About CAHSEE Test

All high school students study with the aim of earning their high school diplomas which is a very important step in their path to becoming successful and educated professionals. The question that now arises is why a high school diploma is considered so important. The answer is that a high school diploma is an evidence of the fact that a student possesses the academic skills that are necessary for education beyond high school. Therefore, all colleges and institutions offering programs of study for higher studies will require seeing your high school diploma before they consider you for admissions.

What is CAHSEE?

There is a requirement of ensuring that students completing high school studies achieve that minimum level of academic skills which is indispensable for pursuing higher studies. This is where CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam) steps in.

The California Department of Education (CDE) has formulated CAHSEE for assessing whether students graduating from public schools in California are able to demonstrate grade level competency, as per the state standards, for the basic academic skills of reading, writing and mathematics.  All students completing their high school education from California have to pass CAHSEE, in addition to meeting other requirements, for earning their high school diploma.

What is the CAHSEE Test Format?

CAHSEE assesses the basic academic skills in English and Math that are expected of a student graduating from a high school in California. It consists of two parts:

  1. English–Language Arts (ELA)

The ELA part assesses the knowledge of the test-takers that is expected of a high school student attending grade ten in California.
Test Content: There are six major subject areas that are tested. These are also known as strands:

  1. Word Analysis
  2. Reading Comprehension
  3. Literary Response and Analysis
  4. Writing Strategies
  5. Writing Applications
  6. English Language Conventions

Questions: 79 multiple-choice questions will be asked in this part. 7 questions from these 79 will be trial items. These 7 questions will not be scored. You will also have to respond to a writing task in which you will be given a topic or a passage and you will have to write an essay in response to the question asked.

  1. Mathematics

Test-takers will be assessed for their mathematical abilities by questions asked from math of the level of grades six and seven and there will be questions based on the first part of Algebra as per the state standards.
Test Content: The questions asked will be from five major subject areas or strands:

  1. Probability and Statistics
  2. Number Sense
  3. Algebra and Functions
  4. Measurement and Geometry
  5. Algebra I

Questions: There will be 92 multiple-choice questions. 12 questions out of these will be unscored test items.

What are the Policies for Retaking CAHSEE?

CAHSEE has to be taken by all grade ten students during the census administrations conducted in the months of February or March. Retesting of parts not passed by you can be taken in consecutive administrations. The following conditions apply if you have not been able to pass either one or both parts of CAHSEE:

  • Parts that have not been passed by you can be taken up to two times per school year if you are in grade eleven.
  • If you are in grade twelve, then you can take the parts not passed by you up to five times per school year.
  • Adult education students who are yet to pass parts of CAHSEE can take the parts up to three times per school year.
  • You can meet the test requirements by passing the two parts separately in two different administrations.
  • You cannot retake the test to improve your performance if you have already passed it once.
  • If you have not been able to pass until the end of grade twelve, then you will be provided with additional coaching and instructions by the school districts so as to improve your abilities to the level required for passing CAHSEE. The facility of undergoing such training can be availed by the students for up to two consecutive academic years after the end of grade twelve.  

What does the CAHSEE Score Report Contain?

Two copies of the Student and Parent Report for each test-taker is received by the school districts after about seven weeks from the date on which the test was taken. The school districts hand over one copy to the parents of the student and the second copy is filed with the student’s permanent record in school. This report contains information about how the test-taker has performed in the most recent test administration taken by him. The total scores as reflected in the score report are scale scores. The raw scores are converted to scale scores so that the performance of students over the years can be compared despite the different editions. The scale scores for both the parts of CAHSEE range from 275 to 450. You will need a minimum scale score of 350 in each of the parts in order to pass.
The score report will contain the following:

  • General information about the student
  • Total test scores for ELA and Mathematics
  • Performance of the student in each of the subject areas or strands being assessed by each part of CAHSEE.
  • Status: This will be marked as a ‘Passed’ in the score report if the student has scored a total of 350 or higher and has passed CAHSEE or else it will be marked with a ‘Not Passed’. ‘Satisfied Requirement’ will be displayed if the student has taken one CAHSEE part in a previous administration and has passed it.
  • The score for the Writing Applications part of ELA, which ranges from 1 to 4. The essay will be evaluated by two readers and will receive two scores which will be averaged before being reported. Students will earn a NS (non-scorable) score in any of the following cases:
    1. Matter written is not sufficient to be scored
    2. Essay has been written on a theme which is not related to the given topic
    3. Writing is illegible
    4. Essay has not been written in English

Who Conducts CAHSEE?

A non-profit organization, ETS (Educational Testing Service) has been designated by CDE to develop, administer and score CAHSEE. You can visit, www.ets.org the official website of ETS, for more details regarding the conduct of CAHSEE. The public school district that is offering the high school diploma has a testing coordinator who is responsible for managing the conduct of CAHSEE in conjunction with ETS.  Ordering the test materials, training the test conductors, coordinating with the test contractors are all the responsibilities of the testing coordinator for the public school district with which you are enrolled. Therefore, you need to get in touch with your school authorities for more details regarding the conduct of CAHSEE.

How to Prepare for CAHSEE?

You will not be able to prepare well if you are not aware of the finer details regarding the test format. Visit the official website of, www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/hs/ to get first hand information about the rules and regulations regarding its conduct. Although, your school books will suffice for the test prep as the test content is of high school level, there is no harm in spending time on studying from prep materials that have been specifically designed to help you answer the types of questions that will be asked in CAHSEE. Such prep materials are easily available on the internet and also in bookstores. Make sure that you verify the quality of prep materials before spending your time and money on them.

Work out a study schedule wherein you set aside time for studying for CAHSEE on a daily basis for at least a month before the test date. A dedicated study routine will prove to be immensely helpful in your efforts to earn your high school diploma from California!