CBEST Practice Test exam Scores Study Guide

What is the CBEST?

The CBEST or the California Basic Educational Skills Test fundamentally measures proficiencies in three general areas: 1.) Mathematics, 2.) Reading, and 3.) Writing. The test was developed and produced in order to meet the requirements related to the competency, credentialing and employment of prospective California teachers. The exam is based on the proposition that educators should be able to apply the same skills taught to students — both in the classroom and outside.

The CBEST is administered by the National Evaluations Systems with guidelines from the California Superintendent of Public Instruction. The test is also supported by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and an advisory board. The CBEST is conducted statewide 6 times each year. You can check the dates and the test locations by contacting CBEST Program, National Evaluation Systems, Inc.

CBEST Structure and Format

Please refer to the table below for the CBEST structure and format:

CBEST Format
Test Section Number of Questions Time Allotment
Reading 50 Questions in Multiple-choice 75 minutes
Mathematics 50 Questions in Multiple-choice 75 minutes
Writing 2 Topics 60 minutes
Review 30 minutes
Total Testing Time 4 hours

Note: The exam format is subject to change.

CBEST Scoring System

All questions are multiple-choice with five answer options for each question. Each of the three sections holds a score extending from 20 to 80. The passing score for each section is 41; the passing CBEST score is 123. If you get a score below the passing range on one section or more, but you managed to get a total score of 123 or above, you will still pass the test but ONLY if your score in each section is 37 or higher.

Please refer to the  score range table below for additional information:

CBEST Score Board
Percentage (%) Score Level
90-100 Superior
80-90 Above Average
70-80 Average
60-70 Marginal
Below 60 Needs Improvement

CBEST Registration and Cost

If you’re planning to take the CBEST, there are two options that you can choose — Paper-Based and Computer-Based. Below are the details for each registration procedure:

Paper-Based Registration

For the paper-based registration, please follow these steps:

Step 1: Log into your California Commission on Teacher Credentialing account. If it’s your first time taking the exam, you need to create an account.

Step 2: Once you have successfully logged in, go to the “My Account” homepage. Click on the “Register to Test” option.

Step 3: Review your personal information and make sure that every detail is accurate.

Step 4: Review and agree to follow all the testing procedures and policies. If you have any special requests due to a disability, this is the best time to ask for it.

Step 5: Select your testing date and the testing center where you want to take the exam. CBEST’s paper-based version is usually offered 5 times a year. After you have selected a test date, proceed to choose the tests or subtests that you want to take.

Step 6: Specify which institutions you would like to receive your scores or whether you would like to have your scores delivered in your email.

Step 7: Once all the test information has been provided, you need to pay the testing registration fee of $41. The fee is payable through a credit card, debit card, or a check card.

Computer-Based Registration

The steps for the computer-based registration are pretty much the same as the paper-based except for the test fee. 

Step 1: Log into your California Commission on Teacher Credentialing account. If it’s your first time taking the exam, you need to create an account.

Step 2: Once you have successfully logged in, go to the “My Account” homepage. Click on the “Register to Test” option.

Step 3: Review your personal information and make sure that every detail is accurate.

Step 4: Review and agree to follow all the testing procedures and policies. If you have any special requests due to a disability, this is the best time to ask for it.

Step 5: Select your testing date and the testing center where you want to take the exam. After you have selected a test date, proceed to choose the tests or subtests that you want to take.

Step 6: Specify which institutions you would like to receive your scores or whether you would like to have your scores delivered in your email.

Step 7: Once all the test information has been provided, you need to pay the test registration fee of $41 and the computer-based testing service fee worth $61. The fee is payable through a credit card, debit card, or a check card.

Registration Reminders

  • Once you have successfully registered for the CBEST, you will then receive a series of email notifications regarding your registration status.
  • The CBEST registration usually closes about 4 to 5 weeks before the administration of the exam.
  • Computer-based testing is typically done by appointment and follows a first-come, first-serve ruling.
  • CBEST slots tend to fill up quickly, thus you need to be updated with the registration dates.
  • Late fees apply on the paper-based test. The CTC charges $18 on top of the original fee to test-takers who registered late. On the other hand, for test-takers who signed up for the test in an extremely late timetable, an emergency fee of $35 will apply in addition to the original testing registration fee.

