Free CBEST Practice Test - Math, Reading, and Writing Sections

What Is the CBEST Test?

The California Basic Educational Skills Test or CBEST test, evaluates basic reading, mathematics, and writing skills. The test is divided into the following sections:

  1. Mathematics: This section evaluates the examinee's quantitative skills. It includes 50 multiple-choice questions to be answered in two hours.
  2. Reading: This section tests the ability to understand, interpret, and analyze written information. It comprises 50 multiple-choice questions to be answered in an hour and a half.
  3. Writing: In this section, candidates must produce two essays: one that assesses the ability to write effectively and another that measures the ability to write expressively and clearly. Both essays must be written in an hour and a half.

We will cover each topic separately and provide additional valuable tips along the way on this CBEST practice test. We will begin with the Mathematical section, which includes three sub-sections.
Let's get started!

CBEST Math Practice

The CBEST Mathematics section includes 50 questions, which are divided into sub-sections as follows:

  • Estimation and Measurement: 15 questions that evaluate your ability to estimate numerical values and understand basic principles of measurement.
  • Computation and Problem-Solving: 17-18 questions that often require you to perform basic arithmetic operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  • Numerical Reasoning and Graphical Relationships: 17-18 questions assessing your reading skills in graphs, tables, and charts.

Estimation and Measurement 

Q1. Which of the following is closest to 109/59?

A. 1

B. 2

C. 3

D. 4


The correct answer is B.

This problem requires estimation; therefore, find the closest number to both the dividend and divisor that can divide without a remainder.

The closest number to 109 is 100, which can be divided by 50, which is the closest to 56.

Now solve:


Accordingly, 100/50≈109/59≈2


Q2: What is the distance between the two arrows?

A. 2.5 cm

 B. 3 cm

 C. 3.5cm

 D. 4cm


The correct answer is C.

The first arrow is at the 0.5 cm mark, and the second is at the 4 cm mark. Therefore, the distance between A and B equals 4 – 0.5 = 3.5 inches.

💡Tip: The mathematical questions in the CBEST are usually not too challenging – with calculations including mostly the basic arithmetic operations and much deduction. Finding ways to eliminate answers and responding without performing full calculations can save valuable time for more complex questions. A great example is in question 1 – where you can answer by making your way through the distractors.


Let’s continue to more Mathematical questions.

Computation and Problem-Solving

Q3. If 4 + x = 1, which of the following must be true?

A. 2 - 6 = x

B. 2 + 6 = x

C. 13 - x = 10

D. 9 - x = 7

E. x + 6 = 3


The correct answer is E.

To solve the problem, first isolate the variable in the question:

4 + x = 1 → x = 1 - 4 → x = -3

Now, apply the same value of x to each answer and check if it works:

A: 2 – (-3) = 5 → 2 + 3 = 5 → 5 = 5 (Incorrect)

B: 2 + (-3) = -1 → 2 - 3 = -1 → -1 = -1 (Incorrect)

C: 13 – (-3) = 16 → 13 + 3 = 16 → 16 = 16 (Incorrect)

D: 9 – (-3) = 12 → 9 + 3 = 12 → 12 = 12 (Incorrect)

E: -3 + (-3) = -6 → -3 - 3 = -6 → -6 = -6 (Correct)


Q4. 0.953 – 0.374 – 0.282 =?

A. 0.297

B. 1.609

C. 0.579

D. 0.501


The correct answer is A.
In order to subtract decimals, use the column subtraction method (note: align numbers at the decimal point).
Start with the first two numbers: 0.952 – 0.374 =?

Subtract the next decimal from the calculated result: 0.597 – 0.282 =?

The result is 0.953 – 0.374 – 0.282 = 0.297; therefore, the correct answer is (A).

If you chose answer (B), you probably added the decimals instead of subtracting them. You probably omitted the last decimal if you chose answer (C). If you chose answer (D), review the rules for subtracting decimals.

Numerical and Graphical Relationships

Q5. Below is a pie chart depicting the viewing habits of different age groups in relation to different genres in a specific movie theatre. Each pie segment represents about 4% of all movies viewed annually. Each segment represents a genre according to the segment's key. Each chart is divided into four parts to describe a different age range. These age ranges are represented by different rectangles at the side of the chart.

For example, 75% of the movies viewed by 4–12-year-olds are animated films.

Which age group watches fewer movies than any other?

A. 4-12

B. 13-20

C. 21-45

D. 46-80

E. They all have the same proportional viewership.


The correct answer is A.

Because each segment of the chart represents a certain percentage of the films viewed, and because all segments are equal, the age group with fewer segments watches fewer movies.

Counting the number of segments in each age group shows that there are four segments in the age group 4-12. The rest of the age groups have more segments. This age group watches 16% of the films in the cinema, less than any other age group.


