What Is the Average Passing Score on the CBEST?

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Are you looking to become a teacher in the state of California? If so, you will have to take the CBEST at some point in the future. The CBEST, or the California Basic Educational Skills Test, covers reading, writing, and math and assesses your general understanding of basic school skills.

Understanding the scoring of the CBEST can, however, be quite tricky. Having a good understanding of the average CBEST scores and how they work is essential to your success on the test. In this article, we’ll be breaking down and discussing the ins and out of the CBEST scoring and some tips and tricks to help you receive the best score possible.

Who Needs to Take the CBEST?Who Needs to Take the CBEST?

The CBEST, or the California Basic Educational Skills Test, is used in the process of receiving accreditation to become a teacher in the state of California. Each state has its own rules and regulations surrounding the qualifications to become a teacher and in the state of California, passing your CBEST is part of that process.

Suppose you are already a certified teacher and are looking to transfer to California. In that case, you will want to look into the specific rules for transferring your certification from your state to California. The CBEST is designed for teachers who are just starting out in California, although if California doesn’t accept your previous accreditation, you will probably have to take the CBEST.

What is the Average CBEST Score?

What is the Average CBEST Score?

Before we say what the average CBEST score is, it is worth discussing the CBEST scores overall. When you take the exam and receive your score, you will receive a scaled score somewhere between 20 and 80. These scores are based on your raw score but are used to determine if you pass or fail each section of the test and the overall CBEST.

The average score and the average percentage of test-takers who pass the CBEST on their first try vary by year. Typically, from 65% to 71% of first-time test-takers will pass the CBEST. This means that their cumulative score will be over a scaled score of 123, but not necessarily that each of their section scaled scores will be over 41.

It might seem confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. It is possible to pass the CBEST with only one scaled section score greater than 41, but this means that the other two scaled scores must be above 37. If any of your section scores fall below a scaled score of 37, you will not be able to pass your overall CBEST.

For example, if you take the CBEST and receive these scaled scores on your sections:

Reading 45
Math 40
Writing 41

Your cumulative score would be 126, meaning that you would have passed the overall CBEST exam. However, you would not have passed the math section of the CBEST on its own since you received less than a 41 on that section. Ultimately, it’s the cumulative score that really matters, so you could accept your score of 126 and ignore the bad math score.

Here’s another example:

Reading 42
Math 41
Writing 38

As long as you were able to get a scaled score of 41 on your writing section, you would be able to combine your best scores from multiple sittings for a cumulative scaled score of at least 123, meaning you would pass. In this scenario, your cumulative scaled score would be 121, which means you would not have passed. Since your writing score is the only score you have below a 41, you could retake just the writing section if you wanted to.

Now that we’ve dissected the scoring just a little bit, we’ll look at the average passing rates for each section of the exam since these vary as well.

CBEST Reading Passing Score

In general, the reading section of the CBEST has the highest passing rates out of all three sections. The percentage of people who pass this section varies by year but is historically the most passed section of the exam. On average, around 80% of the people who take the reading section will receive a scaled score greater than or equal to 41.

CBEST Math Passing Score

The math section of the CBEST has the second-highest initial pass rate, with around 78% of first-time test-takers passing the section. In order to pass, you need to receive a scaled score that is equal to or greater than a 41, the same as you do on the other sections.

CBEST Writing Passing Score

The initial testing average for individuals who pass the writing section is generally around 75%, but it varies depending on the year. The writing section has the lowest passing rate of first-time test-takers. This section has historically had the lowest passing rate, but sometimes it passes the math section and rises to the second-highest pass rate.

What is the Highest CBEST Score Possible?

What is the Highest CBEST Score Possible?

Technically, since each section is worth up to 80 points on the scaled scores, you could score a 240 on the CBEST overall. Any score above a 123 is considered passing, so a score around 180-200 would be regarded as extremely high. However, this is rare, so don’t beat yourself up if you get a score in the high 100s.

Can You Retake CBEST?

Can You Retake CBEST?

