Our Top 7 Tips for Taking the CBEST Test

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A group of adults takes the CBEST

Once you’ve discovered that substitute teaching in California can be a rewarding career choice, you may have turned your attention to the CBEST, or California Basic Educational Skills Test, to help earn your permit.

If it’s been a while since you’ve studied for and taken an academic test, this prospect can be intimidating! But Swing Education supports our substitute teachers every step of the way. We know the CBEST well — be sure to check out our Ultimate CBEST Study Guide — and have seven tips for you:

1. Remember to prepare for all three sections

Picture two aspiring teachers preparing for the same test. One has a degree in mathematics. The other, a degree in English. Both assume they have their respective specialties in the bag and dedicate all their study time to subjects they perceive as their weakness.

When the test scores come back, you can guess what happens: The person with the math background scores highest in reading and writing, and the person with the English background scores highest in math!

This is a true story and a reminder that you want to run through all the practice tests, even in the subjects where you feel most confident.

2. Build stamina

Although you do have the option to take only one or two of the sections in a given test-taking session, the full, three-part test is a long one. Not only will full practice tests familiarize you with the material, but they will also help you build the stamina to get through a test of this length more easily. You don’t want to run out of steam right before the essay portion begins. Work up to it!

3. Don’t wait until the last minute to cram

By familiarizing yourself with the test early, you’ll feel more confident and there will be no surprises come test day. There is a familiar and predictable pattern to the sorts of questions that appear on the CBEST. Challenge yourself to review a bit of material every week. This slow, methodical method of study is more effective than a night-before cram session.

4. Answer every question

The CBEST is scored based on the number of questions you answer correctly — there’s no penalty for an incorrect response. So, make sure to answer every question to get your highest score possible!

5. Don’t fret if you run out of steam

In addition to having unlimited attempts at passing the CBEST, you won’t have to repeat any section of the test you have passed with a score of 41 or higher. So, if you hit a snag during one of the sections, know that you’ll still get credit for passing the others.

6. It’s OK to be nervous

Most of us have not taken a standardized test since our high school days. Don’t be surprised if sitting down for the CBEST evokes test-taking anxieties you haven’t felt for a while. It’s completely normal to feel some stress about the test — embrace the jitters as a mechanism that will keep you sharp and energized.

7. Breathe

Take a moment before the test begins to center yourself. Since you have as many chances as you need to pass, there is no pressure! If you feel yourself start to panic, close your eyes and take five long, full breaths. This extra oxygen to your brain should slow your heart a bit and help you relax.

Remember to use positive self-talk to encourage yourself during challenging portions, and take time during breaks to do small stretches to get your blood moving and help you stay alert. Paying attention to your body in these ways is bound to have a positive effect on your scores.

All of us at Swing Education wish you the best during testing day. And if you haven’t signed up to be a substitute teacher with us yet, be sure to today.

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2 Comments on “Our Top 7 Tips for Taking the CBEST Test”

  1. I’m trying to get someone that I can speak to you voice to voice. I’m very interested in taking the CBEST to become qualified to substitute teach.
    I know from the practice tests this is definitely something that has to be studied in preparation. I’m interested in a class or tutoring so that I can pass..
    I would appreciate any information!
    Jennifer Drake

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