CSET Physics: most effective way to study?

Discussion in 'Single Subject Tests' started by Nemo, Aug 31, 2008.

  1. Nemo

    Nemo New Member

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    I am looking for advice on the most effective way to pass the Physics CSET in March 2009. Its been over 10 years since I was in school and I need to relearn a science. Currently, I hold a MS degree in Oceanography, so I am hoping the time frame is doable. I figured physics would be a good subject to pursue, regarding job availability in High Schools.

    My old college textbook is calculus based physics and contains over 40+ chapters. If taking the test in March, I wouldn't have time to go through each chapter. Besides, I think for High School Physics, my old college Physics textbook content would be overkill.

    Can you recommend a guide or some strategies that would help me pass the CSET exams? Also, do I have to take Physics subtest 3 and 4?

    Currently, I teach a variety of Marine Science courses at a community college overseas. Due to a family emergency, I will be reconnecting with my husband in San Diego this January. My next question is advice on which credentialing program is the shortest?

    Thanks for your help!
     
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  3. Electron

    Electron Rookie

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    Don't bet on it. One of the things about HS physics is this: the kids who take it tend to be bright. Dare I say it: if you have an attitude to physics this laissez-faire, you probably won't make a very good physics teacher. It's not the easiest of subjects to teach! I'm not saying you have to be a physics major to teach high schol physics -- but what you do absolutely have to have is a love for the subject, enough that studying via your old college textbook wouldn't be seen as such a chore.
     
  4. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    IMHO the most effective way to prepare for CSET Physics is to start with the Subject Matter Requirements or Subtest Descriptions from the CSET web site. I imported them into a Word document, formatted it as an outline, expanded the outline with the referenced California Content Standards for Science, then expanded it again with sufficient detail to produce my own study guide. If it is not in the Subject Matter Requirement or the California Content Standards, it won't be on the test. The main print resources I used were Schaum's Outline of Physics and Usbornes Dictionary of Physics (available in the children's section of your local book store). I also used select internet resources. If I were to do it again, I would also get the prep materials from the Orange County Department of Education.

    There is little beyond high school AP Physics on the test. A calculus based physics book is indeed overkill. Calculus is only mentioned as a possibility in one domain. But your book should do fine for the concepts if you want to use it.

    If you only want to be able to teach high school physics, you take subtests 3 and 4 and wind up with a Physics (Specialized) authorization on your credential. If you want to be able to teach introductory and general science courses as well, you take subtests 1, 2, and 3 and wind up with a Science: Physics authorization. The latter will broaden your opportunities at the high school level, and open the door to middle school science as well. The downside is that you have to prepare for six other sciences, albeit at a very shallow level.

    I was not a science major and was out of school a lot longer than you. I spent a few hours a day over two months preparing for CSET Physics. The meat of the test is in subtest 3. Subtest 4 is simply questions culled from the general science subtests 1 and 2. You should be able to do them both in one 5 hour sitting.

    Credential programs at traditional universities typically range from a year to a year and a half full time. I did it in 11 months. Just about every one in my cohort put in 14 hours days, seven days a week for most of that time, but many programs will require less commitment. It is possible to get a university internship and start working full time after a few courses in the summer. I don't recommend this unless you have a very supportive home environment and no responsibilities. Best bang for the buck is CSU.

    Nontraditional universities like National and Phoenix offer advantages for folks who have to work while going to school.

    The other alternative is a district internship. You apply to an internship program, find yourself a job, take a few courses during the summer, starting teaching full time as teacher of record and finish your course work over two years.

    Be aware that the San Diego Unified School District has recently had layoffs because of declining enrollment. I don't know how surrounding districts are fairing. Still, IMHO, physics would be a good choice. Biology or earth science might be a better one because there are more of these classes taught than physics. OTOH my guess is that physics teachers are harder to find when there is an opening.
     
  5. Electron

    Electron Rookie

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    My previous comments aside, biology is indeed a good choice. There are more bio teachers, sure, but there are a LOT of kids that want to take bio. Much as I hate to admit it ;) , I think bio offers the best 'bang for the buck' of the three natural sciences for a non-specialist getting into the natural sciences as a teacher.
     
  6. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    Around here, all the kids have to take a physical science and a life science to graduate, whether or not they are college bound. Most take earth science and biology. Relatively few take take physics or chemistry.
     
  7. Nemo

    Nemo New Member

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    Thank you for the insight. Since I have a MS degree in Oceanography, I have been told that qualifies me to teach Earth Science without having to take the CSET exams. Do you know if that is true?

    I greatly appreciate you sharing your experience. I am older too and I am not looking forward to investing a large amount of time and money into a earning a teaching credential. I still have a long ways to go to pay off my student loans! I will look into the options you have mentioned. Thanks again!
     
  8. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    If you only want a geosciences (specialized) authorization, your MS in Oceanography is sufficient. If you want the science (geosciences) authorization so you can teach introductory and general science courses as well, you may have more to do, either complete a CTC approved subject matter program or pass the appropriate CSET. If your transcripts reflect coursework equivalent to that of a CTC approved subject matter program, you can be given a waiver. To do this, you have to submit your transcripts for evaluation to the appropriate person at a university that has the subject matter program. There is a nominal fee for the service. I think it will have to be a CSU because I don't think the UC gives waivers any longer. Don't know if you can get a waiver from a private university.
     
  9. sahsjing

    sahsjing Rookie

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    "Also, do I have to take Physics subtest 3 and 4?"
    You only need to take these two subtests to get a credential in Physics (specialized).
    Don't be scared by CSET Physics. It is not nearly as hard as AP Physics.
     
  10. Electron

    Electron Rookie

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    But shouldn't it be, though? Shouldn't it be a bit harder than AP Physics, so as to prevent people who haven't got the required subject knowledge from getting hired? I'm not saying non-majors shouldn't be allowed to teach it, but I think it's pretty poor that the subject test doesn't at least go up to the AP level.
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    The explicit idea behind CSET exams isn't to exclude anyone: it's to suggest to credential candidates that they need to shore up their knowledge. That's why CSETs can be taken as many times as one wishes. As to whether that's the right approach, or whether indeed the CSET exams should be more rigorous, you can probably get into a nice shouting match.
     
  12. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    The purpose of CSET is to make sure the candidate has sufficient knowledge to be successful as a first year teacher of the subject. NES developed the test based on state requirements. The passing raw score was decided based on the input of a panel of experts in teaching the content. Your opinion may not necessarily match the opinions of the developers or the panel.

    FWIW if you make CSET too hard there will be an even bigger shortage of science and math teachers than there is now. The big benefit of CSET is that it allows folks that would not otherwise consider teaching the subject because of the investment in time and money to go the coursework route to become teachers. In my experience, most of the folks that go the CSET route in science have some other relevant life experience related to science and can easily come up to speed on it as necessary in the classroom.
     

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