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What is the RICA® Test?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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The Reading Instruction Competence Assessment® (RICA®) is a test given to some new primary and secondary school teachers in the state of California. Individuals must pass the RICA® test to earn the credentials needed to work in special education programs or teach multiple subjects in school. The primary objective of the test is to make sure that teachers possess the skills necessary to effectively teach reading and evaluate students' abilities to comprehend material. The RICA® contains 70 multiple-choice questions as well as five essay responses of different lengths.

The RICA® test was created by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing in 1997, and has been modified several times since. It is designed to measure a teacher's ability to instruct students in five general categories. In order to pass the RICA® test, a teacher must be skilled in providing help to students in planning, word analysis, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. A person who does well on the test is considered capable of implementing many detailed strategies and lesson plans to help students improve their reading skills.

A test-taker is given 70 multiple-choice questions, 60 of which are chosen beforehand by test officials to count towards the final score. The questions assess an individual's knowledge of basic reading instruction procedures as well as the ability to apply such knowledge to hypothetical situations. The essay portion of the test includes two 50-word questions, two 150-word questions, and a final 300-word case study response. The last essay requires a test-taker to analyze several pages of material about a hypothetical student, including his or her grades, attitudes, and struggles, as well as his or her teachers' and parents' comments. It is formulated to determine what strategy a teacher might use to help a student in a difficult situation.

Individuals who plan on taking the RICA® test can get ready by studying test prep materials and taking practice exams. An overview of the test content and helpful test-taking tips can be found on the RICA® website. Teachers can also access online practice tests for the multiple-choice portion of the test, where they can submit answers and receive immediate scores. The website offers sample essay questions from previous exams so that test-takers can become familiar with the type of questions they may be asked on test day. Several unofficial test prep publications that provide more detailed information and tips can be found in bookstores and libraries, and through online retailers.

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Discussion Comments

By candyquilt — On Sep 13, 2011

@fify- How long it takes to prepare completely depends on your sister. I couldn't say a specific time frame but I recommend for her to do a practice test first and see where she's at, where her weaknesses are and study according to that. I found the official preparation materials helpful and also purchased a prep book online. You can also get free flashcards online.

Yes, they do have special accommodations for the test, I remember being asked about it while registering. Your sister might be able to type her answers, instead of trying to write by hand. Make sure to fill out the necessary info about that when it's time to register.

By fify — On Sep 12, 2011

Hi, I'm trying to get some information on the RICA for my sister. She's a new graduate and will start teaching soon and she needs to prepare for and take the RICA. She had a car accident recently and hasn't fully recovered yet. She hasn't registered for the test yet but she wants to know how long it will take her to prepare so that she can decide on a date she wants to take it.

Can anyone give any estimates on how long it took you to prepare and how many hours per week you prepared yourself or how many practice tests you took?

I'm also wondering if there are any special accommodations available for the test? She hurt her hand badly in the accident and I don't know if she will be able to write with it for the test.

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