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Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions are often asked about the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE). If you have a question that is not answered here, call your high school’s principal or your school district’s testing office. You can find answers to other frequently asked questions on CDE’s CAHSEE Web page, http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/hs/.

What does the CAHSEE cover? The CAHSEE has two parts: English-language arts and mathematics.

The English-language arts part of the CAHSEE tests state content standards through grade ten. The reading section includes vocabulary, decoding, comprehension, and analysis of informational and literary texts. The writing section covers writing strategies, applications, and the conventions of standard English (for example, grammar, spelling, and punctuation).

The mathematics part of the CAHSEE tests state content standards in grades six and seven and Algebra I. The exam includes statistics, data analysis and probability, number sense, measurement and geometry, mathematical reasoning, and algebra. Students are also asked to demonstrate a strong foundation in computation and arithmetic, including working with decimals, fractions, and percentages.

What kinds of questions are on the CAHSEE? Most of the questions on the CAHSEE are multiple choice. However, the English-language arts part of the exam also includes one essay question (writing task). The exam is given only in English, and all students must pass the exam in English to receive a high school diploma. Sample questions from previous administrations of the CAHSEE can be found throughout this Study Guide and on CDE’s Web site.

When do students first take the CAHSEE? Students must take the exam for the first time in the second part of their tenth grade year.

When (and how) do students find out whether they have passed the CAHSEE? School districts receive student score reports about seven weeks after the date of the exam. One copy is to be mailed to the student’s home and another copy is to be kept in the student’s permanent record. It is important that parents or guardians keep a copy of the student report for their records. The State of California does not keep a copy of the scores. All individual student scores are confidential. Only group scores (for entire schools and districts) are made public. Scores may range from 275 to 450. A passing score is 350 or higher.


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