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Exam information

What you need to know about the CBEST

The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) measures basic reading, math, and writing skills. While it is required of most people entering the teaching profession in California, it does not test your ability to teach these subjects, just your performance skills in the disciplines. There are additional requirements for obtaining a license to teach in California.

Other CBEST facts:

  • The CBEST is given on the computer and may be taken either in person or online from home with a proctor. A paper-based version was previously available but retired in April 2021. You may take one, two, or all three sections at any test session.

  • The CBEST is only given in English, including the responses to the Writing essays.

  • The CBEST uses scaled scoring. The total score possible for each section is between 20 and 80. You must score a total of 123 on all three sections to pass, with no individual section score of less than 37. For each section alone, the passing score is 41.

  • You may retake any or all sections of the CBEST as many times as needed to obtain a passing score, but you must wait 45 days from your initial test date.

  • If you do retest, you may want to retest on sections you passed, as well, to raise your total score to the passing level of 123. Only your highest scores will be used to compute your passing status.

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Answers to all your questions about the CBEST

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What are the costs?

The cost of taking the CBEST is $30 per section, so if you need to take Mathematics, Reading, and Writing, the total cost will be $90.

What should I bring?

  • A valid government-issued ID: There are very specific guidelines with regard to acceptable identification for admission to the CBEST, which include a driver’s license, passport, and military identification. It is important to make sure your ID is unexpired and signed. If you’ve had a recent name change, make sure you have official verification of this, such as a court order or marriage license. Social security cards, student ids, and credit cards are not considered acceptable forms of identification.

Do not bring:

  • electronic devices (such as MP3 players, smart watches, or tablets)
  • calculators
  • food and drink
  • printed material
  • cell phones
  • hats or headwear (unless exempt for religious or medical reasons)
  • calculators

If you are taking the test in person, a storage locker will be provided for personal items such as keys, purses, and cell phones. You will also be issued some sort of scratch paper and writing utensils at the testing center for making outlines or jotting down notes.

What kind of job can I get?

The education field holds many opportunities for those who want a career in helping others to learn. You can choose from a variety of learning levels and subject areas. Usually, you must pick a field of study and obtain a teaching certificate by adding teacher training courses to subject area studies.

Most teaching degrees require four years of college-level study, with an increasing number encouraging graduate-level study as well. Included in the final semesters of college study will be one or more “on-the-job” training periods, including “student-” or “practice-teaching.” These trainings provide practice in actual classrooms while being supervised by a licensed teacher.

After obtaining your license as a teacher, there are also opportunities for further study that can lead to supervisory positions in the field.

Am I eligible?

In order to take the CBEST, you must have a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent or have been enrolled in college level courses that lead to a teaching position. If you are unsure about your eligibility, please contact the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing for permission to test.

Why does it matter?

The California Education Code requires teachers in that state to demonstrate a mastery of basic academic skills. The CBEST is one way to satisfy this requirement. It is specifically designed to accurately measure the skills needed by a teacher and to be an unbiased assessment of them.

Satisfactory performance on the CBEST may also be required for other employment in California.

What salary can I expect?

According to Indeed, a beginning teacher in California earns around $39,000 per year. The average yearly salary for experienced teachers is over $48,000. Salaries can vary greatly, according to the area and particular school district. Supervisory positions will provide even more monetary compensation.

When is it available?

Computer versions of the CBEST are given by appointment only on most Mondays through Saturdays. There are limited seats, which are assigned to those registering first. You must choose which sections you will take when scheduling your appointment.

Proctored versions of the exam are available during one week testing periods every month.

What are some Tips & Tricks

  • On the day of the CBEST exam, you will be required to sign a form saying that you have read all of the CBEST policies. The policies document is very lengthy and you will be given a very limited time to read it on the testing day, so it is best to review it ahead of time.

  • Preparing in advance can save you a time and money. Reading the test specifications before test day will help you understand what you need to know. Taking practice tests, reading study guides, and quizzing yourself using flashcards can help pinpoint your weak areas so you can focus your studies and feel confident when you take the actual exam.

How much time is allowed?

You will have a total of 5 hours to complete the CBEST. This includes taking one, two, or all three sections of the test, 15 minutes for introductory procedures, and any breaks you may take.

The specific section breakdown is as follows:

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