CBEST Test Dates 2019-2020

To help you become aware of the test dates, we’ve outlined the CBEST test schedules below together with their corresponding deadlines and test results release dates:

Paper-Based Testing

CBEST Test Date 2019-2020 Regular Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline Emergency  Registration Deadline Test Results Release Date
Sept. 21, 2019 August 16, 2019 Sept. 6, 2019 Sept. 13, 2019 Oct. 7, 2019
Dec. 7, 2019 Nov. 1, 2019 Nov. 22, 2019 Nov. 29, 2019 Dec. 23, 2019
Feb. 8, 2019 Jan. 3, 2020 Jan. 24, 2020 Jan. 31, 2020 Feb. 24, 2020
April 18, 2019 March 13, 2020 April 3, 2020 April 10, 2020 May 4, 2020
July 11, 2020 June 5, 2020 June 26, 2020 July 3, 2020 July 27, 2019

For the complete CBEST test dates and test results for 2019-2020, please refer to the table below for your reference:

CBEST Test Dates Test Results Release Date
Sept. 9, 2019 – Sept. 15, 19 Sept. 20, 2019
Sept. 16, 2019 – Sept. 22, 2019 Sept. 27, 2019
Sept. 23, 2019 – Sept. 29, 2019 Oct. 4, 2019
Sept. 30, 2019 – Oct. 6, 2019 Oct. 11, 2019
Oct. 7, 2019 – Oct. 13, 2019 Oct. 18, 2019
Oct. 14, 2019 – Oct. 20, 2019 Oct. 25, 2019
Oct. 21, 2019 – Oct. 27, 2019 Nov. 1, 2019
Oct. 28, 19 – Nov. 3, 2019 Nov. 8, 2019
Nov. 4, 2019 – Nov. 10, 2019 Nov. 15, 2019
Nov. 11, 2019 – Nov. 17, 2019 Nov. 22, 2019
Nov. 18, 2019 – Nov. 24, 2019 Nov. 2, 2019
Nov. 25, 2019 – Dec. 1, 2019 Dec. 6, 2019
Dec. 2, 2019 – Dec. 8, 2019 Dec. 13, 2019
Dec. 9, 2019 – Dec. 15, 2019 Dec. 20, 2019
Dec. 16, 2019 – Dec. 22, 2019 Dec. 27, 2019
Dec. 23, 2019 – Dec. 29, 2019 Jan. 3, 2020
Dec. 30, 2019 – Jan. 5, 2020 Jan. 10, 2020
Jan. 6, 2020 – Jan. 12, 2020 Jan. 17, 2020
Jan. 13, 2020 – Jan. 19, 2020 Jan. 24, 2020
Jan. 20, 2020 – Jan. 26, 2020 Jan. 31, 2020
Jan. 27, 2020 – Feb. 2, 2020 Feb. 7, 2020
Feb. 3, 2020 – Feb. 9, 2020 Feb. 14, 2020
Feb. 10, 2020 – Feb. 16, 2020 Feb. 21, 2020
Feb. 17, 20 – Feb. 23, 2020 Feb. 28, 2020
Feb. 24, 2020 – Feb. 1, 2020 March 6, 2020
March 2, 2020  – March 8, 2020 March 13, 2020
March 9, 2020 – March 15, 2020 March 20, 2020
March 16, 2020 – March 22, 2020 March 27, 2020
March 23, 2020 – March 29, 2020 April 3, 2020
March 30, 2020 – April 5, 2020 April 10, 2020
April 6, 2020 – April 12, 2020 April 17, 2020
April 13, 2020 – April 19, 2020 April 24, 2020
April 20, 2020 – April  26 , 2020 May 1, 2020
April 27, 2020 – May 3, 2020 May 8, 2020
May, 4, 2020 – May 10, 2020 May 15, 2020
May 11, 2020 – May 17, 2020 May 22, 2020
May 18, 2020 – May 24, 2020 May 29, 2020
May 25, 2020 – May 31, 2020 June 5, 2020
June 1, 2020 – June 7, 2020 June 12, 2020
June 8, 2020 – June 14, 2020 June 19, 2020
June 15, 2020 – June 21, 2020 June 26, 2020
June 22, 2020 – June 28, 2020 July 6, 2020
June 29, 2020 – July 5, 2020 July 10, 2020
July 6, 2020 – July 12, 2020 July 17, 2020
July 13, 2020 – July 19, 2020 July 24, 2020
July 20, 2020 – July 26, 2020 July 31, 2020
July 27, 2020 – August 2, 2020 August 7, 2020
August 3, 2020 – August 9, 2020 August 14, 2020
August 10, 2020 – August 16, 2020 August 21, 2020
August 17, 2020 – August 23, 2020 August 28, 2020

CBEST Frequently Asked Questions

Can a person be a teacher without an education degree?

The short answer is yes. It is actually possible for one to become a teacher without a bachelor’s degree in education. One way to do it is to go through an accredited teacher certification program. The certification classes will help you become proficient and prepared to take on a teaching job.

Is the CBEST test hard?

The CBEST has its own unique level of difficulty. Each section of the test provides an individual standard that test-takers need to meet in order to pass. Some may find Mathematics hard or Writing very challenging.

Does your CBEST score matter?

Generally, your CBEST score determines whether you will pass or not. Therefore, it does matter a lot, to begin with. This is also the reason why you need to prepare for the exam and get all the help you need to make sure that you will be able to earn a good score. 

