How to Study for CSET Social Science

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

California requires all of its teachers to pass the CSET (California Subject Examinations for Teachers) in the subject they want to teach. The following lesson talks about the layout of the Social Science CSET and how best to study for it.

Layout of Social Science CSET

The Social Science CSET, or the California Subject Examinations for Teachers, are the exams that are required to be able to teach K-12 in the state of California. The Social Science exam is set up in three sections which must be completed in the 5 hours allowed. The following is the layout of the individual sections:

Section One

  • World History
    • 35 Multiple Choice Questions
    • 2 Constructed Response Questions
    • 1 Short Response
    • 1 Extended Response
  • World Geography
    • 4 Multiple Choice Questions
    • 1 Constructed Response Question (Short Response)

View Study.com's CSET Social Science Subtest 1 study guide.

Section Two

  • U.S. History
    • 35 Multiple Choice Questions
    • 2 Constructed Response Questions
    • 1 Short Response
    • 1 Extended Response
  • U.S. Geography
    • 4 Multiple Choice Questions
    • 1 Constructed Response Question (Short Response)

View Study.com's CSET Social Science Subtest 2 study guide.

Section Three

  • Civics
    • 18 Multiple Choice Questions
    • 1 Constructed Response Question (Short Answer)
  • Economics
    • 15 Multiple Choice Questions
    • 1 Constructed Response Question (Short Answer)
  • California History
    • 7 Multiple Choice Questions
    • 1 Constructed Response Question (Short Answer)

View Study.com's CSET Social Science Subtest 3 study guide.

What To Study for Social Science CSET

Since the exam is set up in three separate sections covering a variety of subjects, the following are some of the main topics divided by section.

Section One

There should be a solid knowledge on the following subjects for the first section of the Social Science CSET.

  • Ancient civilizations of Eurasia, Africa, and the Americas (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic)
  • Religions of ancient societies
  • How ancient cultures worked and fought together
  • Medieval periods for Asia, Africa, Middle-East, the Americas, and Europe (politics, culture, science)
  • Basic tenets of main world religions (Catholicism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism)
  • Present-day world history (WWI, WWII, Vietnam War)
  • Conflicts with the Middle East
  • Geography (how to use a map, which maps are better for different projects)
  • Ecology
  • The effect of geography on agriculture
  • The effect of geography on people and their behaviors

Example of Multiple Choice Question

After centuries of conflict and division, China was united in 581 A.D. This unification is credited to the establishment of which dynasty?

  • A. The T'ang Dynasty
  • B. The Sung Dynasty
  • C. The Sui Dynasty
  • D. The Han Empire

Example of Constructed Response Question

(In front of you are the main ideas of the English Bill of Rights from 1689.)

  • Describe what historical events created this document and how they influenced the country.

Section Two

This second section contains questions on the following main topics:

  • Pre-Revolutionary war period of the United States
  • 13 Colonies (why they were created)
  • The Constitution (how and why it was created)
  • Historical significance of the time before the Civil War
  • Civil and Revolutionary Wars
  • Manifest Destiny
  • Gilded Age
  • The U.S. as it grows to be a world power (how and why)
  • Segregation and Civil Rights
  • Great Depression
  • World War II
  • Cold War
  • Foreign Policy (NATO, Korean War)
  • Geography concepts as shown in Section One, but pertaining to California

Example of Multiple Choice Question

Which of the following was a primary reason why the Native Americans moved west in 1868?

  • A. To try and escape the conflicts white people
  • B. To protect their sacred lands
  • C. The Sioux Treaty of 1868
  • D. The increase of industry on the East Coast

Example of Constructed Response Question

(You have before you a summary of the tenets and main ideas of the Federalist Papers and the ideas behind the Declaration of Independence.)

  • Explain the historical influence of both documents as well as their similarities and differences.

Section Three

Because this section concentrates on civics and politics, it is important to study the following subjects to prepare for this part of the exam.

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