Last Updated On: February 3rd, 2020

Note: The CHSPE is scheduled to change within the 2020-21 academic year, starting with the October 2020 test date. Read more about this change here: Change is Coming to the CHSPE The below article is about the current test, which will be administered on March 21 and June 20, 2020.

With only two chances left to pass the CHSPE in its current form, students hoping to leave school or earn legal-18 status must be smart about their test preparation. This step-by-step guide breaks down the process so you can pass by the end of this school year.

1) Familiarize yourself with the test. Review the test breakdown and sample questions on the CHSPE’s official website. You’ll have to request a password to get to the sample questions.

2) Take a full-length diagnostic test under test-taking conditions. This means take it in one sitting, timed, in a distraction-free environment with your cell phone off. If you’re working with LA Tutors, we can provide one and analyze your results. If you’re starting off on your own, you should purchase a copy of the Barron’s CHSPE guide and try the “Self-Assessment Test” in the front.

3) Calculate your diagnostic test results. While it’s impossible to exactly predict how you’ll do on the test, you can estimate using the number of questions correct on each section:

  • 80% or over is likely to pass
  • 69% or under is unlikely to pass without practice and improvement
  • 70-80% may pass, but additional practice and studying would be helpful to ensure it

Keep in mind that in order to pass the writing section, you must earn a passing grade on the essay and reach a certain minimum score on the multiple-choice questions. It’s helpful if you can get a teacher or tutor to review your essay and give you feedback.

4) Register for the test. Unless your diagnostic results were far below the passing range, you’ll probably want to register for the March test, so you have a chance to take it again in June, if needed, before the test changes next year. The regular registration deadline is Feb. 21 for the March 20, 2020 test and May 22 for the June 20, 2020 test.

5) Review your diagnostic test question by question. Your diagnostic test is more than just a number. Go through each question and ask yourself, “Why did I miss this?” If it was a careless error, remind yourself not to make such errors on the real test. If it was an unfamiliar concept or vocabulary word, add it to a list of concepts to practice and words to study, respectively. If it was a difficult question, circle it so you can learn some strategies on how to solve that type of question. Even if you’re working with a tutor, going through the test once on your own can help you use your tutoring time effectively.

6) Make a study plan: Now that you have a better idea of the challenges ahead, decide how much time you need to devote to preparation each week. If all of your scores were 80% or above, a couple of hours reviewing the concepts you missed may be enough. If every section is below 60%, you should plan to dedicate several hours per week to the test. Schedule your study time and practice tests into your calendar ahead of time.

7) Practice with each concept and area for improvement: Using the notes you took while reviewing your diagnostic test, learn and practice each concept and type of question one at a time. A professional tutor can provide all the help you need, but you can also use the Barron’s book and other test prep books, along with online resources like Quizlet and Khan Academy.

8) Take a full-length practice test after you’ve reviewed the most important concepts. Use Practice Test 1 in the back of the Barron’s book or another comparable test. Like the diagnostic test, take it in one sitting under test-taking conditions. Score your test and review each question you missed.

9) Return to any concepts where you still need review and do additional practice, and then take another practice test. (Repeat steps 6-7.)

10) Take the test and try your best! Make sure to follow common-sense test day procedures, including packing up the night before, getting a good night’s sleep, and eating a nutritious breakfast. If you have extra time at the end, go back and check your work and proofread your essay one more time.

11) Congratulate yourself when you pass! (If you don’t pass one or more sections on the March test date, you’ll have another chance in June. Using your test results and score breakdown, repeat steps 5-9.)

Katherine Friedman

Author Katherine Friedman

As the Program Co-Director at LA Tutors, Katherine is responsible for developing LA Tutors' curricula and contributes to the LA Tutors educational resources and blog. She has over ten years of classroom teaching experience in a variety of settings with diverse groups of learners: in the United States and internationally, special and general education, and public and private school. With a Masters degree in Education, she has been tutoring throughout her career and loves the opportunity to reach students in a one-on-one or small group setting. She began working as a test preparation tutor in graduate school and enjoys helping students build their understanding and confidence of standardized tests, including the ISEE, SAT, GRE, and CBEST.

More posts by Katherine Friedman