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The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) designed the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) to help aspiring teachers meet requirements for their teaching credential. Each of the subject area tests measure the test-takers knowledge, skills, and abilities, thereby confirming a prospective teacher’s capacity to teach the subject.

A major milestone for aspiring teachers in the state of California is successfully passing the CSET. You may have only recently decided to become a teacher, or you may have been teaching for a while and want to delve into a new subject area. Regardless, these tests are mandatory to move forward in your education career. Find out how to prepare for the exam and give yourself the best chance of passing the CSET.

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CSET Format

Before you take the CSET examination, it's important to understand the format of the exam. The CSET is a multiple subject exam consisting of 3 subtests. The order is as follows:

  • Subtest I
    • 52 Multiple Choice
    • 4 Constructed-response
    • Reading, Language, and Literature
    • History and Social Science
  • Subtest II
    • 52 Multiple Choice
    • 4 Constructed-response
    • Science
    • Mathematics
  • Subtest III
    • 39 Multiple Choice
    • 3 Constructed-response
    • Physical Education
    • Human Development
    • Visual and Performing Arts

To take this multiple subject exam, you must register online and select both a test date and test center that work best for you. You can register for one subtest or for all three subtests. 

Create a long-term study plan.

To successfully pass the CSET, you'll need to develop a regular practice of studying. Don't cram all the information in at the last minute and expect to pass the examination with flying colors. Make studying a part of your daily life, like watching nightly TV or going for a morning run. Carve out at least half an hour for studying each day to build and cement the habit.

Study with the right materials.

Visit the CTC website and click on the subject area test you plan to take, such as Art, French, or Mathematics1. There, you'll find comprehensive information about each test, including the CSET test structure, testing locations, and test prep materials. Studying with testing materials offered by the CTC ensures you'll know what to expect and feel more confident on test day.

Take practice tests.

In addition to study guides and sample test questions provided by the CTC, you may also find it useful to take practice CSET exams developed by California educators and assessment specialists. Such tests like those offered by Kaplan Publishing Group can help you better understand the content matter of the CSET test and periodically assess your basic skills.

If you’re an aspiring teacher and want to take a more in-depth look at CSET exam preparation and get more information on teacher credentialing contact Alliant International University’s California School of Education Admissions Team.

Become a Teacher Today


  1. California Educator Credentialing Assessments, CSET,, Accessed Nov. 29, 2021

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