💡Tip: While we are sometimes keen to dive deep into the graph and read the introduction, it may be time-consuming to understand thoroughly what is in front of you. A simpler method would be to read the question and go directly to the answers – which will help you look strictly for what you need. In the previous question – The information regarding the segment’s key and different movie types is irrelevant; only how many segments each age group holds matters. Starting from the question, you can save valuable time.


Q6. Use the information in the quotation to answer the following question.

  • If the movie length is over 2 hours, Sara will need a break.
  • If the movie lasts between 1 and 2 hours, Sara will stay seated.
  • If the movie lasts less than an hour, Sara won't watch it.

If Sara took a break while watching a movie, which of the following statements could be true?

A. The movie was 45 minutes long.

B. The movie was 1 hour and 30 minutes long.

C. The movie was 3 hours long.

D. The movie was a short film.

E. The movie was a documentary.


The correct answer is C.


- If the movie length is over 2 hours, Sara will need a break.

- If the movie lasts between 1 and 2 hours, Sara will stay seated.

- If the movie length is less than an hour, Sara won't watch it.

Considering the options:

The movie was 3 hours long. - This is possible since it's over 2 hours.

The movie was 45 minutes long. - Not possible, Sara won't watch.

The movie was 1 hour and 30 minutes long. - Not possible; Sara would remain seated.

The movie was a short film. - Vague depends on the length of the short film, but generally, short films are under an hour, so that Sara wouldn't watch them.

The movie was a documentary. - Irrelevant to Sara’s break.

How to Prepare for the CBEST Test?

Our All-Inclusive CBEST PrepPack includes all of the material you will need to study for your upcoming exam. Starting at $79 you can get access to 200+ sample questions and detailed explanations developed by experts. Our platform will help you better determine your strengths and weaknesses and create a better study system. 

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We will now move on to the next section – Reading. While the first section was divided into three sub-sections, usually in the same order as presented, this section includes two question types that do not appear in a particular order. Let's continue! 

CBEST Reading Practice Test

The CBEST Reading section includes 50 questions, which are divided into two question types as follows:

  • Critical Analysis and Evaluation: 20 questions assessing your ability to critically analyze text. You'll be asked to identify the main ideas, draw conclusions, and evaluate the logic and adequacy of arguments presented in the reading material.
  • Reading Comprehension and Research Skills: 30 questions that focus on your ability to understand and interpret written information. Questions may require you to identify critical details, determine the sequence of events, or use context clues to understand the meaning of words or phrases.

Critical Analysis and Evaluation

Read the following passage and then answer the questions bellow.

Text: Consumers today face a paradox of choice when it comes to buying groceries. The supermarket shelves are filled with many options, from organic produce to pre-packaged meals.                                                                                                                                           .However, most consumers fail to realize that this seemingly extensive range is largely an illusion.

Q7. Which sentence would best support the development of the text?

A. The options may look different, but they are often owned by the same parent company, limiting true diversity.

B. Many people prefer to shop online because it is more convenient than going to the supermarket.

C. With so many options, you can always find something satisfying your taste buds.

D. It's a common perception that more choices mean higher consumer costs.

E. Supermarkets often play soothing music to enhance the shopping experience.


The correct answer is A.

Answer A directly supports the argument that the "seemingly extensive range is largely an illusion" by pointing out that the same parent company owns many products. It adds depth to the idea that the plethora of choices is not what it seems, thereby supporting the development of the text.

The other choices are off-topic or address other issues not germane to the passage's focus on the illusory nature of choices in supermarkets.

💡Tip: While it may seem that this type of question is like sentence completion – it is quite different since it does not concern grammar. When approaching a question such as the previous one, we recommend first trying to complete the sentence without looking at the answer – since it is based on pure logic.

The best way to achieve high logical abilities is by practicing different questions in similar formats. For a price of 79$, you can begin your practice today, learning how to complete the missing puzzle pieces in your mind, regardless of the topic.



Q8. Based on the passage, what is the writer's opinion about the many options available to supermarket consumers?

A. The writer believes that many options are beneficial for the consumer.

B. The writer feels that the plethora of choices is misleading and creates an illusion of diversity.

C. The writer thinks having many options is important for a competitive market.

D. The writer is indifferent to the number of choices available.

E. The writer contends that more options lead to higher consumer prices.


The correct answer is B.

The writer explicitly states that "this seemingly extensive range is largely an illusion," indicating that they find the abundance of options to be misleading rather than beneficial. The writer suggests that while the choices appear extensive, they are, in fact, deceptive, thus making answer B the most accurate reflection of the writer's opinion on the matter.

Answers A, C, D, and E do not accurately capture the writer's viewpoint as described in the text.

