California Basic Educational Skills Test: Why Should You Take It?

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Having good credentials makes a huge difference in the organization you are a part of. This case denotes the teaching as well. A wealth of academic achievements, such as obtaining an impressive and hard-earned degree or a long, credible experience as a teacher would indeed help you in your chosen teaching track. But a certification is without a doubt, a strong asset that will add up to your credibility and expertise as a teacher.

CBEST Importance

CBEST or the California Basic Educational Skills Test is designed primarily to give you an edge if you have goals in becoming a teacher in California. As you search for your first teaching or services credential, embarking on this test and passing it, is a rewarding and foundational step. CBEST credentilal testifies that you must be able to gain and demonstrate proficiency to show how much of a skilled and proven professional you are. Through this, you will be imparted with the core knowledge essential in the three basic skills―reading, mathematics, and writing. Your adequate proficiency in these three primary areas is of great importance as you first set your path as a teacher. Required by the states of Oregon and California, this serves as an esteemed credentialing exam for educators mapped with the aspiration to excel all throughout the run of their teaching career, specifically in public schools.

Developed by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), this test is aligned with the California Education Code, which necessitates “teachers, administrators and other school practitioners” to exhibit an adequate competence in the three mentioned basic skills.


CBEST test is opened and aimed at individuals who will apply for the first time for either a teaching preparation or service credential. In line with this, it has been designed for those candidates who haven’t taught for 39 months before their current or new job.


CBEST exam is not designed to evaluate the teaching proficiency of an individual. Instead, it would only assess the essential reading, mathematics, and writing skill set of an individual. Testing the writing skills of an individual is highly significant for one’s future job in any given educational level― be it elementary, secondary or an even higher level.

CBEST is made up of three (3) sections, namely: reading, mathematics, and writing. Both reading and mathematics sections consist of a total 50 questions of a multiple-choice format, whereas the writing section is composed of 2 essay questions. Under the reading section, your skills in research and comprehension portion, which makes up about 60% of all the questions included, will be validated. Further, the reading section includes your evaluation and critical analysis in charts, written words, or graphs. On the other hand, the mathematics section would test your problem-solving skills through questions that would encompass the three broad and important areas of study: algebra, arithmetic, as well as measurement and geometry. Questions related to arithmetic make up approximately 40% of the mathematics section while 20% is for the elementary geometry concepts. Meanwhile, the two essay questions required in the writing section evaluate your competence in composing essays logically, effectively, and clearly. A 30-minute limit is given for each essay.

A total of four hours will be given for each test-taker in completing the exam. Within this span, you can work on any section you wish to have out of the three. To earn this credential, you must have a passing score for each of the three sections, as required by the California Education Code and as for as part of the credential for employment as an educator.

A passing score for the exam is 123 points across the three subjects. If in the first try you’ve failed to reach the passing score of the exam, do not worry. You can take the exam as many times possible until you reach a passing grade. For the computer-based test, at least 45 day-span will be needed for you to retake the exam.

Registration Fee

Basically, you need to pay $41 each time you take the CBEST exam. This goes for the paper-based testing while the price for the testing based on computer is $102.  You can register before taking the exam. Also, you must see to it that you have indicated your choice of test area upon registration.

Preparation Materials

Making sure your first attempt will be as fruitful as the way you planned your exam preparation. Thus, it needs to be a result of rigorous practice and learning. To do this, you must grab any learning material you can have or take pre-testing and tutorials to expand your knowledge and polish your skills. Practice tests for each section are available in PDFs. It’s highly recommended for you to take at least one practice test. You can use this to train yourself and get familiarized with the related content found in the actual exam. Tutorials for computer-based tests can also be accessed to better give you a grasp of the exam. The ASAP or the Accelerated Subject-matter Acquisition offers review sessions that have, through the years, helped several individuals in their chosen fields. Also, basic Prepaway Exam Questions and Test is also offered online by Teachers Test Prep to give you an overview of the topics included in the exam.


Passing this exam proves that you have the basic proficiency in mathematics, reading, and writing. When you’re about to start your career as a teacher in California, this credential is the standardized test that will enable you to exhibit your competence as a professional. Another good thing about taking and passing the CBEST exam is that it prepares you to become a qualified substitute teacher. Taking the exam as an undergraduate is a beneficial decision as it will make you an eligible test-taker. Accordingly, this allows you to be a great on-call substitute teacher as well as it will expose you to the various hands-on classroom experiences. As a result, you can earn money as a student and as a substitute teacher.  Needless to say, passing this highly valuable exam will expose you to better opportunities for program enrolment employment.