Help new CSET biology? Need advice

Discussion in 'Single Subject Tests' started by elinmrk, Aug 26, 2017.

  1. elinmrk

    elinmrk Rookie

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    Aug 26, 2017

    Hi everyone: So I am trying to start my second career as a high school biology teacher in California. The hoops I have to go through are incredible. Anways, I am really stuck regarding the CSET biology test. I am ashamed to admit that I have taken the CSET biology test 4 times. I have come close to passing it a couple of times but just can't seem to do it. I have an undergrad degree in biology but that was decades ago. I have spent about a year studying and retaking this test over and over. Now they have done away with the old version and have a new version which I have scheduled to take in a few weeks. I have downloaded the guides, questions, gone through endless textbooks and AP studyguides.

    Has anyone taken the new version of the CSET biology (life sciences test?) I have already passed the other two about 6 months ago.
    Any suggestions on better textbooks that now align to the NGSS standards?

    Thanks!!!
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 26, 2017

    Welcome to A to Z, elinmrk. What are you seeing by way of plus marks and alphabet soup on page 2 of your score reports? Is it the same each time?

    My sense is that the science has been updated somewhat; there's more explicit emphasis on the role of climate change and other environmental considerations (be aware of water's role in California); and - the single biggest thing - much more attention to subject-matter literacy, which includes vocabulary, academic language, and how to read and produce the text structures that are specific to science (for instance, the organization of lab reports, or the use of passive voice in science). Let me recommend the NGSS-oriented science framework, which supports California's content standards in science, which you can consult for free at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/sc/cf/scifwprepubversion.asp.
     
  4. elinmrk

    elinmrk Rookie

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    Thank you for your reply. I've been so frustrated by this test. The first time I took it I missed passing it by 1 point. The subsequent times by 12 points. I am getting 3 pluses on the ecology and cell stuff but I fall short and get one or two pluses on the genetics and evolution stuff. It goes back and forth. The short answers are usually "k"

    They have certainly made a lot of money off of me. Someone can make a lot of money by putting together a class on this stuff. I know that I need to beef up my Evolution and genetic stuff. And I feel like I'm the only one who is retaking this test over and over again. I appreciate you responding and giving me some tips. I have ordered a college-level biology textbook to help me get a little more clarification on some of the nuances of these topics. I have downloaded the ngss standards but it's hard to see how they relate exactly to the information that cset people are putting out. I'm beyond frustrated at this point. As it stands I'm going to miss the deadline for my demonstration teaching in will have to wait a full year before I can try to do that. In the meantime I'm going to have to try and pass this darn test.
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 27, 2017

    Hugs, elinmrk. You're very close to passing.

    Are you also seeing k's on your extended response, or what?

    As you write your constructed responses, who do you have in mind as a reader?

    For Pearson, k is for knowledge: the response that gets a k just doesn't come across to the scorers as being knowledgeable about science. It's a combination of appropriate science vocabulary and academic language. As you work on refreshing the vocabulary you used to know, work on using those terms to describe things in the world around you as you'd describe them, quickly, to a veteran fellow science teacher whom you want to impress: use the technical terms as the insider's shorthand that they are.

    Let me add that the bullet-list format is fine, especially for the shorter answers. CSET responses aren't expected to be wonderful writing: they're expected to convey content.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Let me add a trick for finding specific content in the Framework: take advantage of the fact that it's downloadable as a .doc document and use your word-processing app's search functions to ferret out specific search terms.
     
  7. elinmrk

    elinmrk Rookie

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    Aug 27, 2017

    My constructed response questions all have "k" so clearly I am missing some of the knowledge and key stuff they are looking for. The last two times I took the CSET, the short answers were the same questions as was most of the questions. If only I had studied those. However, with the new test, it is likely they will have all new questions both for the short answer and multiple choice. I have downloaded highschool part of the science document on the website you suggested and will start matching my reading to correspond to those ngss conditions. I don't have a lot of time before the next test however, I won't get the results back until the earliest mid-November. They haven't even determined what the passing score is yet.

    I did ok on the practice questions they suggested and my weak spots are the genetics/heredity and evolution.

    I really wish I could talk to someone who has taken the new version.

    Everything I have is on hold until I pass this darn thing.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 28, 2017

    You could be missing the knowledge, yes - but it could be that you're not showcasing the knowledge you've got. That's why I suggest making a point of USING the terminology that comes up as you study.

    I agree that you're likely to see different questions on your next encounter with this subtest - but it's not impossible that you'll see some duplications, and it's certainly the case that you'll see the same concepts covered in different ways. One trick to dealing with an unfamiliar-looking question is to interrogate it for ways in which it does relate to things you know. Always look for the connections; the more you look for them, the more you'll see them, and exploiting connections is a classic way to BS a plausible answer that you don't know cold.

    For genetics and evolution, try searching the web for YouTube videos that cover the content. You might also find Khan Academy helpful, especially if you find that you can't see those textbooks sitting on your desk without thinking of the dog that needs walking or the sink that needs scrubbing out (again).
     
