Illinois PEL – Basic Skills Test Requirement

Illinois Professional Educator License – Basic Skills Test Requirement

Persons seeking teaching licensure in Illinois are required by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to pass a basic skills test in order to be admitted to a teacher education program at any Illinois higher education institution. This requirement can be met by passing the ISBE TAP #400 – Test of Academic Proficiency or using an approved ACT or SAT score.

TAP – Test of Academic Proficiency
TAP is a computer based test at Pearson-Vue testing sites. It is offered by appointment, year-round, whenever the testing site is open (Monday through Saturday) on a first-come, first-served basis.

ACT or SAT in lieu of TAP
Teacher Candidates with ACT composite scores of 22 or higher (plus the writing component) or with SAT scores of 1030 or higher (reading, mathematics and writing) may apply to the Illinois State Board of Education to use their ACT or SAT scores in lieu of the TAP test.

ACT Requirements

  • Composite score of 22 or higher, plus
  • Minimum score of 6 on the Writing portion if taken 9/9/16 – present
  • Minimum score of 16 on the Writing portion if taken between 9/15/15 and 9/9/16
  • Minimum score of 19 on the combined English/Writing portion if taken prior to 9/1/15

SAT Requirements

  • Composite score of 1110 or higher with a minimum score of 26 on Writing/Language portion if taken 3/5/16 – present
  • Composite score of 1030 or higher with a minimum score of 450 on the Writing portion if taken prior to 3/5/16

There is no expiration date for ACT or SAT results – appropriate high school test scores may be used to meet requirements as noted.

Superscoring is now available for ACT or SAT in lieu of the TAP test. The highest score from each content area is used to attain the composite score, even if scores are from multiple testing dates. Scores must all be from either ACT or SAT. For further information, please email the College of Education Licensure Officer, Maureen Hunt at

Frequently Asked Questions

Who needs to complete the ISBE Basic Skills Requirement?
ALL education majors

Why is passing this requirement important?
All teacher candidates must complete the ISBE Basic Skills requirement to enter any teacher education program in Illinois. You may be denied registration for courses in your teaching major until this requirement is met.

Is TAP a hard test?
Yes, if you are unprepared. Statistically it is extremely difficult to pass the TAP if you have not prepared. Recent changes to scoring have resulted in many candidates having to take the test more than one time. Likewise, you must prepare for the ACT or SAT if you opt to take on these tests instead of the TAP.

When should I complete my Basic Skills requirement?
As soon as possible. However, PREPARE for the test prior to taking the test. At the University of St. Francis, native (4 year) students must complete the Basic Skills requirement by the end of the first semester of their sophomore year. USF Transfer students are encouraged to complete this requirement before transferring. Transfer students must complete the requirement by the end of the first semester of enrollment at USF.

The TAP test may be taken as often as needed to pass but there is a 30 day waiting period between attempts. Do not wait until the last minute to complete this test.

Can I just show up at a testing site?
No. You must first register through ICTS (see below links)


What is the ICTS website address? Click on the “Register” page to begin the registration process.

When is the computer-based test offered?
TAP is offered by appointment, year round, whenever the testing centers are open – first-come, first-served. Centers are open all day, Monday through Saturday, (excluding holidays). The closest testing center to USF is Joliet Junior College.

There are four content sections to this test – Reading, Language Arts, Mathematics and Writing. All four sections must be passed before the test is recorded as complete. Passed sections of the test will be “banked” so candidates need only retake the sections that they did not pass. Candidates must wait 30 days to retest. This test has no expiration date.


What will be on the Test of Academic Proficiency?

Is there preparation assistance for me?
Yes, check out these available resources:

  • There are preparation materials (free and for purchase) on the testing website: Preparation Materials. Take a practice test on-line, get instant feedback or purchase the study guide or practice tests with feedback.
  • Utilize ARC – Academic Resource Center – USF Library, 2nd floor
  • Mometrix Media publishes a study guide that has proven to be useful to some students. It can be ordered online at for about $40.00. It comes in book form or it can be downloaded.
  • Purchase a study guide – The Best Teachers’ Test Preparation for ICTS, from REA – Research & Education Association in bookstores or on-line at This book is a study guide and a practice test for both the Illinois Basic Skills and the Elementary Education Content Test. A CD is included – timed practice exams with instant scoring.
  • Check Amazon for test resources,

Additional practice tests and other resources:


Do you have any tips for taking these tests?

Prior to the day of the test:

  • Make a study plan and follow through it before taking the test. There is too much content on the test for a cram session to be effective.
  • Form and make a commitment to a study group.
  • For the TAP, study for the math section without a calculator. You will not be able to use a calculator on the test. ACT and SAT accept some calculators.

On test day:

  • Give yourself enough time to arrive on time. If you are late you may not be admitted.
  • Be rested and eat before the test. There are no breaks once you start the test.
  • Read the testing procedures on the website of the test that you are taking.
  • Wear a watch, know how much time you have. Gauge your time to assure you complete the full test.
  • Do not bring personal items. You may have to check personal items into a locker or return them to your car. Please note that you may not access your telephone for any reason (even checking the time). Your test could be voided if you access your telephone.
  • If you finish before the time limit, review your work.
  • Review the questions in the Reading section before beginning the reading passages. Underline key words in passages. Look for context clues, pay attention to prefixes and suffixes to aid in word meaning.

What if I have more questions?
Contact your education advisor.