Best 5 CBEST Study Guides

The 5 Best CBEST Study Guides is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, Magoosh, and other affilate programs. We independently research, review and recommend the best products. We may receive commissions on qualifying purchases made from our chosen links to maintain the quality of the website with no extra cost to you.

The CBEST, or Certified Basic Educational Skills Test, is an examination that takes place in the state of California to test potential educators on their basic reading, writing, and mathematical skills. The test is divided into these three sections, and all participants must earn a score of at least 41 in each one. The reading and mathematics section has 50 multiple choice questions test takers must answer, while the writing portion has two essays. By testing aspiring educators on these skills, the CBEST aims to create generations of teachers and educators with sufficient knowledge in the above three core areas. Once test takers pass and earn their CBEST, they can either move on to substitute teaching or enter into a state-sponsored accredited teaching program.

Although it is no longer required for all teachers to pass the CBEST in California as of 2021, this is still a certification that many must take to enter educator positions or into other teaching programs. Furthermore, it is well-known as a difficult exam to pass on the first time, so adequately preparing for test day is vital for all test-takers who wish to earn their certification after one attempt. To help make this process easier, aspiring educators taking the CBEST should strongly consider investing in a high-quality study guide to make the preparation process go by more smoothly. This guide has compiled the five best study guides out there to help you make your choice and get you started on studying for your exam!

The 5 Best CBEST Study Guides

1. CBEST Review, 4th Edition by the Princeton Review

The CBEST review guide produced by the Princeton Review clearly lays out exam material while giving tips and tricks throughout the book to provide the reader with a strong foundation for test day. The Princeton Review’s CBEST guide begins with an introductory chapter that informs the student on everything they will need to know going into the exam while also directing them to additional resources for further studying. The remaining content is divided into chapters based on the three sections of the exam (reading, mathematics, and writing), and each chapter introduces the material that students may encounter on the test and gives advice on how to tackle the sections. After the core content of the guide is completed, students can turn to the practice exams at the end of the book and on the companion website to apply what they learned. Each practice exam has an answer key with detailed explanations, so students will come away from the experience confident in what they do and don’t know. The online companion website includes even more resources, such as CBEST exam updates, changes to the guide, and extra practice.


  • Guide is divided logically by test content to make the navigation of the book quicker and more efficient
  • Each chapter gives introductions to the content while also providing readers with practical test advice
  • Language is approachable and easy to grasp, making explanations and examples stick with the learner after reading
  • Practice tests and answer keys are included at the end of the guide to quiz readers on test content while also giving them effective feedback
  • Additional resources are available on the online companion website that any person who purchases the guide has access to


  • Content is very useful, but questions may be outdated due to the recycling of topics and the edition of the guide
  • Not many formats are available for purchase, limiting students who prefer studying with certain types of books
  • Chapter on the writing section receives much less content than the reading and mathematics chapters

2. CBEST Prep Book California: CBEST Test Study Guide and Practice Exam Questions

The CBEST study guide produced by APEX Test Prep is a comprehensive review book that covers both the content that may appear on the exam as well as general test-taking strategies. The guide begins discussing these strategies and how they can work with the CBEST exam before moving on to the three main chapters. Each chapter focuses on one subject of the exam and the material learners are expected to know from these subjects, with the three subjects being reading, mathematics, and writing. These individual chapters include content as well as practice problems (or a writing prompt for the final chapter) to allow students to simulate taking their CBEST exam. Additionally, answer explanations are included to help students see where they should focus their studying during the preparation process. If the student wishes to get even more study tips, they can request a DVD from APEX Test Prep after receiving their guide.


  • Organization is grouped by topic and easy for learners to follow, both in the book as a whole and in each chapter
  • Studying help is provided at the beginning of the guide and in the DVD to give readers advice on how to use the guide effectively
  • Practice problems and a writing prompt are included to help learners prepare for the types of questions they will encounter on exam day
  • Language is clear and concise to help the reader focus on absorbing the information necessary for the exam without confusion
  • Answer keys are detailed and leave no room for doubt in the reader’s mind as to why they were right or wrong


  • Additional practice problems and writing prompts could have been included to provide further study material
  • Does not come in multiple formats besides paperback for different types of learners
  • Chapter on the writing section is much shorter than the chapters on the other two subject matters

