What you need to know about the CBEST

Student taking the California Basic Educational Skills Test.

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 may be taken in either computer-based or paper version. 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 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. You must wait 45 days to retest on any computer-based section, but paper versions may be retaken on any scheduled 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.

What are the costs?

The cost of taking the CBEST will be as follows:

  • Computer version: $41.00 test fee plus $61.00 service fee

  • Paper version: $41.00 test fee

  • Other fees may be applied for late or emergency registration

What should I bring?

Government-issued ID: There are very specific guidelines with regard to acceptable identification for admission to the CBEST. Please see details here.

Do not bring: any electronic devices, calculators, food and drink, or any printed material. You will be issued some sort of scratch paper at the testing center. A complete list of prohibited items and test center rules is available here on the official CBEST website.

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. There are certain exceptions to the CBEST requirement, which can be found here.

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

What salary can I expect?

According to teachingdegree.org, a beginning teacher in California can earn $39,000 per year or more. The average yearly salary for experienced teachers is over $78,000. 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.

For the paper version, you must register by the deadline posted, which is usually about one month before the test date. Registration for the paper version automatically signs you up for all three sections of the CBEST, but on the day of the test, you may choose which sections to take.

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 here.

A tutorial is available to help you become familiar with your upcoming computer testing experience. You can access it here on the official CBEST website.

Time Allowed

You will have a total of 4 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.

Practice using our expertly crafted questions!