What Are the Different CBEST® Scores?

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  • Written By: H. Lo
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 28 February 2020
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The California Basic Educational Skills Test™ (CBEST®) consists of three sections: reading, mathematics and writing. These sections make up the CBEST® scores. When these separate scores are added together, they make up the entire test score.

Each section of the test is scored separately on a scale of 20 to 80, with a passing score on any section being a scaled score of 41. To pass the CBEST®, the total score a person receives when the three different scores are totaled must equal at least 123. If a person receives a scaled score of 37 on any section, it is still acceptable and possible for him to pass the CBEST®, as long as his entire test score is no less than 123. Any score below 37 means a person does not pass that section of the test and, thus, he does not pass the CBEST®.

The CBEST® scores for the reading and mathematics sections are based on the total number of correctly-answered questions. The writing section is a bit different in that the score comes from how well a person wrote his two essays. The scoring for the writing section is done holistically on a four-point scale by at least two different people. For each essay, then, the score is a combination of two different scores. The entire writing section score consists of both essay scores eventually being added up and converted to comply with the score scale.


To analyze the CBEST® scores further, within the reading and mathematics sections, a person tests in different skill areas. For example, in the reading section, a person tests on Critical Analysis and Evaluation and Comprehension and Research Skills. If a person does really well on one section and not as well on another, his score report will indicate so. This indication helps the person study for a certain skill area if he has to retake the section of the test. For the writing section, a diagnostic score will let a person know what needs to improve with his writing.

A person who passes the CBEST® does not need to retake the test. On the other hand, if a person passes two sections, but not the third, he will have to retake that third section to pass the CBEST®. It might even be a good idea to retake all three sections, though it is not necessary. This is because the highest score a person receives on each section is the score that is used to compute his entire test score. The highest CBEST® scores added together will give him the best opportunity to reach 123.


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