CSET - California Test Guide

The CSET Summary
What: The CBEST and CSET exams measure the ability of educators to teach.
Who: Tests are given to all aspiring teachers in California and Oregon.
Where: Tests are given throughout California and Oregon, and occasionally offered at national sites.
When: Tests are offered six to twelve times a year.
How: Depending on the type of teaching one plans to do, tests evaluate basic skills and specific subject knowledge.
Type: Tests are multiple-choice, short answer and essay formats.
Why: The exams are required for teachers in California and Oregon for licensure.
Time: The tests are offered in sessions that can last as long as five hours.
Language: The tests are offered only in English.
Preparation: tests and study guides may be very helpful to test candidates.
Cost: Exam fees range from $35 to $105.

By Erin Hasinger, Tests.com


Aspiring teachers in the state of California are required to take the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) in addition to the Praxis so that they can become licensed to teach. Those who wish to teach specific or multiple subjects may also be required to take the California Subject Exam for Teachers (CSET) as well.




The CBEST evaluates a teacher’s skills in reading, math and writing. The test is not intended to evaluate how well one can teach those skills, but rather is designed to measure one’s mastery of the skills.


The CBEST was developed by California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and Pearson Education. The state of Oregon also uses the CBEST as part of its licensing requirements for teachers.


Test sections include:


- Reading: The reading section includes 50 multiple  choice questions. Test takers are presented with  written passages, tables and graphs, and the questions evaluate critical analysis, evaluation,  comprehension and research skills. A test taker might be asked, for example, to predict an outcome or compare and contrast information.


- Mathematics: The math section also includes 50 multiple-choice questions that focus on estimating, measurement, statistics, problem solving and graphs. Nearly all questions are word problems.


- Writing: In the writing section, test candidates must prepare a written response to two topics. One writing task includes an analysis of a statement while another task asks the test taker to write about a personal experience. Responses are evaluated based on clarity, idea development, focus and command of the English language.


Test takers have the option to take the test over the computer or on paper. Candidates can register for both versions online at http://www.cbest.nesinc.com/CA15_internetreg.asp. Late registrations are also offered over the phone by calling (800) 262-5080. The test fee is $41. Those who wish to take the computerized exam must pay an additional $64. The paper test is offered six times throughout the year, while the computerized test is offered during twelve test windows. Dates and times are available at http://www.cbest.nesinc.com/CA15_testdates.asp.


The computerized test offers an unofficial score report at the end of the exam, while paper-test takers must wait for the official score report to be mailed, typically within three weeks from the test date.




The CSET was developed by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing in conjunction with Pearson Education. Like the CBEST, it is also accepted in Oregon.


The CSET is required for teachers applying for a multiple subject teaching credential. The exam may be used in place of the Praxis II in some situations, while some teachers may elect to pass all three basic skills subtests and writing test in the CSET in place of the CBEST. Prospective teachers should check with state licensing regulations to ensure the exams they take will meet all licensing criteria for their subjects.


The CSET offers different exams:




- Multiple Subjects: The exam includes three subtests in reading, language and literature; science and math; and physical education, human development and visual and performing arts. Questions are multiple-choice and short answer format.


- Preliminary Educational Technology: Two subtests include both multiple-choice and short answer questions. Subtests focus on the basic operations and concepts of computer technology and teaching and learning applications of computer technology.


- Writing Skills: The writing test is used in conjunction with the Multiple Subjects exam and includes two essay questions that focus on expressive and expository writing.


- Single Subjects: Single Subject exams range from two to four subtests and include multiple-choice and short answer questions. Tests are offered in agriculture, art, business, English, science, math, health science, home economics, industrial and technology education, languages other than English, math, music, physical education and social science.


CSET exams are offered in morning and afternoon sessions that last for five hours. The number of sessions one must attend will depend on the tests that one is taking. Six test dates are offered each year (see http://www.cset.nesinc.com/CS15_testdates.asp for up-to-date test dates and times). The test is administered in a paper format, so test takers should bring several sharpened pencils with them.


Registration is offered online, though late registrants can register by calling (800) 205-3334. Test fees range from $35 to $105, again depending on which tests are required.  Each CSET exam requires an individual fee. Scores are mailed approximately three weeks after the test date.


For more information on the CBEST and CSET exams, please visit our CBEST and CSET test directories.


Source: Pearson Education; http://www.cset.nesinc.com/ and http://www.cbest.nesinc.com