How to Pass the CBEST

What is the CBEST?

CBEST stands for the California Basic Educational Skills Test. There are three sections in the test. You can take them individually, two at a time, or all three at once. No matter how many sections you register to take, your testing time will be 3 hours and 45 minutes total. You can combine section scores from multiple test-taking sessions to pass the exam. The exam is offered in a paper-based or computer-based format and is only available in English. The exam must be proctored at an approved CBEST testing center and cannot be taken anywhere else.

How to Start Preparing for the CBEST

The best way to ensure that you pass the CBEST is to come up with an organized study plan. After you decide on your CBEST test date and register for the CBEST, you should focus on sharpening your reading, writing and mathematics skills. You can prepare for the CBEST using the following steps:

1. Decide on your CBEST test date

2. Register for the test

3. Familiarize yourself with test content

4. Make a study plan

5. Execute your study plan

6. Bring everything you need on test day

Decide on a Date and Register

When choosing a CBEST test date, it's important to consider how long you'll need to study. The best study plans account for studying on a regular schedule over a period of time, not cramming over a few days. It helps to give your brain time to process and commit everything you learn and practice to memory. You should register for a date at least a month in advance so that you have time to study without feeling pressed. Registration is available on the CBEST website, and you can pay fees by debit or credit card.

Familiarize Yourself with Test Content

Once you've decided on a date and registered, it's time to understand what's on the test. The CBEST consists of three sections. View the following table to understand how many and what types of questions are on each CBEST test segment, as well as the passing score for each.

Section Number of Questions Passing Score
Reading 50 multiple choice 41
Mathematics 50 multiple choice 41
Writing 2 essay responses 41

Remember that you do not have to pass all of the test sections in one sitting, and you can retake the exam as many times as you wish. A total score of 123 is required to pass the CBEST.

What is on the CBEST?

Help refine your study plan by understanding what skills and content you will be tested on when you take the CBEST.

The reading section of the exam focuses specifically on measuring your skills in:

  • Critical analysis
  • Reading comprehension
  • Research procedures

The writing subtest was designed to ensure that you can:

  • Write clearly
  • Develop ideas
  • Use the conventions of standard English

The mathematics subtest requires you to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • Estimation
  • Measurement
  • Statistical principles
  • Computation
  • Problem-solving
  • Numerical and graphic relationships

Make a Study Plan

The first step of making a study plan is evaluating your test readiness, so you know how much and which topics to focus on. Practice tests can help you assess your areas of strength and weakness:

Once you've taken a practice test, you can begin creating a tailored study plan that takes into account where you're already strong, as well as the areas that need most improvement.

When making your study plan, consider:

  • What days of the week you have available - Can you study every weekday? On weekends?
  • What time of day is best for you - Are you a night owl or a morning person?
  • The ratio of familiar to unfamiliar topics - Do you have a lot to review? A little?
  • Your preferred way to learn - Do you prefer to read textbooks, or watch video lessons? Do you like to review with flashcards or by quizzing yourself?

Make sure you write your plan down somewhere you can easily reference it, and schedule study time in your calendar so you don't accidentally plan over it. Consider using CBEST Study Guides to create a framework for your review process.

Execute Your Study Plan

Remember that the most important part of any study plan is committing to studying at regular intervals. Avoid leaving all your reviewing until the last few days before test time. It's okay if you miss study sessions occasionally as long as you adhere the general structure.

Plan on completing at least one more practice test before the end of your study period to re-evaluate what you've learned, and leave some extra time so that you can go back over anything you still don't feel confident in. Asses what you've learned with a CBEST Test Prep Practice Test that combines all three components of the exam.

Bring Everything You'll Need on CBEST Test Day

Before test day, make sure you know how long it will take you to reach the testing center. Plan to arrive 15 minutes before the test starts so that you aren't rushed.

When test day arrives, make sure you are prepared. You will need:

  • A government ID (drivers' license, passport, or state ID, among others)
  • Your registration paperwork with you, just in case

Remember that, among other things, calculators are not allowed when taking the CBEST. Visit the CTC website to find a full list of prohibited items.

CBEST Test-taking Tips

Once you've studied as much as you can, it's time for test day. Having a good test-taking strategy ready to go can help increase your chances of successfully passing the CBEST.

Use these key facts to efficiently manage your time on the CBEST:

  • The CBEST is timed and includes no scheduled breaks, so make sure you keep track of time
  • The testing session lasts 3 hours and 45 minutes
  • If you plan to focus on passing one or just few sections each time you take the exam, make sure you schedule accordingly
  • Divide your allotted time in half on the writing section to make sure you have enough time to complete both essays

When it comes to answering multiple choice questions, keep these tips in mind:

  • Make sure you understand what the question is asking. Sometimes questions will contain 'distractor' elements to mislead you about what they are actually asking. Read the question more than once to be sure.
  • Eliminate any obviously wrong answers. Words like 'always' and 'never' can be triggers that let you know an answer choice might be wrong - answers rarely contain absolutes
  • Re-read the question and go back to your top answer choices. Once you've eliminated distractors and obviously wrong choices, compare your top answer choices.
  • Don't be afraid to guess. You won't be penalized for wrong answers, so it's always worth it to choose an answer even if you're not sure.

You can skip any question you can't answer quickly and return to it later. Concentrate on answering every question you feel confident about the first time through. For more tips on taking multiple-choice tests, learn more about strategies for multiple choice questions. It will take you through the five steps you need to take to do well on this type of test. Remember that the best test taking tip of all is to be prepared! Use CBEST study guides and practice tests to ensure you feel confident when test day arrives.

Continue reading: How to Pass the CSET

There are a number of tests that are part of the CSET test family. This article looks at different resources that can be used to study for CSET tests as well as useful test prep information.

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