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Can’t Pass the CBEST Test and Become a Teacher? Top Tips for Success

Passing the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST test) can be a tedious and expensive chore for every aspiring educator in California and Oregon.

While the CBEST test itself is not supposed to be used as a means to measure a test-taker’s ability to teach, institutions and employers see the presence of their CBEST exam certificate as proof of the applicant’s ability to teach effectively.

You can be sure to be skipped over or even be rejected outright early on in the hiring process without it.

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Fortunately, there are many ways to pass the CBEST exam. Apart from just being told to take CBEST practice test advice when the reasons behind a person’s inability to pass it the first time can be due to other reasons other than ‘not preparing enough.’

Let’s take a look at several things that can bring you closer to overcoming the CBEST assessment once and for all, no matter if you’re taking it for the first or second time around.

It’s not the length of the essay; it’s how well-written it is

For a majority of the test-takers that we’ve talked to, the essay writing subtest of the CBEST exam is what made them worried the most because you can never be too sure of how many points you can get in it.

Unlike the reading and math subtest, where you can get a general idea of what your score will be thanks to their 50-item multiple-choice format, the essay writing portion of the CBEST may as well give you 10 points if you fail to meet its scoring criteria.

According to experts from, the length of your essay will only have a minor influence on your score, and trying to brute force this part of the exam by writing five pages’ worth of barely relevant information may cause more harm than good.

Based on available resources and information regarding the subtest’s nature, it is actually possible for test-takers to get full points just by writing five paragraphs.

If you’re a seasoned essayist, this may be a cake for you.

But for those struggling with this type of exam, fear not because this isn’t a rule set in stone.

For the most part, the test developers of the essay writing portion of the CBEST expect your essay to come in five distinct parts:

  • The introduction
  • The first example
  • The second example
  • The most important example
  • The conclusion

By keeping this in mind, you will be able to plan out your essay in advance and increase the time you can spend on the reading and math test if you finish this part of the CBEST exam early.

Sharpen your grammar, vocabulary, and other writing skills

Although the essay writing exam’s exact scoring process is not known, most test-takers believe that everyone starts with perfect scores but are then given deductions based on how many grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling mistakes that the evaluators can see. Professionals from dissertation help services recommend making a list of your own typical grammar errors you have done in the past, this way, when you start proofreading your essay, you will know what to look for first.

Sharpen grammar skills
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By making sure that you have little-to-no mistakes, you can be sure to have many points, even if you think that your essay isn’t that good in terms of examples.

Lastly, do not beat around the bush, and be sure that every example that you provide is relevant to the topic at hand.

For the expository essay: try to cite recent studies, statistics, or events

When writing your expository essay, where you have to write an informed opinion regarding the supplied topic, you increase your chances of getting points by citing specific studies, local or national events, or even statistics that can back up the claim that you are aiming for. 

If the topic revolves around junk food, you can mention a study regarding obesity, sugar intake, or even just a news item from a news agency to improve your narrative or example.

For the expressive essay: explain how the topic affected you

In this essay, you are required to share personal experiences to further your argument on the provided topic.

Test-takers make the mistake of only mentioning how the topic is relevant to that experience when in reality, they are supposed to highlight how it affected them in the long term.

For example, suppose the topic revolves around saving money or being thrifty. In that case, you should write how saving for a video game console back in the early 2000s allowed you to learn about good spending habits and to invest in better things after suffering from buyer’s remorse, allowing you to save up for college or even a car.

For the reading and math tests, practice as much as you can!

Due to the sheer number of subjects and topics covered in the reading and math subtest of the CBEST exam, there are no shortcuts that you can do other than to sharpen your cognitive skills as much as you can.

However, if you’re pressed for time, you should know that there is no penalty for making an educated guess.

This means that if you’re not that good at complex calculations, you can choose to select the answer that makes the most logical sense, even if you don’t know for sure if it’s the correct one.

In doing so, you will still have a chance of landing a point, all the while allowing yourself to answer the rest of the CBEST assessment.

practice as much as you can
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On the other hand, if you truly need it, there is nothing wrong or shameful with looking up and using an online CBEST practice test.

This is because such mock tests contain identical questions to the ones that will appear in the actual exam, and many test providers and reviewer sites offer in-depth explanations on how to tackle each subject effectively.

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