I have been meaning to write this post for a while, but it didn’t feel appropriate to write about it until I knew for sure that my study techniques yielded results. I am extremely pleased to say that I PASSED THE CSET!!!! Whew. What a load off my mind. Everybody prepares for these things a little differently, so what works for me may not work for you, but I’ve compiled a few resources that I think other people could find helpful. Keep in mind, I took each subtest separately (one every other week), so I don’t know if this kind of studying would work for someone who is taking it all in one go. My brain definitely felt overloaded with information each time I went in to a test.
As with most everything I buy, I did a lot of research and read a bunch of reviews before settling on this book. It is extremely thorough and there is a lot of information covered in the book. Each section starts out with a “pre-test” so you can figure out which areas you need to study more intensively. Personally, I figured I needed to at least review each section before the pre-test would be helpful for me, so I skipped the beginning questions and went straight for the review sections. Once I read through all of the review, I went back to the pre-test and used it to figure out how strong a grasp I had on each area.
After I felt like I had reviewed enough, the practice tests on the CD-ROM were awesome! The set up was similar to the real thing in that the multiple choice questions were on the computer. I’d really recommend using the CD-ROM practice tests because it totals your score for you in the end and also lets you review the explanations for the answers you missed. If you do the test in the book, you have to calculate your score and seek out the explanations in the book. There’s a lot of page flipping involved, which can be annoying and an inefficient use of valuable study time!
The thing I really liked about this book is that since I studied each section very thoroughly, I showed up to each test feeling like I was over-prepared. I probably put way too much pressure on myself to know everything before the test, but I have to say it’s a really nice feeling when you show up to a test and feel like you know more than you needed to know.
Additional Resources by Subtest
I don’t really have any additional resources to speak of for the reading portion of this subtest. I didn’t focus on it very much at all because I had already taken and passed the RICA. I guess something that worried me was interpreting poems and literature, but I think I just reviewed the sample constructed responses in the CliffsNotes prep book for these types of questions and took note of how the book addressed these kinds of questions.
**Side note: For anyone studying for the RICA, I highly recommend this Reading Instruction playlist by Chris Boosalis. I swear, this is what helped me pass that test. His manner of speaking can be a little monotonous, but he’s pretty sarcastic so if you pay attention, he can be entertaining 🙂
History is probably my weakest subject and it stressed me out the most. It’s actually the reason I took this subtest last. A great resource for me was the Crash Course! YouTube channel. The reviews are pretty quick (about 10 minutes, but can be longer) and they cover a lot of topics. I have a tendency to fall asleep when watching things if I don’t do something else at the same time, so I eventually began reviewing the CliffsNotes book and taking notes while having Crash Course! playing in the background. I know a lot of people have trouble doing multiple things at once like this, but it worked for me. I am easily distracted, so I can definitely see how people could go into sensory overload or something like that with this manner of studying. I’m surprised that it worked for me, to be honest. I was completely immersed in history, so I guess it was a good thing!
I only used the book to study for the math section. This was by far the easiest section for me and the one I was most confident about. I used the book to review, but I basically knew how to do everything already. Something interesting about the test itself that I didn’t know until I took it was that they have little scanners at each computer that you can use for your constructed response. I was under the impression that you were limited to just typing during the constructed response, but for this subtest, you’re given paper on which you can work out a problem, draw diagrams, hand write explanations, label, etc. Once you do this, you can scan it into the computer as your constructed response or as a supplement. I wanted to be extra clear with my responses, so I worked through the problems on my paper, scanned it in, and then typed out an explanation that referred back to what I had scanned.
Science was more challenging for me because I have not taken science since junior year of high school. In addition to using the book, there were tons of science videos on YouTube, so as I found things I liked, I added them to a CSET Subtest II Science playlist. A lot of the videos go more in depth than you need for the CSET. For example, Khan Academy is more high school/college level. I basically watched a lot of the videos until I felt like I had a clear idea of what was going on and then moved on to the next.
This subtest felt like a mishmash of a bunch of different subjects. The book did a great job of touching on all the different topics. I don’t think I studied too extensively for this one, but the YouTube videos were very helpful. I compiled everything I liked into a CSET Subtest III playlist. I felt there was a lot of emphasis on the history/timelines of art (music, theater, visual art, dance, etc) and it didn’t seem to be that crucial on the test itself, but don’t quote me on that. Perhaps familiarizing myself with these timelines helped me subconsciously in answering questions correctly!
Anyway, that’s what I did and I guess it worked. Hopefully some of this will be helpful to someone 🙂 Good luck!