CHSPE Test Breakdown

Earning the Certificate of Proficiency by passing the CHSPE is not as easy as it may seem. One needs to prepare well for the examination properly so as to score high in it. Preparation for taking this test begins with understanding the testing format. Being ignorant about thee structure of the exam can have dire consequences as you will not be able to prepare effectively and this will affect your ability to obtain this certification. You need to be familiar with the following aspects in order to plan an effective strategy for passing the CHSPE:

  1. Skills being evaluated by the exam
  2. Test content
  3. Test sections
  4. Types of questions that will be asked
  5. Number of questions in each test section
  6. Time allotted to complete the test
  7. Scoring procedure
  8. Passing scores

What does CHSPE Evaluate?

There are two test sections in CHSPE: English-language Arts and Mathematics. It is necessary to pass both the test sections to be eligible for receiving a Certificate of Proficiency. The exam has been designed to evaluate the test-taker’s abilities in basic reading, writing and mathematics skills of the level that is taught in public schools. Passing this test will make you eligible to earn the document that will be an equivalent of a high school diploma, which is accepted by all persons and institutions that are subject to California law.

English-language Arts Section

This test section consists of two subtests: Language and Reading. It is mandatory to pass both the subtests for passing the English-language Arts test section.

  • Language Subtest

Questions: 48 multiple choice questions and one writing task. You can pass this subtest only if you pass both the writing test and the multiple-choice questions section in the same administration.
Skills evaluated:
-           Multiple-choice questions: These questions evaluate language mechanics and language expression. Questions pertaining to language mechanics will be based on capitalization, punctuation and knowledge of correct grammar. Questions pertaining to language expression will be based on sentence structure, improving writing samples and editing of text.
-           Writing task: This task will require you to write an essay which will be evaluated for your proficiency in expressing yourself in written English. You will not be tested for your knowledge of the subject that you would be discussing in the essay. You will be able get good scores in the essay if you are able to display your proficiency in persuasive writing. Persuasive writing essentially involves being able to convince the reader that the position you have adopted is justified in view of the reasons presented by you in support of the position.

  • Reading Subtest

Questions: 54 reading comprehension questions and 30 vocabulary questions. All the questions asked are in the multiple-choice format.
Skills evaluated:
-           Reading comprehension questions: You will be presented with three types of texts: literary, informational and functional. The questions based on the given passages will evaluate your abilities to understand the information provided to you, interpret the information and draw logical conclusions, evaluate and analyze the given information and skilfully apply your reading strategies for answering the questions asked.
-           Vocabulary questions: These questions will assess your knowledge of synonyms, context clues and multiple-meaning words. You will be assessed for your abilities to recognise synonyms for given words, identify the meaning of a word and use context clues for finding the meaning of an unknown word.

Mathematics Section

Questions: 50 multiple-choice questions
Skills evaluated: Your knowledge and skills in the following content areas will be evaluated by these questions
-           Number sense and operations
-           Patterns, relationships and algebra
-           Data, statistics and probability
-           Geometry and measurement
-           Mathematical processes (communication and representation, estimation, mathematical connections, and reasoning and problem solving)

A detailed description of the skills being assessed by the questions pertaining to each content cluster is available at the official website of CHSPE,

Note: None of the test sections are timed. However, you are given a total of  three and a half hours to take the entire test. You can spend as much time as you want on a particular test section or subtest, but keep in mind that you will have to complete the other test section before the stipulated time period is over.


  • Multiple-choice Questions

-           Your score for the multiple-choice questions will depend upon the number of questions that you have answered correctly. This will result in raw scores which are then converted into scale scores to account for the differences in the difficulty levels of the questions in different test editions and administrations.
-           You will not lose any marks for incorrect answers. Hence, you can guess the answer whenever you are in doubt. You will gain scores if your guess turns out to be the right answer. Do not leave any question unanswered.
-           The scores for the multiple-choice questions in both the test sections range from 250 to 450.

  • Writing Task

-           The essay written by you is scored on a 5-point scale. The highest achievable score is 5 and 1 is the lowest score.
-           The essay is evaluated by at least two independent scorers. Your score for the writing task will be the average of the scores awarded by the independent scorers.

Passing Scores

  • English-language Arts test section: You need a minimum score of 350 for passing the Reading subtest. The passing standards for the Language subtest are as follows:

-           If your writing task score is 2 or lower, then you cannot pass the Language subtest
-           If your writing task score is 2.5, then your multiple-choice score should be at least 365
-           If your writing task score is 3, then your multiple-choice score should be at least 350
-           If your writing task score is 3.5, then your multiple-choice score should be at least 342

  • Mathematics test section: You need to score at least 350 in order to pass the Mathematics test section.

Taking the CHSPE

Some important aspects of taking the CHSPE have been mentioned below. Go through the official website for detailed information on the conduct and policies governing the eligibility conditions for taking this exam.

  • You can take the decision regarding taking the English-language Arts Language subtest, English-language Arts Reading subtest and the Mathematics section together or not, on the day of the test.

  • You need to pass both the Mathematics and the English-language Arts sections.

  • You will be considered to have passed the English-language Arts section only if you have passed both its subtests.

  • You have the liberty of taking and passing the test sections and also the English-language Arts subtests at separate administrations. However, the multiple-choice questions and the writing task of the Language subtest must be taken at the same administration.

  • There is no restriction on the number of times that you can opt for retest, but you will have to register for the same every time you wish to take the test again. There is no requirement of retaking a subtest or a test section once you have already passed it.

  • The score report is mailed to you in about 5 weeks from the test date. The Certificate of Proficiency will also be mailed to you if you have met the passing standards for the CHSPE.

Preparing for CHSPE

Do not ignore the importance of preparing for the test. Remember that you need to have enough practice in solving problems specific to the test format or else you will not be able to meet the passing standards. Rather than wasting time in taking the retests, it will be much better to put in unrelenting effort in the form of well planned studies when you take the exam for the first time.