National Board Certification: Early Childhood/Generalist Practice Test

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The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Certification aims to develop, retain, and recognize accomplished educators while encouraging school improvement nationwide. The Early Childhood/Generalist exam is for those who wish to teach children ages 3-8.

Click “Start Test” above to take a free Early Childhood/Generalist practice test, and check out our premium-quality test prep resources by clicking the links below!

National Board Certification: Early Childhood Exam Eligibility

To be eligible for this exam, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must hold a bachelors degree from an accredited institution
  • You must have completed at least three years of successful teaching in one or more early childhood, elementary, middle, or secondary schools
  • You must have held a valid state teaching license for each of the three years of verified teaching employment

Part-time and long-term substitution teaching counts toward the three-year employment requirement as long as you ALSO hold a valid state teaching license and the time computation follows those outlined in the eligibility guidelines.

NBPTS allows those who haven’t met the three-year experience requirement to begin the application process as long as they fulfill this requirement by the end of their application process.

Certification Components

The Early Childhood/Generalist exam consists of four components.

Component 1 is a computer assessment and is the only test-taking component.
Components 2-4 are part of your portfolio that you submit online.

All four components are required for certification.

  • Component 1: Content Knowledge. This is the computer-based assessment where you demonstrate your understanding of knowledge and pedagogical practices in your content area.
  • Component 2: Differentiation in Instruction. This portfolio entry will include selected work samples that demonstrate student growth and a written commentary where you analyze your instructional choices.
  • Component 3: Teaching Practice and Learning Environment. This portfolio entry requires video recordings of your classroom engagement and a written commentary describing, analyzing, and reflecting on your interactions.
  • Component 4: Effective and Reflective Practitioner. This portfolio entry requires you to demonstrate your abilities to develop and apply knowledge of your students, your ability to use assessments to plan and impact student learning, and your collaborative efforts to advance student learning and growth.

The testing window for Component 1 ranges from the beginning of March to the middle of June. The submission window for your portfolio components goes from the beginning of April to the middle of May.

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Details of Component 1: The exam

Component 1 of the certification process is a computer-based assessment that measures your knowledge of the teaching content area and its appropriate teaching practices. You must demonstrate your knowledge in creating developmentally appropriate content that can be applied and adapted across the full age range and ability level of the certification you are applying for.

The computer-based assessment consists of 45 selected-response questions and three constructed-response exercises. The selected-response section is timed at one hour, followed by a 10-minute break. The constructed-response section is timed at 1.5 hours.

Selected-Response Section

The selected-response questions cover the following content areas in the approximate percentages listed:

Child Development, Equity, Fairness, and Appreciation of Diversity (30%)
  • Fostering cognitive development
  • Fostering language development
  • Fostering moral and ethical development
  • Knowledge, skills, and dispositions related to equity, fairness, and diversity
Knowing and Integrating Subject Matter: Language and Literacy, Technology, and Resources (35%)
  • Language and literacy
  • Listening and speaking
  • Writing
  • Technology
  • Learning materials and resources
Knowing and Integrating Subject Matter: Science, Social Studies, Arts, Health, and Physical Education (35%)
  • Science
  • Social studies
  • Visual arts, music, and drama
  • Health and physical education

Constructed-Response Section

There are three exercises in the constructed-response section. You are allowed 30 minutes for each exercise, consisting of one or more prompts or questions.

A scenario or student profile is presented for you to consider when you answer the prompts relating to the information. Be sure to follow the directions in the prompt and answer only what is asked. The scoring assessors only evaluate your responses relating to the question or prompt. For example, if you are asked to provide two examples, do not provide three. You will waste valuable time, and the assessors will only evaluate the first two examples.

Your responses are judged on the depth and quality of your answers—grammar, punctuation, and organization are essential.

Exercise 1: Literacy
For this exercise, you will be asked to plan an instructional strategy that fosters a student’s reading development by building on their reading strengths.

Exercise 2: Analyzing Student Work in Mathematics
For this exercise, you will be asked to identify a major error/misconception in a student’s work and provide instruction to address the error.

Exercise 3: Literacy Across the Curriculum
For this exercise, you will be asked to integrate literacy and content-area learning. Using the provided text, you will be asked to create a learning experience that effectively supports the development of literacy strategies and content knowledge.

Exam Registration

To register for the exam, you must create an account using the National Board Candidate Management System (NBCMS). This will begin the certification process and purchase components. There is a $75 registration fee for every cycle year that must be paid before you can purchase a component.

Once you have registered, make sure to take note of the deadlines for registration, taking an exam, and submitting the requirements and portfolios. These deadlines vary yearly but generally, registration and component selection is open from July to February of the following year. The testing window for Component 1 is from March to June, portfolio submission is from April to mid-May, and the release of scores will be in December.


The fee for each component is $475, making the total cost of the certification process $1,900. You can pay for the full fee in one go or spread out the payment over the three years of application. Keep in mind that you need to pay the additional $75 registration fee to maintain your online account.

NBPTS offers a payment plan that divides the cost of your certification over six equal payments, and financial aid may be available from your state or district.

Scheduling the Component 1 Assessment

Once registration for Component 1 is done, you will receive an email notification to schedule an exam appointment on the affiliated Pearson VUE website. The website also provides a tutorial experience to help prepare yourself better for the exam.

Test Day

On test day, you should arrive at the testing center about 30 minutes before the start of the assessment. If you arrive later than 30 minutes after your scheduled exam time, you will not be allowed to enter the test venue.

You must bring a valid government-issued identification card that contains your photo, signature, and a name that matches the name you used when applying for the exam.

Before the exam begins, you will be required to sign an NDA to maintain the integrity of the exam. You will then be provided a test booklet and pencils for the constructed response portion. An online scientific calculator on your computer will be available during the exam.

How the Exam is Scored

For Component 1, selected-response questions answered correctly will be given one point. Your total raw score will be converted to a rubric score scale from 0 to 4.25. For the constructed-response questions (as well as Components 2, 3, and 4), your score will be assessed using a 12-point rubric score scale that ranges from 0.75 to 4.25.

To achieve certification, you must achieve a score of 2.75 on all components, signifying clear evidence of accomplished teaching practice. The absolute minimum average scores you can achieve for all components are 1.75, with a total weighted scaled score of at least 110. However, these latter scores do not guarantee an NBPTS certification compared to achieving the earlier score of 2.75.

If you pass all components, you will be eligible for board certification. Make sure to keep in touch with the NBPTS and update any contact information on your NBPTS account so they can communicate important information with you.

Retaking the Exam

If you fail to achieve a passing score on any of the components, you are allowed to retake each of them up to two times within two years.

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What is the National Board Certification?


The National Board Certification is an advanced professional certification for PreK-12 educators, provided by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). The certification identifies teaching expertise through assessments that are performance-based and peer-reviewed.


How many questions are on the Early Childhood/Generalist exam?


There are 48 questions on the exam.


How long is the Early Childhood/Generalist exam?


The exam is timed at 2.5 hours, with a 10-minute break between sections.


What is the passing score for the Early Childhood/Generalist exam?


A passing score on the assessment component of the exam is 2.75. A passing score for each of the portfolio components is also 2.75.


How much does the Early Childhood/Generalist exam cost?


The fee for each component is $475, making the total cost of certification $1,900 (not including the $75 registration fee).

By Eric Richter

Eric is the Product Development Manager responsible for developing and updating the Mometrix Teacher Certification and K-12 products. Eric has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s of education in Teaching ESOL.


by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: October 24, 2023