Guidelines to Study for CBEST

Step-by-step Guide to Study for CBEST

Studying for the CBEST or 'California Basic Educational Skills' test need not be an arduous task. On the contrary, all you need is a clear understanding of the test requirements and thereafter, a systematic approach to studying the individual test subjects. Hence, with a well thought-through plan, you can make your effort a fulfilling and successful endeavor. This article gives you a set of well-organized study guidelines that you could follow to prepare for the CBEST test.

A Step-by-step Guide to CBEST Study

We recommend that you follow the below-mentioned guidelines when studying for the test:

Step 1#: Review the CBEST Test Structure

A detailed overview of the CBEST test, its format and contents are available on the CBEST website ( You must review all the sections of this web page and download the CBEST test specs from At the same time, you should pay attention to the details about the test sections (Math, Reading and Writing), the topics covered in each test section, the question types, the percentage of questions from each test topic, scoring methodology and other key aspects of the test. You may also take notes on these key aspects for later review and reference.

As the common proverb recommends "The proof is in the pudding", take a practice test before you begin your preparation. This will give you a real idea of what to expect during the test. An official practice test is available at Make a note of how well you did in the test and of the test areas in which you struggled.

Step 2#: Study for the Math Test

Collect review materials such as guides and subject textbooks for the following Math topics:

  • Basic mathematical operations
  • Metric conversions and measurements
  • Fractions, percentages and decimals
  • Statistical operations and principles
  • Algebraic equations
  • Alternative problem solving techniques
  • Work estimation and planning techniques
  • Numerical relationships
  • Data representations and graphical relationships

After you collect the relevant materials, study them thoroughly; try sample questions for each Math topic you have reviewed and take as many Math practice tests as possible.

Step 3#: Prepare for the Reading Test

Collect materials or guidance from CBEST coaches that will help you polish the following reading comprehension skills:

  • Comprehension & Critical Analysis
  • Evaluation & Research

The Reading test also includes the study of graphs and charts, on which questions will be included. Therefore, review all the types of common graphs and charts and understand how they may be used to represent information. After you have studied the information, try as many CBEST reading comprehension samples and improve your scores.

Step 4#: Prepare for the Writing Test

There may not be much study material available for the Writing test. Therefore, look for a book on writing essays or other generic books that provide you with a framework to write effective essays. Take a Writing diagnostic test. Alternatively, try some CBEST writing topics and request an experienced writer or English tutor to review your essay for the following:

  • Proper usage of grammatical conventions, sentence structure, syntax and punctuation.
  • Clear presentation of ideas in a logical and coherent manner.
  • Ability to argue for a position in a logical manner.
  • Ability to maintain a respectable flow and transition through the essay.

If the scores of your diagnostic tests are below average, then you must consider enrolling for a CBEST writing course so that you can get professional help to improve your skills.

Step 5#: Practice, Practice and Practice More

Download more CBEST practice tests and software and try as many of them as you can. Reliable practice tests are available on the CBEST, TeachersTestPrep and other such websites, in Kaplan books and in many other sources. During every practice test, time your questions and review the respective answer guides to determine how well you have done in the individual test topics. Also, list down the CBEST test areas where you are still having trouble. If needed, seek professional help for those topics.

If you follow the above guidelines or develop a similar one that suits your needs, then you are all ready to take the test. Finally, stay calm and confident during the test and plan your time effectively because if you don’t; then, all your hard-work thus far would go waste. We wish the CBEST test-takers all the best!