California State and Local Government Challenge Exam

Spring 2019 Test Date

Test Date: Saturday, May 11th, 10am (You must arrive no later than 9:30am to sign in and show your ID)
Stevenson 2006, 2nd floor
Required: 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.  Please 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 were 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.

Current enrolled SSU students are only permitted 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, students must be registered in POLS 151 by census date and pass the exam. If a student has already fulfilled the CSU requirement, this exam may not be used to obtain a unit of credit. It is not necessary to enroll in POLS 151 to take the examination merely to fulfill the statutory requirement (with no unit credit). If not enrolled in Pols 151, a student 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 a student must receive a grade of 70% or score 53/75 points or better.  If enrolled in POLS 151, the score will be posted on the grades page in My SSU. If students are not enrolled in POLS 151 and choose to drop-in, a letter will be sent out to notify both the student and Admissions & Records of the score.  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 as well as the top of this page.

*Department policy states that a student may only attempt the POLS 151 Challenge Exam twice.  After two failed attempts, a student will not be permitted to re-take the test and must enroll in a course that will meet the requirement in the Area D4 category.  If a student does not attend the examination on the stated date above and is registered for POLS 151, a “No Credit” will be given which will be counted as an attempt.  If a student does not plan to attend the exam after registering, it is the student’s responsibility to drop the course following standard University guidelines.

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, or expected to have read everything on it to be prepared. Students may prepare by reading other sources as well. The Department recommends starting with the latest edition of Gerston’s book, and then reading at least a few of the other books on the list. Check the library or online for copies of the books.The Department does not provide any additional instruction or support for the exam.

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: