How to Pass the CBEST Test?

If you’re aiming to land a job as a teacher in the state of California, then you, like many other aspiring educators, will have to to take and pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) in order to prove that you have the cognitive skills needed to succeed in that role.

After all, by becoming a teacher, you will not only be responsible for the duties and responsibilities expected of you in an educational institution, you will also be responsible for shaping the future of the next generation.

Considering the fact that the CBEST requires you to pay for it, namely $41 for the pen-and-paper test and $102 for the computer-based test (it actually costs the same as the pen-and-paper test but it includes a $61 service fee), this means that you have to do this right the first time around.

You can do this by making yourself as prepared as you can be before test day, and it goes without saying that most candidates pass CBEST practice tests just so that they can cover all their bases. You can take CBEST practice tests on PrepTerminal.

Whether you do the same or not, even though you should seriously consider it, here are a number of tips that can help you know how to pass the CBEST.

Sharpen your math skills

While this shouldn’t be the norm, you would not believe how many test-takers flub the math section of the CBEST assessment.

Although math isn’t everyone’s forte, this is still a crucial subject to teach, and if you want to be an educator, you will have to demonstrate how good you are in understanding these concepts.

Since there are numerous subtopics contained with this section of the CBEST, consider studying these major subject areas:

  • Basic Arithmetic/Operations
  • Probability
  • Unit Conversions (Either monetary or measurement)
  • Rate and Ratio
  • Percentages
  • Proportions
  • Fractions
  • Decimal Operations
  • Basic, Inequality, Linear, Graphical, and Word Problem Equations

Due to how many subtopics there are, it is a good investment to at least specialize in a number of them in order to secure as many points as you can.


This means that if Basic Arithmetic, Percentages, Rate and Ratio, Decimal Operations, Unit Conversions, and Proportions are the subjects that you are most familiar or have an edge with.

Remember: While it is good to try to expand your knowledge to ace every subject, honing your skills on the ones that you already have a good understanding of before trying to tackle the more difficult ones can boost your chances of passing it.

After all, it is better to get 15 easy questions right in a few seconds than trying so hard with 5 hard questions that you’re not even sure of and can eat up a lot of your test time.

Look up a lot of difficult reading comprehension skills questions

For many, this is where the brunt of their CBEST test score will come from.

On the off chance that reading comprehension in the English language isn’t your forte, however, it’d be best if you studied subjects that relate to ‘finding the author’s tone’, ‘evaluating inferences’, ‘word meanings’, ‘synonyms and antonyms’, ‘finding supporting details’, and many others.

Due to how broad these subjects are, you may have to hire a tutor or take CBEST practice tests in order for you to tackle this section of the exam effectively.

Learn how to write your essay in five parts or paragraphs

In the writing section of the CBEST test, you will be given two topics to write an essay about.

One will be an expressive essay where you will have to use points of your life to drive a point or argument, while the other one will be an expository essay where you will need to create an informed, coherent, and logically sound argument that reflects your personal opinion on the topic.

While there is no limit or requirement to how long your essay should be, the ideal essay length for the CBEST assessment is to write it in five distinct ‘parts’.

These are:

  1. Introduction
  2. Example 1
  3. Example 2
  4. Example 3
  5. Conclusion

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be knowledgeable about the topics assigned to you.


This is because the test developers of the exam took into consideration the fact that not everyone will be familiar with the many topics possible for an essay, making it virtually impossible to prepare for.

Instead, you will be graded based on how well you’ve written your essay as well as how good your grammar, punctuation, capitalization, word choice, and sentence structure is along with how relevant your cited studies or experiences are in relation to the topic at hand.

This means that for the seasoned essay writer, they will be able to get most, if not all, points in this section of the exam in just five paragraphs.

If you can do this, then good job! You’ve practically secured a lot of points already!

However, it should be noted that this ‘five-paragraph essay’ is not the norm, as long as you can show your skill in writing in the English language while adhering to to proper grammar, punctuation, capitalization, etc., then there is nothing wrong with you writing seven or even ten paragraphs for the essay.

As long as the ‘five parts’ and grammar rules are obeyed, you can be sure to get a lot of points in the essay writing test.

Partition your time limit in advance

Considering the fact that each test-taker is only given four hours to complete everything in the CBEST test, some find it difficult how to section off their available time for each of the three tests contained within it.

Some make the mistake of investing too much on the math test that they barely have time to finish the reading or writing test while others make the opposite.

This can cause you to panic and choose the wrong answers because your mind will be more focused on trying to complete the exam instead of answering the questions correctly.

By planning out how far you’re willing to go for each test, you will be able to expand your possible final score significantly compared to just focusing on one or two tests for the entire duration of the exam.