Last Updated On: January 22nd, 2021
For any performance, practice is vital. If you want to do well on an athletic or artistic skill, you know that you have to practice. When your students want to learn an educational skill, you will review, give them worksheets, and encourage them to practice the material. Knowing this, you know that it is important to practice for your CSET exam. The CSET testing process causes a lot of concern, and the answer to most of that concern is preparation and practice. If you are feeling concern about your CSET test and aren’t convinced that practice will help, if you are feeling unmotivated about your CSET practice, or if you are practicing for the CSET and are questioning whether it is helping, read and review this. Practice WILL help. It is illogical that you will prepare and practice for your CSET and NOT improve your topic knowledge and test skills.
The Difference between Preparation and Practice
Both preparation and practice are required for your best CSET score. To prepare you must gain the information that you need about the test. This includes reviewing subject material, learning about the test structure and test tips, and learning your particular strengths and weaknesses related to the CSET you are taking. Preparation is done by gathering and revising information on the material and your relationship with the material. Practice is how you increase the strength of your understanding and comfort with the material. Repeating exposure to the topics and the test format through exercises, flash cards, note cards, quizzes, practice questions, and practice tests gives you the practice that you need to respond to the information that you gained in your preparation. These two processes, preparation and practice, work together to make your study for the CSET as effective as possible, leading to the end goal of passing your CSET.
Practice and Test Prep will help Reduce Test Stress
You already know that this is a big test with a lot of influence on your pathway to your career. This importance can lead to extreme test stress. One of the biggest balances to stress is familiarity. If you are familiar with something, you can reduce your stress about that thing. For example, when you are familiar with a lesson topic that you are teaching, it is less stressful to run to the lesson than when you are unfamiliar with the material. Likewise when you are more familiar with the CSET topics and structure, it becomes less stressful to take the test. Instead of approaching a great unknown, you can remind yourself that you have practiced this test from all of the directions possible and reviewed the relevant material enough to earn your Pass. The CSET becomes another round of multiple choice and constructed response questions, similar to the ones that you have practiced previously, relating to material that you have covered in your test prep. If you feel confident in your knowledge, you can also let go of questions you don’t know more easily; it is easier to remember that you don’t need a perfect score, when you are confident about achieving that Pass.
Practice and Test Prep will help with Topic Knowledge
Knowing the topics on the CSET is vital for comfort and performance. Appropriately focused test prep can help with knowing the information on the test. For each CSET exam, there is a list of topics that the test is written to address. Once you have done a general CSET study, you can focus exactly on the topics that the test will address. Using the published content specifications, like This One for the Multiple Subjects CSET, or This One for Multiple Subjects Subtest 1, you can make sure that you are addressing each of the topics that are considered important for the test or subtest that you are taking. Preparing by identifying which topics you know and which areas are weak, combined with practice of your weaker areas until they have strengthened, gives you the knowledge and direction that you need for efficient CSET study and increased CSET test performance.
Practice and Test Prep will help with Knowing the Types of Wrong Answers
The CSET, like all standardized tests, has certain types of wrong answers that it uses frequently. With test prep, you will see the types of wrong answers, and with practice you will be able to identify these wrong answers more quickly. The more that you see examples of wrong answer choices, the easier it will be to identify them on the test. For example, once you know that the CSET likes to give answers that are factually right but don’t address the question asked, you can start practicing identifying wrong answers that use this technique. With practice, you will be able to identify these wrong answer choices more quickly, allowing you to narrow down your options for potential right answer choices rapidly during the test.
Practice and Test Prep will help with Knowing how to Put the Required Concepts into the Constructed Responses
Test prep will show you the way that the test writers will integrate the test concepts into constructed response questions. With practice, you will become familiar with which concepts are being tested with particular questions and be able to formulate answers quickly and smoothly. Once you have reviewed and expanded your topic knowledge, practicing with sample constructed response questions will increase your comfort with applying this topic knowledge. Without practice it is more difficult and takes longer to decide on an approach for constructed response questions. If you are familiar with topics and have practiced many constructed responses, it will be easier to jump into action when faced with the actual test’s constructed responses. You will more easily be able to see what strategies and facts are useful because you will have the pattern of the questions established from your practice.
Practice and Test Prep will help Being able to Sort Multiple Choice Quickly
With the multiple-choice section of the CSET exam, some questions will be quick knowledge questions, some will require analytical elimination, some you will know easily, some you will be able to figure out, and some you may not know but will be able to get by eliminating all answers but one. By practicing for the CSET test, you will see many examples of each of these types of questions. You will know if you have timing or stress concerns, which may make you want to use the Three Pass System (For information on the Three Pass System, see Dealing with Test Stress on Test Day blog), but whether you use that system or not, being able to categorize multiple choice test questions will allow you to know what level of knowledge you need to use and will help you control your timing and comfort levels during the test.
Practice and Test Prep will help create habits of using subject matter knowledge and support
The two sections that can most easily improve or damage your constructed responses are the Subject Matter Knowledge and Support scores. Addressing these two topics is not something that everyone has practiced. To avoid struggling with these processes on test day, you will want to practice beforehand. If you are changing a habit, you need to practice your new habit. If your new habit is incorporating Subject Matter Knowledge and Support into your Constructed Responses, you will want to practice incorporating them on many, many practice responses before the ones that actually count. Preparing by gaining familiarity with terms, facts, and definitions and practicing applying these during sample constructed responses will make it natural to include Subject Matter Knowledge into your response during the CSET exam. Practicing explaining how and why you answered your questions and the relevance of your answers to the question will boost your Support value on your constructed response scores because you will become acclimated to providing the explanations. This way, you will not forget to include them during the test, nor will you need to spend much energy and effort remembering that these explanations need to be included.
Practice and Test Prep will help Timing
As your familiarity with the material and the test structure increases, your timing will automatically improve. If, however, you are feeling a timing crunch for the CSET, you will want to know how much time you can allow for each section and to practice sticking to that timing. By practicing your timing before the actual exam, you will fall into a pace from habit that will let you accomplish your timing goals. This will allow you to spend more time focusing on questions and less time constantly evaluating and adjusting your timing.
If you have not yet begun a test prep and practice system, these reasons are set so that you can see the value of beginning to prepare. If you are struggling with your motivation, don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Review these reasons to remind yourself why you are doing this preparation and practice. If you are actively practicing and despairing about the purpose of practice, we’ve all been there too. What you are doing IS making a difference. Remind yourself that it is worth it. You are making progress. If you feel stagnant in your practice, reach out to your support network (or create one if you don’t have one) and refocus your preparation and practice to be maximally effective. Your CSET scores won’t just improve themselves, but with dedicated preparation and practice, you can meet your CSET Pass goal!