Q9: The writer’s argument in the passage is addressed mainly to:

A. Supermarket owners who want to understand consumer behavior.

B. Government agencies responsible for regulating the food industry.

C. General consumers who shop for groceries.

D. Organic farmers advocating for healthier food options.

E. Marketing professionals interested in consumer choices.


The correct answer is C.

The passage addresses the "paradox of choice" that "consumers" face and even explicitly states, "what most consumers fail to realize." Thus, the target audience is general consumers who shop for groceries, making option C the correct answer.

The other options are off target because the text aims to enlighten the shopper about the illusion of choice, not advise supermarket owners, government agencies, organic farmers, or marketing professionals.

Comprehension and Research Skills

Q10. Regarding the previous text, what is the main argument of the passage?

A. Supermarkets offer various options to cater to every consumer's needs.

B. Organic produce is better than pre-packaged meals.

C. Most consumers prefer pre-packaged meals for their convenience.

D. Consumers should be cautious as the range of choices in supermarkets is an illusion.

E. Supermarkets manipulate consumers into thinking there are more choices than there actually are.


The correct answer is D.

The main argument of the passage is that although it may seem like there are a wide variety of choices available to consumers, this range is mainly illusory. The passage specifically states, "what most consumers fail to realize is that this seemingly extensive range is largely an illusion." Therefore, answer D most accurately captures the main argument of the text.

The other options either misrepresent the text's focus or discuss secondary details that aren't the main point being made.


Read the following text to answer the questions below

Physical exercise is often championed for its numerous benefits to physical health, such as improved cardiovascular function, weight management, and increased muscle strength. However, less attention is given to the psychological benefits of regular physical activity. Exercise releases endorphins, the body's natural mood lifters, and has been proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Despite the proven advantages, a significant portion of the population remains inactive. Many cite a lack of time, while others point to physical limitations or even a simple lack of interest. Regardless of the reasons, this sedentary behavior poses serious risks, including an increased likelihood of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.


Q11. What would be an appropriate title for this text?

A. "Exercise: It's All About Cardio"

B. "The Psychological Impact of Exercise"

C. "Why Most People Don't Exercise"

D. "The Benefits of Exercise and the Risks of Inactivity "

E. "Endorphins: The Magic of Exercise"


The correct answer is D.

Answer D, "The Benefits of Exercise and the Risks of Inactivity," is the most appropriate title for the text because it captures both the positive aspects mentioned (physical and psychological benefits of exercise) and the negative consequences (risks associated with a lack of physical activity, such as chronic diseases).

The other options focus on specific aspects of the topic and do not fully represent the dual nature of the text's content.


💡Tip: Whether you are asked to choose a title or the text's main theme, you are asked a similar question: what is the text mainly about? While there’s no avoiding reading the text in completion – you can write yourself keywords – either ones that are recurring (i.e., benefits in the second text), or compare words from the answers to the text (i.e., illusion in the first text, which also relates to the first question with the missing sentence). 


Q12. According to the text, what is one psychological benefit of exercise?

A. It improves memory.

B. It reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.

C. It enhances social skills.

D. It improves cardiovascular function.

E. It leads to an increased risk of diabetes.


The correct answer is B.

The text explicitly mentions, "Exercise releases endorphins, the body's natural mood lifters, and has been proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression." This information aligns directly with answer B, confirming it as correct.

Answer D refers to a physical benefit of exercise rather than a psychological one, which is what the question asks for.

Answer E indicates a risk associated with inactivity, not a psychological benefit of exercise. Therefore, both options D and E are incorrect in the context of the question.

Answers A and C are also incorrect because they are not mentioned in the text as psychological benefits of exercise, making answer B the only choice that accurately reflects the content of the text. 

Ace the CBEST Test With JobTestPrep 

CBEST results are reported using scaled scores ranging from 20 to 80 for each section. A passing score on each one is 41, with a total passing score of 123 (the sum of the scaled scores for all three sections). While it's acceptable to have a scaled score as low as 37 on one or two sections, as long as the total score is 123 or higher, scoring below 37 on any section results in failure, regardless of the total score. Because of this, it is essential to study and prepare for the Math, Reading, and Writing sections in the same proportion. 

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In-depth explanations for answers and expert tips to help you develop your own effective answering strategies.
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We’ll proceed to the final CBEST section – Writing. This section does not contain multiple choice questions – but two writing tasks meant to assess your ability to express experiences and concepts with good logical and grammatical abilities. Let’s continue.

CBEST Writing Examples

The CBEST Writing section includes two writing tasks:

  • Situation Analyzing: Evaluate a given situation or statement and possibly provide an opinion.
  • Personal Experience: Provide an example of a personal situation from the past that relates to a required notion.


