California Basic Educational Skills Test
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The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) is a standardized test administered throughout the state of California and Oregon for individuals who want to gain credentials and teach at public schools. The test is designed to provide information about basic proficiency in reading, mathematics, and writing. It is divided into three sections – the reading and math sections containing 65 multiple-choice questions and the writing section which consists of two essay questions. The test must be completed in four hours but test-takers may use that time to work on any or all of the three sections. There is no limit to the number of times someone may take the test in order to pass. Test-takers do not have to pass all three sections at one sitting. A $41 registration fee for paper-based testing ($102 for computer-based testing) must be paid each time the test is taken.
The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) is a standardized test required by the states of California and Oregon for individuals seeking their first teaching or services credential. It was developed by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) to meet the California Education Code (Section 44254), which was amended by the legislature of California on February 1, 1983. This amendment "requires teachers, administrators, and other school practitioners, [to] demonstrate adequate proficiency, in English, of three basic skills: reading, mathematics, and writing." The CBEST is administered by the National Evaluation Systems, Inc. (NES), under the direction of the CBEST Program. It does not test an individual’s teaching skills or abilities; it only test reading skills (critical analysis, evaluation, comprehension, and research skills), mathematics skills (estimation, measurement, computation, and problem solving, etc.), and writing skills that are considered important for a job in the education field, either at the elementary, secondary, or higher education levels.
The CBEST gives a separate score for each section tested, but a passing score must be obtained in every section in order to satisfy the California Education Code requirement and obtain the proper credential for employment as educator in the state of California or Oregon.
The CBEST format was implemented by the Oregon Teachers Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) in July 1984 to assess the basic skills of individuals entering the education field. Six months after, it became a requirement for obtaining a license in Oregon as an educator. The CBEST is an additional requirement for obtaining a license or credential, and it does not replace the other requirements established for the issuance of teaching credentials.
The CBEST consists of three sections. It contains multiple-choice questions and two essay questions. Each multiple-choice question presents five choices (A through E) and examinees are given four hours to take the test. The time given can be divided among the three sections in any way desired.
This section contains 65 multiple-choice questions based on original passages of between 100 and 200 words. But in some cases, these passages may be short statements of not more than one or two sentences. These questions measure the ability to understand information given through the written word, or in charts and graphs. They emphasize on critical analysis, evaluation, comprehension, and research skills.
The critical analysis and evaluation portion is approximately 40 percent of the questions from this section, and the comprehension and research skills portion is approximately 60 percent of the questions from this section.
This section contains 65 multiple-choice questions that assess cumulative knowledge of the mathematics traditionally taught in elementary and high school and, sometimes, in college. These questions come from three broad categories: arithmetic, algebra, and measurement and geometry. None of the questions strictly tests computation, but computational skills are required throughout the test.
About 40% of the questions on the mathematics section of the CBEST are related to arithmetic. About 20% of the questions are related to elementary geometry, and the remaining items are related to other mathematical concepts and skills.
This section contains two essay questions. This portion of the CBEST assesses the ability to compose two effective essays within the given time session. The essays must answer the two topics printed in the test booklet. One topic requires an analysis of a given situation or a particular statement, and the other asks for a narrative about a personal experience. These essays test the ability to compose effective prose and to communicate ideas to an intended audience.
Essay writing demonstrates the ability to think critically and to use language logically and clearly. The 30-minute time limit for each essay allows little time to rewrite or to reflect on the writing. Therefore, the performance on this portion of the test will demonstrate the ability to organize and support ideas quickly.
Scoring the exam
One must earn a total of 123 points to get a passing status across all three sections, but you can get away with a score as low as 37 in one or two sections.
Essays are scored by California and Oregon educators, and they score according to standardized procedures during scoring sessions held immediately after each CBEST administration. Writing scores are determined by scoring each of the two essays holistically according to the criteria described in the CBEST Writing Score Scale.
CBEST Writing Score Scale
- Rhetorical Force
- Support and Development
- Structure and conventions
CBEST computer-based testing (CBEST CBT) is available to choose five- or six-day testing windows at Pearson Professional Centers operated by Pearson VUE. If you go to Test Dates site, it shows a list of the testing windows that are open for registration. Test Sites shows information about available test centers in California and other centers in the United States.
New 2009 Basic Skills Testing Options
You must complete one of the following options to satisfy the California basic skills requirements.
- Passage of a basic skills examination from another state
- Passage of all three subtests of CSET: Multiple Subjects and CSET: Writing Skills
- Passage of the CBEST
- Passage of both of the English and Mathematics sections of the California State University (CSU) Early Assessment Program (EAP), and it must have "College Ready" or "Exempt" status.
- Passage of both of the English Placement Test (EPT) and the Entry Level Mathematics (ELM). The EPT passing score is 151 or higher. The current passing ELM score is 50 or higher. However, if you took ELM before March 2003, score must be 550 or higher.
California Basic Skills Requirements
Who must take the CBEST?
You are required to take the CBEST if:
- You are applying for a teaching or service credential for the first time.
- You have not taught during the 39 months prior to a new job.
- You are applying for admission to either a teacher-preparation or service-credential program approved by the CCTC.
You are exempt from taking the CBEST if you are:
- An instructor of adults in an apprenticeship program.
- A teacher in a children's center.
