Michigan teacher certification Basic Skills Test sample questions

See how you do answering sample multiple choice questions from the Michigan teacher certification Basic Skills test, which is typically taken during a senior year in college, before a student begins student teaching. Other certification tests are taken at the end of college.

Incorrect answers will turn red and disappear; correct answers will turn green.

Good luck!


Section 1. Click on what you think is the correct answer for each of the following.

  • 1. Which of the following is largest?
    1. 1/4
    2. 3/5
    3. 1/2
    4. 9/20
  • 2. A town planning committee must decide how to use a 115-acre piece of land. The committee sets aside 20 acres of the land for watershed protection and an additional 37.4 acres for recreation. How much of the land is set aside for watershed protection and recreation?
    1. 43.15 acres
    2. 54.6 acres
    3. 57.4 acres
    4. 60.4 acres
  • 3. Use the graph below to answer the question that follows.

    Which of the following is true at time T ?
    1. Both racer A and racer B are running.
    2. Racer A is running and racer B is resting.
    3. Racer B is running and racer A is resting.
    4. Both racer A and racer B are resting.
  • 4. The sum of the three angles of a triangle is 180 degrees. The second angle is 20 degrees larger than the first angle. The third angle is twice the measure of the first angle. If n represents the number of degrees in the smallest angle, which equation correctly represents the relationship among the three angles?
    1. n+(n–20) + 2n = 180
    2. n+(n+20) + 2n = 180
    3. n+(n–20) + 2(n – 20) = 180
    4. n+(n+20) + 2(n + 20) = 180
  • 5. Bess, Tara, Gerard, and Clifton all work for the same company. One is a writer, one a researcher, one an artist, and one an engineer. Use the statements below to answer the question that follows.
    • Bess and Gerard eat lunch with the engineer.
    • Clifton and Tara carpool with the researcher.
    • Gerard works in the same building as the writer and researcher.

    Who is the researcher?

    1. Tara
    2. Bess
    3. Clifton
    4. Gerard

Section 2. Read the passage below. Then answer the six questions that follow.

The road to civil rights

1   The period immediately following the Civil War was a time of great hope for African Americans. It was also a time of momentous constitutional change, as the nation sought to extend those liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights to all Americans, Black and White. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed all citizens equal protection of the laws, and the Fifteenth Amendment declared that no one could be denied the right to vote "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." In subsequent decades, however, it became all too apparent, at least to African Americans and an unfortunately small number of concerned White Americans, that the prom- ises contained in these amendments were not being honored. By century's end, racial segregation was still an inescapable fact of American social life, in the North as well as the South. At the same time, most southern states had adopted devices such as the poll tax, literacy test, and White primary to strip African Americans of their right to vote.

2   The struggle to close the gap between constitutional promise and social reality would pass through two important stages. In the first stage, organizations such as the NAACP worked through the courts to restore the meaning of the Reconstruction-era amendments. These efforts culminated in the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which outlawed segregation in public schools. The decision also stated that separate facilities were inherently unequal, thus providing a legal basis for subsequent suits to desegregate other kinds of public accommodations.

3   As it turned out, the principles enunciated in the Brown decision were more easily stated than enforced. Court orders to desegregate public schools often encountered massive resistance. Seeing this, African Americans and their supporters began to adopt new tactics. As they did, the struggle for African American rights entered its second stage, a stage that would be characterized by direct action rather than legal challenges and would be played out in the streets rather than the courts. In turning to civil disobedience, lead- ers such as Martin Luther King, Jr., made it possible for all victims of racial injustice to take action in a way that was direct and forceful, but also peaceable. And through the power of their moral example, they soon won widespread support for their cause. In response to these developments, Congress took steps to restore the full meaning of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

4   The enactment of these measures by no means marked the end of the civil rights movement. There was still much to be done. Yet the passage of these acts nevertheless had far-reaching significance. The acts not only helped correct social inequities that had persisted far too long, they also showed that the Constitution means something, however long it may sometimes take to give substance to that meaning. This is no small matter in a nation of laws.

Click on what you think is the correct answer below.

