credentials and one CA Credential. In order to return to teaching, after a seven year hiatus, I need my CLAD. I found it hard to believe that teachers were going into the test with little to no preparation. Passing without preparing can’t be done. It’s tough! So glad it’s over!!

    • Congratulations, Jennifer!

      Thank you for sharing about the Elizabeth Jimenez course. If it was available when I was preparing for the CTEL, I wish I had known about it. And I share your thinking that “Passing without preparing can’t be done.”


    • Thanks for the info, Jennifer. Do you feel you would have passed all three tests just by studying along with the Jimenez course? I’m thinking of taking that prep course without buying any additional texts. Also, does the Jimenez course provide you with plenty of reading material in addition to the lectures?

  50. Gail,

    I wanted to extend a huge virtual ‘thank you’ for this blog.

    I am in the credential program, student teaching, and currently starting to stress out about passing the CTEL exam. It is sad that this authorization is not talked about in more programs (I’ve never heard of it) and only know about the requirement/need because I have already been looking at jobs.

    Although you took these tests almost three years ago, you can see from the continued posting that there is a lack of information and knowledge shared about how to properly prepare for this test.

    I have a month to study and am hoping that is enough. I think it’s sad that this test isn’t offered more often, seeing as it is basically required these days.

    Thank you in advance for sending me in the correct direction as far as preparatory materials!

    • Hi Julie,

      I’m surprised that the CTEL requirement is not built into your credential program. My daughter went through the credential program a few years ago at CSU Sacramento and completed the requirements through a class. She was therefore not required to pay for and take the exam.

      You raise an interesting point about the lack of information to prepare for the test. I would definitely ask your program adviser to recommend a few outstanding EL teachers in your region that you could observe and chat with. Witnessing best EL practices first hand is what really helped me in crafting my essay responses.

      Also, a resource that wasn’t available to me 3 years ago that I really recommend as part of your CTEL prep is the Teaching Channel’s 6-part series showcasing what best practices look like middle school classooms – . Next best thing to being there!

      Best wishes,

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