What is CBEST?

Purpose of the CBEST

The California Basic Educational Basic Skills Test, or CBEST, is an assessment developed by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). Per the Californina Education Code Sections 44252 and 44252.6, the test is used to assess the proficiency of prospective teachers in California in mathematics, writing, and reading.

Passing the CBEST is one of the ways candidates can satisfy the Basic Skills Requirement for teacher licensing in the state. To visit the official CBEST website, please go to https://www.ctcexams.nesinc.com/TestView.aspx?f=HTML_FRAG/CA_CBEST_TestPage.html

CBEST Content and Format

The CBEST consists of three distinct subtests (writing, reading, and mathematics) that can be completed in one 4-hour sitting. If this is too daunting, you may also choose to break the test up into multiple sessions.

Writing Section

The CBEST writing section of the test contains two separate prompts. The first asks candidates to recount an experience from their own lives. The second prompt presents candidates with a statement, or in some cases a particular situation, and asks them to offer their own opinion on the matter. The goal of this section is to test a candidate's writing and analytical skills, and as such, prompts do not require specialized knowledge of a given topic. Candidates' responses are graded based on their organization, the use of supporting details to develop main ideas, and adherence to English language conventions.

Reading Section

The 50 multiple-choice questions in the reading section test candidates' abilities in two important skill areas. About 40% of questions are designed to measure their critical analysis and evaluation skills. Examples of these skills can include differentiating facts from opinions in a text, identifying evidence used to develop the author's ideas, and determining the intended audience of a passage.

The remaining 60% of multiple-choice questions focus on measuring candidates' comprehension and research skills, including their ability to identify the main idea of an excerpt, use context clues to define unfamiliar words, and analyze the structure of a written passage.

Texts in this section of the test are culled from a variety of sources and may include the use of visuals, such as graphs or tables. Study.com has a large number of CBEST Reading practice test questions.

Math Section

The math component of the CBEST focuses on three mathematical skill areas. Candidates will need an ability to use estimation, measurement, and statistical analysis; perform basic arithmetic; and interpret graphical relationships. Questions appear mostly as word problems and are distributed fairly evenly among the three skill areas. Candidates are not allowed to use a calculator on this part of the test, as most questions do not require complex calculations. Potential tasks on the math section include measuring length and perimeter, using statistical principles to interpret test scores, and performing arithmetic equations. Study.com has a large number of CBEST Math practice test questions.

CBEST Scheduling

The CBEST features two options for test-takers: computer-based and paper-based. The choice of format is completely at the discretion of test-takers and comes down to personal preference. The two versions are identical in content.

Computer-based testing is available by appointment only. Tests are offered on a continuous basis Monday through Saturday, with the exception of a few major holidays. Check the CTC website for available dates and times at the test centers closest to you.

Paper-based testing is only available on specified dates. For 2017, there will be test sessions on February 4, April 22, and July 8.

For more information about specific testing dates and testing center locations, please read the article about CBEST Test Dates. If you need to request alternative testing arrangements, please read about doing so from the official CBEST website: http://www.ctcexams.nesinc.com/TestView.aspx?f=CACBT_RequestingAlternativeTestingArrangements_CBEST.html

Testing Requirements

You are eligible to take the CBEST if you meet one of the following requirements:

  • You have earned a high school diploma
  • You have earned a GED
  • You are or have been a student taking college credit courses for a career in education

Registration Test Fees

All candidates must pay a one-time registration fee of $41 to sit for the test. If you are taking the paper-based test and attempt to register after the deadline has passed, you will need to pay an additional late registration fee of up to $35.

Candidates taking the computer-based test will also need to pay a $61 CBT service fee. To read more about how to register for the CBEST test, read the article about CBEST registration.

CBEST Passing Score

The scaled scoring system on the CBEST awards between 20 and 80 points for each subtest. A passing score on an individual CBEST section is 41, although candidates may score as low as 37 on a section or two and still pass if they earn a cumulative score of at least 123. Candidates who score below 37 on a section, however, will not pass the exam, no matter how high their overall score is.

Studying for the CBEST with Preparation Materials

If you're a prospective teacher in California and plan on taking the CBEST, you can take advantage of the many preparation materials in Study.com's catalog.

This CBEST Study Guide offers a comprehensive review of the entire exam and contains interactive learning tools, such as self-checking quizzes and video lessons.

If you're looking to focus on a particular subtest, the courses listed here contain content specific to each section of the CBEST:

What is the CSET Exam?

The CSET is a series of exams administered to prospective teachers in California. Learn more about the structure, format, and scoring system for these tests and how to prepare for them.

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