CBEST Scoring

There are remote chances of being successful in your endeavours if you are not aware of the target that you have to achieve. A detailed description of the target that has to be achieved will help you in planning a strategy for attaining your aim. The same holds true in the case of taking the CBEST. There is a need to understand the scoring system and other details.  This will help you in working out ways and means for doing well in CBEST as you will then be aware of the target that you have to achieve.

Test Sections

CBEST is a test of your basic skills in reading, writing and mathematics. These skills are deemed necessary for excelling in your profession as an educator. There is one test section each for assessing your competence in these skills. The three test sections are as follows:

  • Reading Test Section: You will be asked 50 multiple-choice questions in this test section. These questions will assess your reading skills by presenting you with information in the form of passages, tables and graphs. You will have to utilize your reading skills for understanding the given information and identifying the correct answer to the questions based on the given information.

The questions asked are drawn from two skill areas; Critical Analysis and Evaluation and Comprehension and Research Skills.

  • Mathematics Test Section: This test section will consist of 50 multiple-choice questions. You will have to choose the correct answer from the given answer options. The questions will be presented to you in written text form. In other words, they will be in word form and you will need to utilize your skills in problem solving, measurement, estimation, comprehending graphs etc. for answering these questions correctly. The questions will be drawn from three skill areas: Estimation, Measurement and Statistical Principles, Computation and Problem Solving and Numerical and Graphic Relationships.


  • Writing Test Section: You will have to write two essays in this test section. One essay will be on a personal experience whereas the other one will be in response to a topic that has to be critically analyzed. The essays written by you will be evaluated for your writing abilities. You can do well in this test section only if you have been able to express your opinions and ideas in a lucid manner and your language is free of grammatical and structural errors.

Scores for the Reading and Mathematics Test Sections

Your scores in the Reading and Mathematics test sections are based on the number of questions that have been answered correctly by you. The scores are reported on a scale from 20 to 80.  Apart from the test scores, you will also receive information on how you have scored in each of the skill areas being assessed by the test sections. You will receive one of the following designations for each skill area depending upon how you have performed in it:
++++            Scaled score of 61-80
+++              Scaled score of 41-60
++                Scaled score of 31-40
+                  Scaled score of 20-30             

The above mentioned scores are not the test section scores. These are the scaled scores for the individual skill areas for each test section. The highest designation, ‘++++’ will be earned if you have answered most of the questions drawn from that skill area correctly. You will be given the lowest designation, ‘+’ for a skill area if you have answered a few or none of the questions drawn from that skill area correctly. Therefore, it will be a gross mistake on your part to completely ignore a particular skill area for a test section during your preparation. Even if you have attained good scores in a particular test section, these designations will demonstrate your weaknesses in a particular skill area. Therefore, you need to understand each of the skill areas and prepare for them accordingly.

Scores for the Writing Test Section

Your scores in the Writing Test section will depend upon your performance in the two essays that have been written by you. Scoring sessions are held immediately after each administration. The essays written by you are scored by well qualified educators from California and Oregon. Each of the essays is scored according to a Writing Score Scale. This scoring scale is available at the official website, http://www.cbest.nesinc.com/index.asp. Make sure that you go through this scoring scale to understand the criteria that is considered for scoring your essays. The Writing Score Scale ranges from 1 to 4.

Each essay is assessed by at least two independent readers and the total essay score for each essay is arrived at by adding the scores given by the two readers. The  Writing Section scores are calculated by summing up the scores for both the essays and then converting them to a scaled score of 20 to 80. If you do not achieve the passing standard in the Writing test section, then the essays are assessed diagnostically and you will be provided with feedback regarding those features of your writing skills that need to be improved upon for attaining the passing scores.

Passing Scores

The total score is calculated by adding the reading, writing and mathematics scores. You need a total score of 123 to pass the test. The passing score for each of the three test sections is 41. However, you will be able to pass it if you have scored as less as 37 in one or two test sections provided your total score is 123 or higher. In other words, you will fail the CBEST if you have scored less than 37 in any one of the test sections irrespective of your total score. Hence, your total score will be of no consequence if you have scored less than 37 in any of the test sections. Therefore, you should prepare for each of the test sections well. Failing in one test section can have dire consequences as you will fail the entire test.

Retaking the CBEST

You have to clear this test only once in a lifetime. The scores will be valid all your life and so there is no requirement of retaking the test once you have passed it. However, you will have to retake the test if you have failed to attain the passing standards. You have the liberty of retaking only that test section in which you have failed. You need not take all the three test sections. Therefore, at any administration you can take a selected number of test sections. Your total score is calculated on the basis of the highest score achieved by you in a particular test section from among all the times that you have taken that test section. However, you will have to register for the CBEST afresh even for taking a single test section.

Score Report

You will receive your unofficial scores for the multiple-choice test sections on the test date itself. All the test scores will reach you after about 10 days from the testing window during which you took the CBEST. Your score report will also be sent to the institution you have mentioned during registration. You will also receive a Permanent Verification Card after passing the test. This card is the evidence that you have passed the CBEST. You should always keep this card with you as it may be required by your employers anytime in the future. You can request for additional copies of your score reports and Permanent Verification Card from the Evaluation Systems of Pearson. The request form for additional reports is available on the official website.

Aim High!

Passing the CBEST is not as easy as it seems. Keep your aim high. Do not aim for just passing the test. You will have to aim for high scores and then only will you be able to clear it. Inadequate preparation or preparing with an aim of just passing it could land you into trouble as you might fail in one of the test sections. Instead of taking the test sections again and again, aim for high scores, put in hard work, study with dedication and determination and you will clear the CBEST when you take it for the first time!

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