Grade School

CST Exams

The California Standards Test (CST) is given to public school children beginning now in second grade. CSTs are a component of the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR). These tests are developed by educators, specifically for California, in order to measure whether or not a student has achieved the state academic standards. Students from second grade through eleventh grade take multiple-choice tests in various subjects. Students in fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh grade also complete a writing assessment.

Many parents find themselves unhappy with their child’s results on these tests. I have noticed that most kids who know the layout and directions of the test perform higher than those who go into the test with no experience. Certain schools offer parents the chance to order test-prep books for the CST. These books say “Practice and Mastery” on the front cover; I agree that practice does lead to mastery. Tests from prior years are also available online. This is a great resource because parents can download full practice tests in PDF form, in English-language arts, mathematics, science, and history/social science. At the end of the practice tests are the answers so that parents can easily correct the exams. Make sure to go over all the answers with your child, both the correct ones and incorrect ones in case he or she guessed! To get free copies of the CST tests, click on the following link:

One might say that practicing before these tests defeats the purpose of seeing exactly what a child knows. However, my experience with tutoring children tells me otherwise. I find that when, for instance, kids learn division, they tend to forget addition and subtraction; they might even forget multiplication with double digits. Doing just a couple of sample problems serves as a reminder of concepts they studied earlier in the year. Having the test booklets or sample tests printed during spring break is an excellent time to review. The kids have time off of school and are not stressed. Reviewing concepts helps them to review the information before returning back to school and taking the real exams. Schools with standard start times will administer the CST typically May 9th through May 27th.
I want to advise students from both public and private schools to take these CST practice tests because I believe that they give parents important information regarding their kids’ mastery of grade-level skills as well as reveal what topics still need to be reviewed.