This page provides answers to frequently asked questions about the CSET exam. It is organized into five sections: CSET Overview, CSET Registration, Studying for the CSET, CSET Testing Day, and CSET Test Results.

If you have additional questions about our prep programs, please see our general FAQs page and our Info & Help Videos page.


CSET Overview

What is the CSET?

CSET stands for California Subject Examinations for Teachers. The "CSET" is not one exam, but rather a set of exams that are taken by teacher credentialing candidates, primarily in California, in order to satisfy part of their teaching credential requirements. CSET exams are available for a wide variety of subject areas and the CSET test or tests that a candidate needs to take depends on what grade level and subject they are planning to teach. More information can be found on our CSET page.

What CSET do I take?

A candidate should take the CSET exam that corresponds to the subject area they wish to teach. For example, a high school math teaching credential may require passing the CSET Mathematics exam. See the testing service website for more details about your specific testing requirements.

What is CSET vs CBEST?

CBEST refers to a single basic skills exam often required of all teachers including substitute teachers. CSET refers to the subject-specific exams often required of full-time teachers. In many cases, a candidate will be required to pass the CBEST as well as a CSET exam in their subject area.

Who takes the CSET? What does the CSET qualify you for?

The CSET is primarily required to be passed by full-time teacher candidates in California in order to achieve their teaching credential.

What changes have been made to the CSET?

The various CSET subject exams are updated from time to time on a case-by-case basis. As far as the credentialing process, in July 2021, California did make adjustments to how a candidate can satisfy credentialing requirements via coursework.

How did CSET Multiple Subjects Subtest 3 change in August 2022?

On August 1, 2022, the existing CSET Multiple Subjects Subtest 3 (test code 103) was discontinued. A new version of this subtest (test code 225) replaced it. In general, the changes are relatively minor. The test structure is unchanged, with the same number of multiple-choice questions (39) and constructed response questions (3). The new exam also covers the same content domains.

In both versions of the test, the Physical Education section covers: Movement Skills and Movement Knowledge; Self-Image and Personal Development; and Social Development. The Human Development section covers: Cognitive Development from Birth Through Adolescence; Social and Physical Development from Birth Through Adolescence; and Influences on Development from Birth Through Adolescence. The test specifications for both of these sections are completely unchanged.

In both the old and new version of the test, the Visual and Performing Arts section covers Dance; Music; Theater; and Visual Arts. However, in the updated version, more detail has been added to the Visual and Performing Arts test specifications, with each domain now having three subcategories. These are outlined below:

  • Dance: Movement; Technical Skills; Analysis
  • Music: Elements of Music; Musical Ideas and Connections; Selecting Music
  • Theatre: Creating a Story; Improvisation and Design; Contextual Analysis
  • Visual Arts: Tools, Materials & Techniques; Connections & Value; Purposes

In general, these new subcategories place more emphasis on technical and practical skills that help students to become creators or producers. The subcategories also focus on critical skills, such as interpreting the purpose and meaning of works, and evaluating their effectiveness. To read more about the changes, visit the testing service website.

Is prep available for the new CSET Multiple Subjects Subtest 3?

We are currently working on creating a program specifically for the updated Subtest 3 (test code 225) and hope to have it available by Spring 2023. In the meantime, our current Subtest 3 classes and prep programs cover the same domains as the new test and use an identical test structure. While there are differences of emphasis within the Arts sections (see above for more detail), our programs still give a comprehensive overview of these areas and, we believe, represent the best prep currently available.

Note: If you are considering purchasing a Subtest 3 online prep program that comes with one year’s access, we will be happy to replace it with the new program once this is available – to request this, simply email customer service once the new program has been released.

Is the CSET still required in California?

Yes, the CSET is still one of the main ways a candidate can satisfy the testing requirement for their credential.

How do I get my CSET waived?

There are alternate options for satisfying the credential requirements via coursework. A school district can also request an initial CSET waiver if necessary.

How long is the CSET good for?

A passing CSET score on file with the official testing service must be used for credential purposes within ten years.


CSET Registration

Where can I take the CSET?

Computer-based and online-proctored testing are available by appointment during certain windows. For computer-based (in-person) testing, there are a variety of testing centers available. For more information about testing center locations, please visit CSET Registration Info.

How often is the CSET offered?

Computer-based testing is offered at testing centers year-round by appointment, Mon-Sat (excluding some holidays), on a first-come, first-served basis during testing windows. Online-proctored testing is by appointment during one-week testing windows each month. For further information, please see CSET Test Dates.

