Few careers can provide the levels of responsibility, satisfaction and fulfillment that teaching brings to California educators. Each day, thousands of teachers across California help their students to study, to learn and to reach for their dreams.
Teachers can touch lives in ways that no one else can. Everyone remembers at least one teacher who provided them with encouragement and inspiration, with the help and advice that they needed just when they needed it most.
You are one small step away from becoming such a teacher.
But teachers don’t just inspire and educate. As a teacher, you’ll enjoy respect from your family and friends, and a social status given to few other professionals. You’ll have long paid vacations that will enable you to travel the world or pursue your own goals. And you’ll have an income that will bring you independence and a career path that can lead you from challenge to success.
All that stands between you and a rewarding career of educating, guiding and inspiring students right now is your CSET test.
The CSET exam is a series of single-subject tests intended to prove to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing that you have the basic CSET test knowledge and ability to teach your subject in a classroom. There is also a CSET Multiple Subject exam which is required for K-8 certification.
With hard work and, no less importantly, the right CSET test preparation, you should find it easy to pass the CSET and start your teaching career.
What You Need To Know About The CSET
Whichever subject you intend to teach, you’ll find that passing the CSET test will require you to make use of two sets of skills: recalling the CSET knowledge that you possess about your subject; and answering exam questions quickly and accurately.
Both of these skill sets are vitally important on the CSET.
What is the CSET?
The CSET is a single subject exam, intended to replace the old Single Subject Assessments for Teaching and Praxis II tests. There are three types of test in the CSET:
Single Subject Teaching Credentials are mainly used from grades 7-12 and authorize a teacher to teach one particular subject.
Multiple Subject Teaching Credentials allow teachers to teach a range of different subjects and are generally used in elementary schools for grades K-6.
Education Specialist Instruction Credentials allow teachers to teach students who have a particular disability or special need in grades K-12.
Each exam in the CSET contains a number of subtests and lasts up to five hours. The sub-tests themselves are not timed however, allowing you to spend more time on areas that you find difficult and less time on the parts that you know best.
Time management will be an important element in getting the score you need to pass the CSET exam and become a teacher.
Two Types Of Questions, Two Types Of Challenge
CSET exam questions come in two forms: multiple-choice questions ask you to choose the best answer from a number of options. In these questions, it is important to remember that the best answer isn’t necessarily the only correct answer. You may find that two CSET exam answers look correct but one answer will be more correct than the other. (This also means that when two answers look the same, you’ve got a 50/50 chance of guessing the right one.)
Constructed-response CSET questions ask you to discuss, describe, analyze, explain etc. Often you’ll be asked to complete more than one task. Always read the question carefully and make sure that you have completed all the tasks.
CSET Test Taking Tips for Essay Writing
CSET Test Preparation– How To Cram Fast And Effectively
Whatever your subject, the CSET exam is going to expect you to have memorized vast amounts of information. Some of that CSET information you’ll know well because you use it every day. But much of the details that will turn up in the exam will be the sort of knowledge that will normally have you turning to the books to find the answers.
In the CSET, you’ll need to be able to recall those facts from your memory. That means being able to cram.
Top Methods To Quickly Complete CSET Test Preparation
At some point, just about everyone finds themselves having to cram for an exam. It might not be the best way to learn, but it’s often the only way to pass the test.
There are a number of effective techniques that you can use to fill your head with the information you need to breeze through your CSET exam.
1. Organize Your Priorities
No one excels at everything. There will inevitably be some subjects at which you are stronger and others at which you are weaker. You’ll need to make sure that you spend more time memorizing and learning your weaker areas than your stronger ones for the CSET.
Don’t worry if it looks like there’s a huge difference between the amount of work you have to do and the amount of time you have to do it. The next step will be to chop down the work and preparation required to pass the CSET.
2. Pick And Store for the CSET
Once you’ve identified those areas that will need the most work, read all the information through once. Highlight the most important points (don’t just underline: it’s easier to picture a highlighted page than an underlined sentence).
There are a number of different methods that you can then use to store your CSET exam information in your head:
o Break up what you need to learn into bite-sized chunks. There’s a limit to how much you can stuff into your short-term memory in one go. Take each piece a little at a time.
o Acrostics help you remember a list in the right order by turning them into strange sentences. My Dear Aunt Sally is the famous way to remember to Multiply and Divide before you Add and Subtract. You can create your own acrostic for any set of facts on the CSET.
o Turn your CSET notes into musical notes. If you can put the words you’re trying to memorize to a tune you like, you’ll find them much easier to remember. You might not be able to hum in the exam, but you can sing in the shower — and in the process, keep memorizing for the CSET;
3. Get the CSET Rammed Right In There!
Cramming only puts the information you want in your head for a short time (using what you’re memorizing will keep it there for the long term). In order to stop what you’ve memorized falling out before your CSET exam, you’ll need to keep seeing it and going over it right up until you need it on the day.
Acing The CSET
The actual content of your exam will depend on the subject you’re thinking of teaching. The official CSET study guides will tell you what you’re supposed to know before you walk into the CSET exam room. You should certainly be familiar with the CSET guides that apply to you.
What the CSET study guides won’t tell you though is how to ace the CSET when you aren’t sure of the answer. That isn’t because you can’t do it; it’s because they don’t want you to know how to do it.
Here are 5 Ways To Ace The CSET (Even When You Don’t Know The Answer)
1. Do the easy questions first
Use the first few minutes of the exam to zip through the paper. You’ll certainly find some of the questions easier than others. Do those straight away. It will make you feel a bit better and give you more time for the tough questions. And if you find yourself getting stuck on a question, make a mark, leave it and move on. Come back to it at the end when you’ll have more time, more focus and less panic.
2. Use a process of elimination
This is an absolute must on any multiple choice question. There will always be one or two questions that are outrageously wrong. Knock them out quick and your score doubles.
3. Drop extreme language and numbers
One way to pick the bad answer choices from the good is to look at the wording of the answers. The examiners generally prefer the correct answer to be wishy-washy. Any answer choice that uses words like ‘all’, ‘never’ or ‘always’ are probably wrong. Similarly, on math and science questions, the highest and lowest figures are usually bad choices too. Take them out.
4. Identify similar answers
Another way to hone in on the right answer choices is to pick out any answers that look the same. Usually on the CSET exam, two answers will be extreme, one will look right and one will be right.
The one that looks right has been put there deliberately to confuse you.
The examiners are hoping that as you rush through the exam, you won’t notice that there’s a better answer right next to it and pick the wrong choice. That’s mean, but it actually does you a favor. When two answer choices look similar, one of them is likely to be right.
5. Use previous questions
One of the great things about long exams like the CSET is that the answer to one question can often be found in another part of the test. It’s going to be almost impossible for the examiners not to repeat a subject or duplicate a point. If you’re scratching your head over a question, move on and keep an eye out for it later. There’s a good chance that they’ll give the game away in a different question.
Those are just five simple tactics you can use to ace the CSET test. There are dozens of others and you’ll need them all to put yourself in the classroom and in front of the blackboard. To learn all the tactics you need, and to make sure that your CSET test preparation is right on track, check out our Study Guide and start your teaching career with top marks.