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A Practical Guide to Passing the Multiple Subject CSET Exam

Updated on November 28, 2010


Earning a teaching credential in California requires that every candidate be "highly qualified." To demonstrate subject matter competency,The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 states that new multiple subject, single subject, and special education teahers pass a California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) approved subject matter exam. ( The California Subject Matter Exam for Teachers or CSET.)

When I entered my credentials program, I was a bit intimidated by the requirements set before me. As a returning 45 yr.+ "older" student, ( I remember in my younger college days thinking of such individuals as "seniors.") I wondered how could I even begin to know all the possible information that the CSET would cover?

We are talking about three subtests, taken over a five hour period, consisting of 143 multiple choice questions and 11 short constructed response questions covering reading, language, and literature, history and social science, mathematics, science, physical education, human development, and visual and performing arts.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

When I registered to take the CSET, I limited myself to taking one subtest at a time. That means I had the full five hours, if needed, to complete 52 multiple choice questions and four constructed response questions. Sure, it costs more money to take the subtests individually, but to me it was well worth not having my brain short circuit because of the increasing stress of finishing before time was up. And, I had heard enough students talk about their failure to pass all three subtests because they could not finish. I wanted to set myself up for success rather than a guaranteed failure.

Suggested study materials

You can't go wrong with CliffsTestPrep CSET Multiple Subjects by Jerry Bobrow, Ph.D. and Stephen Fisher, M.A. It is formatted to state content standards and lists each domain along with sample questions.

Check out these links to purchase a copy online:

Other Helpful Books

The Scholastic Homework Reference Series - Fourth to Sixth Grades

~ A Desk reference for Students and Parents ~

  1. Everything You Need to Know About American History
  2. Everything You Need to Know About Science
  3. Everything You Need to Know About United States History

There are other subjects available in this series. These are the ones I found to be most helpful.

The What Your Sixth Grader Needs to Know series may also be of benefit. (Other grade levels are also available)

Final Suggestions

I utilized the practice tests from the Test Prep book over and over again, as well as the test questions available on the CSET website.


Given my age, life circumstances, and the amount of information that I could potentially be questioned on, I realized the the only way I would pass such a mammoth of a test would be through divine intervention. So last, but certainly not least, I committed the entire affair to God and rested in the knowledge that with a few people praying for me, I could move this mountain out of my way and jump one of the many hurdles that would stand in the way of reaching my goal.







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    • profile image

      Doc 2 years ago

      It's much easier to unetnsdard when you put it that way!

    • profile image

      JOE 3 years ago

      The CSET is a beast, and it is so unfortunate that NCLB is still a hot mess for using this as a way to determine what a "highly qualified" teacher is in today's classrooms.

    • Catlyn profile image

      Catlyn 9 years ago from Somewhere in the OC

      My apologies for just discovering that the link to was not working. The problem has been resolved!