CSET Test Preparation

You will have to prepare for the CSET (California Subject Examinations for Teachers) very seriously as your teaching career in California is at stake if you don’t!  You will gain rich dividends in the future if you invest in the present by preparing well for the CSET. Approaching the CSET with an aim to achieve the maximum with minimum effort can have a negative impact on your chances of doing well on the CSET. Do not forget that passing the CSET is an integral part of the process for teacher certification in California. Therefore, taking the CSET needs careful planning and systematic preparation or else you will be stuck in the loop of taking retests for passing the CSET.

Tips for Preparing for CSET

Working out a detailed prep plan does not mean that you should be unduly stressed about the impending test. It is very important to keep your stress levels low or else you will not be able to concentrate on your studies. The main reason for exam related stress is uncertainty regarding your performance in the test. This uncertainty stems from lack of confidence in yourself with respect to your capabilities and knowledge. The only way to boost your self-confidence and to do away with exam-related stress is by working out a detailed and effective prep plan that is put into action well before the test date. The following tips will be useful for chalking out a preparation strategy that will help you achieve success in CSET:

  1. Start your prep for CSET well in time. You need not wait until you register for CSET to start preparing for it. Go to the CSET website, www.ctcexams.nesinc.com and identify the tests that you will have to take for earning the certification that you are seeking. Start preparing for the tests the moment you have decided that you would like to apply for the certification.


  1. Do not start studying for a subject blindly without going through the test content and understanding the skills that will be evaluated by the CSET test for that subject. It is common knowledge that the CSET: Single Subjects will assess your knowledge and skills in a specific subject area, but that does not mean that simply reviewing the entire subject area of the level that is taught in schools will suffice for doing well in the test. The CSET website contains study guides for each CSET test. Download these guides and understand the test content and the specific skills that will be assessed. Prepare for the test accordingly.
  2. Understand the scoring system. You cannot hope to pass the CSET without setting an aim for yourself. You can set a goal for yourself only if you are aware of the scores that you need to achieve for passing the test that you are scheduled to take. Familiarize yourself with the CSET scoring system and the passing scores for the tests that you have to take. Set an aim for yourself that is much higher than the passing scores.
  3. Understand the types of questions that will be asked. You need to be aware of the types of questions that will be presented to you. In addition to multiple-choice questions, certain CSET tests will also present you with constructed-response questions. You should be well aware of the types of answers expected from you for the constructed-response questions. Once you are aware of the method in which your skills are being assessed by the CSET, you will be in a better position to prepare for the test. 
  4. Concentrate on the subject matter. Once you are clear about the overall test content, the types of questions that will be asked and the skills that are being assessed, the next obvious step is to identify the specific subject matter that has to be studied and concentrate on that. Analyze your knowledge of the test content and mark the subject areas in which you need considerable improvement in terms of acquiring knowledge and developing the necessary skills. Concentrate on these subject areas. Work out a study time plan with emphasis on your weak subject areas. Do not completely ignore your strong subject areas. These are your strengths and you should work on improving them further so that they are able to cover up for your weaknesses. Remember that depending upon the test format of the test that you are taking; the subtests may be addressing different subject areas of the subject you are being tested for. As it is necessary to pass all subtests of a test for meeting the passing requirements of the test, you will have to dedicate equal time for studying all the subject areas of the test content.
  5. Collect good quality prep materials. You will need prep resources for assisting you in your preparation to take the CSET. These prep resources can be your college textbooks, study guides, sets of practice tests, sample questions etc. Studying from your college textbooks would be a good idea as they would contain an extensive review of the subject matter that you are testing for. Make sure to include the textbooks used in California schools among your prep materials. The CSET website will be able to provide you with a list of useful prep resources for each CSET test. Go through all such resources and put them to good use. Another good method to identify good resources is to get in touch with others who have successfully passed the CSET tests that you are about to take. Discuss with them the methods and prep materials they utilized for their CSET prep. Their experiences and advice will be able to help you in planning your prep strategy and in acquiring the best possible prep materials.
  6. Work out a personalized study plan. You need to chalk out a study plan that suits your personal requirements and is comfortable for you. For instance, if you are comfortable studying in a group and you feel that you will learn more from discussions and interaction with others, then you can form a study group with others preparing for the same set of CSET tests and study together. If you are studying on your own, then work out small details like the time at which you will study depending upon your comfort level that is whether you are comfortable studying late in the night or early in the morning. If you have a short memory span, then keep aside the last few days before the test to carry out a complete review of all the important facts, figures and concepts that need to be recalled on the test day. All such small facts will determine the study plan that will be the most effective for you.
  7. Practice problem solving. Solve as many sample questions as you can, for the test you have to take. Compare your responses with the correct answers and learn from your mistakes. This will familiarize you with the test format and you will be relaxed on the day of the exam as you will know what to expect. The CSET website contains a computer-administered practice test program for CSET: Multiple Subjects. This is an interactive computer program which contains practice tests for CSET: Multiple Subjects and it is available free of cost. A tutorial is included in the program that will guide you as to how to use and navigate through the program.

The Most Important Tip for CSET Prep!

Here’s the most important tip for preparing for CSET:

  • No Cramming! Cramming does not help at all.


Burning midnight oil and cramming will lead you nowhere. You will end up without a teacher certification and will be left with the dilemma of taking retests after retests. If you wish to avoid taking retests and you want to pass the CSET at the earliest available opportunity, then you must make an endeavour to understand the test content, sharpen the necessary skills and prepare well for the CSET. Passing the CSET holds the key to a rewarding career in education and so give the CSET your best shot!

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