CBEST: The California Basic Educational Skills Test

CBEST: The California Basic Educational Skills Test

Photo by Shannon & Gaby

If you plan on teaching in California (or possibly Oregon), you may need to take the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). This standardized test measures competency in reading, mathematics and writing skills that are fundamental requirements to be a teacher. Effectively, the CBEST serves the same function as the Praxis II exam does in many other states.

The CBEST does not measure teaching ability and is not intended to replace teacher preparation and practice teaching. The exam is comprised of three sections: The reading and mathematics sections consist of 50 multiple-choice questions each and the writing section consists of two essay questions. The reading portion of the test focuses on comprehension and analysis of written passages, tables and graphs. The subject matter is drawn from a variety of fields and varies in complexity. The mathematics section tests arithmetic, algebra, measurement and geometry with word problems. The writing section is designed to assess an individual‘s skills of composition. It consists of one essay topic that requires analysis and one essay that focuses on a personal experience.

Four hours are allowed for completion of the test. The three sections can be completed in any order during that time, and there is a 30-minute time limit for each essay.

CBEST Test Dates
The CBEST is administered and scored by Pearson VUE. It’s offered only in English in computer-based and paper-based formats. Computer-based testing is offered Monday through Saturday throughout the year. Seating is by appointment only on a first-come, first-serve basis. CBEST test dates for paper-based testing are available bimonthly; the testing schedule is available on the CBEST website. Both types of tests are administered at more than 30 test centers in California. They are also available at 225 Pearson Professional Centers nationwide and even at 30 international test centers.

Registration for the CBEST can be completed by mail, telephone or online. The basic fee for the paper-based test is $41; the fee for the computer-based test is $101. There are additional small fees for late registration and emergency registration for the paper-based test. A test site choice can be specified when registering, though the specific test site will be assigned based on availability. Alternative testing arrangements will be considered for individuals who have extenuating circumstances, such as disabilities or religious practices.

CBEST Practice Test
A CBEST practice test is available on the CBEST website. The CBEST Computer-Assisted Practice Test is a standalone application for Windows and Mac systems that includes tutorial instructions, full-length practice versions of each section and scoring for the reading and mathematics sections. A paper-based test is also available in PDF format that can be printed out.

CBEST Scores
Separate CBEST scores are given for each section of the test. In order to obtain a California teaching credential, a minimum score of 41 must be earned in each section for a total combined score of at least 123. There is no limit on how many times the test can be taken, and the three sections do not need to be passed in a single session. Each time the test is taken, a separate registration fee must be paid.

For both computer-based and paper-based tests, unofficial test results are posted on the CBEST website within two weeks of testing. Official test scores are mailed out within four to six weeks after testing.

For more information California teacher preparation, teacher salaries and certification, visit our page on becoming a teacher in California.

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