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CSET Practice Test – Top 12 Tips To Find The Best Practice Questions And Pass Faster Now
The best CSET practice test questions boost your test taking skill. It gets you familiar with the structure, format and wording of real CSET test questions you face.
Recent California Subject Examinations for Teachers® (CSET) test preparation statistics prove sample questions (at the same level of difficulty as the real test) can raise your score by 5%, 10%, 15% and as much as 23% in just 2 weeks of time.
Your CSET study guide must have ample practice exam questions. After you choose your testing center location and register to test with Pearson VUE, get an ‘exam-accurate’ practice exam. They’re crucial in improving your ability to take this assessment. CSET test practice helps you apply your content knowledge (book smarts) to the exam, so you actually pass.
For some California teacher credential candidates, recalling facts, dates, theories and formulas is easy. Unfortunately, many discover too late that knowing the material and applying the knowledge to the real test questions are two completely different skill sets.
There’s no one right method to use in getting proper CSET exam practice. (After all, everyone is unique!). However, there are several study techniques that future educators can use to get the most out of their test prep sessions.
You can use this free CSET practice advice to pass the Math, Science, Social Studies, Multiple Subjects, Physical Education, Biology, English, Health Science, LOTE and other subtest by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). It dramatically improves the CSET pass rate for thousands of California teacher credential candidates each year.
You know you have a lot of information to absorb before your test date. You have 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.
Passive reading in your CSET study guide (whether online, paper book or free pdf), usually isn’t sufficient to get a passing score. It falls short of maximizing the limited preparation time you have.
The following tips reveal how to boost your test score in less time…
CSET Practice Test Tip #1: Know The ‘Real Exam’ Before Walking Into The Test Center
You’re never guaranteed that your CSET practice materials will match actual exam content and test questions. In fact, many test takers complain that CSET practice exam questions are too simplistic. That is, compared to the reality they experienced when taking this exam.
Complaints about widely-used CSET study guides state the practice questions don’t cover the exam competencies. In fact, CSET book reviews (by actual test takers) on Amazon.com reveal most practice questions are worded very differently than the real multiple-subjects or single-subject test you’ll take.
Many test takers feel so confident doing 50 easy CSET practice questions per day, confidently knowing all the answers. However, when in the test center, discover they’re not prepared. The real CSET test feels like it's written in a foreign language due to their unfamiliarity with reality during their exam prep. The format, structure and wordy of test questions and answer selections is quite different. The tested material is quite different as well.
Then they realize, it’s “game over.”
The CSET practice test questions in your book may seem pretty straightforward. However, getting the correct answers to real CSET questions require ‘higher order’ thinking skills like analysis, synthesis of information and drawing inferences. Many walking-out of the testing center look dazed and even stunned after taking the real exam.
This could also happen to you unless your CSET preparation guides match the official content knowledge and professional competencies measured. And your exam practice matches the types of questions at the same level of difficulty as the official exam.
Therefore, get CSET practice questions that are worded-like, have the same question/answer format and are at the same-level of difficulty as the real exam.
CSET Practice Test Tip #2: Know What Types Of Practice Exams To Stir-Clear Of
- Avoid CSET practice test questions that are full of errors; giving incorrect answers.
- Stay-away from sample questions that don’t fully explain how why the answer is correct.
- Don’t use constructed response questions that don’t reflect the typical structure, wording or format.
- Avoid CSET constructed response practice tests that do not teach you the ‘expected answer format.’ Make sure the constructed response sample exams you use reflect the typical structure, wording or format of real CSET test questions.
CSET Practice Test Tip #3: Determine If You Need Practice Exams, Study Guides Or Both
A common CSET test prep question is whether to do more of practice questions or focus more on study guide learning. Some attest to learning the content first before doing the practice test. Others say that doing California Subject Examinations for Teachers practice questions first will help you identify what you already know and still need to know.
Some forget about trying to read a 500 page CSET prep guide and just concentrate on doing a lot of practice questions.
Each CSET study strategy has its drawbacks. Without a CSET practice set, you can’t sharpen your test taking skills that are required to perform well. Getting familiar with how the exam is worded, types of questions are asked and structure of answer selection is a big advantage on your test date.
However, without plain old book studying or attending a test prep class, you may not cover the breadth of knowledge required to correctly answer the questions. Therefore, be sure to use a good combination of both to maximize the productivity of your prep sessions and your test score.
The problem is too many California teacher credential candidates don’t use CSET practice questions enough which hurts
their exam score. Sadly, there aren’t many high quality CSET exam practice questions available that match the real test.
