How to Pass the BTLPT (Bilingual Target Language Proficiency Exam)

This post shares with you tried-and-true tips for passing the BTLPT.

The Bilingual Target Language Proficiency Test (BTLPT) is one of the teacher certification tests required for individuals who’d like to teach bilingual education in the state of Texas.

Related: Check out these tips for passing the Bilingual Education Supplemental Education.

Required Texas Bilingual Teacher Certifications

To date, prospective bilingual teacher candidates in Texas who wish to teach in an elementary school setting must pass 4 exams in order to be fully certified as a bilingual teacher:

TExES Core Subjects EC-6 exam- This test is required for ALL elementary teacher candidates; tests knowledge of the main content areas taught in elementary school such as math, science, social studies, literacy, art, etc.

TExES Bilingual Education Supplemental exam- With this test, one shows her/his knowledge of second language pedagogy.

TExES Bilingual Target Language Proficiency Test for Spanish- With this exam, prospective bilingual teacher candidates demonstrate their knowledge of the Spanish language within the context of education. This post is about this exam.

TExES Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities, or PPR, EC-12 exam- This TeXes test is required for ALL teacher candidates K-12. It assesses knowledge of general teaching practices, educational ethics, and pedagogy.

This post arms you with the knowledge and resources you need to do well on the BTLPT the first time.

how to pass the btlpt writing samples study guide

How to Pass the BTLPT: General Tips

Be Honest with Yourself About Your Spanish Language Proficiency

Ask yourself, “Do I really have a good command of the Spanish language?” 

Speaking Spanish colloquially with family and friends throughout your life may not be enough. 

  • Are you able to understand spoken Spanish in different dialects? 
  • Can you orally communicate your thoughts and messages clearly within a variety of contexts?
  • Do you understand a wide range of academic text in Spanish, including history and literature?
  • How’s your writing? In addition to communicating your message well, do you have good knowledge of grammatical rules, correct use of accents, appropriate register?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, decide if you want to put in the time and energy needed to improve upon your weaknesses. 

You may just need to refocus your energies, realign your mindset, and sharpen your linguistic skills.

Make sure to always be realistic about your linguistic strengths and weaknesses. 

Learn the Format of the Test.

One of the easiest things you can do as you prep for the BTLPT is to get acquainted with the format of the test. 

There are many books available that can help you with this. 

During test day, the exam will give you instructions on what to do in each section, but don’t waste your time figuring this stuff out on test day. 

Learn the format beforehand.

That way, you can focus your energies on doing your very best on the content, not on structure. 

Evaluate and Focus on Areas of the Test in Which You are Most Weak.

If after taking a BTLPT practice test you see that you are only weak in one or two areas, focus your energies on those areas. 

Spend time reinforcing those topics in which you’re weaker.

Practice with Distractions and Time Limits.

Whichever sections you need to work on, do so within time limits and with a few distractions.

A great strategy is to master working within time constraints and with a few distractions. 

All parts of the exam are timed and during the actual exam, you’ll be able to hear everyone around you.

It’s quite annoying, but it’s a reality with which you’ll need to be able to cope.

So, how can you be successful with each section?

How to Pass the BTLPT Section by Section

Let’s dive into each area of the BTLPT exam…

How to Pass the BTLPT Listening Comprehension Section

During the listening section, you’ll hear each recording twice. When you listen the first time, listen strictly for comprehension. 

Odd tip: Press the headphones to your ears to eliminate the sound of others around you.

After the first hearing, you’ll get a 40-second sneak peek of the questions.

Make shorthand notes (the testing center provides paper and pencil) of the main idea of each question.

That way, when you listen to the recording for a second time, you’ll know exactly what points to listen for. 

After the second hearing, you’ll have 20 seconds to answer each question. If you took decent shorthand notes and listened carefully, you should not have much trouble with this section. 

As an extra tip, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit of Spanish and “Latino” culture, literature, and history – as some of the listening comprehension passages come from those areas. 

The other listening passages tend to center around educational settings (e.g. a principal speaking with a teacher or a parent conversing with a teacher). 

Tools to Help You Pass the Listening Comprehension Section

  • If you have access, BrainPOP Español is another great option to practice Spanish listening comprehension. Each video comes with an online quiz and activities.
  • YouTube- listen to music, cartoons, and TV programs in Spanish.
  • ‘Check out” audiobooks in Spanish via Hoopla, an online digital library.

How to Pass the BTLPT Oral Expression Section

For the speaking section, know that the timing and quickness of the exercises make it a little more challenging. 

Make sure when answering during the simulated conversation and presentations that you give a response that specifically answers the questions and flows with the dialogue appropriately.

You can make the best statement with great points and perfect grammar, but if it doesn’t answer the question or give a logical response, you will be marked down. 

For the oral expression parts that involve a presentation, you’ll have from 45 seconds to 2 minutes to prepare your statements before speaking.

Take advantage of this time and take shorthand notes about what you plan to say. It’s almost like a mini brainstorming session. 

I made a general outline of what I was to say and then used that to guide me as I spoke. It worked pretty well.

Last but not least, you may be tempted to repeat information, but don’t.

If the prompt asks to share two or three reasons with examples, make sure to give two or three very different responses. 

Tools to Help You Pass the Oral Expression Section

  • Practice with similar speaking tasks. Barron’s AP Spanish book has great oral expression activities that are similar in nature to the BTLPT. 
  • If you don’t have Spanish-speaking peers, friends, or acquaintances that you feel comfortable practicing with, consider signing up for StartSpanish. It’s a great online language company that offers quality conversational group and private classes in Spanish. They offer a trial period.
  • Throughout the oral expression section, speak in the appropriate register. 

How to Pass the BTLPT Reading Comprehension Section

Those reading passages are pretty in-depth and cover a wide variety of topics.

Here are my tips on how to score well on the BTLPT reading comprehension section:

  • Read the question(s)  first and then scan the passage to find clues to the correct answer.
  • Watch out for tricky words or phrases in each answer choice. One word or phrase could make the entire statement untrue for the corresponding question. 
  • Eliminate the answer choices that are obviously wrong. There are usually two of them. Then make the best selection from the remaining choices. 

As an extra tip, it’s very helpful to have a decent foundation in Spanish and “Latino” culture, literature, and history – as some of the reading comprehension passages relate to those areas. 

Tools to Help You Pass the Reading Comprehension Section

  • This website offers excellent short and long reading comprehension passages. Many of the passages are in English and Spanish.  
  • Barron’s AP Spanish Book has a pretty good collection of challenging passages that are great for study.

How to Pass the BTLPT Written Expression Section

For this section, you’ll have three tasks: 1) respond to an email, 2) write a lesson plan, and 3) construct an essay.

It’s ideal to possess some “education” background for this part because the email and essay parts will be in the context of education. 

  • Practice writing a lesson plan in the BTLPT format, and don’t deviate too much from it. Make sure your lesson plan is student-centered, hands-on, and includes a formal/informal assessment.
  • Know a wide variety of vocabulary from different content areas. If the essay topic is poetry, you have to know vocabulary words related to that topic, and you’ll be expected to list vocabulary on the lesson plan. So know grade-level terms related to math, science, social studies, literacy, etc.
  • For the essay, construct it as you would an essay in English. Have an introduction, two or three main idea paragraphs with supporting details, and a conclusion that sums up the main point. 
  • Throughout the written expression section, write in the appropriate register.

Tools to Help You Pass the Written Expression Section

  • Again, Barron’s AP Spanish book has decent written expression practice exercises. 
  • We created a BTLPT writing study guide that prospective BTLPT teachers rave about! Check it out here.
how to pass the btlpt writing samples study guide


To pass the BTLPT, implement these solid tips.

You’ll be one step closer to having your own bilingual classroom!