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Top 12 CSET Practice Test Tips –
How To Pass Quicker And Easier Now
Why do well-prepared test takers who ‘know the material’ walk-out of the testing center looking dazed and even stunned?
Is it because their CSET practice test questions, prep course or CSET study guides are bad? Or is it due to lack of time preparing or poor test preparation?
Just “knowing the material” is NOT enough to pass the California Subject Examinations for Teachers® (CSET). Passive reading of your CSET study guide won’t help you get you a passing score. You must also develop the skill of “applying the information” to real test questions.
These are two completely different skill sets.
Getting the correct answers to real CSET questions require ‘higher order’ thinking skills like analysis, synthesis of information and drawing inferences.
CSET practice questions are the best tool to improve your performance in physically taking the exam and getting correct answers. That means boosting your skill in passing the test. This is the ‘missing link’ for those competent in the tested material, but keep failing this examination.
You can use the following test study tips to pass CSET Math, Science, Social Science, Multiple Subjects, Physical Education, Biology, English, Health Science, LOTE and others.
Test Tip #1: Use CSET Practice Tests To See The ‘Real Exam’ Before Walking Into The Test
CSET book reviews (by actual test takers) on Amazon.com reveal widely-used practice tests are NOT like the real CSET questions they faced on their exam date. Many test takers complain that practice questions are worded radically different than the actual multiple-subjects or single-subject tests they took.
CSET practice test questions consisting of “simplistic,” dumbed-down questions (that do not cover the real exam) may help you feel confident and happy during test preparation. However, being unfamiliar with the real structure, wording of test questions and answer selections can mean being extremely unhappy on your test date and losing your confidence in your ability to ever pass.
So, after you choose your testing center location and register with Pearson VUE…get study guides that have an ‘exam-accurate’ practice exams.
- Your CSET practice questions must cover the content knowledge and professional competencies outlined on the official website.
- Make sure your practice exams are at the same level of difficulty as the actual exam.
- Your sample questions and answer choices should be worded and structured like the real test.
Tip #2: Know What Type Of CSET Practice Questions To Stir-Clear Of
- Avoid practice tests that are full of errors; giving incorrect answers.
- Stay-away from CSET practice tests that don’t fully explain why the answer is correct (and why wrong answers are not correct).
- Don’t use constructed response questions that don’t reflect the typical structure, wording or format.
- Don’t rely on CSET test practice sets that are not full length representations of the exam.
- Avoid constructed response and multiple choice practice tests that are not in the ‘official test question and answer format.’
Tip #3: Determine If You Need CSET Sample Questions, Study Guides Or Both?
Question: Should you focus more on practice questions or focus more on study guide learning?
Each CSET test practice strategy has its drawbacks. Without practice questions, you can’t sharpen your test taking skills that are required to perform well. Being familiar with how test questions are worded, types of questions asked and structure of answer selection will make a dramatic difference on your test date.
However, without plain old book studying or attending a test prep class, you may not acquire the breadth of knowledge required to correctly answer the questions.
Combine studying content knowledge and using practice tests together to maximize your score in the least amount of time. A good rule is for a 60% review and 40% practice exams.
Tip #4: Develop A CSET Prep Attack Plan
- Identify areas you need to cover in your test preparation. The official California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) website should be your first stop. First, download their CSET study guide pdf and domains of subject matter requirements. (While seemingly obvious. You’d be surprised how many teacher candidates who fail skip this step.)
- The CTC provides a practice test set for each specific exam. This is helpful for Multiple-Subjects or Single Subject tests like Science, Social Studies, Mathematics, English, Physical Education and other subtests.
- Be aware the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) makes changes to CSET tests over time. Check their website for such updates. Major changes to the exam should redirect your test preparation and test taking plan.
- Determine which domains of your specific CSET test are responsible for the most points. (You need to put the most preparation time in these sections.) These are the main areas you must focus on.
- Identify the “Low Hanging Fruit.” Ask yourself: What subsections of the exam, (if you invested a modest amount of time) could more rapidly boost up your score faster versus reading material you’re already proficient in? Make an attack plan to review those topics.
You’ll find: a CSET Math subtest 1, 2, 3 study guide, a CSET Science study guide, a CSET English study guide, a CSET Physical Education study guide, a CSET Social Science study guide, a CSET Multiple Subjects subtests 1, 2, 3 study guide and ones for the other exams.