Studying test content knowledge and practice goes best together. A good rule is for a 60% review and 40% practice exams.
CSET Practice Tip #4: Start Your Test Prep Right
- 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.) Identify areas you need to cover in your test preparation.
- California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) provides prep resources for each specific exam. This is helpful for Multiple-Subjects or Single Subject tests like Science, Social Studies, Mathematics, English, Physical Education, other exams and subtests. The CSET practice set provided by the CTC from its official website is a good way to gain insights into your specific examination for teachers and get familiar with it.
- Determine which domains of the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) are responsible for the most points. (You need to put the most reading time into these sections.) These are the main areas you must focus on. Moreover, determine smaller subsections you’re not familiar with. That is, what domains of the exam, (if you invested a modest amount of time) could bring up your overall all score faster than reading material you’re already proficient in?
CSET Practice Test Tip #5: Use Practice Exams As An Assessment Tool To Get A Focus
CSET Multiple Subject or Single Subject practice test questions are diagnostic tool. You can use sample questions to gauge what areas of your 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 as wide a breadth as your test. Then take all the practice questions.
- Take the results of your sample test, plus the information above and determine where you’re the most vulnerable. Where do you see red flags? What subsections put you at risk of failure? Be as detail oriented as possible. Use this activity as a testing readiness tool to help you, not a reason to beat yourself up. Failure doesn’t take any planning, but success does. Be grateful for this opportunity to work smarter, not practice longer hours for a failing score.
- After, make a list of major areas and subsections of the exam you know you need to bring up. Emphasize the content knowledge areas responsible for the most points. 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.
- 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.
- Imagine your CSET test as a wheel with spokes in it. Each spoke represents one section the exam. The tire is only as strong as its weakest parts. The wheel will roll even if one of spokes are weak; however, you can’t pass if one of the spokes are broken. Therefore, include some practice time for the CSET subtests you’re less proficient in, but aren’t worth a lot of points. The rule is to spend only half the time in the smaller sections of the exam that are worth less 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 and test prep “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. If you do, you haven’t improved your study or chances of passing.
- 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 CSET exam practice time. You’ll get 2-4 times more output (increase in test score) in use of your CSET study guide than someone you 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 really dig in.
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.
- Constructed-response questions poses a greater challenge than multiple-choice questions. The CTC gives a very detailed guide to answer constructed responses questions. Use the ctcexamsnesinc.com CSET prep guide to develop a sound formula to structure and write your constructive responses. Get a clear mental picture of what a 3 point, 2 point and 1 point constructed-response looks like.
As you practice for the CSET exam, use this accepted format over and over again to sharpen and refine this constructed-response test taking skill.
You may know the content, but conveying that knowledge in a structure that appeases the scorer is a different animal. If you lack of realistic CSET practice and repetition writing mechanics of structuring and refining your thoughts to paper, you’ll lose critical points. Don’t make the common mistake of thinking you’ll belt out 3 point constructed-response answers during the high stress and frantic pace of testing day without prior exercise in this area.
Be sure to keep focused on directly and completely answering the question and no more. The most foolish thing you can do is lose 5-10 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 and thereby raise your overall score to passing.
Following the above constructed response tips will allow you maximize the points you get from each CR question and thereby increase your probability of passing.
- Take at least 10 realistic CSET practice questions before to most of your prep sessions. You can use this valuable assessment to identify your strengths and weaknesses. With this invaluable insight, you can review (with tunnel vision) exactly what you need to bring your score to passing-level.
- Focus your practice for the CSET only 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.
- Take a timed CSET practice test. This will help you work with a time limit when you take the test, plus how much time to allocate to each exam question.
- Know that CTC have effected changes to some tests. The CSET Math Single Subject Subtest III is now a 2 hour test and not the 5 hours that many previous takers claim. An important reminder: you can opt to take just a single subtest, but you may not be able to use the full 5 hours, which is allotted for all 3 subtests. Check the updates at the official CSET or CTC website for guidance.
Are you a notorious night owl? Or do you do your best thinking in the morning? Are afternoons the time when you’re most alert and functional?
Whenever you’re the most energetic, schedule your CSET practice test taking and study sessions for that time of the day. You’ll not only have more confidence and be more emotionally fit, but you’ll get more test preparation done in less time.
The most effective best teacher’s test prep is when you’re psychologically and physically at your peak. Would you rather study for 6 hours tired and sluggish to increase your test score by 3 points or make the same preparation accomplishment in 3 hours? Preparing while tired is much like a car on one cylinder. You maximize your efficiency of your CSET study time when you’re most rested, alert and can deeply focus.