You can retake the CBEST, but you will have to wait at least 45 days since you took it last. If you wait 45 days and pay the full test entrance fee again, you can retake each section of the CBEST as many times as you want.

It is important to note that if you take all three sections in one sitting and pass one or two of the sections but not the third, you can still retake that third section. By doing this, you will be able to combine your passing scaled scores from your first time taking the test with your new passing scaled scores from when you retook the test. Your new overall score will be a combination of the highest scaled score you received at any time for each section.

On average, about 67% of the people who take the CBEST pass it on the first try. If you take the time to prepare for your exam and pay attention to details throughout the exam, the odds are that you won’t need to retake the test. Making sure that you are set up for success the first time you take the CBEST will save you time and money on extra studying and testing fees, so don’t plan on needing to retake the exam.

5 Preparation Tips to Get the Most of Your CBEST Exam

5 Preparation Tips to Get the Most of Your CBEST Exam

There are so many ways that you can set yourself up for success when it comes to the CBEST or any significant, time-consuming exam you will need to take in your life. Here, we’ll be offering our top tips to help your crush the CBEST.

Invest in good study materials

The key to passing any more extensive test is to invest in good study materials. Study materials can range from pens and paper that you like to study guides and online study materials, such as worksheets or practice tests. In general, when we say study materials, we refer to the books and online programs you choose to aid in your studying, but the tools you use with those will make you more comfortable.

There are tons of good study guides for the CBEST. Having a good understanding of how the test is written and structured will really help you feel prepared when you go in to take the test. Companies like MoMetrix, The Princeton Review, and ApexPrep all have great study guides that come with practice tests and tons of practice questions for each section.

Create a study schedule

Creating a study schedule might sound silly, but it can be beneficial. With exams like the CBEST, where you sometimes have to pick the date months in advance, it can feel like you have tons of time. Oftentimes, this leads to students procrastinating until the last minute, and they end up cramming for the exam.

Sitting down as soon as you book your testing time and creating a study schedule can help prevent cramping. Make sure that you study frequently and for small amounts of time so you can retain the information and not get overwhelmed.

Stick to your study schedule

Now that you’ve created an effective study schedule, you have to stick to it. We understand that it can feel like skipping a few days won’t matter, but it can really add up fast. In order to prevent cramming right before your test date, find some way to motivate yourself to stick to your study schedule.

Have someone to hold you accountable

Probably the best way to stick to your study schedule is to have someone else hold you accountable. This doesn’t mean that someone is breathing down your back while you’re studying, but it means that they are aware of your timeframe, your schedule, and what you have said you will do.

One of the easiest ways to have someone hold you accountable is by having a friend text or call you once a week to ask how that week went. Knowing that someone will care if you slacked off all week is a great incentive not to slack off. Even if there’s no way for your friend to enforce your study schedule, you will be more likely to stick to it if you know that slacking off will let your friend down.

Plan out the day of the test

Make sure you figure out exactly how the morning of your test will go. Pick out your clothes the night before, pack your supplies, and even print out directions if you are unsure where your testing center is. Of course, if you are taking the CBEST through an online proctor, this will be slightly different, but you should still make sure that your internet is ready and that you have a space prepared to take the test.

Setting yourself up for success is a great way to help mitigate the stress you will likely feel on the day of your test. If you have to drive anywhere, it can sometimes be helpful to even practice the drive. That way, if there is construction or something along the way, you’ll already know. Make sure your car has gas in it and that you leave plenty of time in case something happens on your way.

Wrapping Things Up: What is the Average Passing Score on the CBEST?

Understanding how to study is essential when it comes to preparing for a more significant test, such as the CBEST. While the average passing score of the CBEST is around 65%, it can vary greatly depending on the year. In order to give yourself the best possible chance you have of passing the CBEST on the first try, make sure you try out some of our tips and tricks to help give you that extra edge.

Now get out there and crush your CBEST! We believe that anyone can pass their CBEST the first time around with the right preparation and supplies.

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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