Preparing to take the PAPA

suggestions for preparing to take the PAPA exam

Preparation is a key component to successfully passing the PAPA exams. It is important to spend quality time on the Pearson website looking at what knowledge is tested on each exam and how the exams are structured.  The website offers practice exams that you should take and use to review your incorrect answers.

Reading strategy reviews are very helpful because the passages are said to be long, and many test prep books have that kind of strategy review (see if the library has a copy of BARRON’s Praxis I PPST review or a GRE review.).  Study the Subareas for Reading that Pearson has provided on-line, and make sure you can clearly define each term they list.  For example, in Reading Subarea 003, can you define and explain cause and effect, problem and solution, facts versus opinions, credibility, objectivity versus subjectivity1??

For math, reviewing all of the formulas on the math formula sheet Pearson provides on-line is important.  Remember every math problem can be solved two ways.  You can either use the problem, create your answer, and check your answer against the multiple choices provided.  Or, you can go directly to the answers provided, solve the answers by solving for X, and look to see which one gives you the question.

For the writing exam, it is important to keep your writing very straightforward. You are less likely to become distracted if you use the basic 5 paragraph structure2:

- introduction of your position on a topic and your three supporting ideas,

- 3 paragraphs with each paragraph devoted to one of the supporting ideas,

- final paragraph to sum up what your three supporting ideas just explained and a recap of your topic.

This standard essay structure allows you to focus on your sentence formation, spelling, and grammar.3

What if I don't pass the first time?

If you do not pass the PAPA the first time, evaluate what didn't work for you.  Were you not prepared to take the test?  Were you tired or hungry during the test and felt distracted?  Did you worry too much about the timer and were not focused enough on the test?  Did you feel like you didn't know some of the material that was being asked?  Did you feel like you didn't have enough experience taking a standardized test like the PAPA?

For additional PAPA test preparation assistance, the PAPA website has an information page for PAPA reference materials.  At the bottom of the page, Pearson offers a one month on-line for fee service for PAPA practice tests that includes diagnostics for practice test errors.

Pearson has also referred students to the company who worked with them to design the PAPA. The website is and costs $22.50 per module for 6 months of access to each subject prep area, including a diagnostic test, explanations, and practice problems.  The modules that align to the PAPA are Essential Academic Skills (EAS), Subtests I, II, and III ONLY.

For student who are seeking more practice just taking the tests, there is a company called Exam Edge that produces practice tests for many different products. Their goal is "practice makes perfect."  They provide full length timed tests for students to take, then give immediate feedback on what was missed, and more importantly, why it was missed and what the correct answer should contain. The site for reading is They have a live chat available to answer any questions. They also have for tests in math.

Additional resources for students to consider will be posted to this page as they become available.

Where can I take PAPAs near State College?

CPI is located approximately 8 miles north of State College directly off of I-99 at the Harrison Road exit.  This is a very small location, so please schedule early.  They have free parking in front of the building.

Lock Haven University is approximately 30 miles from State College and they offer a large quiet testing center with circular tables for privacy and free parking in front of the building.



1 Pearson Education Inc.,, (2012)

2,, (2013)

3,, (2013)