About CSET Test

In today’s competitive world, there are examinations and certifications for almost every career that you would like to pursue. This is to ensure that only those who are capable, qualified and proficient in the required skills are the ones who actually take up that career. It is for this reason that prospective teachers who are keen to teach in California schools will have to take the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) as a requirement for teacher certifications and credentialing. The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) has developed the CSET tests with assistance from National Evaluation Systems, which is also responsible for the administration and scoring of the CSET. The CSET program consists of a wide category of tests. There are various types of certification requirements for teaching in the state of California and you will have to take different sets of CSET tests depending upon the type of certification you have applied for.

The CSET Tests

CSET tests are broadly classified into the following categories:

1.         CSET: Multiple Subjects
The test content for the three subtests of this test is based on the various subject areas taught in California schools. Each subtest consists of both multiple-choice questions and constructed-response questions.

2.         CSET: Preliminary Educational Technology
This test evaluates the skills that are necessary for working with computers in an educational setting. There are two subtests in this test each of which consists of both multiple-choice questions and constructed-response questions.

3.         CSET: Writing Skills
This test assesses the basic writing skills that are essential for performing well as a teacher. The test-taker is presented with two constructed-response questions in this test. The CSET: Writing Skills test can be taken only with the CSET: Multiple Subjects for meeting the basic skills requirement.

4.         CSET: Single Subjects and CSET: LOTE (Languages Other Than English)
The CSET LOTE (used toward a Bilingual Authorization) consists of a subtest designed to assess your familiarity with the modalities of bilingual education. The test content for the other subtests is based on the skills and knowledge that are necessary for teaching English to English learners in their primary language. The remaining CSET: LOTE tests and each of the CSET: Single Subjects consist of two to four subtests containing multiple-choice and constructed-response questions. The CSET: Single Subjects consist of subtests designed to assess your knowledge in the related subject area and the skills necessary for teaching that particular subject in school.

Credentialing in California

There are different kinds of credentialing and certifications granted by the state of California. For instance, if you have earned a Single Subject Teaching Credential, then you will be authorized to teach the related subject in middle and secondary schools. If you have earned a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, then you will be certified to teach all subjects in elementary schools (grades K–6). An Education Specialist Instruction Credential will certify you to teach students in grades K–12 with the specific disability or impairment that has been noted on the document. The certification requirements are different for each type of certification. You will have to visit the CSET website, www.ctcexams.nesinc.com for detailed information on the CSET tests that need to be taken for earning each type of certification. Here are the certification requirements that can be met by taking and passing the CSET tests.

  • Subject Matter Competence Requirement
  • Basic Skills Requirement
  • Multiple Subject Teaching Credential
  • Single Subject Teaching Credential and Education Specialist Instruction Credential
  • No Child Left Behind Compliance
  • Educational Technology Requirement
  • Bilingual Authorization


CSET Scoring

The subtests of CSET tests are scored independently. The subtests are further divided into test sections depending upon the types of questions asked in the test section. You will earn raw scores for each test section depending upon how you have responded to the questions presented to you. Your total subtest score will depend upon the raw scores you have been awarded for each test section. A weight is assigned to each test section and your raw scores are converted to a scaled score. The CSET scaled scores range from 100 to 300. You need to attain a scaled score of 220 in order to pass the test. You can pass the CSET test taken by you subject to the following conditions:

  1. Your scores in test sections for the same subtest taken across different test administrations will not be considered while calculating your total subtest scores. Therefore, you can pass a subtest only on the basis of your scores in the test sections of the subtest taken in the same test administration.
  2. Your passing standards for a particular CSET test can be met only if you have individually passed each of its constituent subtests. You are free to take the subtests of the same CSET test independently in different test administrations and your performance in the subtests taken on different test dates will contribute towards the passing requirements for the CSET test.
  3. If you have passed a particular subtest, then your passing scores will remain valid for 5 years only. In other words, you will have to meet the other requirements for earning the certification you have applied for, like passing the other requisite tests or subtests within five years or else you will have to retake the subtests that you have already passed. Apart from this reason, you will not have to retake a subtest once you have passed it. You will need to retake only those subtests of the CSET tests in which you have failed.


You must make it a point to educate yourself about the requirements of earning the certification you have applied for. There are certain facts regarding the conduct of CSET that can be found only if you go through the CSET website carefully. One such piece of information is that if you have taken the CSET: Multiple Subjects to satisfy the subject matter requirement, then your passing scores in the subtests of CSET: Multiple Subjects are valid for five years only; whereas if you are taking the CSET: Multiple Subjects for satisfying the basic skills requirement, then your passing scores on CSET: Multiple Subjects and also those on CSET: Writing Skills will not expire.

CSET Registration

You can register for the CSET in two ways depending upon the registration period in which you are registering for CSET. There are three registration periods for each CSET test date: regular, late, and emergency.

  1. Internet: All registration periods
  2. Telephone: Late and emergency registration periods


The payment for the registration fees can be made by credit, debit, or check card (VISA or MasterCard only). You will be able to choose the CSET tests you need to take, the test date and the test area while registering for the CSET. You also have the option of selecting the educational institutions to which you would like your CSET scores to be sent.

Preparing for the CSET

Your preparation for taking the CSET has to be a well planned affair. You cannot hope to walk into the CSET test centre and pass the CSET after reviewing the test content for a week or so before the test date.  Your preparation for the CSET not only involves a review of the test content, but also requires familiarity with the types of questions that will be presented to you in the CSET. Remember that passing the CSET is one of the final hurdles on your way to becoming a certified teacher in the state of California. You cannot afford to jeopardize your future career prospects due to lack of will power and concentration for studies.

Understand the test content and the types of questions that will be asked. Get good quality study materials. Some useful preparation information is available at the CSET website also. Review the test content. Spend time in solving sample questions. This, in a nutshell, is all that is required to pass the CSET in the first attempt itself!

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