Situation Analyzing:

Topic 1: Recently, your local school district has been considering a change from a five-day school week to a four-day school week, with each school day being slightly longer to compensate for the lost day. Write an essay analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of this proposed change.

Sample Responses:

Score Point 4 (well-formed writing essay)

The proposition of a four-day school week is an intricate issue with a mixed bag of advantages and disadvantages. Our local school district must carefully consider both before deciding.

One of the most compelling advantages is financial savings. Operating schools for one fewer day per week can significantly reduce overhead costs for utilities and transportation. Moreover, a longer weekend could benefit teachers by giving them more time for preparation and grading, potentially increasing the quality of education.

However, this proposal is not without its drawbacks. Extending the length of the school day might be counterproductive for younger students, who often struggle with shorter attention spans. Long days can lead to cognitive fatigue, affecting academic performance. A four-day week could also pose childcare challenges for working parents who rely on schools to keep their children occupied during work hours.

In conclusion, while the prospect of a four-day school week offers enticing cost savings and potential improvements in teacher preparedness, it also risks academic efficacy and imposes logistical challenges for parents. It's a matter that warrants thoughtful deliberation, ensuring that the proposed change benefits the greater good without sacrificing the quality of education.


Score Point 1 (inadequately formed writing essay)

I think 4 days is good but also bad. Good becuz less school and more play time yay. But then if less school then maybe hard 4 parents. Kids get tired too long day.

Some kids like school but some don't, so why not ask them what they think? Also, teachers get more free time. But I don't know how that work.


The first response is well-structured, uses appropriate vocabulary and sentence structures, and presents a well-balanced analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of a four-day school week. It addresses the issue's complexity and provides a clear, insightful conclusion.

The second response, on the other hand, lacks proper grammar, structure, and depth of analysis. It fails to address the prompt adequately and does not communicate a clear message to the intended audience. It also lacks a formal tone suitable for the context.

💡Tip: In the Writing section, keep in mind the table that establishes the scoring range. 

Click here to see the score table.
You should focus your practice on grammar and content to increase your score. While grammar can be practiced using different techniques – such as reading texts, practicing your vocabulary, synonyms, and antonyms, content requires unique skills to be improved. Your critical thinking, idea presentation, and expression of dilemmas are measured – and all of these should be worked on.
For a price starting at 79$, you can begin your practice today, which includes Writing guides and practice, along with examples of different essays.


Personal Experience:

Topic 2: Describe a time when you had to make an ethical decision that was difficult for you. Explain the factors that contributed to the difficulty of the decision and how you eventually resolved it.

Sample Responses:

Score Point 4 (well-formed writing essay)

Early in my career, I faced a significant ethical decision that tested my integrity and moral compass. I discovered that a close colleague was falsifying company data to make our department appear more successful than it was. I was torn; reporting him would likely lead to his dismissal, but ignoring the situation would compromise the integrity of the entire team and company.

After weighing the pros and cons, I decided I could not let the unethical behavior continue. I arranged a confidential meeting with my supervisor to present the evidence I had gathered. It was a difficult decision because I was risking a friendship and potentially creating a hostile work environment for myself. However, the ethical implications of staying silent far outweighed these personal considerations.

The outcome was painful but necessary: my colleague was let go, and stricter protocols were implemented. I faced some awkwardness among other team members but was at peace with my decision. The experience taught me the invaluable lesson that integrity often comes at a personal cost, but the long-term rewards of doing the right thing are priceless.


Score Point 1 (inadequately formed writing essay)

Had a time when friend at work was doing bad stuff with numbers. Didn't know what to do, tell or not tell. Boss might fire him, and other people might be mad at me.

Decided to tell boss but didn't want to. Was hard. After that, things changed. Friend was fired and I was kinda sad but it's okay


The first response is a well-crafted essay addressing the prompt by describing a clear ethical dilemma, the factors that made it difficult, and the resolution. It employs a complex sentence structure, mature vocabulary, and detailed explanations to communicate a complete message to an educated adult audience effectively. The writer discusses the ethical decision in-depth and reflects on the broader implications and lessons learned, adding a layer of sophistication to the response. The second response is considerably weaker. It does address the basic elements of the prompt but does so in a superficial and unclear manner. The vocabulary and sentence structure are simplistic, lacking the complexity expected in an essay for educated adults. The essay also fails to delve into the nuanced considerations that made the ethical decision difficult, nor does it offer meaningful reflection on the implications or lessons learned.

The Writing section of the CBEST test is usually the most challenging one. This is because there are multiple skills that will be evaluated, related to your argumentative abilities and grammar knowledge. Our CBEST PrepPack includes example questions for you to practice and various practice test that will help you develop the skills relevant to writing a high-quality essay. 

Starting at $79 you can access the CBEST PrepPack with practice tests on:

  • Language usage.
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  • Written communication.
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