  • 7. Which of the following best defines the word culminated as it is used in paragraph 2 of the selection?
    1. initiated a lengthy process
    2. completed the initial phase of a project
    3. began a period of decline
    4. reached the highest point of achievement
  • 8. Which of the following statements from the selection best expresses the main idea of the first paragraph?
    1. The period immediately following the Civil War was a time of great hope for African Americans.
    2. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed all citizens equal protection of the laws, and the Fifteenth Amendment declared that no one could be denied the right to vote "on account of race, color, or pre- vious condition of servitude."
    3. In subsequent decades, it became all too apparent, at least to African Americans and an unfortunately small number of concerned White Americans, that the promises contained in the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments were not being honored.
    4. Most southern states had adopted devices such as the poll tax, literacy test, and White primary to strip African Americans of their right to vote.
  • 9. The content of paragraph 3 indicates the writer's belief that
    1. The first stage of the civil rights movement was a failure.
    2. Supreme Court decisions have less influence on U.S. society than Congressional actions.
    3. social movements are able to influence the political process.
    4. the costs of civil disobedience sometimes outweigh its benefits.
  • 10. According to the selection, many communities refused to enforce the Brown decision. African Americans and their supporters tried to overcome this problem by:
    1. Demanding that Congress pass additional civil rights legislation.
    2. engaging in nonviolent direct action.
    3. selecting new leaders for the civil rights movement.
    4. requesting the assistance of the Supreme Court.
  • 11. Which of the following assumptions most influenced the views expressed by the writer in this selection?
    1. Nations that profess a belief in the rule of law should ensure that all laws are observed.
    2. Social injustice can be eliminated most effectively through amendments to the Constitution.
    3. As a rule, people must be forcibly compelled to respect the rights of others.
    4. Without forceful leaders, social movements are unlikely to gain broad support.
  • 12. Which of the following statements best summarizes the information presented in the selection?
    1. After the Civil War, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments were adopted to protect and extend the rights of African Americans. By century's end, however, racial segregation was still an inescapable fact of American social life. It would remain so until the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which called for the full desegregation of all kinds of public accommodations.
    2. During the past century, there have been significant changes in the leadership of the civil rights movement. Organizations such as the NAACP spearheaded the initial phase of the struggle for African American rights. As legal action gave way to direct action, however, leadership came primarily from individuals like Martin Luther King, Jr.
    3. Adopted immediately after the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed African Americans equal protection of the laws, and the Fifteenth Amendment gave African Americans the right to vote. African Americans and their supporters have long struggled to give meaning to these amendments.
    4. Efforts by African Americans and their supporters to close the gap between the constitutional promises of the Reconstruction-era amendments and the realities of American social life passed through two important stages. The first stage, which focused on legal action, culminated in the Brown decision of 1954. This stage was followed by a direct action phase that resulted in the passage of the civil rights acts of the sixties.

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Big D
Tue, 10/01/2013 - 8:53am
wrt Teacher Certification Test: How come there weren't sections on Global Warming, Income Inequality and Gender Equality?
Tue, 10/01/2013 - 9:21am
Because, unfortunately, the Republicans control the legislature in Michigan and we have a Republican governor. They don't want to offend their corporate or evangelical bases by including these topics.
Wed, 10/02/2013 - 1:28pm
So sad that this is so true. Republicans and their supporters will destroy this country if we let them. This country was founded with freedom and the Republicans was to take that away from all but an elite few.
Wed, 12/27/2017 - 11:11am

I would take you so much more seriously if you could write proper English..."and the Republicans was to take..." Sigh...

