Three Critical Tips Before Taking the edTPA

We interviewed teachers who had recently passed the edTPA, along with some actual edTPA graders, and asked them to share the three most important things they wish they’d known.

Three Critical Tips Before Taking the edTPA

There are lots of tests that you can cram for in life. Unfortunately, the edTPA is not one of them. It takes a ton of preparation, organization, and hard work just to complete, let alone pass. After hearing tales from teachers of failed submissions, wasted time, and unexpected challenges, we learned a few tips to make the process easier for teaching candidates. We interviewed teachers who had recently passed the edTPA, along with some actual edTPA graders, and asked them to share the three most important things they wish they’d known. Here is what they said:

“Know what a passing submission looks like.”

When you are beginning an important task or project, it's crucial to know what the end result will look like. But when it comes to the edTPA, one of the prime complaints we hear from teachers is that they weren’t provided with samples of passing tests. Thankfully, we can help! With sample submissions of various subjects and grade levels from our candidates, you can now see what it takes to achieve a passing score.

“Know how long the edTPA preparation and submission process takes to complete.”

As teachers, we all know that planning carefully is key. But sometimes the trick is knowing how much time to allot to planning. With the edTPA, it’s important to know that the process is incredibly time-consuming and takes months to complete. So, start by selecting the date you want to receive your score, and then plan backwards. Some colleges actually provide services to support and guide you while you take the edTPA, while others even offer entire credited courses. If you have the opportunity, take advantage of everything your school has to offer—you’re going to want the support, trust us! Below are a few additional tips from our candidates:

  1. Be aware of the timelines and allow at least a few months to complete all sections of the test. And if you begin your student teaching in January, be sure to start the edTPA process then.
  2. Print and spread out the entire manual. Read all sections thoroughly, including all parts of the rubric.
  3. “Backwards plan” with student goals in mind.
  4. During the process, make it a habit to review rubrics, guides, and the questions in all sections to confirm you are addressing everything. This way, you won’t have to go back and make changes to your plans, which can be a frustrating setback.


“Filming your submission is one of the biggest challenges.”

For many, this was the most frustrating component. So, stay thoughtful in planning for this part of the edTPA and don’t wait for the last minute to film your submission. Also, be sure to take these tips into account:

  1. Film students during at least one other lesson to serve as a “practice” before you film any lessons for edTPA. You want students to be comfortable being filmed, and you want to work through any technology issues that may arise. One of the most common errors is students being inaudible (their responses are critical for the evaluation).
  2. Pay very close attention to the rubric before filming the video and use it to help you plan. After filming and before doing your reflection, watch the video several times and circle back to the rubric again to ensure you are covering all of your bases.

We know the task of completing the edTPA can feel daunting, but remember, once you have completed it and passed, it’s done! After that, you can focus on what you really love—teaching! Good luck and let us know if you have other helpful tips for our readers!

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