- A teacher in a subject that does not require a bachelor's degree
- A provider of health services
- A student teacher status
- An educational specialist in deaf and hearing impaired
All three sections of test must be passed in order to pass the CBEST. Raw scores can range from 1–50, which are then converted to scaled scores ranging from 20–80. The passing scaled score on each section of the test is 41, and a minimum total score of 123 for all three sections must be achieved to pass.
Use this checklist to review the information that you need to register for the CBEST.
- Review your registration options.
- Prepare your payment.
- Gather the personal information you need to register.
- Review the background questions.
- Review the Rules of Test Participation.
When you register for the paper-based CBEST, you will automatically be registered for all three sections. However, you may take one, two, or all three sections at a given paper-based test administration. When you register for the computer-based CBEST, you may register to take one, two, or all three sections. The test fee is the same regardless of your selection. Once you have registered, you may not change your section selection unless you withdraw and register again.
Test dates and sites
The CBEST is offered six times a year, once every two months at different locations throughout California and Oregon. It is usually given on the first or second Saturday of the months of February, April, June, August, October, and December. Specific CBEST test dates can be found at the CBEST website.
A test area choice should be indicated when registering for the CBEST. A specific test site will be given based on the facilities available and appropriate for test administration. Test sites are subject to change due to scheduling conflicts. Although “every attempt will be made to ensure that the new site is located in the same general are as the one originally requested,” it is recommended to carefully review the test area selections as changes are made. Refer to the Pearson VUE Web site at www.pearsonvue.com/cbest for up-to-date information about all available test centers and emergency registration test areas.
Fees for Internet and telephone registration must be paid using a credit card or a debit or check card. The fees for registration by U.S. mail and for other services requested by mail must be paid by check or money order.
|Test Registration Fees|
|Computer-based testing service fee (in addition to the regular test fee)||$61|
|Late registration (for paper-based testing only, in addition to the regular test fee)||$18|
|Emergency registration (for paper-based testing only, in addition to the regular test fee)||$35|
|Additional Services Fees|
|Score verification (multiple-choice section of paper-based test)||$20 per test date|
|Score verification (essay section)||$50 per test date|
|Additional copy of test results (per copy)||$10|
There are three different ways to register for the CBEST including internet registration, mail, and telephone registration.
Internet registration is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Internet registration for the paper-based test can be utilized during regular, late, and emergency registration periods. To register through the internet go to the CBEST main website, click on "Register Now," and follow the instructions listed. Telephone registration is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Pacific Time), Monday through Friday, excluding certain holidays. Registration must be completed by 5:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) on the registration deadline to be eligible for that specific registration period.
Mail registration deadlines are strictly enforced and must be postmarked by the regular registration deadline. Anything postmarked after the deadline may cause delays or cause you to incur additional registration fees.
Telephone registration can be utilized during late and emergency registration periods only. To register by phone call (800) 262- 5080 or (916) 928–4001 on the given times and dates.
Confirming and changing registration
To confirm your registration date, time, and location for the paper-based testing, select "Confirm or Modify Registration" on the CBEST website. Follow the instructions provided to log in and verify that all information is correct and accurate. In order to change your paper-based test you may submit a request via internet, U.S. mail or fax. Note that you cannot change from a paper-based test to a computer-based test. To confirm registration for computer-based testing, click the e-mail that the evaluation systems will send to you. You will be redirected to a website in order to schedule your appointment. To change computer-based testing you may reschedule on the Pearson VUE web site.
The day of test
Reporting to test site
The paper-based test session will begin at 8:00 a.m. and will end from 12:45 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. Testing times may vary at any other testing locations other than California and Oregon. The computer-based test session will vary depending on what was confirmed in the confirmation email.
What to bring and test site rules
For paper-based testing, you must bring your admission ticket, sharpened number 2 pencils with erasers, and proper identification. For computer-based testing, all you must bring is paper identification as described in “Identification Policy.” CBEST test sites do not allow the following on site: any smoking and the use of tobacco products, visitors, weapons of any kind, cell phones, electronic communication devices, calculators, handwritten or printed materials, packages/totes, food/drink, and unauthorized aids.
During and after test
"During the test you will have four hours to complete the exam to work on any test section;" bathroom breaks are allowed, but this counts toward the four hours allotted. No type of communication is allowed during the test. When you have completed the test, the testing materials will be collected and you must leave the facility.
Obtaining test results
Scores will be mailed four to six weeks after the test date. For each section, the scores will announce whether or not the section was passed, and it will suggest areas within each section that one might need to study. The score report will also include the highest score obtained. A passing score on any section of the test will not have to be taken again.
- Zirkel, Perry A. "Courtside." Phi Delta Kappan 81.10 (June 2000): 793. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Mt. SAC Lib., Walnut, CA. Apr. 15, 2009.
- CBEST: California Basic Educational Skills Test. New York: LearningExpress, 2002.
- California Basic Educational Skills Test. 2009. Pearson Education, Inc. Apr. 28, 2009 http://www.cbest.nesinc.com/.
- Andis, Mary F., et al. The Best Test Preparation for the CBEST California Basic Educational Skills Test. New Jersey: Research & Education Association, 2003.
- 2008–09 CBEST Exam Dates: Bilingual Teacher Pathway Program. 2009. Bilingual Teacher Pathway. Apr 24, 2009  Archived February 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- PearsonVUE.2009.Pearson Education, Inc. Apr 29, 2009. http://www.vue.com/