What is the difference between the CBEST and the CSET?

The CBEST and CSET are both developed by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. However, these two examinations have some noteworthy differences. Moreover, the biggest difference between them is quite easy to distinguish. While CBEST measures a test taker’s proficiency in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics, CSET is a test that is related to the subjects a teacher wishes to teach.

How do I prepare for the CBEST?

There are various CBEST practice test materials that you can find on the internet or even access when you enroll in a prep course. In general, starting early is one of the most effective ways to prepare for the CBEST.  

How long do you need to study for the CBEST?

It may vary on your schedule but we do recommend that you study for 1-2 hours every day in a span of a few weeks before the exam. That way, you will be able to familiarize yourself with the test on a daily basis.

What is the minimum age to take the CBEST in California?

Generally, anyone who’s in a legal age can take the CBEST in California, as long as the other requirements for taking the test are met.

What is one of the best CBEST prep books?

One of the most utilized CBEST prep books by test-takers is the “Cracking the CBEST” prep book. However, there are numerous good prep books that are made available online. Using more prep books is more beneficial than sticking with one. As we’ve said, you need to get all the help and resources you need if you want to pass the CBEST.

Are calculators allowed when taking the CBEST test?

The California Basic Educational Skills Test mathematics subtest does not authorize any test-taker to use a calculator of any kind. This implies that all examinees taking the CBEST mathematics subtest will need to do calculations themselves.

Can I take the CBEST more than once?

The idea is to pass the CBEST on your first try but you can actually take it again if you fail on your first attempt.

CBEST Study Guide and Preparation

As mentioned in the first part of this article, the CBEST is composed of two multiple-choice sections and one writing section. Here is a clear description of each section to help you study more effectively.

Reading

This multiple-choice test identifies your capacity to read, comprehend, and assess passages, statements or tables and answer questions based upon the content and message of these passages. The reading passages are selected from a broad range of subject areas, but no previous knowledge of the topic is required to answer the questions. All questions are based upon the content of the passage presented.

Mathematics

This multiple-choice test involves a collective understanding of general math ideas, concepts, and problem-solving. Many of the math problems will be presented as word problem question types. Knowledge should cover the basics of math from elementary school to at least one year of high school and perhaps one year of college.

Writing

This essay-writing section requires you to develop, organize, and write two essays based on a given topic or subject. Knowledge should include your capability to plan and write a well-organized essay on the topic that was assigned to you.

CBEST Preparation Tips

Here are some preparation tips to help you succeed on the CBEST:

#1 Review Your Basic Skills

Review the fundamental abilities needed on the test in reading, mathematics, and writing. You should try your best to know what to expect on the exam. Reviewing you basic skills will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses so that you can develop a study plan unique to your individual needs.

#2 Set the Right Perspective and Awareness

Setting the right perspective and becoming familiar with the test format, directions, material, and scoring of the exam is one of the most effective ways to acquire a positive result.

#3 Develop Strategies and Techniques

Following a specific approach when taking an exam is proven to be effective. The main benefit of using a strategy is it will help you take the exam more easily, quickly, and efficiently.

#4 Practice, Practice, Practice!

This is probably the most important part of every preparation routine. With the use of CBEST practice test materials and CBEST study guides, increasing your chances of getting a passing score on the test is 100% possible. Just like other exam preparations, consistency is the key to a good test score.

CBEST Sample Question

Paragraph I

As the 21st century begins, the coyote can be found in 49 of the 50 states. Thirty years ago, most of the coyote population was confined to the western United States, but now they prowl from Maine to Florida, and increasingly in urban areas. The coyote’s range has extended north as far as Alaska and south through almost all of Central America.

Paragraph II

This population explosion has alarmed sheep ranchers in the western states, and they have responded with a new weapon: a collar worn by sheep that contains the fiercely toxic Compound 1080. Ranchers say the amount of deadly poison is so small that it does not present a threat to the environment. _____ the Environmental Protection Agency has approved the use of the collars in several sheep-raising states. _____ there is still opposition from many environmental groups. They point to the cruelty of the coyotes’ death, which can last from three to twelve hours. They claim that Compound 1080 can kill innocent animals and poses a special threat to eagles. Because the collars may find their way into stream beds, they fear the widespread killing of fish and fish-eating birds and animals.

Question:

Which of the following best describes the position of the author of this passage on the use of poisoned collars to protect sheep?

  1. The author favors their use since the passage points out that they have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
  2. The author disapproves of their use since the passage describes the poison as “fiercely toxic.”
  3. The author presents the point of view of both sides without clearly taking sides.
  4. The author favors their use if they can be used without posing a threat to other wild animals.
  5. Though the author’s position is never explicit, the author disapproves of the killing of any wild animals.

CTA: Are you ready to take the CBEST? Start your preparations today!

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