What is the CSET?
The California Subject Examinations for Teachers® (CSET®) have been developed by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) for prospective teachers who choose to or are required to meet specific requirements for certification by taking examinations. Candidates applying for a Single Subject Teaching Credential may pass the appropriate examination(s) of the CSET as one method of satisfying the subject matter competence requirement.
The CSET Tests are given six times each year (January, March, May, July, September, November) in various locations throughout the state, usually at a community college or university campus. Check registration deadlines, test sites and test dates as soon as possible! www.cset.nesinc.com
Examinations of the CSET are administered in morning and afternoon test sessions that are five hours in length. The morning session has a reporting time of 7:15 a.m. and ends at approximately 1:00 p.m. The afternoon session has a reporting time of 1:30 p.m. and ends at approximately 7:15 p.m.
How is the CSET evaluated?
The examinations of the CSET are criterion referenced. A criterion-referenced test is designed to measure an examinee's knowledge and skills in relation to an established standard rather than in relation to the performance of other examinees.
Each test in the program is designed to measure a specific set of knowledge and/or skills. Test materials matched to these sets of knowledge and/or skills were developed using, in part, textbooks, California curriculum frameworks, California K–12 Student Academic Content Standards, teacher education curricula, and CTC program standards. The materials were developed through consultation with and approved by committees of California educators, teacher educators, and other content and assessment specialists.
To pass an examination of the CSET, you must earn a passing score on each of the examination's required subtests. Each CSET subtest is scored separately. For each CSET subtest, an individual's performance is evaluated against an established standard. The passing score for each subtest was established by the CTC based on the professional judgments and recommendations of California educators. Passing status is determined on the basis of total subtest performance. The total subtest score is based on the number of raw score points earned on each section (multiple-choice section and/or constructed-response section), the weighting of each section, and the scaling of that score. Raw scores are converted to a scale of 100 to 300, with the scaled score of 220 representing the minimum passing score.
A passing score on a CSET subtest must be achieved at a single CSET administration; performance on sections of subtests cannot be combined across administrations. Once you pass a subtest, you do not have to take that subtest again as long as you use the score to earn certification within five years of the test date on which it was achieved.
If you do not pass one or more subtests, you may register for and retake the subtests that you have not passed. There is no limit to the number of times you may take any subtest that you have not passed. Each time you retake one or more subtests, however, you must complete the registration process again.
Actually Taking the Test
- Be prepared! Know where the testing location is and make sure to have your admission ticket, pencils, and proper identification together the night before.
- Don’t cram! Gradually over a period of 2-3 weeks before the test, review the sample test items on the CSET website and CalPolyTEACH CSET Test Preparation Online Workshop assessment items.
- Remember this is a test of your readiness to teach your subject matter to students in grades 6-12, more than an assessment of your own knowledge and skills. Think about what your future students will need to know and how you will assess their learning.
- Prepare physically! Do not stay up late the night before, eat breakfast, bring a power snack and water, arrive early, stretch and breathe deeply often during the test, and plan to relax following the test.
Test Taking Strategies
You may view or download test guides for all examinations of the CSET on the CSET Web site by selecting "Test Guides." CSET test guides are free of charge and are available only in electronic form on the CSET Web site.
Subject matter requirements (SMRs) are the subject-specific knowledge, skills, and abilities required of entry-level teachers seeking a teaching credential or authorization. The SMRs specify the content that is to be taught in CTC-approved subject matter preparation programs and that is eligible for assessment on the CSET. You may find the California Academic Content Standards on the California Department of Education website: www.cde.ca.gov
In-person test preparation workshops may be offered at a local or regional site. Contact a credential analyst at an approved institution for more information. Approved credential program institutions may be found on the Credential Commission website: www.ctc.ca.gov Online or campus-based content tutorials and coursework options may also be available at local college or university campuses.
The CalPolyTEACH CSET Online Test Preparation Workshop is designed for mathematics or science credential program applicants seeking to become familiar with content expectations for middle and high school students. The scope and sequence for each CSET Subtest is defined and sample assessment items are provided to give the applicant an understanding of how secondary school teachers approach mathematics and science instruction. Specific math and science subtest preparation follows: