California State and Local Government Challenge Exam

Fall 2017 Test Date

Test Date: Saturday, December 9th, 10am (You must arrive no later than 9:30am to sign in and show your ID)
Stevenson 2006
Scantron sheet, blue book, photo ID, pencil and pen

*Students may only attempt the test twice

The Political Science Department offers students the option of Credit by Examination to fulfill the California State and Local portion of the CSU U.S. Constitution/General Education Area D4 graduation requirement. Please note that passing this exam will not satisfy the D4 GE requirement unless you have satisfied the U.S. Constitution requirement elsewhere. A student can obtain information on challenging the U.S. Constitution General Education requirement by calling the SSU Testing services at (707) 664-2947. You may also consult the SSU catalog or the department for further information.

The two most common reasons why students opt to take this exam are: (1) A student has successfully passed the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in American government in high school and they have been given college level course credit that is generally the equivalent of our Pols 200, except that they still need to show appropriate levels of knowledge of California government (as GE D4 mandates) which the AP course and AP exam in high school do not cover; or (2) A student successfully passed an introduction to American government class in another state where there was no coverage of California government in the class.

You must be a currently enrolled student at SSU to take the exam. Students may register for POLS 151 to receive one unit for successfully completing the exam. To earn the unit of credit, you must enroll in POLS 151 by census date and pass the exam. You may not use this exam to obtain a unit of credit if you have already fulfilled the CSU requirement. It is not necessary to enroll in POLS 151 to take the examination merely to fulfill the statutory requirement (with no unit credit). If you are not enrolled in Pols 151, you must sign up to take the exam no later than the Monday prior to the exam. Sign up for the exam in the Political Science Department. The examination is in two parts, one with multiple-choice questions and one with two brief descriptive and explanatory essays. To pass the exam you need to receive a grade of 70%.  If you are enrolled in Pols 151, your score will be posted on Moodle.  If you are not enrolled in Pols 151, you will be notified of your score by letter.  The exam is usually offered on a Saturday toward the end of the semester.  The exact day, time and location are posted in the Political Science Department when they are confirmed.

Listed below are a number of texts and articles on California government and politics. Reading a number of these should provide the kind of information and knowledge you will need to take this examination. This list is not comprehensive, nor do you have to read everything on it to be prepared. You may prepare by reading other sources as well. The department recommends that you start with the latest edition of Larry Gerston's book (highlighted in bold), and then read at least a few of the other books on the list. The list is also available on the department website at Check the library or online for copies of the books. The Department does not provide any additional instruction or support for the exam.

If you have questions about the content or the structure of the examination please contact a faculty member in the department.

Reading List:

  • Anagnoson, J. Theodore, et al., Governing California
  • Brewster, Lawrence and Leonard Kooperman. A Primer of California Politics.
  • DeBow, Ken and John C. Syer. Power and Politics in California.
  • Field, Mona and Charles Sohner. California Politics and Government Today.
  • Gerston, Larry N. and Terry Christensen. California Politics and Government: A Practical Approach.
  • Janiske, Brian and Ken Masugi, Democracy in California
  • Korey, John L. California Government.
  • Lawrence, David. G. California: The Politics of Diversity.
  • Mathews, Joe and Mark Paul. California Crackup.
  • Price, Charles and Charles Bell. California Government Today.
  • Van Vechten, Renee B., California Politics:  A Primer

In addition to these books on California you might also read:

  • The California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • The Constitution of the State of California

Websites for additional information, news, analysis and policy information: