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The CHSPE and You
Congratulations on making the decision to take the CHSPE! As a California high school student,
you may have any of several reasons for taking the exam. Perhaps you want to leave school early to
start working in a vocational trade or take part in a family business, or maybe you’ve decided that
high school just isn’t right for you. On the other hand, many students who take the CHSPE continue
to attend school even after they’ve earned the equivalent of a high school diploma.
Whatever your reasons for taking the CHSPE, this test prep will provide you with all the information
you need to score high and pass the test. Prepared by California teachers, our review chapters and practice exams reinforce the mathematics and English-language arts material that you need to know for test day.
If you are eligible to take the CHSPE, you can earn the legal equivalent of a high school diploma.
The CHSPE consists of two sections: an English-language arts section and a mathematics
section. If you pass both sections of the exam, the California State Board of Education will award
you a Certificate of Proficiency, which by state law is equivalent to a high school diploma (although
not equivalent to completing all the coursework required for regular graduation from high school).
Students who are interested in military service should check with their recruiter in advance for
details about applying the Certificate of Proficiency to military enlistment. If you are planning to attend
a university or college, contact the individual institutions to verify their entrance requirements.
Please note that passing the CHSPE does not exempt minors from attending school. Minors who
have a Certificate of Proficiency must also have verified parent or guardian permission to stop attending high school. Many students who pass the CHSPE continue to attend school. Talk to your guidance counselor or school administrator for more information about leaving school after passing the CHSPE. Please visit the official CHSPE website, www.chspe.net, for test dates, fees, and to download the registration form.
The CHSPE and the Law
The California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE) is a testing program established by
California law. Legally, all persons and institutions subject to California law that require a high school
diploma must accept the certificate as satisfying the requirement. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management accepts the Certificate of Proficiency in applications for federal civilian employment.
Students who leave high school after passing the CHSPE and are no more than 18 years old may
reenroll in the school district in which they were registered with no adverse consequences. If they do
reenroll, they may be required to meet new or additional requirements established since they were previously enrolled. Students who reenroll and then leave school again, may be denied re-admittance until the beginning of the following semester.
Dropping out of school after registering for the CHSPE or while awaiting test results is unlawful
for students under 18 years old. It may also result in failing grades for courses in which they are enrolled.
Eligibility to Take the CHSPE
You may take the CHSPE only if, on the test date, you
* are at least 16 years old, or
* have been enrolled in the tenth grade for one academic year or longer, or
* will complete one academic year of enrollment in the tenth grade at the end of the semester during
which the next regular test administration will be conducted. (Regular test administrations
are the fall and spring administration each school year.)
CHSPE English-Language Arts Section Format and Scoring
The CHSPE English-language arts section includes the language subtest and the reading subtest.
The language subtest consists of multiple-choice questions and a writing task, both of which must
be completed at the same administration. Your score for the multiple-choice questions is based on
the number of questions you answer correctly; you do not lose points for incorrect answers. Your
essay in response to the writing task is scored on a 6-point scale, with 1 the lowest score and 6 the
highest. The essay is scored independently by at least two trained scorers, resulting in two scores.
Your writing task score is the average of the two scores.
For the reading subtest, which consists entirely of multiple-choice questions, your score is based
on the number of questions you answer correctly. Again, there is no penalty for incorrect answers.
Multiple-choice results on both subtests of the CHSPE English-language arts section are
reported using scale scores that typically range from 250 to 450. Raw scores (i.e., the number of
questions answered correctly) are converted to scale scores to correct for any differences in difficulty
across test forms. Regardless of the particular test form taken, or the particular test date on which
the test is taken, equal scale scores represent essentially the same level of performance.
CHSPE Mathematics Section
Format and Scoring
The mathematics section of the CHSPE has 50 multiple-choice questions that assess skills in the following content areas (specific skills for each content area are listed in the appendix):
Number sense and operations
Patterns, relationships, and algebra
Data, statistics, and probability
Geometry and measurement
The questions also assess the following mathematical process skills:
Communication and representation
Reasoning and problem solving
The mathematics section of CHSPE is scored in the same way as the multiple-choice questions of the
language arts section. The raw score (i.e., the number of test questions you answer correctly) is converted to a scale score to adjust for any differences in difficulty across test forms. Regardless of the particular test form taken, or the date on which a test is taken, scale scores represent the level of performance. A scale score of 350 or higher is passing. That translates into a raw score of about 30 or more correctly answered questions.
You will be allowed to use a calculator while working on the CHSPE Mathematics section. All problems can be solved without the use of a calculator. If you wish to use a calculator, however, you may bring a solar-powered or battery-powered basic, nonstatistical, nonscientific, nonprogrammable
calculator. A basic calculator has 25 or fewer buttons and can perform no more than the four standard mathematical functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Calculators with
percentage signs, square root, and negative signs are also acceptable, as well as calculators that have
You have a total of three and a half hours to take the CHSPE. You determine how much time you
want to spend on each section. You do not have to pass the entire test on the same day. Once you
pass a section or subtest, you do not have to take it again. You do have to pay the entire test fee each
time you take the test.
Preparing for the CHSPE
When confronted with taking a test like the CHSPE, everyone has a different reaction. Some people
are nervous about the time length, while others are concerned about content material. Others look forward to taking the test because, other than the essay on the language arts section, the CHSPE is all multiple-choice questions.
Whether you feel confident or unnerved, REA’s California High School Proficiency Exam is here to help you. Studying the review chapters, taking the practice tests using our TestWare® on CD-ROM, and reading through the answer explanations will help you fine tune your knowledge of the material on the test while also familiarizing yourself with the test’s format.