About CHSPE Test

There are a significant number of students who drop out of school due to some reason or the other. Lack of a high school diploma can significantly affect their future career prospects. However, if you are such a student and are residing in California, then the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE)holds the key to a bright future even if you have not been able to earn a high school diploma.

The Certificate of Proficiency

You will earn the Certificate of Proficiency on passing the CHSPE that is accepted in lieu of a high school diploma by all educational institutions, organizations and employers coming under the California law.

At the same time, this certification is not considered equivalent to completing all the coursework that is required for graduation from high school. Hence, if you are planning to go for higher studies, you will have to contact the educational institution of your choice and check out whether the Certificate of Proficiency will be sufficient for admissions or not. Certain institutions may require you to take other tests like SAT to meet the admission criteria. Moreover, as state laws have no say in Federal government agencies, Military service etc. you will need to check with the institutions and employers outside the jurisdiction of the state of California for their policies with respect to the acceptance of this certificate.

If you obtain this certification, then you can leave high school early with verified parental permission to drop out of school. Dropping out of school will allow you to go to work or attend community college. There are students who continue school even after passing the CHSPE. You will have to contact your high school student advisors to educate yourself about the policies regarding dropping out of school after passing the CHSPE.

Eligibility Conditions for taking the CHSPE

You will be eligible to take the CHSPE if you meet at least one of the following criteria on the test day:

  • You are at least 16 years old.
  • You have been enrolled in tenth grade for at least one year.
  • You will complete one academic year of enrolment in the tenth grade by the end of the semester during which the exam is scheduled.

CHSPE Test Format

CHSPE evaluates your abilities in basic reading, writing and mathematics skills of the level that is taught in public schools and it consists of two test sections. These are the English-language Arts and the Mathematics test sections. You will be considered as having passed the exam and eligible for receiving the Certificate of Proficiency provided you pass both the test sections.

1.         English-language Arts Section
There are two subtests in this test section, both of which have to be passed for passing the English-language Arts test section.

  • Language Subtest

Questions: There are 48 multiple-choice questions in all and 1 writing task which includes writing an essay. The essay will be used to assess your writing skills.

Content Cluster (for the multiple-choice questions):
Mechanics: There will be questions based on capitalization, usage and punctuation amounting to a total of 24 questions.
Expressions: There will be 24 questions based on sentence structure, prewriting, content and organization.

  • Reading Subtest

Questions: This subtest consists of a total of 84 multiple-choice questions.
Content Cluster:
Comprehension: There will be 54 multiple-choice questions to test your reading comprehension skills in the areas of initial understanding, interpretation, critical analysis and strategies.  
Vocabulary:  Your knowledge of synonyms, multiple meaning words and context clues will be tested by 30 multiple-choice questions.

2.         Mathematics Section
Questions: There will be a total of 50 multiple-choice questions in this test section.
Content Cluster:
Number sense and operations: 9 questions
Pattern, relationships and algebra: 15 questions
Data, statistics and probability: 12 questions
Geometry and measurement: 14 questions

CHSPE Scoring        

  • Scoring of the multiple-choice questions: The raw scores for the multiple choice questions are based on the number of questions that have been answered correctly by you. No marks are deducted for incorrect answers. The raw scores are converted into scale scores to make up for the differences in the difficulty levels of the questions that have been asked in different administrations of the CHSPE.

  • Scoring of the writing task: The essay written by you is assessed by at least two independent examiners. The average of the scores awarded by the independent scorers will be your final score for the writing task.

  • Scale score ranges:

-  English-language Arts Reading subtest: 250 to 450
-  English-language Arts Language subtest
            - Multiple-choice questions: 250 to 450
- Writing Task: 1 to 5 (a 5-point scale with 5 being the maximum and 1 being the minimum score)
-  Mathematics Test section: 250 to 450

  • Passing scores:

-  English-language Arts Reading subtest: 350
-  English-language Arts Language subtest:
The passing standards for this subtest are a combination of the multiple-choice questions score and writing task score:
-  Multiple-choice questions score should be at least 342 if the writing task score is 3.5
-  Multiple-choice questions score should be at least 350 if the writing task score is 3
-  Multiple-choice questions score should be at least 365 if the writing task score is 2.5
-  You will fail this subtest if your writing task score is 2 or lower
-  Mathematics Test section: 350

Salient Aspects of taking the CHSPE

  • You can take each of the test sections in different test administrations. You may even take the subtests of the English-language Arts section in different test administrations. This decision can be taken by you on the test day itself. However, the multiple-choice questions and the writing task of the Language subtest must be taken on the same test date.

  • There is no limit to the number of times you can opt for a retest. Therefore, you can take the exam again for the purpose of improving your scores if you have not been able to pass it in the first attempt. You do not have to retest for the test sections in which you have already attained the passing scores.

  • You will have to register for the CHSPE again for every retest that you take.

  • The total time available with you for completing the exam is three and a half hour. There is no time limit for the individual test sections.

  • The official website (www.chspe.net) contains detailed information on the test format. Make sure that you go though this website carefully before you take the examination.

CHSPE Test Registration

You can either download the registration form directly from the official website, www.chspe.net or you can order the information booklet, containing a registration form, from the official website. You can register by completing the registration form and submitting it along with the registration fee and proof of eligibility to the CHSPE office, the detailed address of which is available at the official website. Make sure that you check the registration deadlines and send your completed registration form well in time or else it will not be processed.

The registration fee is $92 but you will have to pay a higher fee for registering in the late and emergency registration deadlines period. Registration fee will have to be paid by bank-issued cashier’s check or money order. Cash, personal checks, credit cards, debit cards etc. cannot be used for payment of fees.

Preparing for CHSPE

The official website contains sample questions along with a detailed description of the types of questions that will be asked and the skills that will be tested. Spend time in understanding the test format and in solving the practice questions. Passing the CHSPE is not very easy and you cannot afford to walk into the test centre with little or no preparation. Work out an exhaustive prep plan and adhere to it. Assess your weaknesses and work on improving those subject areas. Take the assistance of prep classes if necessary.