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This page provides answers to frequently asked questions about the CBEST exam. It is organized into five sections: CBEST Overview, CBEST Registration, Studying for the CBEST, CBEST Testing Day, and CBEST Test Results.

If you have additional questions about our prep programs, please see our general FAQs page and our Info & Help Videos page.


CBEST Overview

What is the CBEST?

CBEST stands for California Basic Educational Skills Test. The exam consists of three sections (Math/Reading/Writing) and is used primarily for teacher credentialing in California. More information can be found on our CBEST page.

Who takes the CBEST? What does the CBEST qualify you for?

The CBEST is primarily required to be passed by teacher candidates in California, including substitute teachers.

Do I need to take the CBEST to be a substitute teacher?

Yes, a substitute teacher in California will need to take the CBEST, unless they qualify for an exemption based on coursework or other alternative method. For further details, please see CBEST Registration Info.

What changes have been made to the CBEST?

There have not been any changes to the official content specifications for the CBEST for many years, however in July 2021, California did make adjustments to how a candidate can satisfy the Basic Skills Requirement via coursework.

Is the CBEST still required in California?

Yes, the CBEST is still one of the main ways a candidate can satisfy the CTC’s Basic Skills Requirement.

How do I get my CBEST waived?

There are alternate options for satisfying the Basic Skills Requirement via standardized tests or coursework. A school district can also request an initial CBEST waiver if necessary.

How long is the CBEST good for?

A passing CBEST score on file with the official testing service does not expire.


CBEST Registration

Where can I take the CBEST?

Computer-based and online-proctored testing are available by appointment during certain windows. Paper-based testing has been phased out. For more information, please visit CBEST Registration Info.

How often is the CBEST offered?

Computer-based testing is offered at testing centers year-round by appointment, Mon-Sat (excluding some holidays), on a first-come, first-served basis during testing windows. Online-proctored testing is by appointment during one-week testing windows each month. For further information, please see CBEST Test Dates.

When should you take the CBEST?

Many candidates will have restrictions based on their organization’s timetable. In the absence of such requirements, candidates are advised to take the CBEST as early as is practical as the test can be re-taken if necessary and appointments may not always be available at convenient times. For more information, please see CBEST Test Dates.

How much does the CBEST cost?

Basic registration for a computer-based CBEST test has a fee of $30 per subtest. For further details, please see CBEST Testing Costs.

Is there a fee waiver for the CBEST?

To inquire about a fee waiver for the test itself, please contact the official testing service that administers the CBEST. If you are looking for financial assistance for our prep programs to study for the CBEST, please see Financial Assistance.

Do I have to pay to retake the CBEST?

Yes – there is no fee to change a registration, but regular fees apply to retaking the CBEST. For more details, please see CBEST Testing Costs.

How long do I have to wait to retake the CBEST?

You must wait 45 calendar days to retake the CBEST.

How do I cancel my CBEST?

To cancel a CBEST registration, please contact the official testing service.


Studying for the CBEST

How long should I study for CBEST?

The average amount of time an individual spends studying is around two months, but that varies widely, depending on several factors, such as whether English is your second language, your existing familiarity with the test content, and the amount of time you have available to study each day.

Which is the best CBEST test prep book?

There are many good CBEST study guides available from major educational publishers like Cliffs, Kaplan and others. If you plan to buy one, we recommend going to a physical bookstore so you can read through the various options and see which is best for you.

Our company doesn’t offer any physical books. Instead, our CBEST prep options let you learn test content and strategies directly from caring, experienced teachers. Options include live classes, one-on-one tutoring and self-paced online prep.

Is your CBEST prep up-to-date?

Yes – whenever the test is updated, we adjust our prep programs accordingly. If you have any questions about specific programs, please feel free to Contact Us.

How do I study for the CBEST math section? What about the reading? And the writing?

Our programs teach you the content from the ground up, so when you’re studying for the math portion, we teach you the building blocks of math before building up to the more challenging areas. The same is true for reading and writing; we review the vocabulary you’ll need to know and teach you how to identify what the question is asking.

Which CBEST section is the hardest?

That depends on the individual. Some people find the Math section to be the most challenging, while others struggle more with the Writing or Reading. None of the sections is harder than any other – it just comes down to your comfort level with the subject matter.

Can I take the CBEST sections separately?

Yes, you may take the CBEST sections separately or all together. For more information, please see CBEST Registration Info.


CBEST Testing Day

Is the CBEST difficult?

That depends on the individual. The test covers what are considered basic skills, so the knowledge being tested is not high-level, but it does require familiarity with the math, reading, and writing skills being tested. If you haven’t used math in a while, you will likely want to spend some time reviewing your math skills. A good way to get a sense of the level of difficulty is to take a CBEST practice test.

How long does the CBEST last?

Once you pass the CBEST, your score is valid indefinitely.

How many questions are on the CBEST?

There are 50 multiple-choice questions on the Reading portion, 50 multiple choice questions on the Math portion, and 2 essay questions on the Writing portion.

What kind of math is on the CBEST?

The CBEST covers estimation, measurement, statistics, probability, numbers (whole, positive/negative), percentages, fractions, proportions, algebra, place value, rounding, tables, and charts. For more details, please see our CBEST Study Guides.

Can I use a calculator on the CBEST?


Can I use scratch paper on the CBEST?

You may not bring scratch paper to the testing center, but a pen and a booklet of sheets will be provided to you.


CBEST Test Results

What score do you need to pass CBEST?

You must have a total score of 123 to pass the CBEST. The passing score for a single section of the test is 41, but it is possible to score as low as 37 on a section, provided that your total score is at least 123. To get a sense of your likelihood of passing, you can take a free CBEST practice test and have the multiple-choice sections auto-graded.

How do I get a copy of my CBEST scores?

Your score will be emailed to you, if you requested that option, and it will be available to you through your account with the testing service. You may view or print your CBEST scores up to 2 years after your test through your account with the testing service. After that, you may fill out a form to request a copy of your scores.

Where do I send my CBEST scores?

CBEST scores are sent to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing as well as any institutions you specify when registering for the test.

How long until I get my CBEST results?

Test results are available 5 days after the end of each testing window. Depending on when you took your test, that may be up to 11 days after your test date. For more details, please see CBEST Test Dates.

What happens if you fail the CBEST?

You may retake any section that you failed after a waiting period of 45 days.


Our Core Plus Online Prep Programs feature: 

  • instructional videos that teach you the exact content you need to pass
  • interactive practice tests that replicate the real exam
  • virtual tutoring videos that guide you through every practice question
  • advanced diagnostics that offer in-depth insights into your strengths and weaknesses
Learn more about CBEST Online Prep
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