Tip #5: Use CSET Practice Materials To Get A Study Focus
- Use sample questions to assess what areas of your CSET Multiple Subjects or Single Subject exam you need to improve.
- Get a California Subject Examinations for Teachers practice exam that you’ve never looked at before. Make sure it has at least 50-100 questions representing the real exam. Then take all the practice questions.
- Take the results of your CSET practice test questions, plus the information above and determine where you’re the weakest. Where do you see red flags? What subsections put you at risk of failure? Be as detail oriented as possible.
- After, make a list of major areas and subsections you know you need to bring up. Emphasize the content knowledge areas responsible for the most points.
- You can now review (with tunnel vision) exactly what you need to bring your score to passing-level. Be grateful for this opportunity to work smarter, not prepare longer hours and fail.
Rather than feeling overwhelmed and worried about the big gap between where you are now and where you need to be on your exam date, do the following.
CSET Practice Tip #6: Failure Doesn’t Require A Plan, But A Passing Score Does
- Project forward to your scheduled CSET testing date and work backward. Break up what you need to learn into manageable chunks. Take out a calendar and split up the key concepts you need to improve on over the next few weeks. Plan twice as much time for areas of the examination you need to bring up and are worth the most points.
- This calendar becomes the main outline of your study schedule. This will force you not to deviate from the straightest line between where you are now and where you need to be on exam day. If you only have 1-2 weeks, then break it down into even smaller chunks. For example, review domain subsection A for 4 hours on Saturday morning to review and domain subsection Z for 2 hours on Tuesday night.
- Schedule review time for the CSET subtests you’re less proficient in, but aren’t worth a lot of points. The rule is to spend half the time in the smaller sections of the exam that are worthless points.
- Determine how much time you need to raise your proficiency to passing level for each section. Whatever estimate you decide, double it. If you think you need 3 weeks of time studying 2 hours per day, double it to 6 weeks. Commit your decision into a plan or CSET prep guide “to do” list. Then prioritize that “to do” by priority A, B, C, D and so on.
- Warning: Do not fall into the temptation of starting on a domain of the exam you like or are already moderately proficient in. Focus the majority of your study on your weakest subject area(s) of the test. Why? Because you won’t bring your overall test score up by putting more time into your already strong areas.
- Even if you’re only 1-2 weeks before walking into the CSET test center getting a tightly focused list of what you need to review will allow you to ‘hit the nail in the head’ much faster. Avoid the ‘loosey-goosey’ style of managing your prep time. You’ll get 2-4 times more output (increase in test score) in use of your study guide than someone who just starts turning pages without a plan.
We always under-estimate how much time we need. Unexpected things come up. You may find there is even more you don’t know about this exam once you dig in…
That’s why proven CSET practice tests can save you massive time and get you up to speed in much less time.
Wouldn’t you rather over prepare and pass rather than trying to get by with less and failing? After all, having to start CSET test prep this all over from the beginning will cost you a lot more time and money.
Tip #7: How To Use CSET Practice Exams To Extract More Points From Constructed Response Questions
Constructed-response questions pose a greater challenge than multiple-choice questions.
- Don’t make the common mistake of thinking you’ll belt out 3 point constructed-response answers during the high stress and panicky pace of testing day without prior exam practice. You may know the content, but conveying that knowledge to constructed-response questions is a different animal.
- Be sure your constructed-response is in the proper structure that appeases the scorer.
- Use the very detailed official CTC guide to answer constructed response questions. As you practice for the CSET exam, use this accepted format repeatedly to sharpen this constructed-response test taking skill.
- Get a clear mental picture of what a 3 point, 2 point and 1 point constructed-response looks like.
- Get realistic CSET practice in writing mechanics, structuring and refining your thoughts to paper to avoid losing critical points.
- Keep your CSET test practice sessions focused on directly and completely answering the question and no more. Extra jargon, not directly addressing the question and going off on a tangent in the constructed response question will lower your score in each question.
- Don’t lose 5-15 minutes in one constructed response question (where you stand to get zero or one point) at the expense of other questions that you can answer correctly. Doing that will quickly lower your overall score.
Are you a night owl? Or do you do your best thinking in the morning? Are afternoons the time when you’re most alert and functional?
