What MTELs Do I Need to Take for Elementary Education?

Find out which MTELs you need to take to qualify for an Elementary Education teaching license in Massachusetts.

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The Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) are required for anyone who wants to teach in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Depending on the grade level and subject you wish to teach, you will need to pass one or more MTELs. The MTELs are administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

To earn an Initial license to teach Grades Pre-K through 2, you must pass the Communications and Literacy MTEL. If you plan to teach Grades 3 through 8, you will need to pass both the Communications and Literacy MTEL AND a content area MTEL in the subject you wish to teach. For a list of content area MTELs, please see the DESE website. In addition to passing an MTEL, all candidates for an Initial license must also complete an accredited teacher preparation program and a semester of supervised student teaching.

The Three Types of Elementary Education MTELs

To become an elementary school teacher in Massachusetts, you must pass the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL). There are three MTELs required for elementary education: the Communication and Literacy Skills Test, the General Curriculum Test, and a Subject Matter Test in Elementary Education.

MTEL Communication and Literacy

The Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) are a series of exams that aspiring educators must pass in order to earn their teaching license in the state. The MTELs cover a range of academic subjects, as well as pedagogical topics such as communication and literacy.

All candidates for an initial license as an elementary teacher must pass the MTEL Communication and Literacy exam, which assesses a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively both in written and oral form. The exam consists of two sub-tests: the Reading Subtest and the English Language Arts Subtest. Candidates must earn a passing score on both sub-tests in order to pass the MTEL Communication and Literacy exam.

The Reading Subtest assesses a candidate’s ability to read and understand a variety of genres of literature, as well as informational texts. The English Language Arts Subtest assesses a candidate’s knowledge of grammar, usage, and english language conventions, as well as their ability to effectively communicate in writing.

Candidates who wish to earn an elementary education teaching license in Massachusetts must pass the MTEL Communication and Literacy exam in order to be eligible for licensure.

MTEL Foundations of Reading

The Foundations of Reading MTEL (Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure) is a computer-based test that consists of multiple-choice and constructed-response questions. It is designed to measure core teaching knowledge and skills in reading instruction for grades pre-kindergarten through grade 6. The test is aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for English Language Arts and Literacy and the National Standards for the English Language Arts.

MTEL General Curriculum

The General Curriculum MTEL tests communicative and literacy skills as well as knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences that all elementary teachers need. You must pass this test to earn your Initial teaching license in Massachusetts. The General Curriculum MTEL has three subtests:

Subtest I: Communications and Literacy Skills (80 multiple-choice questions)
This section tests your ability to communicate effectively in writing and Speaking, read with comprehension,and understand concepts in the liberal arts and sciences.

Subtest II: Foundations of Reading (80 multiple-choice questions)
This section assesses your knowledge of the structure and function of language; reading development, acquisition,and intervention; and the foundations of literacy learning for diverse learners.

Subtest III: Generalist Elementary (100 multiple-choice questions)
This subtest measures your knowledge of generalist elementary content areas such as arithmetic, science, social studies, health, and safety. You will also be tested on your ability to understand child development and effective teaching strategies for diverse learners.

How to Prepare for the Elementary Education MTELs

In order to become an elementary school teacher in Massachusetts, you must pass the required MTELs. The MTELs for elementary education are the Communications and Literacy Skills Test, the Elementary Math Test, and the Elementary Education Subtest 1. You must also pass a basic skills test, which consists of the Reading, Writing, and Mathematics subtests.

If you are interested in becoming an elementary school teacher in Massachusetts, you will need to pass the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTELs). The MTELs are a series of tests that measure your knowledge and skills in the specific subject area(s) you want to teach. In order to be eligible for a teaching license in elementary education, you must pass the Communications and Literacy Skills Test and one of the Elementary Subject Matter Tests.

The best way to prepare for the MTELs is to take courses specifically designed to help you review the material that will be covered on the tests. Many colleges and universities offer these types of courses, often called MTEL review courses or MTEL preparation courses. These courses are typically offered during the summer, but some schools may offer them during other times throughout the year as well.

You can also prepare for the MTELs by studying on your own using review materials such as study guides and practice tests. These materials can be found online or purchased from many bookstores or educational supply stores.

Study Materials

There are a few different ways that you can acquire the study materials you need for the MTELs. The first step is to decide what format you prefer. Do you like to read texts, or do you prefer listening to audio recordings? Maybe you learn best by watching videos. Once you know your preferred format, you can start looking for materials.

One option is to find study guides specifically designed for the MTELs. These are often available in bookstores or online. You can also check with your local library to see if they have any relevant materials.

Another possibility is to find general study materials that cover the content areas tested on the MTELs. These can be textbooks, workbooks, or other resources that are not specifically designed for the test. Once again, your local library is a good place to start looking for these types of materials.

Finally, there are a number of commercial test preparation courses available both in-person and online. These courses usually provide comprehensive coverage of all the content areas on the MTELs.

Practice Tests

While there are no official practice tests for the Elementary Education MTELs, there are a few options available to help you prepare. The best way to study is to find a reputable study guide that covers all the content areas on the test. Once you have a study guide, you can use it to create your own practice tests. Start by making a list of all the topics covered on the test and then creating questions for each topic. If you can, find someone who has already taken the test and ask them to share their old practice tests with you.


Based on the results of your MTEL combination, you will be able to teach either grades 1-6, grades 4-8, or grades 5-12. The most common outcome is grades 1-6. However, with additional coursework, you could potentially teach any elementary grade level.

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