- A high quality CSET practice test helps get you acquainted with actual test content. However, your task is to understand the test question patterns particularly in identifying what is being asked in a wordy passage or line.
- Realize some CSET practice questions appear in the real exam either in part or whole! Therefore, use example tests as a learning tool to help you master content to practice under simulated testing conditions.
- After taking CSET practice questions, always survey the answer key. The purpose is not just to see if you got the answer right or wrong. Rather use it as tool to learn the exam content and master it.
If you have example exams that only provides the answer and not a full answer explanation, then be sure to look it up online. Take some notes so you absorb the concept into your long-term memory. Answer keys are rife with juicy information and tidbits that can help you master everything you need to know to pass and get your California teacher credential.
CSET practice tests also helps you pace yourself in a way that maximizes your score. It’s not just about learning to speed up and do the test questions faster so you don’t run out of time. Learning to pace yourself correctly means not rushing through the exam. This examination it not as race to see who can finish first.
Effective pacing means you use all the time allowed to take the exam and maximize your score. A good percentage of failing scores on this exam are due to rushing through the exam, not carefully reading what the question is asking and not reading the full answer or taking the time to consider it.
Whether you tend to take test questions too fast or are challenged by the mad pace you need to complete each question, use exam practice to maximize your score.
- Search for CSET practice exams and study guides online as additional resources.
- Invest money in your success because that’s the price of success. Nothing of value is free. Don’t cut corners and risk your future or postpone another year or longer due to lack of investment in yourself. Just be sure to avoid the free CSET practice tests online as those often do not cover the exam and often have incorrect answers. (Don't try saving $20 and lose thousands each month in teacher salary due failure.)
- Set a goal to get enough sample questions online and at your local bookstore. Get at least 700 practice exam questions (and answer them) before you go to your test center. — Overkill? I think not if you’re serious about getting teacher credential and not starting test prep over again!
Remember, a single point could be all you need to pass-the-CSET test. That one or few extra points you need to pull you over to a passing score could come from something as simple as a pointer or two from others who took the exam. Therefore, don’t go cheap saving a $50 in preparation materials then delay your teaching career that pays $50,000 per year by one year.
A CSET test prep course could be enough to raise your score to passing. The typical $300 cost of a CSET prep class is much cheaper than $60 you tried saving in study materials if you fail.
An additional investment in a $100.00 CSET study program could have example questions or test prep strategy that brings your score up to passing level. Even it’s a 16 hour course and have to take time off work to attend, it could help you avert wasting a year of your life trying to pass the CSET test!
Avoid trying to reinvent the wheel as a self-study. You won’t learn all the do’s and don’ts about how to pass the CSET by yourself (unless you have 6-12 months of time to lose). You need to reach out to others who took this exam. Don’t be shy about asking current California credentialed teachers and recent test takers who passed for advice in how to pass.
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 failure and agonizing and expensive teaching career set-backs.
Help from a current California credentialed teacher (who passed) helps many pass the CSET on the first try. That is, even teacher credential candidates who forgot about their teaching career dream because they couldn't pass after 1-3 years of struggle. After they got some help from educators who passed, they pass. They then springboard themselves into the classroom and enjoy the career they love. Therefore, consider CSET tutoring, prep courses, forming a study group. Anything that helps you improve in the topics of the exam and improve your test taking skills required to pass is an excellent investment of time and money.
Reviews for CSET study guides reveal the same issues over and over again:
- “This book was full of typos and errors!”
- “The online portion was useless…practice tests didn’t even work.”
- “These practice tests were way harder than the real thing!”
- “A lot of the info on here wasn’t even relevant to the test!”
But for every bad review, it seems like there’s a positive one claiming that the study guide helped them pass their CSET. There’s no doubt that choosing a CSET book can feel like a guessing game!
Once you have a CSET study guide, you have to use it the right way to get results. Good preparation materials without a good study strategy won’t help you!
Don’t depend on other’s CSET prep book reviews on Amazon.com. Start with an official practice test from the CTC website.
Since these CSET practice tests come straight from the test-makers, you know that they’ll accurately represent the test. This give you the knowledge to judge your study resources for yourself!
Your official practice test will:
- Give you a baseline to judge your CSET study guide.
Don’t wait until you’re taking the real CSET to learn that your study guide was useless! Starting with an official CSET practice exam will help you determine if your study guide’s information is relevant and if its practice tests accurately represent the real thing.
