Last Updated On: May 17th, 2020

NOTE: The CHSPE is set to change after June 20, 2020. Read our latest blog on these changes here: Changes Coming to the CHSPE

What is the CHSPE? Is it the same the GED? Will I still need to finish high school? When can I take the CHSPE?

Students and parents can easily get confused about what this test entails, why they should take it, and when they can take it. Let’s look at some basic information about the CHSPE and examine whether taking this exam would be the right decision for your family.

What is the CHSPE?

The CHSPE, or California High School Proficiency Exam, is a standardized test administered two or three times a year by the California Department of Education. It is for students who would like to explore alternative options for their education and professional life. To take the CHSPE, you must be at least 16 years old or in the second semester of your sophomore year. If you take the CHSPE and pass, then, with your parent’s permission, you are no longer legally required to attend high school.

The CHSPE provides a student the equivalent of a high school diploma, like the GED. However, the GED can’t be taken until the student is 18 years old, so the CHSPE is beneficial to students under 18. This option is ideal for students who are also working professionals, like child actors, or have other time-consuming extracurricular pursuits, like performing arts or competitive athletics. You can work, practice, or compete during the week like an adult. Additionally, the CHSPE is only given in English, unlike the GED, which is given in English, French, and Spanish.

The CHSPE has two sections: English-language arts and Mathematics. The language subtest includes a Writing task. The material covered is similar to what a student would learn in English and Math classes up through tenth grade, including vocabulary, grammar, algebra, and geometry. You have 3 ½ hours to complete the entire exam, and you can spend as much time as you like on any section.

Passing the CHSPE doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have the high school credits needed to apply to college, particularly in the University of California system. Passing the CHSPE only allows you to legally not attend high school. If you’d like to pursue an undergraduate degree in the future, then you should make sure that you have enough credits needed to apply to the college of your choice. Some options to consider include taking online courses, attending classes at a local community college, or continuing instruction at your high school for the time being.

Should My Kid Take the CHSPE?

This is a decision that should be made as a family, with input from both the student and the parent.

The CHSPE provides you the opportunity to work on your extracurricular pursuits on a full-time basis, without the interference of a regular high school routine. However, if you’d like to continue your education at some point, you’ll need to make a plan ahead of time for how to do so. Taking a nontraditional path towards completing high school and subsequently an undergraduate degree will take commitment and individual motivation. When applying to colleges and universities, you may not have the support system and streamlined process furnished for your old high school friends and classmates. You won’t necessarily have a guidance counselor to assist you. Acquiring recommendations and ensuring that you meet application requirements will likely be done on your own. It’s not impossible, but it will take more work.

Conversely, if matriculating through higher education is not your priority, then taking the CHSPE and moving forward with your career plans may be a viable option for your family.

How can we prepare for the CHSPE?

First, determine when you can take the exam. Visit the official CHSPE website here. Then start studying for the exam. Barron’s publishes a study guide, which includes two full-length practice tests with material similar to what you will encounter on the official CHSPE. Since the CHSPE is only given two or three times a year, a tutor could help you perform your best on the first try. For a free consultation on how to prepare for the CHSPE or to request a free diagnostic test, click here or call 866.60.TUTOR today.

Students and parents who would like to take advantage of nontraditional education or career opportunities should explore the benefits that taking the CHSPE can provide. Even if you sit for the exam and pass, you don’t necessarily need to exit school immediately. You can devise a strategy that works best for your family, your extracurricular activities, and your educational needs, both now and in the future.

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