When should you take the CSET?

Many candidates will have restrictions based on their organization’s timetable. In the absence of such requirements, candidates are advised to take the CSET as early as is practical as the test can be re-taken if necessary and appointments may not always be available at convenient times. For more information, please see CSET Test Dates.

How much does the CSET cost?

CSET fees vary by test, but as an example, basic registration for a computer-based CSET Multiple Subjects test has a fee of $99 per subtest. For further details, please see CSET Testing Costs.

Is there a fee waiver for the CSET?

To inquire about a fee waiver for the test itself, please contact the official testing service that administers the CSET. If you are looking for financial assistance for our prep programs to study for the CSET, please see Financial Assistance.

Do I have to pay to retake the CSET?

Yes – there is no fee to change a registration, but regular fees apply to retaking the CSET. For more details, please see CSET Testing Costs.

How long do I have to wait to retake the CSET?

You must wait 45 calendar days to retake the CSET.

How do I cancel my CSET?

To cancel a CSET registration, please contact the official testing service.


Studying for the CSET

How long should I study for CSET?

The average amount of time an individual spends studying is around two months, but that varies widely, depending on several factors, such as your existing familiarity with the test content, and the amount of time you have available to study each day.

Which is the best CSET test prep book?

There are many good CSET study guides available from major educational publishers like Cliffs, Kaplan and others. If you plan to buy one, we recommend going to a physical bookstore so you can read through the various options and see which is best for you.

Our company doesn’t offer any physical books. Instead, our CSET prep options let you learn test content and strategies directly from caring, experienced teachers. Options include live classes, one-on-one tutoring and self-paced online prep.

Is your CSET prep up-to-date?

Yes – whenever the test is updated, we adjust our prep programs accordingly. If you have any questions about specific programs, please feel free to Contact Us.

How do I study for the CSET?

While there are many different ways to go about it, we often suggest that individuals start by taking a free practice test. This way, they can get a sense of the level of difficulty of the exam and start to make a study plan. Some individuals will not need to study much at all; others will need to dedicate a significant amount of time. As far as the method of studying goes, it is important to understand how you learn best. For some, a book will suffice, while for others, learning the material with a teacher, either virtually or in-person, may be the best way.

Which CSET is the hardest?

That depends on the individual – it just comes down to your comfort level with the subject matter.

Can I take the CSET sections separately?

Yes, you may take the CSET sections separately or all together. For more information, please see CSET Registration Info.


CSET Testing Day

Is the CSET difficult?

That depends on the individual. A good way to get a sense of the level of difficulty is to take a CSET practice test.

Is CBEST or CSET harder?

As the CBEST is designed to test basic skills, generally a CSET exam will be a higher level of difficulty. However, for an individual candidate, it will depend much more on their background knowledge and preparation.

Should I take the CSET all at once?

For most CSET exams, there are many candidates who will take the tests all at once and also many who will take them one subtest at a time. This is usually determined by an individual's scheduling requirements and their personal preference.

Can I use a calculator on the CSET?

Some of the CSET exams such as CSET Multiple Subjects do provide an on-screen calculator. For more information about a specific test, please see the official testing service site.

Can I use scratch paper on the CSET?

You may not bring scratch paper to the testing center, but a pen and a booklet of sheets will be provided to you.


CSET Test Results

What score do you need to pass CSET?

You must have a scaled score of 220 per subtest.

How do I get a copy of my CSET scores?

Your score will be emailed to you, if you requested that option, and it will be available to you through your account with the testing service. You may view or print your CSET scores up to 2 years after your test through your account with the testing service. After that, you may fill out a form to request a copy of your scores.

Where do I send my CSET scores?

CSET scores are sent to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing as well as any institutions you specify when registering for the test.

How long until I get my CSET results?

Test results availability varies by exam and by the method of taking the exam. For more details, please see CSET Test Dates.

What happens if you fail the CSET?

You may retake any section that you failed after a waiting period of 45 days.

How long does the CSET last?

Once you pass the CSET, your score is valid to be used for credentialing purposes for 10 years.


Our Core Plus Online Prep Programs feature: 

  • instructional videos that teach you the exact content you need to pass
  • interactive practice tests that replicate the real exam
  • virtual tutoring videos that guide you through every practice question
  • advanced diagnostics that offer in-depth insights into your strengths and weaknesses
Learn more about CSET Online Prep
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