Center for Academic Excellence (CAE)


About the ICTS:
  • The Illinois Certification Testing System Test of Academic Proficiency (ICTS TAP) is required of candidates seeking teaching, school service personnel, and administrative certificates by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).
  • The ICTS TAP was previously known as the Illinois Basic Skills Test. To find more information about the new ICTS TAP, please visit the ICTS What's New in 2011-2012 website.
  • The ICTS tests are criterion referenced and objective based. A criterion-referenced test is designed to measure a candidate's knowledge and skills in relation to an established standard rather than in relation to the performance of other candidates. The explicit purpose of these tests is to help identify, for certification purposes, candidates who have demonstrated the level of knowledge required to perform satisfactorily in their fields of specialization. 
  • The test is designed to assess subareas (reading comprehension, language arts, mathematics, writing). Each subarea is divided into several "standards" or aspects of the topic. For the comprehensive list of topics covered, please review the official ICTS TAP Study Guide.
  • Test structure for the TAP:
    • Reading Comprehension: 60 multiple choice questions
    • Language Arts (grammar and writing): 60 multiple choice questions
    • Mathematics: 50 multiple choice questions
    • Writing: 1 constructed response assignment (essay)
  • To pass, a scaled score of 240 or higher is required for each of the four subtests.
  • For more information, please visit the official ICTS website.
Preparing for the ICTS:
  • Take at least one practice test to create a study plan for yourself based on areas that need improvement.
    • Try to create a mock testing environment, including time limits, minimal distractions, and no supplementary materials.
  • Check out the official ICTS TAP Study Guide.
    • Narrow down areas of strength and improvement according to the subareas and standards, as outlined by the official ICTS TAP Study Guide.
  • Check out our ICTS TAP Study Guide.
  • Visit the Mathematics page and Reading and Language Arts page for more tips and information.
  • For more information and assistance or if you are interested in scheduling an ICTS tutoring session, please contact the Writing Coaches.
    • ICTS tutoring services are available for Chicago campus students.