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CSET Test Breakdown
The need to evaluate the capabilities of adults before they can be employed as teachers in California schools has led to the conception of the CSET (California Subject Examinations for Teachers), which has been developed by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). The CSET tests are used as an instrument for assessing the knowledge and skills of the applicants who have applied for teacher credentialing.
Skills Evaluated by CSET
The CSET is a series of tests, each designed to measure skills and knowledge in specific subject areas. You will have to take a certain set of CSET tests depending upon the type of certification you have applied for. The CSET consists of tests designed to assist test-takers in meeting the
- basic skills requirement
- subject matter competence requirement for the Multiple Subject or the Single Subject Teaching Credential or the Education Specialist Instruction Credential
- No Child Left Behind (NCLB) subject matter requirement
- educational technology requirement
- competence requirement for effective teaching of English Learners (for a bilingual authorization)
You can visit the CSET website, www.ctcexams.nesinc.com for information on
California educator credentialing examinations. Here you will get useful information regarding the certification requirements and the specific CSET tests that you will be required to take for the type of certification that you are seeking.
Your skills are assessed by comparing them against an established standard and your performance in CSET is not compared to how the other test-takers have performed in CSET, which means that the CSET tests are criterion referenced. The CSET tests are divided into different categories depending upon the skills and knowledge being assessed by the tests and the test content.
1. CSET: Multiple Subjects
This test consists of three separate subtests, each of which will consist of both multiple-choice questions and constructed-response questions. The test content is drawn from the basic academic subject areas taught in schools. The three subtests are:
- Reading, Language and Literature, History and Social Science
- Science and Mathematics
- Physical Education, Human Development and Visual and Performing Arts
2. CSET: Preliminary Educational Technology
This test consists of two subtests. Each of the subtests consists of both multiple-choice questions and constructed-response questions. The skills evaluated by this test are those that are essential for handling computers in an educational setting. The two subtests of this test cover the following subject areas:
- Basic Operations, Concepts and Issues of Computer-Based Technology and Productivity Applications of Computer-Based Technology
- Teaching and Learning Applications of Computer-Based Technology
3. CSET: Writing Skills
This is a single test consisting of two constructed-response questions based on Expository Writing and Expressive Writing. This test evaluates the writing skills that are necessary for excelling as an educator in the state of California. You can take the CSET: Writing Skills test for meeting the basic skills requirement. This requirement can be met by passing this test along with all the three subtests of CSET: Multiple Subjects. You do not have to take this test if you have already passed some other California-accepted basic skills examination like the CBSET.
4. CSET: Single Subjects and CSET: LOTE (Languages Other Than English)
These tests can be further classified into two major categories.
- CSET: Single Subjects and CSET: LOTE
There are two to four subtests in each of these tests. Most of the subtests will consist of both multiple-choice and constructed-response questions. These tests are designed to evaluate the knowledge and skills in a specific subject area which are necessary for teaching that particular subject.
- CSET: LOTE (used toward a Bilingual Authorization)
This test consists of a subtest that is designed to evaluate your proficiency with the method for bilingual education. In addition to this subtest, there will be subtests for evaluating your bilingual cultural knowledge and language and communication skills. The test content will cover the knowledge areas and skills that are essential for teaching English learners in their primary language.
CSET Passing Scores
Each CSET test consists of subtests. Each subtest is scored separately. You will have to pass each subtest individually for passing the CSET test taken by you. Your performance in the CSET is not compared to the performance of other test-takers; rather your performance in CSET will be compared to an established standard as the CSET is criterion referenced. Test sections within a subtest will consist of multiple-choice questions and constructed-response questions. The subtests may consist of trail questions which have been placed in the test to assess their suitability for inclusion in future administrations. Your responses to these questions will not count towards your final CSET scores. Each test section will have a weight assigned to it. This weight multiplied with the raw scores for each test section will be scaled to arrive at the final scaled score. The scaled scores range from 100 to 300. The passing score is a scaled score of 220.
If you fail to pass a subtest, then you need to retake only that subtest for passing the CSET test that you are required to pass. There is no need to retake the subtests that you have already passed. Moreover, there is no limit to the number of times you can retake a particular subtest. However, you will have to complete the entire registration process every time you take a retest. The following points need to be kept in mind if you are taking a retest:
- You cannot combine the scores in your test sections across different test administrations towards the scores for a subtest. This means that in order to pass a subtest, you will have to pass all its test sections within the same test administration.
- The subtests for a test can be taken in different test administrations and your scores in subtests thus taken will count towards the criteria for passing the CSET test.
- The period of validity for the passing scores for a subtest is 5 years. This means that you will have to earn the certification for which you had taken the CSET test within 5 years of passing one or more of its subtests or else you will have to retake the subtests.
- Your passing scores in the subtests of CSET: Multiple Subjects are valid for five years within which they will have to be used for the certification process, if you have taken the CSET: Multiple Subjects to satisfy the subject matter requirement. However, if you are taking CSET: Multiple Subjects for satisfying the basic skills requirement, then you have to take the CSET: Writing Skills also and your passing scores on CSET: Multiple Subjects and CSET: Writing Skills will not expire.
Adopt an Intelligent Strategy for taking the CSET!
Your strategy for preparing for the CSET and eventually taking it will have to be carefully organized and well-planned. Your future as a teacher in the state of California largely depends upon your performance in the CSET tests. Therefore, go through the CSET website carefully, understand all the requirements of the certification that you are seeking, identify the subject areas and skills that are being assessed and work out a study plan that is effective in helping you to pass the CSET tests. Look for tips and techniques for scoring high in the CSET. For instance, the multiple-choice questions to which you have responded incorrectly and those which you have left blank will be treated in the same manner, which is, no marks will be deducted. Therefore, it is better to make a wise guess than to leave any question unanswered.
Make sure that your prep plan for taking the CSET is foolproof and you have left nothing to chance. Make the best possible use of the available resources and time. A meticulous study schedule will help you immensely in passing the CSET and ultimately earning your much awaited certification!
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