Schedule your CSET practice question sets for the time of the day your energy and alertness are highest. Not only will you have more confidence and be more emotionally fit, you’ll get more test preparation done in less time.
Would you rather study for 6 hours tired and sluggish to increase your test score by 3 points or make the same accomplishment in 3 hours? Preparing while tired is much like a car on one cylinder. You maximize efficiency of your CSET prep time when you’re most rested, alert and can deeply focus.
- High quality CSET practice questions help you learn the tested material in an interactive, hands on way. You learn the exam competencies in the same medium your knowledge will be assessed: CSET test questions.
- The best practice exams help you understand what a wordy, complex, loaded CSET question is asking. You learn answer selection patterns that increase the number of correct answers you get.
- Realize some practice test questions may appear in the real exam either in part or whole!
- Use answer keys as a learning tool. The purpose is not just to see if you got the answer right or wrong. They’re rife with juicy tidbits that can help you master everything you need to pass and get your California teacher credential.
Do you take CSET questions too fast and therefore make mistakes get answers wrong?
Do you struggle to finish the test in time due to the frantic pace required?
This examination is not a race to see who can finish first. A good percentage of failing scores are due to rushing through the exam. Many test takers do not carefully read the question. They misread multiple choice answers.
Effective pacing means using all the time allowed to take the exam to maximize your score. Leaving the exam with additional time remaining means a lost opportunity to increase your chance of passing. If you finish the test early refine and improve constructed responses, review test questions and answers for misreadings and simple entry errors.
Take timed CSET practice tests. This will help you practice allocating a specific amount of time to each exam question. If you tend to go too fast and risk mistakes, it’ll help you slow down and concentrate. If you risk not finishing the test, it’ll help you speed up.
- Be aware free CSET practice exam questions online do not match actual exam content and test questions. (Don't try saving money and lose thousands each month in teacher salary due to failure.)
- Amazon CSET book reviews are filled with complaints. However, one that one extra book (even if it has “flaws”) could contain the piece of information or sample question that’s the difference between pass or fail. Any preparation resource that could raise your score (even if only a few points) is an excellent investment of time and money.
- Nothing of value in CSET test preparation is free. Don’t risk your future. Don’t cut corners. You know, the cost of your college tuition and course books is the price of success. Buying books, practice tests and possibly paying for a tutor is the price of passing the CSET and launching your teaching career.
- Determine how much money you will invest in yourself to get your teacher credential. You know failure can mean postponing your teaching career by one year, missing out on a $40,000+ per year teaching position and a full year of professional experience. Consider the full cost of not investing in yourself when deciding how many study guides, practice exams, prep course, tutors and review resources you use.
Links To Free CSET Practice Tools And Tactics:
- FREE CSET Practice Test and Study Guide Reviews
- CSET Test Prep
- CSET Multiple-Subjects
- CSET Math
- CSET Science
- CSET Physical Education
- CSET English
- CSET Social Science
- CSET Test
- CSET Study Guide Tips
- CSET Practice Test Tips
- Secret I Used To Pass-The-CSET
- Don’t try to prepare for the CSET and pass on your own!
- Avoid trying to pass by ‘trial and error” test preparation.
- One simple CSET prep tip could make all the difference between pass or failure for you. (Hint: You’ll never get a tip like that preparing by yourself!)
Unless you have 3-12 months of free time and can risk delaying your teaching career to another school year, you need to reach out to others who passed your specific CSET test.
A former CSET test taker (who learned the hard way through ‘trial and error’ and several failing scores) can tell you things that will save you weeks or months of test prep frustration. That’ll help you avert agonizing and expensive teaching career setbacks.
Some teacher credential candidates forget about their teaching career dream because they can’t pass after 1-3 years of struggle. After getting help from educators who passed, they springboard themselves into the classroom and enjoy the career they love.
Consider CSET prep classes, tutoring, prep courses or forming a study group. Getting coached or mentored by someone who passed your specific CSET exam usually provides most score popping results in the least amount of time.
You have a lot of information to absorb before your CSET test date. There’s a limited amount of time to learn it. Therefore, you must make the most out of every month, week, day, hour and minute of your test preparation sessions.
Author: Mark Dahlson
Last updated: 03/21/2020