Tips for Passing the CSET

If you have decided to become a teacher in California then you have likely heard about the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) test.

These tests give a teacher the necessary credentials to teach a subject, or multiple subjects, in a classroom in the State of California. Additionally, it can certify educators to teach children with a specific learning impairment or disability. By passing the CSET, you'll be able to earn a:

  • Single Subject Teaching Credential
  • Multiple Subject Teaching Credential
  • Education Specialist Instruction Credential

These tests must be completed and passed before stepping into a classroom and becoming the teacher of record. You're eligible to take the CSET if you've earned a minimum of a high school diploma or GED, or if you're taking or have taken post-secondary courses towards a degree in education.

California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST)

There are several options available for meeting the basic skills requirement of the test, including passing the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). You can also choose to take all three CSET subtests if you wish to avoid taking the CBEST.

Tips for passing the Basic Skills Requirement:

  • Review all standards from K-12 and identify your weaknesses
  • Take sample tests for each section to see how you score
  • Consider purchasing a CSET preparation book

During the test:

  • Read each question carefully
  • If you don't know the answer, at least make an educated guess
  • Come back to questions you don't know the answer to, instead of spending too much time on them
  • On the written response questions, read the entire question and make sure to respond to all parts of the question to the best of your ability

Multiple Skills CSET

If you wish to earn the ability to teach in a contained classroom setting (such as an elementary school class) then you will have to pass the Multiple Skills CSET. These tests specifically target the subjects you'll be teaching, and may be made up of multiple subtests. If you've taken one of these tests in the last five years as part of a basic skills test, you may be able to use the results. Additionally you can earn credentials in Multiple Skills by:

Tips for passing the multiple skills testing:

  • Review the content specifications for each test (in PDF format)
  • Know the K-12 content of each subtest:
    • Subtest I – Reading, Language, Literature; History & Social Science
    • Subtest II – Science; Mathematics
    • Subtest II – Physical Education; Human Development; Visual and Performing Arts

During the Test:

  • Read all possible answers, even if you think you know the correct one
  • Eliminate all the obviously wrong answers
  • Guess the answer if you have to, as it's better than leaving it blank
  • You have five hours to complete each subtest so budget that time accordingly
  • Ensure that your answers are recorded on the proper scoring sheet

The best idea for passing both tests is to start studying early. Take initial exams as a practice to get used to the format and content of the test, and discover where your weaknesses are. Hopefully with a few months of studying and practice tests, you will be ready!

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