National Board Certification Literacy: Reading – Language Arts: Early and Middle Childhood Exam – Component 1

The National Board Certification Literacy: Reading – Language Arts: Early and Middle Childhood exam is a voluntary credential. The exam is an evidence-based assessment developed by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) to provide educators with an opportunity to obtain a nationally-recognized certificate in education.

There are four components to obtaining National Board Certification. The Reading-Language Arts exam is the first component and is known as Component 1: Content Knowledge.



An educator interested in obtaining the certification needs to have a baccalaureate degree, three years of teaching experience, and a state teaching license/meet state licensing requirements.


The registration window for all components of the National Board Certification is from April 15, 2020 to February 28, 2021. At the NBPTS website, sign-in or create an account. Before you can select the component you would like to complete during the assessment cycle, you need to pay a $75.00 registration fee. The registration fee is paid per assessment cycle, regardless of the number of components you are committing to complete.

Once your registration is complete, select the component(s). Each component is $475.00.  The registration and component fee is payable by credit or debit card. Your registration and fee(s) must be completed before the registration window closes. 

Registration and fee assistance may be available. Before registering, check with your school district or state board for information. NBPTS offers scholarships occasionally. If you meet eligibility requirements and funds remain for scholarships, you will be notified via email.

The testing window for Component 1 runs from March 1 to June 15, 2021. Before the testing window opens, you will receive an authorization to test email. Follow the instructions in the email to register for your selected component(s).

Test design

Component 1: Content Assessment is a computer-delivered exam consisting of 45 selected-response questions and three constructed-response (essay) questions. The exam assesses your knowledge of teaching practices using developmentally appropriate content across the full age and ability range of students.

The selected-response questions come from four content areas:

  • Learners and Collaborating with Families – 20% of questions
  • Equity, Fairness, and Diversity; the learning environment and literacy assessment – 25% of questions
  • Reading and Writing – 20% of questions
  • Listening and Speaking – 35% of questions

You have 60 minutes to complete this section of the exam.

The constructed-response questions are designed to examine your knowledge, skills, and abilities in the following three content areas:

  • Analyze student reading
  • Writing development
  • Literacy across the curriculum

You have up to 30 minutes to complete the constructed-response section. Between the selected-response and constructed-response sections, you have a ten-minute break. Your total testing time is two hours and forty minutes.

Test day

On the day of your exam, arrive at least 15-minutes before your appointment. The supplies you need for the exam are provided, so only bring the required valid identification. After you complete the pre-test paperwork, you are escorted to your testing station.

Keep track of the elapsed time so you have time to review your work before submitting for scoring. Correct answers receive credit; incorrect answers do not receive credit. You are not penalized for guessing.

When you have finished your test, return the supplies to the test proctor, and leave the testing center.

Exam results

The selected-response section of Component 1 is machine-scored. You receive one point for each correct answer and zero points for each incorrect answer. Your points are converted to a scaled score. Passing or failing depends on successfully meeting the required scaled score.

The constructed-response questions of Component 1 are scored by at least two assessors. Your answers are individually judged on a 12-point scale, and each item is judged on an established rubric. Your score is converted to a scaled score on a range of 0.0 to 4.0.

Your score report is released no later than December 31st of each year and will indicate if you passed or failed the Component. Information on your responses is included in your report to aid in studying should you need to retake the exam.

How Can I Prepare for the National Board Certification Literacy: Reading – Language Arts: Early and Middle Childhood Exam?

That’s a great question.  We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.

  1. Do yourself a favor and study.  Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try.  Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
  2. Take care of yourself.  Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping.  All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance.  If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
  3. Get a study guide or set of flashcards.  Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them.  We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam. Below you’ll see links to both!

Study Guide



Last Updated: November 9, 2023