Little D
Tue, 10/01/2013 - 9:14am
Big D, global warming it a total hoax. The only thing to back it up is "science". I don't know about you, but I'm going to stick with something that has clear evidence, religion.
Tue, 10/01/2013 - 10:04am
It's just a basic skills test that you have to pass before you start college classes to become certified as a teacher. Then you take more certification tests.
Tue, 10/01/2013 - 11:05am
Question # 3 had a technical glitch, and one of the choices disappeared before I could click on it. Unfortunately the disappearing choice was the correct answer.
Tue, 10/01/2013 - 1:49pm
I remember walking out of the Basic Skills test in 1999 thinking that my 8-year-old could have passed the test. It needs to be much harder. And while a 36 on the ACT might not guarantee a great teacher, it would guarantee a teacher with a knowledge base. Currently there are far too many elementary school teachers who do not have the math aptitude to be teaching it, even at a low level. Tighten entry into the profession!
Sat, 10/05/2013 - 6:26pm
And there will be more and more ill-equipped teachers applying for jobs because of the lower pay, lower benefits and lower levels of respect given to teachers by both students and parents. If you had a 36 on the ACT why would you enter the teaching field when you could do other jobs for the same or higher pay? If you had a 36 ACT and a 4.0 from a respectable high school you would have of WORLD of choices!
dean smith
Wed, 10/02/2013 - 1:13pm
It's good to have a knowledge based background but having the savy to related to a classroom of kids is basic as well as knowledge of the subject being taught. Developing a desire to learn in the elementary school is a high priority along with basic skills and attitudes.
Sat, 10/05/2013 - 9:19pm
Hey Stephanie...did you give these questions to your 8 year old......how did she do? Didn't see any comments about the questions being too easy...other than one and two....most people would get them wrong , lucky guess, or be in the top percent. Copy this and go stand in front of your favorite Kroger's and see how long it takes you to find someone to answer them all correctly!
Rick f
Sun, 10/06/2013 - 2:17am
Passing the basic skills test does not make you a teacher. This test is a general test to see if you qualify to take college classes in the education field. Most teachers have a minimum of a BA or BS in their field of study plus must take exams for each type of subject they want to be certified to teach. In addition they take casses on pedogy, and serve two unpaid classroom apprenticeships. One of which is either 1/2 year or a full year unpaid student teaching with a highly skilled and experienced classroom teacher. After all of this they likely leave Michigan to find a starting job in the 27000-30000 range. In my local district teachers start at 27000 but there are no open jobs.
Sun, 10/06/2013 - 2:35am
I took the Basic Skills test during the start of my teacher training and found it to be rather insulting- yes, it is a basic skills test, but I should not have gotten into college at all if these things were not already in my skill set. I don't see the point of a test easier than the ACT to assess basic skills- ought not having gained college entry through taking the SAT or ACT have screened me for this process? Why have to take an easier test in order to start teacher training? I also took both my subject area tests before my senior year of classes- I took my Speech test before I even started training in the subject because I was entering into special arrangements with another university to get a minor in an area not offered at my university. The Speech test (which covers theater, my area), was ridiculously easy. The English test was also ridiculously easy- easier than the AP English exam I took at the end of high school. I felt somewhat cheated that these tests were considered some sort of threshold to cross in order to enter into a classroom.
Sun, 10/06/2013 - 6:24pm
What is the minimum score for passing?
Martha Toth
Tue, 10/08/2013 - 5:09pm
If you think this is disheartening, you should take the test battery at Michigan Works! It may have changed since I did in 2002, but that was a horrifying experience. Alone among my colleagues laid off by a university then, I had to go through a program to make me more employable. (My last job title had been computer-related, which put me in the she'll-never-find--job category then.) The process began with tests that must be very like GED tests, looking for a range of basic skills. The language arts one was riddled with unintended errors, such that I often could not discern the allegedly correct answer. I am not talking about interpreting literature, but about writing grammatically. For example, I was supposed to find a certain number of errors in a writing selection. I had worked ten years as a professional editor and found more than double that number. Portions that were not supposed to contain errors sported the common confusions of its/it's, their/there/they're and lie/lay. The results of that test were completely invalidated by its poor design. This experience really makes me think about the enormous battery of tests to which we subject our kids now — and the career-ending decisions made on the basis of them. Are they any more valid? The research I've read says they're not.
Tue, 04/01/2014 - 9:41am
Questions were okay. Why does everyone have to turn a teacher cert practice test into a political agenda???It is just a test. Neither left nor right up or down.
Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:54pm
Thanks, Bridge, for helping readers see what's at stake if future teachers aren't reasonably accomplished learners themselves. Michigan K12 students score around 38th in the USA in math and English language arts; we're 8th in the country in student funding adjusted per capita (USA Census Bureau), and highest for teacher salaries adjusted for cost of living. Dedicated and competent teachers and schools deserve our support. But we must start to understand and fix that 30 point ranking difference between learning and funding for a strong Michigan.
John Q. Public
Tue, 01/20/2015 - 7:59pm
A really accomplished, dedicated teacher with a class full of poverty-stricken students from single-parent households where the one parent didn't even graduate from high school equals below-median test scores. 99. percent. of the. time.
Sun, 01/25/2015 - 12:45am
3. You cannot conclude that either racer is running at any time, only that they are moving. 5. The question assumes that when it says that "Gerard works in the same building as the writer and researcher." that Gerard is neither. I am not sure about that assumption. Many of the questions in the second section seem unjustifiably subjective. You can have multiple reasonably good summaries. I don't think some of the questions are a reasonable basis to determine who should be teaching and who should not.
Joseph Kristy
Sun, 02/01/2015 - 10:55pm
Yes, we need high standards, but at what cost of an individual's time and effort without a guarantee of a future job with good job security and good pay. The politics that are influencing the education field nowadays is exasperating the problem of those who want to enter the teaching profession. With cuts in budget and larger class sizes will only make the learning process worse for future generations of students that might want to try to become teachers. Besides we all not perfect or else everyone would be a million dollar winner on who wants to be a millionaire and we would all be able to write Shakespearian style plays and there would be no need for spellcheck.
Esther gratti
Sun, 06/21/2015 - 11:33am
I wonder how many legislators could pass any of these tests. Probably very few!
Just a guy
Fri, 12/29/2017 - 7:20pm

My wife went into teaching about 15 years ago and spent almost 10 years in the profession. It's amazing how much time is spent on racism and race-related issues and how little time is spent on teaching people to manage classrooms in the modern era.