The California Subject Examinations for Teachers are a battery of tests to determine subject competency as a part of teacher credentialing under the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. CSET exams are administered for both multiple-subject credentials and single-subject credentials. The English CSET includes four subtests that may be taken individually or at the same time.
The first multiple-choice subtest includes 40 questions on literature and textual analysis and 10 questions on composition and rhetoric. Preparing for the literary analysis portion should include study of American, British and world literature, mythology and oral tradition. You should be able to trace the development of historical literary periods and describe features of young adult literature. Finally, you should be able to analyze fictions through the lens of history, politics and philosophy. Analysis of nonliterary texts should include print and visual media and evaluation of their structure and content. Composition and rhetoric includes reflection on your own writing processes, investigation of the drafting process and use of graphic organizers, outlines and charts. You should also be able to determine audience, purpose and context of nonliterary texts. Questions on grammar and conventions of oral and written language complete subtest one.
The second multiple-choice subtest includes 50 questions on language, linguistics and literacy. You should be prepared to answer questions about word analysis and morphology, syntax and semantics and research etymologies. Knowledge of acquisition focuses on cognitive, affective and sociocultural development of language. Additionally, you should be able to recognize written and oral conventions of English and how they are mastered along with the cognitive elements of learning to read and write. The grammar portion of this test includes sentence construction, parts of speech and verb forms. The School of Education at the University of California Irvine suggests reviewing linguistic terms and standards for English language learners.
The third subtest includes two constructed response questions. One question focuses on composition and rhetoric, and the other focuses on literature and analysis. The major topics covered are identical to those in subtest one. To prepare for subtest three, you should have a solid foundation in sentence structure and rhetorical devices. You should also be familiar with literary terms -- particularly those relevant to high school English -- and grammar, including style, usage and punctuation. According to the School of Education at the University of California at Irvine, studying Graduate Record Examination vocabulary is also helpful for subtest three.
The format of subtest four is four short, focused constructed-response questions. The test covers communications, including speech, media and creative performance. The content of the exam includes principles of oral communication processes, media analysis and journalism, dramatic performance and creative writing. The School of Education at the University of California Irvine suggests studying theater history and journalism. Reviewing the language arts frameworks in the California State Standards is also suggested, and using SAT II and AP preparation guides in these subjects can provide a review of the test content.
- Pearson Education: CSET
- Pearson Education: CSET: English
- Pearson Education: Test Structure for CSET: English
- California Subject Examinations for Teachers: Test Guide: English Subtest I
- California Subject Examinations for Teachers: Test Guide: English Subtest II
- University of California Irvine: School of Education: CSET Single Subject English Test Preparation
- California Subject Examinations for Teachers: Test Guide: English Subtest IV
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