Important Details Regarding the Physics Test of CSET

What to Expect in Physics CSET

The CSET or California Subject Examinations for Teachers is administered to determine whether a particular candidate has the knowledge, ability and skills to become a teacher. The test is primarily categorized into five categories namely, Multiple Subjects, Single Subject, Writing Skills, LOTE and Preliminary Educational Technology.

Science falls under the Single Subject and once you pass this test; you are qualified to teach in middle and secondary school level. Under Science itself, there are two sub-categories- General Science and Specialized Science and since Science is a vast subject, subject specializations are available. The subjects available for specializations are Biology/ Life Science, Chemistry, Earth and Planetary Science and Physics.

The General Science category consists of three subtests, subtest I and II cover the General Science areas and Subtest III covers the specialized subject area. In case of the Specialized Science category, there are two subtests, III and IV and both cover the specialized subject areas.

Details You Must Know about the Physics Test

  • Physics is one of the subjects available in the Science test.

  • Both multiple-choice questions and constructed-response type questions are asked.

  • In the subtest III 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 of Physics subtest IV include Waves, Forces and Motion and Electricity and Magnetism.

  • You can expect to be questioned on anything that you have studied in Physics from grade 3 to grade 12.

  • The detailed syllabus is available at

  • Calculators will be provided by the authorities themselves.

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

  • Based on the number of correct responses and your performance in the constructed-response type questions, a raw score is awarded. This raw score is multiplied with a pre-assigned weight and the resultant score is called the scaled score. The scaled score ranges from 200 to 300.

  • To pass this test, you have to obtain a minimum score of 220 in each subtest and you can pass each subtest separately.

  • 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- Physics, you can only teach Physics at the high school level.

  • Comprehensive study materials are required for passing the exam and materials suggested by the administrators include, Feynman, Richard. (1970). The Feynman Lectures on Physics (Volume I, II, and III). Boston, MA:Addison-Wesley., Halliday, David; Resnick, Robert; and Walker, Jearl. (2002). Fundamentals of Physics (6th edition).New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons

  • Another comprehensive book that can be used for the preparation is CSET Physics 123, 127 Teacher Certification Test Prep Study Guide (XAM CSET) Sharon Wynne .

  • A list of formulae is provided at the beginning of the question booklet. However, all the formulae you may need are not available in the list.

  • The registration fee is $69 for each subtest.

  • The test session is five hours long and you can choose to take up the three subtests (I,II & III) required for General Science or the two subtests (III & IV) required for Specialized Science in one session or take up a single subtest.

  • The Physics subtest is a paper-based test and testing dates are available once every alternate month. Registration is based on first-come, first-served basis and you must register as early as possible because the seats fill up fast.


This examination is to be taken if you specialize in Physics and want to teach it. The test is difficult but with good preparation, you can easily ace it. First, decide on whether you want to teach General Science or only Physics. Based on this decision, take up either subtests I, II & III or subtests III & IV.