TExES English as a Second Language Supplemental (154) Exam Overview - 2024 Edition


Are you an aspiring Texas educator?  

If so, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) may require you to pass the TExES English as a Second Language Supplemental (TExES ESL) (154) exam in addition to content examinations for your grade level and specialty area. 

Texas candidates must pass the TExES ESL to be certified to work in bilingual/ESL programs. In addition, an increasing number of Texas school districts have made a passing score a hiring requirement, regardless of the teacher's specialty area. 

Our overview of the TExES ESL will break down its components and content so you know what to expect on test day. We'll also go over how to prepare for the exam and how to manage pre-testing jitters and anxiety 

At The Learning Liaisons, we are ready to help guide you in meeting your exam goals. Passing is possible with the right study plan and commitment. So, deep breath, and let's dive in.

What is the TExES ESL (154) Exam?

The TExES ESL (154) is designed to ensure aspiring educators have the necessary entry-level knowledge to successfully begin teaching English to second-language students. Teaching candidates must pass it to work in a bilingual/ESL program. 

However, many TExES districts insist all new hires pass the exam due to the high number of bilingual students. Texas schools believe that ESL skills and knowledge help teachers connect with their multilanguage students and provide effective lessons.

Understanding the Exam Structure

The TExES ESL (154) is a 4-hour and 45-minute computer-administered test (CAT) comprising 80 selected-response questions. 

The test is broken down into three domains:

  •    Language Concepts and Language Acquisition: Assesses knowledge of fundamental language concepts, structure, and conventions. It also evaluates candidates' understanding of first and second language acquisition. 
  •    ESL Instruction and Assessment: Assesses knowledge of best practices in teaching and assessing ELS students. 
  •    Foundations of ESL Education, Cultural Awareness, and Family and Community Involvement: Assesses the understanding of ESL's foundation in education and the strategies for creating an effective multilingual learning environment. 

Registration and Preparation

Texas teacher candidates can register for the TExES ESL (154) through the TEA website. The site has links where you can check appointment availability and locate a test center. You can register up to 170 days in advance. 

As of 2024, the exam fee is $116. Payment for the exam must be made with a VISA or MasterCard credit or debit card. Cash or checks are not accepted. 

It is advisable to prepare for at least a month for the TExES ESL 154.

Detailed Breakdown of Exam Content

The TExES ESL (154) has 80 selected response questions split into three domains. These assess ten different competencies that are believed to be essential for new teachers to successfully work with ESL students. 

We've provided a detailed breakdown of the exam content to help you devise your study plan and focus your preparation.

Domain 1: Language Concepts and Language Acquisition

Domain 1: Language Concepts and Language Acquisition make up about 25% of the exam, totaling approximately 20 of the 80 questions. 

Key Domain 1 concepts to understand include:

  •    Knows the four areas of language (listening, reading, speaking, writing) and understands their role. 
  •    Understands language acquisition: cognitive processes, challenges, and theories. 

Resources for Domain 1:

Domain 2: ESL Instruction and Assessment

Domain 2: ESL Instruction and Assessment makes up about 45% of the exam, totaling approximately 36 of the 80 questions. 

Key Domain 2 concepts to understand include:

  •    Knowledge of ESL teaching standards, methods, and best practices of instruction. 
  •    Demonstrates understanding of how to choose the best strategies and tools to promote English literacy development and content learning. 
  •    Knowledge of ESL formal and informal assessment procedures, instruments, and tools and how to effectively use the results in adapting lesson plans and instruction. 

Resources for Domain 2:

Domain 3: Foundations of ESL Education, Cultural Awareness, and Family and Community Involvement

Domain 3: Foundations of ESL Education, Cultural Awareness, and Family and Community Involvement makes up about 30% of the exam, totaling approximately 24 of the 80 questions. 

Key concepts to understand include:

  •    Knowledge of ESL foundational research. 
  •    Understanding of the theory of ESL programs. 
  •    Knowledge of different ESL programs, including their strategies, aims, and characteristics. 
  •    Know the laws regarding ESL/Bilingual programs.
  •    Understanding of the importance of advocacy for ESL students and families.  
  •    Understanding how to promote and create a safe, productive, and diverse multicultural and multilingual classroom environment. 

Resources for Domain 3:

Preparation Strategies

Increase your chances of passing the TExES ESL (154) by creating and implementing an effective study strategy. 

Here are our top tips to get you started:

  •    Outline the exam's content. Break down the domains into each concept to ensure you pay attention to all areas. 
  •    Source study materials. Look for resources to use for your preparation, including materials at school and public libraries, online videos, manuals, flashcards, study groups, and courses. 
  •    Draw up a study schedule. It is recommended that you prepare for a month before the exam. Using a calendar or app, create a study schedule that will allow time to focus on each domain, take practice tests, and hone in on any weak areas. 
  •    Note your progress. Self-assessment of your preparation will ensure you don't waste time studying areas you already know well and focus the most attention on the more challenging content.   
  •    Use various studying materials and techniques. People skim and zone out if they use only one study method. Also, preparation materials have different emphasis and content. By using a range, you'll have a greater understanding of all the domains. 
  •    Take care of yourself. Your body and brain are connected. If one isn't healthy, it impacts the other. Give your brain the support it needs by eating nutritious food, avoiding unnecessary substances, stretching and moving, and getting quality sleep.

