Frequently Asked Questions

What is the CHSPE?

The California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE) is a voluntary test that assesses proficiency in basic reading, writing, and mathematics skills taught in public schools. Eligible persons who pass the CHSPE are awarded a Certificate of Proficiency by the California State Board of Education. The test is given in English only.

How can the Certificate of Proficiency be used?

In California, the Certificate of Proficiency is the legal equivalent of a high school diploma. A student who receives a Certificate of Proficiency may leave high school early with parental approval. The Certificate of Proficiency, however, is not equivalent to completing all course work required for regular graduation from high school. If a student plans to attend college, the student should contact the admissions office of the institution they plan to attend. This is so that the student understands that institutions admission requirements including whether or not the certificate of proficiency will be sufficient for admission.

When can someone take the CHSPE?

The CHSPE is usually offered three times a year. There is an administration once in each semester and an administration may be offered once in the summer.

Where can someone take the CHSPE?

The CHSPE is offered at select regional test centers in California. A list of locations may be found on the locations page once registration opens.

Who may take the CHSPE?

California residents may take the CHSPE only if they meet one of the following requirements on the test date:

--At least sixteen years old or older, or

--Has been enrolled in grade 10 for one academic year or longer, or

--Will complete one academic year of enrollment in grade 10 at the end of the semester during which the CHSPE will be conducted.

Test takers enrolled in school outside of California must be 16 years or older on the test date to register.

How does someone register for the CHSPE?

Individuals may register for the CHSPE electronically or by mail. They must complete and print the registration form or electronically submit a CHSPE Registration Form with proof of eligibility. Electronic registrants may pay by credit or debit card. A cashier’s check or money order for proper payment or a homeless youth or foster youth fee waiver request must accompany all mailed registration forms.

How do students find out about the CHSPE?

California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 11523, requires the principal of each school maintaining grades 11 and 12 to distribute to each student in those grades an announcement explaining the CHSPE. Distribution shall be made in sufficient time to enable interested students to meet all examination registration requirements for the fall test of that year.

How do students who receive a Certificate of Proficiency affect the dropout rate?

Students who receive a Certificate of Proficiency are not recorded as dropouts on the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) reports. Students earning a Certificate of Proficiency who sign out of high school are not coded as "graduates," but are coded as "completers" with school completion status "330 – Passed CHSPE." The CHSPE may serve as an alternative to dropping out of school for students who intend to leave school prior to graduation or for students who have insufficient credits to graduate.

How can a district access CHSPE results?

Contact the CHSPE office at the Sacramento County Office of Education at 866-342-4773 or chspe@scoe.net for information about obtaining school district results.

How are the High School Equivalency (HSE) tests different from the CHSPE?

California has approved the use of two high school equivalency tests that individuals may take to earn a California High School Equivalency (HSE) Certificate. To take a HSE test a person must be eighteen years old or, under certain circumstances, a seventeen-year-old may qualify. The HSE tests measure a student’s knowledge in content areas including: English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. The tests are given in English and Spanish in various locations throughout the United States and in Canada. For more information on the HSE tests, contact your local adult school, community college, or visit the CDE website (https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/gd/).

What are my options if I do not pass the CHSPE?

You may continue to retake the CHSPE until you pass both sections of the examination.

Do I need to retake the whole examination if I have passed a section or subtest?

No. You do not have to retake a section or subtest that you have passed. You may retake any part of the test you have not passed; that includes the Mathematics section, the Reading subtest, and/or the Language subtest (on the Language subtest, both the writing task and the language multiple-choice questions must be completed at the same administration.)

Is there a limit to the number of times I can retest?

No. 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.

How much does it cost to reregister?

You must complete a Registration Form and pay the total test fee each time you take any section or subtest. The cost to register is dependent upon when your completed registration materials are received by the CHSPE Office.

If I retest, what will be on my score report?

If you retest, your score report will show your most recent performance on the section(s) or subtest(s) you have taken.

Will passing the CHSPE qualify me for college admissions?

CHSPE meets the requirement of California state universities that an applicant have a high school diploma or equivalent. California state universities also require, however, that applicants have a certain number of units in several courses of study including social science, English, mathematics, laboratory science, and others. Applicants who have not yet completed the requisite units may complete their units at a community college. Units completed at a community college add up more quickly than high school units. One semester of community college is equal to one full year of study in high school.

On the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), question #26 asks, "When you begin college in the upcoming school year, what will be your high school completion status?"

In California, your Certificate of Proficiency is the legal equivalent of a high school diploma. Confirmation of high school completion is often required as part of the admissions and enrollment process. Make sure you keep a copy of your Certificate of Proficiency available in case your college or university requests it.

Can students who earn a CHSPE Certificate of Proficiency qualify for federal financial aid under the new "Ability-to-Benefit" rules that took effect July 1, 2012?

Yes. According to the U.S. Department of Education and Federal Student Aid publication, the 2012–13 Federal Student Aid Handbook; Volume 1 – Student Eligibility; page 7:

"The Department (U.S. Department of Education and Federal Student Aid) recognizes several equivalents to a high school diploma:


A certificate demonstrating that the student has passed a state-authorized examination (for example, the California High School Proficiency Exam) that the state recognizes as the equivalent of a high school diploma;..."(1)

1)U.S. Department of Education and Federal Student Aid. 2012. 2012–13 Federal Student Aid Handbook; Volume 1 – Student Eligibility. https://www.ifap.ed.gov/fsahandbook/attachments/1213FSAHbkVol1.pdf (accessed May 18, 2012). Parenthesis added for clarity.

I currently do not have a photo identification. How can I acquire acceptable photographic identification for the upcoming test administration?

Test takers must have a photo identification to register for the CHSPE. Information about obtaining a California Identification Card or Driver License can be found at https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/driver-licenses-identification-cards/identification-id-cards/. Information about obtaining an United States Passport or Passport Card can be found at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply.html.