  9. Bpositive

    Bpositive Rookie

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    Aug 29, 2017

    I watched a lot of crash course videos and Bozeman Science videos. UCI also has a website for help with CSET math and science. I am registered to take the new Life Science II exam in October. I passed 118 and 119 under the old CSET. I have looked at the preparation questions for the old standards and the new NGSS, there are quite a few that are the same. So even though UCI was designed using the old standards I believe the information will still be helpful to use as another studying tool.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
  10. elinmrk

    elinmrk Rookie

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    Aug 30, 2017

    Thanks. I will look into it. I have the test in about 10 days. I too passed 118 and 119 so at least I don't have to worry about those, but the 120 (now 217, I think) has been a thorn in my side. I also have already passed the Praxis, but in CA, they don't accept that which is very annoying.
     
  11. BrilliantBubba

    BrilliantBubba Rookie

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    Oct 2, 2017

    Any updates, elinmrk?
    Just curious, since I will be taking the 217 next week.
    Taking the 217, because I didn't pass the 120 one (and I took that one one one of the last admin test dates). I know what you mean about this being a thorn on the side, though. Can't wait until I do pass this test (hopefully soon!).
     
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  12. elinmrk

    elinmrk Rookie

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    Oct 2, 2017

    Hi: Here is my feedback on this test. This is the 5th time I've taken it. 4 times was the old version and then the new version in September. As you know the CSET powers that be are not meeting until the end of October to determine the passing grades for the Biology tests and even if they decide, it won't be until mid-November until the grades come out.

    The test: So just like before 50 multiple choice with 4 answers per question and 3 multiple choice questions. I would say that abot 80% of the questions I had seen on previous tests before and one of the short answer questions I had seen on a previous test. Lots of questions on hereditary and genetics. About 1/4 on cell biology and physiology, maybe one or two questions on immunity, nothing on experimental design. I don't know why they said they were aligning the questions to be with the ngss standards as I don't see any difference. One of the short answer questions was on the cell wall.

    I hope that helps. Let me know if you want more info.
     
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  13. Bpositive

    Bpositive Rookie

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    Oct 2, 2017

    Elinmrk, thank you for the update! I am scheduled to take it on Oct. 21, like you I only need this one. I took the old 120 and did not do well on cell biology. I hope you hear good news soon!
    ;)
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I'll point out that test versions inevitably vary from one to another; it's not uncommon for emphases within a domain to differ from test version to test version. The chances are good that experimental design was tested in one or more questions that were more obviously addressing other content.

    From what I've seen, the biggest differences between California's prior standards and NGSS - aside from updating the science and more emphasis on human impacts on the environment, including climate change - have to do with scientific literacy: being able to interpret graphs, understanding which kind of scientific document conveys what kind of content, grasping the vocabulary and the academic language of science, maintaining laboratory logs according to the standards of the field, and so on. As with experimental design, these points are likely to have been addressed in a question that appeared to be focusing on, say, genetics or growth.
     
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  15. BrilliantBubba

    BrilliantBubba Rookie

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    Nov 11, 2017

    Hey Bpositive and elinmrk, have you seen?? Just checked the nesinc website to see if there were any exact dates updates re: score release and there has been an update! November 17, guys! Good luck to us all! I reeeeally hope I passed it!
     
  16. elinmrk

    elinmrk Rookie

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    Nov 12, 2017

    Thanks BrilliantBubba. The dreaded day is coming. I've sort of enjoyed living in ignorant bliss. Oh well. I am not holding my breath considering I have taken this test 5 times. I'm reconsidering whether to teach high school and maybe just do middle school. Then I would only have to take the Praxis. sigh.....I wish you lots of luck!!!!
     
  17. Bpositive

    Bpositive Rookie

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    Good luck to both of you! I was sick and had to reschedule. The next Saturday available is not until December where I live. Oy!
     
  18. elinmrk

    elinmrk Rookie

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    Nov 17, 2017 at 7:32 PM

    Well, I didn't pass again. Got threes on everything except the Evolution in which I only got a 2. This was the 5th time I took it. I think maybe I should just give up. It is clear that California is only interested in taking my money for testing and not looking for good teachers. One test does not make a good teacher, but clearly others think differently. I've wasted over $1000 in tests and $3000 in school all to no avail. I am discouraged immensely. I hope others will do better.
     
  19. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Comrade

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    Nov 18, 2017 at 3:10 AM

    You are correct that the test does not determine if you will be a good teacher or not. Pedagogy, whether students show positive growth, standardized test scores, and classroom management are better indicators of your success in the classroom. CSET tests do, on the other hand, determine the subject matter competency of aspiring teachers. This is because you have to demonstrate that you are knowledgeable of the subject matter. You cannot just be taken at your word.

    How are you studying? If I were you I would write down every question that I could remember and study those concepts. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I’ve heard from other posters in these forums that some questions are repeated verbatim on the same exams. After 5 attempts, you should be able to recall what you saw.
     
  20. Bpositive

    Bpositive Rookie

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    Nov 18, 2017 at 9:14 AM

    Elinmrk - I am sorry about your results. Futuremathsprof has good advice, try and write down what you remember to help your studying. In the meantime, going the middle school science route doesn't have to be your permanent teaching area. If you did that, at least your career is not on hold, and teaching middle school science will help cement that science terminology and the concepts. This will no doubt be helpful for when you do take the CSET 120 later on.
     
  21. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Nov 18, 2017 at 1:23 PM

    Hugs, elinmrk. Tell me about your constructed response diagnostics, please: plus marks overall, check marks, p, t, k, s, d.

    A good use for the remembered test question is to answer it and then ask someone who's skilled in the content and in test taking to tell you where you went wrong - AND where you went right.
     
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