CSET Science Test

The CSET Science test has four subtests. The first two subtests cover general science information, the third subtest covers the candidate’s chosen area of focus, and the fourth test covers an area of specialty. The first subtest has 7 multiple-choice questions on astronomy; 15 multiple-choice questions and 1 short-answer question about the dynamic processes of the Earth; 7 multiple-choice questions on Earth resources; 8 multiple-choice questions on waves; 15 multiple-choice questions and 1 short-answer question on forces and motion; and 6 multiple-choice questions on electricity and magnetism. The second subtest has 8 multiple-choice questions on ecology; 14 multiple-choice questions on Genetics and evolution; 7 multiple-choice questions and 1 short-answer question on molecular biology and biochemistry; 7 multiple-choice questions and 1 short- answer question on cell and organismal biology; 7 multiple-choice questions on heat transfer and thermodynamics; and 15 multiple-choice questions on structure and the properties of matter. The third subtest covers biology/life sciences, chemistry, Earth and planetary science, or physics. In whichever area the candidate chooses, there will be 50 multiple-choice questions and 3 short-answer questions. The fourth subtest on the CSET Science test is in the candidate’s area of specialty and consists of 40 multiple-choice questions and 1 short answer.

In addition to astronomy the first CSET Science exam subtest has subsections on tectonic processes, rock formation, shaping the Earth’s surface, energy of the Earth system, and Earth resources. The second part of the first subtest deals with question formulation in science, scientific investigation, observation and collection of data, data graphing, and methodology for drawing scientific conclusions and communicating those conclusions. This section also covers scientific ethics and history. The second subtest deals with the same type of general information.


The content of the third CSET Science exam subtest varies. The biology exam covers cellular biology and physiology, genetics, evolution, and ecology. The chemistry exam covers atomic and molecular structure, chemical reactions, kinetic molecular theory, solution chemistry, chemical thermodynamics, organic chemistry and biochemistry, and nuclear processes. The subtest on Earth and planetary science covers Earth’s place in the universe, Planet Earth, energy in the Earth system, biogeochemical cycles, and California geology. The subtest on physics covers motion and forces, conservation of energy, heat and thermodynamics, waves, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics. The second part of each exam covers investigation and experimentation, the nature of science, and the role of science and society. The third subtest covers the same information, but in more detail.

CSET Secrets: General Science: Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Physics

CSET Exam Secrets

CSET Science Test Practice Questions

1. Which of the following is used as evidence for plate tectonics?
A) Some continents are shaped in such a way that they look like they would fit together like a jig-saw puzzle.
B) Only a few elements make up the majority of all chemical compounds in living organisms; these few elements simply combine in many different ways.
C) Global warming
D) Phases of the moon

2. Sickle cell anemia is a condition caused by gene mutation. A mutation is:
A) A temporary change in a gene.
B) A permanent change in a gene.
C) A virus.
D) A disease.

3. The Milky Way is:
A) A galaxy with around one million stars.
B) A galaxy with around one billion.
C) A galaxy with several hundred billion stars.
D) Not a galaxy.

4. Which of the following is a solvent?
A) Water
B) Oxygen
C) Salt
D) Sugar

5. Which of the following best illustrates Newton’s third law of motion: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”
A) A boy lines up blocks in a row.
B) A boy pushes a toy car and watches it roll.
C) A boy throws a ball as hard as he can.
D) A boy and his brother run into each other, and both fall down.

CSET Science Test Answers

1. Answer: A
Plate tectonics is the theory that the earth’s crust is split into big, moving plates, and that these plates continue to come together, move away, and move past each other. This plate movement is thought to be the cause of volcanoes and earthquakes. The theory explains continental drift, which is implied in answer choice A. Answer choice B is true, but does not have anything to do with plate tectonics.

2. Answer: B
A mutation is a permanent structural change in a gene.

3. Answer: C
The Milky Way is a galaxy with several hundred billion stars. There are just three galaxies that we can see beyond the Milky Way, including Andromeda (or Andromeda Nebula) and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. In addition to stars, galaxies have a lot of dark matter in which there is no discernible light or energy. Answer choices A, C, and D are incorrect.

4. Answer: A
Water is the most common solvent. A solvent is something that is capable of absorbing or dissolving another liquid, gas, or solid. Answer choices B, C, and D are examples of solutes, or the substances that get dissolved in solvents. A solute and a solvent combine to create a solution.

5. Answer: D
The boys’ fall is a good example of Newton’s third law. Answer choices A and B are examples of Newton’s first law of motion, the law of inertia. Answer choice C is an example of Newton’s second law of motion, the law of resultant force.