How Hard is the CSET Math Exam?

Instructor: Bill Sands
The CSET Math exam is a test given to prospective teachers in California. Learn more about this test, and pick up some helpful study tips that will make the test seem much less difficult.

Understanding the CSET Math Exam

The CSET Math is one test in a series of exams administered to candidates who are seeking to become certified teachers in the state of California. It is a comprehensive and challenging exam, but by no means is it impossible to pass the exam. The difficulty level is entirely reliant on a candidate's willingness to properly train beforehand.

No matter how you choose to prepare for this exam, it's vitally important that you understand how it is structured and formatted. If you know the general subject and type of questions you'll be asked, it will make your testing experience much less difficult.

CSET Math Structure

The exam is divided into three subtests, each focused on a particular subject (most CSET tests are structured in a similar fashion). Subtest I focuses on algebra and number and quantity, Subtest II is devoted to geometry and probability and statistics, and Subtest III focuses on calculus. Prospective teachers wishing to earn the Single Subject Teaching Credential in Mathematics must pass all three subtests.

Question Format

The CSET uses two forms of questions: constructed response and multiple-choice. Constructed response questions offer candidates a prompt that must receive an extended response. Multiple-choice questions provide a set list of possible answers, and candidates must choose the most accurate response.

Subtests I and II each have 35 multiple choice questions and three constructed response questions, while Subtest III contains 30 multiple choice questions and a pair of constructed response questions.


Candidates must score at least 220 on each section of the assessment in order to pass. Test results are usually released within seven weeks of the testing period.

Getting Ready for the CSET Math Exam

Proper preparation is absolutely essential to a good score on the CSET. This can come in the form of both studying and registering on time.


Fortunately for those who may be feeling nervous about test day, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) publishes review materials for all of the CSET examinations. Additionally, offers several test prep resources that cover each of the three subtests found on the CSET math exam.

CSET Math Subtest 1

CSET Math Subtest 2

CSET Math Subtest 3

By reviewing these guides carefully, you can brush up on essential information through video lessons, quizzes, and chapter tests.

Registration Fees & Scheduling

Studying for such a demanding exam can be difficult enough without the stress of registering and paying on time. In order to avoid such unnecessary complications, be sure to take care of the CSET registration process early.

The CSET Math exam is offered on a year-round basis by appointment only. The exam is offered Monday-Saturday, with some holidays excluded; check the CTC site for a calendar of appointment availability. The CTC site also has a location tracker that will help you find the closest testing center.

There is a registration fee of $99 per subtest, meaning the cost of all three sessions comes out to $297. These fees can be paid by cashier's check or money order.

In the end, the CSET Math exam is only as hard as you make it. If you work hard and study effectively, you should feel more confident on test day.

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