CHSPE test details: How to pass the CHSPE exam

CHSPE test details show you that you can pass the CHSPE exam, get the equivalent of a high school diploma, and be done with school at the age of 16. After passing the CHSPE (California High School Proficiency Exam), you can head straight to college.

In order to be able to take the CHSPE test, you have to be at least 16 years of age OR be in your second semester of tenth grade when you take the test. It is important to understand that the two major requirements are “or” requirements.

If you are younger than 16 but are already in grade 10, you can also take the exam. We have met home-schooled students as young as 10 who took the CHSPE test. Those kids were able to take the exam because they had already completed their 10th grade academic studies.

Imagine graduating from high school at the age of 10!

Why take the CHSPE test?

Once you pass the CHSPE exam, you are done with high school. According to the U.S. education code, all institutions subject to California law are required to accept the California High School Proficiency Exam certificate as an equivalency to a California high school diploma.

Once you pass the CHSPE test, you can go straight to college or get a job without needing a work permit as a minor.

Keep in mind that according to the law, you are a minor if you are under 18. As such, you are required to be enrolled in one school or another unless you have your parents’ consent. In regard to employment, you are also considered a minor and have to follow the laws regulating minors.

How hard is the CHSPE?

If you have taken the CAHSEE (the California High School Exit Exam) you will be in for a surprise since the CHSPE test is actually easier. The CAHSEE is required of all high school students in order to graduate in California and tests more subjects.

The time for the CHSPE test is 3½ hours. Other than the allotted 3 ½ hours, there is no timing, so you can decide on your own how much time you want to spend for English, Math, or the Essay Writing portion.

The CHSPE only tests your English and Math skills.

The English portion of the test asks you to be able to apply basic English grammar. It also tests your ability to understand reading material (reading comprehension) and to answer questions based on the reading. The level of difficulty is supposed to be similar to a tenth grade English class

The Math portion tests skills ranging from ninth to 10 grade.

CHSPE English test questions

The English Reading section consists of two subtests. One subtest focuses on reading comprehension and vocabulary skills while the other focuses on your language skills. In total, there are 84 CHSPE questions for the reading comprehension and vocabulary portion.

There are 54 CHSPE reading comprehension questions (Initial Understanding 10, Interpretation 20, Critical Analysis 14, Strategies 10). There are 30 CHSPE vocabulary questions including synonyms (12), multiple meaning words (6), and context clues (12).

There are 48 CHSPE Language Subtest questions including capitalization (8), usage (8), punctuation (8), sentence structure (10), prewriting (5), and contents and organization (9).

CHSPE Math test questions

In contrast to the English section, there are only 50 CHSPE Math test questions. There are 9 Number Sense and Operations questions, 15 questions about Patterns, Relationships, and Algebra. Data, Statistics, and Probability consists of 12 CHSPE questions, and Geometry and Measurement has 14 questions.

As in the English portion, all CHSPE Math test questions are multiple-choice questions.

CHSPE Essay Writing

During the 3 ½ hours of CHSPE testing, you are asked to write an essay which is considered to be part of the 48-question Language Subtest. Both scores are taken into consideration in order to determine a pass/fail score.

The essay writing score ranges from 0 to 4. If you have a score of 2 or lower, you cannot pass the Language Subtest no matter what score you get otherwise. For an essay score of 2.5, you need a score of 365 to pass this portion. For an essay score of 3, you need 350 points to pass, and for an essay score of 3.5, you need 342 points in the CHSPE Language Skills multiple-choice questions to pass.

CHSPE test question resources

The official CHSPE website has a pdf version with practice questions. To see how the questions actually look like, visit the Test Specifications & Samples website.

More details about CHSPE test questions, registration dates, and what to bring on the test day are covered on the CHSPE FAQ website.

Amazon is selling Barron’s CHSPE: California High School Proficiency Exam (8th Edition), a CHSPE Secrets Study Guide, and the CHSPE Exam Study Guide. We are providing a review at the end of the article.

CHSPE secrets

Several of our students have taken the CHSPE and would like to pass on the secret on how to pass the CHSPE test. First of all, you can take the CHSPE as often as you would like. Some students who deal with anxiety took the test just to find out what the setting was like, what the questions were like, and how they would handle the stress.

To their surprise, they passed. However, they said that the fact that they went into the test with an attitude of “exploration” made all the difference since it took away the stress of having to pass.

My students shared that they observed some other kids coming into the test center, look at the test, and then leave again after half an hour. Since you can retake the CHSPE, or portions of it, as often as you would like, there is no harm done.

My students did warn that the most overlooked part of the CHSPE test is the essay portion, and that it can ruin everything when you take the exam for the first time. While most online free CHSPE practice test questions cover the English and Math portion, not too many discuss the essay part.

Two independent examiners read the essay and give it a score. If there is a discrepancy between the two scores, a third examiner will take a look at it. However, a student does not get any explanation why an essay might not have passed.

My students recommend to anyone wanting to take the CHSPE to practice essay writing as often as possible. The free CHSPE pdf book shows examples of essays and how they are scored.

The downside of the CHSPE

The only harm that is done retaking the CHSPE is your money. If you do not pass one of the English subtests (Reading Comprehension or Language Skills/Essay Writing) or the Math portion, you only have to retake that part the second time around. However, you have to pay the fee for the whole CHSPE test!

At this time, the CHSPE fee is $110 if you pay by the regular registration deadline. If you are late, the fee increases to $135. The cost for the Emergency Registration Deadline is $160.

The regular registration deadline for the March 18, 2017, CHSPE test is February 17. You can register now. The late registration is March 3, and the last day (emergency registration) is March 14.

The registration for the June 17, 2017, CHSPE test administration begins March 31.  The regular registration deadline is May 19, the late registration deadline is June 2, and the emergency registration deadline is June 13.

Before taking the CHSPE, some of our students did check out some online websites that provided free CHSPE practice test questions.

Overall, though, our students found that spending time studying two of the Amazon books and reviewing the official CHSPE practice test questions was sufficient for them to pass the CHSPE test.

Previous versions of the Barron's book had errors in them. However, the fact that the book gave complete practice tests made it worthwhile. Our students passed the CHSPE after studying this book and the CHSPE Exam Study Guide.Barron lacks Math questions, and this book prepares you excellently. Barron's is better in regard to giving you full practice tests.CHSPE Secrets focuses more on test strategies than practice questions.So far, we have no reports of anyone using the flash cards (published 2013) and passing the CHSPE.