3. Test Prep Books CBEST Prep Book: Study Guide with 3 CBEST Practice Tests for California Reading, Math

The CBEST study guide by Test Prep is a great review material for the CBEST exam, both for test material and strategies. The guide is divided into an introduction that provides the reader with background information on the exam and studying strategies they can use as they go through the book, three chapters that cover content that may be seen in the reading, mathematics, and writing sections, and three practice tests that combine everything the learner will have seen throughout the guide. Each chapter provides the reader with clear explanations and examples of exam content accompanied by helpful illustrations and tips, giving learners a strong foundation for the practice exams at the end of the guide. These exams include questions from both reading and mathematics as well as a writing prompt to give readers a chance to test their skills in all three areas. Additionally, detailed answer keys are provided for the reader to compare to their own work, providing them with helpful feedback they apply in further study sessions.


  • Provides a comprehensive review of CBEST material with nearly three hundred pages of content for the reader to tackle
  • Divides content into the three main test topics with additional subsections on specific material that may appear on the exam
  • Includes a section that focuses on providing the reader with study tips they can use as they prepare for the exam
  • Practice tests are located at the end of the guide that combines information from the entire guide to simulate a real CBEST exam
  • Additional practice tips are available on the DVDs or videos that owners of the guide can gain access to


  • No feedback or advice is given for the writing questions on the three practice tests
  • Study guide is only available in paperback, limiting students who learn better with online editions of books
  • Content division between the three main topics is slightly uneven and prioritizes the mathematics chapter

4. CBEST, 8th Edition by CliffsNotes

The CliffsNotes CBEST study book is a thorough review of all the material the reader will need to know to pass the exam with over three hundred pages of content. The book is divided by subject matter into eleven chapters that cover background information for the exam, study tips, the three main sections, and practice exams. The core chapters explain the content from the reading, mathematics, and writing sections in detail while giving the reader strategies to tackle a variety of questions they may encounter on the exam itself. To do this, practice questions are included in each chapter related to help prepare learners for the more comprehensive practice exams at the end of the guide. Although every section receives adequate focus, students who wish to focus on reviewing mathematical concepts should look no further as there are five chapters dedicated to the subject. After the reader goes through all the material the guide offers, they can turn to the practice exams and detailed answer keys at the end of the book.


  • Covers a wide range of material related to CBEST exam content in over three hundred pages and eleven chapters
  • Focuses on presenting information clearly while also giving readers tips and tricks on forming effective study strategies
  • Practice problems are included at the end of individual chapters to give students focused and quick reviews
  • Comprehensive practice exams are at the end of the guide with answer keys to allow readers to simulate the CBEST exam
  • Provides a thorough review of all the foundational mathematical concepts the reader will need to know


  • Reading and writing do not receive the same amount of focus as math, so students wishing for a more comprehensive review of these subjects may not enjoy this guide
  • Students can only purchase a paperback edition of this study guide, restricting those who do not enjoy studying from physical books
  • Formatting and amount of content can make pages seem crowded and hard to navigate at times

5. Cirrus Test Prep CBEST Test Preparation

The Cirrus CBEST study guide is a clear and concise presentation of review material designed with the available free time of professionals in mind. Written for teachers by teachers, this study guide does not waste time diving into the core concepts the reader will need to solidify for the exam. The guide itself is divided into an introduction that provides the reader with additional resources, three chapters that cover the main topics and subtopics of the exam, and a practice test that brings all the content together. Additionally, each chapter contains mini-practice problems to allow the reader to practice what they want on their own time. After the reader goes through all the content in each chapter, they can tackle the practice test at the end of the guide that includes questions from all three sections as well as a detailed answer key. Furthermore, learners looking for more advice and practice can turn to the online resources provided in the introduction of the study guide.


  • Study guide is designed to be a quick yet effective review for educators and teachers who have trouble finding time to study
  • Material is divided logically by topic into three main chapters for reading, mathematics, and writing
  • Practice problems exist within each chapter in addition to the larger practice test included at the end of the guide
  • Content is explained clearly and concisely in each chapter to help the reader focus on the most relevant material they will need for the exam
  • Additional study resources are included at the beginning of the book for further reference


  • Prioritizes going through exam content over giving tips and tricks for study/test strategies
  • Only available for purchase in a paperback format
  • Only one practice exam is included in the guide itself, so learners may need additional practice elsewhere
Share on: