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Students » California High School Exit Exam

California High School Exit Exam

What is the CAHSEE?

State law, enacted in 1999, authorized the development of the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE), which students in California public schools would have to pass to earn a high school diploma. Beginning with the 2005-06 school year, all California public school students are required to pass the CAHSEE and meet all other state and local requirements to earn a high school diploma.

The purpose of the CAHSEE is to improve student achievement in high school and to help ensure that students who graduate from high school can demonstrate grade level competency in reading, writing, and mathematics.

What subjects does the CAHSEE cover?

The CAHSEE is divided into two parts: English-language arts and mathematics. Test questions address California content standards that a High School Exit Examination Standards Panel, appointed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, determined students should master to graduate from high school.

English-language Arts: One part of the CAHSEE addresses state English-language arts content standards through grade ten. This part of the exam, which consists of multiple-choice questions and a writing task, has a reading and decoding section and a writing section. The reading and decoding section covers vocabulary, informational reading, and literary reading. This section includes 50 percent literary texts and 50 percent informational texts. The writing section covers writing strategies, applications, and conventions. In addition to the multiple-choice questions, students are asked to complete one writing task on a specific topic or in response to a literary or informational passage.

Mathematics: The other part of the CAHSEE addresses state mathematics content standards. It includes statistics, data analysis and probability, number sense, measurement and geometry, algebra and functions, mathematical reasoning, and Algebra I. Students must demonstrate computational skills and a foundation in arithmetic, including working with decimals, fractions, and percentages. The math part of the exam is composed entirely of multiple-choice questions.

For more information on the content of the CAHSEE, please see