- Help you determine your weaker areas.
Get the most out of your CSET test study guide by focusing on improving your weaknesses!
The best part? Official practice test is completely free!
With an official CSET practice test under your belt, you’re ready to pick out a test prep book. Always look for CSET books with the following features:
- Make sure it was published after the last update to the CSET!
- Edited and fact-checked.
- Check-out reviews to make sure you don’t waste your money on a CSET guide filled with errors and typos!
- Has computerized practice tests.
- This is essential! A CSET exam study guide won’t help you learn the timing and format of the real test, but preparation materials with diagnostics and sample exams do. A few guides come with a CD, but many simply provide access codes to online practice exams. Be sure to look into the product details; some don’t advertise their computerized portion as prominently as others.
- Explains practice question answers thoroughly.
- Reviews or “look inside” features will let you know if the study guide has clear, thorough explanations for sample questions.
- Mostly positive reviews.
- Remember that some reviewers are biased. All CSET study guide will always have a few negative reviews. But any rating lower than three stars is a red flag you can’t ignore!
- Covers your weakest areas well.
- Again, check out reviews to see the CSET study guide’s strengths and weaknesses. Make sure it doesn’t have a ton of negative reviews about the subject areas you need to study most!
Once you have a quality CSET study guide, it’s time to start the studying process!
No matter the subject, all CSET study books have one thing in common: they’re thick!
If you don’t give yourself adequate time to study and gradually retain information, no guide will be useful for you.
“Early” will mean different things to different testers.
- Fresh out of college, feeling confident, scoring well on practice tests? 3-4 weeks of studying might suffice.
- Just out of college, nervous, not doing so well on practice tests? Give yourself at least 6-8 weeks.
- Out of school for a long time and need an in-depth review? If possible, Give yourself 3-5months.
- Not sure how much time you need? Use your official practice questions results to see how much work you need to do.
Another huge benefit of starting early? If you’ve decided that you don’t like your CSET study guide, you’ll have time to return it and pick a new one!
In your CSET prep guides, it’s tempting to only focus on the multiple choice practice questions. They usually come with an answer key and detailed explanations, giving you instant scores and information.
Constructed response questions, on the other hand, don’t offer the same feedback or instant gratification. Testers often spend much less time practicing constructed responses than they should. Don’t make this common mistake!
While it may feel like a waste of time to write responses with no feedback, CR practice questions will help you write faster, more focused responses. And scoring your own constructed responses can be extremely beneficial.
To get the most out of your CSET test study guide’s CR practice questions, we recommend using the following method:
- Read and re-read scoring guidelines for your test’s constructed responses.
- Review scored diagnostic questions in your CSET study guide.
- Using that information, score your own questions.
- Write a few bullet points explaining your score. Be honest and specific about your answer’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Use this information to improve your constructed responses.
Links To Free CSET Practice Tools And Tactics:
- FREE CSET Practice Test Reviews
- FREE CSET Study Guide Reviews
- CSET Test Prep
- CSET Multiple-Subjects
- CSET Math
- CSET Science
- CSET Social Science
- CSET Physical Education
- CSET English
- CSET Test
- CSET Study Tips
- CSET Test Practice Tips
Ask almost anyone who has passed the CSETSs, and they’ll tell you two things.
- CSET study guides are invaluable.
- No study guide can give you every single thing you need to know.
Good CSET prep materials give you a foundation for what you need to know, but occasionally you might need to dive deeper in some areas. After all, study manuals have to cover multiple subjects in one book and can only include so much detail.
These are the best criteria to determine when you’ll need additional review materials:
- Your own awareness of your weaker subjects.
- Results on CSET practice tests.
- If you’re consistently struggling in one subject areas despite thoroughly reviewing your CSET book, you might consider reading or watching some other resources.
- Amazon reviews.
- Reviewers might point out that the book is fantastic in literature but not extremely detailed in history. Carefully selected outside resources swill hep you get the most out of your CSET study resources.
Be cautious about the credibility of any outside preparation resources you use. We recommend starting with the preparation materials recommended by the California Educator Credentialing Examinations website.
Above all, don’t procrastinate! With plenty of time, you’ll be able to:
- Determine your weakest subject areas.
- Pick out the perfect CSET study guide for you.
- Make an effective CSET study plan.
- Gather quality supplemental resources.
Get started today, and you’ll be one step closer to your teaching career!
Author: Mark Dahlson
Last updated: 01/03/2019