Practice and Simulation

Practice tests and simulations of the TExES ESL(154) are an essential part of preparation. 

Quizzes and practice tests have many benefits, including:

  •    Raising confidence. 
  •    Increasing familiarity with the format. 
  •    Teach pacing. 
  •    Reveal the areas where you are strong and weak. 

Carefully reviewing practice test results is essential to obtaining maximum benefit. Spend less time studying areas where you are getting many correct areas. Focus your time studying the content areas where you struggled to answer or chose incorrectly. 

Free practice quizzes are available online, and quality preparation courses are also included in their programs. 

Managing Test Day

We're not going to lie; we'd rather be on vacation than take an exam. But the experience doesn't have to be awful. You can reduce exam day stress, anxiety, and unexpected drama if managed correctly.

To Do Before Exam Day

The best way to reduce anxiety and stress is to be prepared in advance. Once you've booked your exam, go over the following and take care of the necessary tasks well before the big day. 

  •    Read the Candidate Rules Agreement. The best time to do it is before you book. The second-best time is directly after you book. Take note of any post-booking administration that needs addressing. 
  •    Check that the name on your ID documents exactly matches the one on your exam booking. Name change amendments take up to 12 business days.
  •    If you are a nursing parent, disabled, or have health issues and require accommodations, check the policies. Some accommodations are available on-site without extra paperwork. Others require forms and may need supporting documentation. 
  •    Practice the exam route and take note of parking options and entrance. If taking public transport, know the schedules for your exam's date and time. If using your car, be aware of the typical traffic flow for that day of the week and time of day. 
  •    Want to see a typical Pearson Professional Center? You can take a photo tour.

To Do Exam Day Morning

It's exam day! Read the following before arriving at the venue. 

  •    Bring two government-issued identifications that meet the testing center's requirements. Your ID must have your name, photograph, and signature. Examples include a valid Texas driver's license, military identification, or passport.
  •    Dress in comfortable layers and wear soft-soled shoes. Avoid wearing any prohibited items, such as hats or large hair accessories. See prohibited items for further details.
  •    Leave prohibited items at home or in your car when possible. There will be a locker to store personal items like wallets, watches, cell phones, and jewelry. 
  •    Check if there are any necessary materials you need to bring. Most exams do not. However, there are some exceptions where pencils or calculators might be required. 
  •    Arrive at least 15 minutes before the exam to attend to signing in and security procedures.

Taking the TExES ESL (154) Exam

Once you are signed in, you'll be taken to your exam seat and ready to go. Here is what to expect and some tips to help the experience go smoother.

  •    Candidates are given a compliance agreement after being seated. You will have 4 minutes and 30 seconds to review it and accept the terms or decline to continue. 
  •    You will be given a CAT tutorial. It will explain how to navigate your exam, select your answers, and use the exam tools. Feel free to also practice the CAT tutorial at home
  •    Once the exam begins, you have 4 hours and 45 minutes to complete the exam. 
  •    Carefully read all instructions before each section.  
  •    Pace yourself for each section of the exam. Skip challenging questions and come back to them at the end. 
  •    Unscheduled breaks do not pause the exam clock.Time spent during the break comes out of your exam time. 
  •    Unscheduled breaks must be taken inside the test center. 
  •    If you finish the test early, you can use the time to go over your answers or be dismissed. However, if you choose to be dismissed, you will be required to leave the testing center and be unable to regain entrance. 
  •    If there is any problem or concern, inform the proctor as soon as possible. 

After the Exam

Candidates taking the TExES ESL (154) must achieve a passing score of 240 to qualify for ESL certification. Passing the exam widens candidates' employment options in Texas schools. Without it, educators may find it more challenging to find work in their desired districts.  

The scores are calculated by the number of selected-response questions answered correctly. 

Scores are reported within 7 days of the exam date and are scheduled in advance. To find yours, click on the link, scroll down to "Score Reporting," click on the pop-up window, and look for your exam date in the first column.

The reporting date will be directly across the second column. Click here for more information on the score reporting policies.

Additional Resources


The TExES ESL (154) Exam is increasingly becoming a necessary step for Texas teacher candidates. To achieve a passing score of 240, give yourself a month to prepare. Using various resources, including boot camps and practice tests, will raise your performance. 

Have questions? Feel free to contact The Learning Liaisons. We're always happy to help educators reach their career goals. 

FAQ Section

1. What is the Passing Score for the TExES ESL (154) exam?

The passing score for the TExES ESL (154) exam is 240. Scores are determined by the number of selected-response questions answered correctly.

2. How Long is the TExES ESL Exam?

The TExES ESL exam is 4 hours and 45 minutes. An additional 15 minutes is given to candidates to go through the compliance agreement and CAT tutorial.

3. Can you Retake the TExES ESL (154) Exam if you Fail?

Candidates can retake the TExES ESL (154) if they fail to achieve a passing score of 240. Each candidate is allowed 5 attempts per certification exam. There is a minimum 30-day wait between retakes.