California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE)

About the Test

The California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE) is a program established by California law (Education Code Section 48412). If eligible to take the test, you can earn the legal equivalent of a high school diploma by passing the CHSPE. The CHSPE consists of two sections: an English-language Arts section and a Mathematics section. If you pass both sections of the CHSPE, the California State Board of Education will award you a Certificate of Proficiency, which by state law is equivalent to a high school diploma (although not equivalent to completing all coursework required for regular graduation from high school). All persons and institutions subject to California law that require a high school diploma for any purpose must accept the certificate as satisfying the requirement. Although federal government agencies are not bound by state laws, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has ruled that the Certificate of Proficiency shall be accepted in applications for federal civilian employment. Military service policies vary. Check with your recruiter for details. If you are planning to attend a university or college, contact the individual institutions to verify entrance requirements.

Passing the CHSPE does not, by itself, exempt minors from attending school. Minors who have a Certificate of Proficiency must also have verified parent/guardian permission to stop attending school. Many students who pass the CHSPE continue to attend school. State law provides that, if you leave school after passing the CHSPE and are no more than 18 years old, you may re-enroll in the district in which you were registered with no adverse consequences. If you do re-enroll you may be required to meet new or additional requirements established since you were previously enrolled. If you re-enroll and then leave school again, you may be denied re-admittance until the beginning of the following semester. Contact your guidance counselor or school administrator for further information and details about leaving school after passing the CHSPE.

Dropping out of school after registering for the CHSPE or while awaiting results is unlawful for those under 18 years old. It may also result in failing grades for courses in which you are enrolled.

Eligibility to Take the CHSPE

You may take the CHSPE only if, on the test date, you:

  • are at least 16 years old, or
  • have been enrolled in the tenth grade for one academic year or longer, or
  • will complete one academic year of enrollment in the tenth grade at the end of the semester during which the next regular administration will be conducted. (Regular administrations are the fall and spring administration each school year.)

Photo ID Required: Acceptable photo identification must be presented at the time of check-in or you will not be admitted to the test.

Description of the CHSPE

The CHSPE consists of two test sections: English-language Arts and mathematics. You must pass both sections to receive a Certificate of Proficiency. For specific skills tested, visit the Test specifications. Sample test questions, including a sample writing task and the essay scoring scale, are provided in PDF. On this PDF, the format of the multiple-choice questions is the same as in the test booklet.

English-language Arts Section

The English-language Arts section consists of two subtests: Language and Reading. Both subtests must be passed to pass the English-language Arts section. (The two subtests do not have to be passed at the same test administration and can be taken separately.) The Language subtest has 48 multiple-choice questions and one writing task, both of which must be completed at the same administration. The multiple-choice questions measure language mechanics and language expression. The writing task requires an expository essay, which will be scored on the basis of writing proficiency and not on your knowledge of the subject addressed in your essay. The Reading subtest has 54 reading comprehension questions and 30 vocabulary questions, all of which are multiple-choice. The reading comprehension questions test initial understanding, interpretation, critical analysis, and strategies using three types of text: literary, informational, and functional. The vocabulary questions assess synonyms, multiple-meaning words, and context clues. The chart below shows the number of test questions in each content cluster assessed on the Language and Reading subtests. Note that the writing task on the Language subtest must be taken in conjunction with the multiple-choice questions on that subtest. It you only take the writing task, or you only take the multiple-choice questions, you will not pass the Language subtest.

Mathematics Section

The Mathematics section has 50 multiple-choice questions that assess content in the following areas: number sense and operations; patterns, relationships, and algebra; data, statistics, and probability; and geometry and measurement. The questions also assess the mathematical processes of communication and representation, estimation, mathematical connections, and reasoning and problem solving. A reference sheet containing necessary formulas is provided. The chart below shows the number of questions in each content cluster assessed on the Mathematics section.

Number of Test Questions by Content Cluster

Testing Time of Exam

A total of 3 1/2 hours of testing time will be provided to take the CHSPE. Neither test section is timed within the 3 1/2 hours, and you may spend as much time as you like on either test section. You are responsible for managing your own use of the testing time.

Taking and Passing the CHSPE

On a test administration date, you can take the Mathematics section, the English-language Arts Language subtest, or the English-language Arts Reading subtest, or any combination of the three. You can make that decision on the day of the test. The test fee, however, is the same regardless of which parts of the test you take. To pass the CHSPE and receive a Certificate of Proficiency, you must pass both the Mathematics section and the English-language Arts section (which requires passing the Language subtest and the Reading subtest). You do not have to pass both sections on the same day, nor do you have to pass the two English-language Arts subtests on the same day. (Note, however, that on the Language subtest both the multiple-choice questions and the writing task must be completed at the same administration.) You do not have to retake a section or subtest that you previously passed. There is no limit to the number of times you may take the CHSPE, but you must register and pay the current test fee each time.

If you passed the CHSPE English-language Arts section in 2004, 2005, or 2006, you do not need to take the English-language Arts section. Results on the CHSPE taken prior to January 2004 cannot be combined with results on the CHSPE taken after January 2004. If, in the future, the CHSPE series changes, it is possible that results on the current CHSPE will not be combinable with results on the new test series.

Registering for the CHSPE

To take the CHSPE, you must register by completing a Registration Form and submitting it, with proper payment and proof of eligibility, to the CHSPE Office at the Sacramento County Office of Education. No walk-ins will be allowed. You may complete your Registration Form online or you may download the complete Information Bulletin which contains a Registration Form. Refer to the schedule above for test dates and their associated registration deadlines and fees. Instructions for completing the Registration Form are provided on Directions for Completing the Registration Form (PDF).

Incomplete Registration Forms and forms without proper payment, proof of eligibility, or signature will be returned unprocessed. The CHSPE Office will not be responsible for late, slow, or undelivered mail. All Registration Forms receieved after the emergency registration deadline, regardless of postmark, will be returned unprocessed.

Testing Locations

Bakersfield - Child Development and Family Services, Kern County
2000 24th Street
Bakersfield, CA 93301

Test Fees

Regular Registration: $110
Late Registration: $135

For further information visit the following web page:

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