The Earth Science Test of CSET

What to Expect in CSET Earth Science

The CSET or California Subject Examinations for Teachers is an exam that tries to identify the candidates who possess the ability and skills to teach in the schools of California. There are various categories of exams for selection to the different grades and subjects.

CSET: Single Subject is one such category and different subjects ranging from Science to Music are available in this. If you pass this test, you can teach at the middle and secondary school levels.

Science is a vast subject with many specializations and therefore, there are two types of science test available namely, General Science and Specialized Science. The General Science consists of three subtests. Subtests I & II consist of general science questions and for the subtest III, you can choose a subject specialization. The different specializations available are: Biology/Life Science, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth and Planetary Science. In the Specialized Science category, there are two subtests, subtests III & IV. Here, we shall discuss about Earth Science as a specialized subject.

Details about the Earth Science Test

  • Two types of questions are administered in the test and they are multiple-choice questions and constructed-response type questions.

  • In subtest III of Earth Science, there are 50 multiple-choice questions and 3 constructed-response type questions.

  • In subtest IV, there are 40 multiple-choice questions and 1 constructed-response type question.

  • The domains in the subtest IV of include Astronomy, Dynamic Processes of the Earth and Earth Resources.

  • Biogeochemical cycles, details of the earth, its atmosphere, the solar system, Climate variations, Science and Society are some of the topics of the subtest III and the detailed syllabus of the subtest is available at

  • The syllabus consists of the Earth Science topics that you have studied in your schooling years.

  • A session of the test on one day is five hours. You can either take up all the three subtests of the General Science category or the two subtests of the Specialized Science category in one session or you can take up the individual subtests on different dates. If you choose to take up one subtest, you will still be allotted 5 hours.

  • Scientific calculators will be provided by the authorities and you are not allowed to use your personal calculators.

  • This is a pass or fail test and you must attain a minimum score of 220 in each subtest to pass the test. Each subtest can be passed separately and once you pass a subtest, you need not take it up again.

  • The multiple-choice questions are scored electronically and the constructed-response type questions are evaluated by subject experts. These scores are called the raw scores.

  • Each subtest is assigned a weight and the raw scores are multiplied with the weight to arrive at the scaled scores and these scores range from 200 to 300.

  • If you opt for General Science, you can teach General Science in middle and secondary school. On the other hand, if you choose Specialized Science- Earth and Planetary Science, you can only teach that subject at the high school level.

  • The registration fee for each subtest is $69. This fee can be paid by credit, debit or check card which carries a MasterCard or Visa logo on it.

  • The Earth Science subject is a paper-based test and the testing dates are available once every alternate month (September, November, January, March, May and July). Since the registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, it is ideal that you register for the test at the earliest.

  • Some of the books you could use for preparation are:

    • Dolgoff, Anatole. (1998). Physical Geology. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin College Division

    • Press, Frank, and Siever, Raymond. (1985). Earth (4th edition). New York, NY: W. H. Freeman & Co

To Conclude...

Earth Science is a subject that you can opt for in the CSET: Science category. All the details required for you regarding this category is provided here and with good preparation, it is an easy test to ace. You can become a teacher in General Science or Earth and Planetary Science if you pass the General Science or Specialized science category respectively.