CA State & Local Challenge Exam

CA State & Local Challenge Exam


Spring 2023 Test Date

(Last updated: 25 JANUARY 2023)

Test Date: Saturday, MAY 13th
Test Time: 10:00-11:30am
Test Location: The Exam is held online via the Vendor Information below. 

Last Day to REGISTER for EXAM WITH THE VENDOR: NOON 12 April 2023

Registered Students: See Testing Instructions below.

Drop-in Students: ANY student can "drop-in" and sign-up to take the Exam, but you will need to email POLS Chair David McCuan (link sends e-mail), via email NO LATER than WEDNESDAY, April 12th, 12:00pm to register with the Vendor. 

NOTE: We won't be able to add drop-in students to take the Exam after that time.  There are NO exceptions to this policy. 

Online Testing Instructions for REGISTERED AND DROP-IN STUDENTS: All students intending to take the POLS 151 Exam will contact the Administrator of the course, POLS Chair David McCuan (link sends e-mail), via email in order to get a UNIQUE COURSE SECTION NUMBER to register for the test via Globalyceum


Students will then navigate to Globalyceum and will register there for access to materials to prep for the Exam and also pay $5.00 to take the Challenge Exam on Saturday, May 13th, 2023.

Grading of the Exam will take place after the Exam ends at 11:30am. The PASSAGE RATE IS 75% or better.

Prep materials can be accessed between 13 April and BEFORE 10 am on 13 May 2023. The POLS 151 Challenge Exam will use a digital product based on materials from both SSU and Globalyceum to conduct the Exam.  The SSU POLS Department has negotiated a special rate of $5.00 for the Spring 2023 administration of the Exam via any remote, online connection.

*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 graduation requirement. Please note that passing this Exam will not satisfy the 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. NOTE: 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). 

The examination includes multiple-choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank questions.  Two brief descriptive essays may also be included.  To pass the Exam, a student must receive a score of 75% or better overall.  If enrolled in POLS 151, the score will be posted on the grades page in MySSU. 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 offered ONCE per semester on the Saturday just after classes end and prior to the start of Finals Week

*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 GE AI 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 also 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 the Chair of the POLS 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: