How to Study for the CSET 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.

This lesson focuses on the Science California Subject Examination for Teachers, the format, topics to study, and ways to study that will help you get prepared for this exam.

CSET Science Format

The California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) is a required exam that has to be passed to teach K-12 students in the state of California. There are a variety of these exams depending on the subject that you want to teach. All the exams have a variety of multiple choice questions and a few constructed response questions. The constructed response is like a short essay. This lesson solely focuses on the CSET Science exam.

The Science CSET is set up into three sections:

Subtest One

''General Science''

  • 58 Multiple Choice Questions
  • 2 Constructed Response

Subtest Two

''General Science''

  • 58 Multiple Choice Questions
  • 2 Constructed Response

Subtest Three

''Science Specialty of Your Choice'' (Biology, Chemistry, Earth/Planetary Science, Physics)

  • 50 Multiple Choice Questions
  • 3 Constructed Response

Keep in mind, you can take one subtest exam at a time, which you are allotted two hours for. Or, you can take them all together, and you are given six hours.

Topics to Study

When starting to study for your CSET, there are a variety of main topics that you should really make sure you are knowledgeable in, including, but not limited to:

  • Composition of the universe
  • Stars and planets, size, light, and patterns
  • Phases of the moon
  • Plate tectonics, thermal processes, and plate boundaries
  • How an earthquake works
  • How to date material like wood and rock
  • Natural disasters, how they are created, and its effect on the planet
  • Weather maps, patterns
  • Effects of the sun on the planet
  • Natural resources: oil, solar, wind
  • Environmental sustainability regarding resources
  • Waves of energy, how they travel, and how to see and assess them
  • Newton's laws of motion 1-3
  • How force and motion effect the planet and people
  • How electricity and magnetism work, and what it can be used for
  • Ecological factors and systems
  • Genetic traits and reproduction
  • The evolution of life on earth
  • Elements, synthesis, and living organisms
  • Aspects, make up, and processes of a cell
  • Thermodynamics
  • Matter and its structure and make up
  • Scientific inquiry, observation, data collection and safety

How to Study

Review the Material and Take Notes

Now that you have an idea of some of the topics that will be addressed on this exam, it is just the process of studying for it. The first way to study for the CSET is by taking notes. Make sure you have a few of the resources that are suggested by the CSET site. They have a list of books depending on the subtest, which can help you get ready. Then as you read through the books, start to notate in a notebook, things you find important, or that relate to the list above. You can highlight as well, but writing makes you physically write the words, which can help you remember.

Create Flashcards

Once you have a notebook of topics, then you can create a set of note cards or index cards. Start putting the topics from above on one side of the card, and the answers on the other. This way you can take your study cards wherever you go to quiz yourself. You can also get friends or family involved, by getting them to quiz you. This way you are constantly going over the subjects, which will help cement them in your brain.

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