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Tips for taking the CSET

Updated on September 17, 2015

Ah yes... one more test to take before administering plenty yourself as a teacher!

It's also hard because you've probably graduated from college and need to get back in test-taking mode. To get to this point, you've probably developed lots of skills and methods for taking standardized tests, but you may not be very acquainted with the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET), which you need to get a teaching credential. It's a little different from other tests you may have taken, but it's similar to the SAT subject tests.

For a multiple-subject credential, there are three subtests you have to take: Subtest I: Reading, Language, and Literature, and History and Social Science; Subtest II: Science and Mathematics; and Subtest III: Physical Education, Human Development, and Visual and Performing Arts.

Here's a suggestion: You don't have to take them all at the same time. In fact, it's often suggested that you take the first two you are most comfortable with first, get acquainted with the test makeup, then take the subtest you are not so hot on. You may even want to take one at a time. Just remember that the CSET is only administered every 2 months, so if you have a limited time to pass the CSET, you may want to keep this in mind. Plan early! Each subtest is $70.

If you take more than one subtest at a time and you don't pass one, you don't have to take them all again, just the one you didn't pass.

A passing score on the CSET is only valid for five years, which means that you have to get your credential before those five years are up, or else you have to take it again. What a pain!

There are different test preparation texts you can use, but make sure you look through each one physically and decide which will suit your needs and studying style best. You can also check Amazon and other websites for reviews and ratings on which is better. Some are written by former administrators and current test preparation teachers with lots of insight into the test. I use Kaplan, but there are other good ones too. Remember that one test prep book is probably not enough to do well on the CSET, and you will likely need to use another if not several other resources to help you out.

Credential teachers suggest you use actual school textbooks to study for the test as well. For instance, there is a lot to learn and refresh on for history, so you can use a 6th-grade history textbook to study up. Test prep books will specify which areas of the subjects you need to know well, so use those to find outside resources.

Remember, the material on the CSET is stuff you have probably already learned, so don't be too intimidated. Just also remember that the test covers information about how a teacher should be able to convey information and what students should really gain from certain lessons, so try to think with a teacher's mindset.


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    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 5 years ago from Northern California

      Thanks for adding that mtizzle!

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      mtizzle 5 years ago

      It's also important to understand that the CSET is not a barometer for intelligence; it is only a test. I know a lot of potential teachers that have questioned their teaching ability after failing the CSET multiple times. I keep telling them to STAY STRONG and KEEP IT UP. Many tutoring companies provide free materials. You can check out just scroll to the bottom of the homepage to find free materials.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 8 years ago from Northern California

      Eduguide, you bring up a great point: there are scams all over for standardized tests like the CSET. Thanks for calling up some alternatives and providing some great information :)

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      eduguide 8 years ago

      Well graduation, CSET willl be followed by Teacher prep and there are many options. Some programs are run just as a money making venture and not focussed on you beccoming prepared for first day at school and may take 3 to three years and tons of money. The worst part is that everyone thinks they are smart and fall prey to the (mis)information sessions of these. One such presentation was for Project Pipeline now changing their name to Fortune maybe due to the money they are raking. When I asked about the Early Completion Option (ECO) authorised by law under SB 57, the answwers were not straight forward. What is ECO? It saves more than half your money $6000 to 7000, you do not have to attend the preservice classes and finish the internship in just one year. You will also start earning fully credentialled teachers pay earlier. This is the best option and all you need is to take and pass Teacher Foundation Examination (TFE) its a Praxis II test taht pwrmits prospective teachers to finish internship earlier. It is very logical but little lengthy (4 hours) test that saves you $$$$. Also see for similar help. I think irs good to help each other especially in these difficult times. The savings add up to $ 10000 or more by doing this test. The worst thing is the teacher prep programs do not want you to know about this and will do anything to suck you dry of your money. Its good to try universities like Chapman, Phoenix and also state university if it offers an intern program. I know for sure that Chapman is much cheaper than project pipeline.They also try to mislead you with sales gimick of job fair well its all a stage managed drama and you will be at par with all those others filling applications on line at Edjoin or district web site. MOST IMPORTANT is to check for yourself before you start paying $$$. CCTC web site talks at length on TFE for Early Completion under SB 57 by law. Best of luck on your difficult path to be a credentialled teacher in CA.