CBEST Test Prep

CBEST Math Test Tips - Page two.

When working problems out, make your first notes of what information you are given neatly. You might even put a box around it. This way, if you do get an answer that is wrong, you will not have to rewrite the information or waste time finding it in your scribbles.

This leads to the next hint:

If you get an answer that is not among the choices, DO NOT waste time retracing your steps. Start over again. Trying to find where you went wrong is time consuming. Plus, you will not have to worry about being sloppy while working the problem out. Just remember the tip just before this one.

You don't need to do all the problems all the way through. If , for example, you are doing a long division problem and you get a 6 for the first number, then look at the list of answers. Chances are there is only one or two that begin with 6. If not, continue with the second number in the same fashion.

Some answers will look attractive right away. They are there to fool you.

If you can do the problem, then DO the problem. Don't guess on problems you know how to do. Get yourself a guaranteed right answer.

Estimate. Round off numbers and try the problem with them. Some answers will be so far off you can eliminate them. However, once again, if you CAN do the math, then DO THE MATH.

Work backward, checking the given answer choices. Somewhere in the answer choices IS the number that works. Try them all! Use this as a last resort when you have finished the math section. Many problems are geared for just such approach. If you try the answers and find one that works, STOP and mark it. It has to be the correct answer. Likewise if you try the first four and they don't work--the last answer MUST be the right one. No need to check it.

Don't let personal feelings disrupt you. There will be stupid sounding questions. Don't ask yourself why they would make such a silly test. Each question in this section is just a math problem in disguise. Forget the story that goes with it. All that matters is the numbers. And yes, it is a silly test.

Always glance at the answers. Do this before, during, and after you atempt to solve the problem. This will help you eliminate answers and perhaps pick one that has to be the correct one.

Pay attention to numbers THAT MATTER. A problem such as 20% of 300 is virtually the same as 2 x 3 with zeroes in the right place. Look for an answer that starts with a 6. If only one has a six, that MUST be the right answer.

Many problems seem to panic some people. Consider the following:

Mrs. Brown's class has 32 students. Each student needs a pice of ribbon 4 feet 8 inches. How much total ribbon will Mrs. Brown's class need? Many people panic on ones like this. They think changing feet to inches and back again is a daunting task. Forget it! You don't need to change a thing. Every should know that you have to multiply 32 times 4 feet 8 inches. So, split it up. Do 32 x 4 first. That equals 124. Now suppose the answer choices are as follows:

a. 62 feet, 3 inches.

b. 96 feet, 8 inches.

c. 112 feet, 4 inches.

d. 145 feet, 4 inches.

e. 149 feet, 8 inches.

You still have not multiplied the inches, but you know it will be more than 124. That eliminates all answers except d and e. Look carefully at the answers. To get to 145 from 124, you need to add 21. Likewise, you need 25 more to get to 149. Forget the extra inches, they don't really matter. You just need to figure out if 32 x 8 inches equals 21 or 25 feet. You have many options. You could multiply 32 x 8, get 256, divide by 12 and get 21 and some change. That makes d the answer. Or, since you know that either e or d is the answer, you could check one of them. It it fails, the other must be the answer. Always try the largest. 149 is largest, take 12 x 25 to get 300. That is much more than the 256 from 32 x 8. That forces d to again be the choice.


Do not waste time on questions you cannot answer. This will take time away from questions you CAN answer, but may never get a chance. Consider the following system:

Go through the entire math section. Answer as many questions you can do with little or no thought. When you come to a question that looks like you can do it but just can't get it now, mark it with a circle and go on to the next question. When you come to a question that looks impossible to answer, put an "X" by it. After you have finished answering all you can, go back and do the ones marked with a circle. Some of these may turn into an "X." Don't worry about it. When you have answered all you can, go back and look at the ones marked with an "X." Read through the answers and choose wisely. Make your choice immediate! Don't dwell on what may or may not be right. Which leads to the next tip.

Be confident! Dwelling on "what ifs" will adversely affect you in the next section.
After finishing all sections and you still have time left, you may elect to go over the ones marked with an "X" again. I personally know of a women who spent so much time tackling questions she could not do, she had to guess on the last 15. And yes, she failed. She realized she could have done half of the remaining 15 but never got that chance. She received a score of 34 and almost assuredly would have passed if she had skipped to the ones she could do.

Reason through the problem as best you can before tackling it.

Know the difference between perimeter, area, and volume. Perimeter is the distance around the outside. Area is the amount of space something covers on a flat surface. Volume is the amount of total space occupied. But area and volume problems are supposed to have been discontinued.

Add all sides to get the perimeter. If it is a rectangle, opposite sides are equal. Yes, a square is a rectangle with equal sides.

When guessing, pick an answer in the middle of the values given.

 Make a chart or diagram whenever possible. It will help to not only visualize the problem, but calculate the correct answer.

If a problem sounds easy and you jump on an answer, DO NOT mark it until you have read all answers and reread the question. Many times an answer is very attractive, but very wrong.

When doing logic problems, tackle them like a reading problem.

If after working on a problem you get an answer that is not listed, skip this problem and come back to it later. Also, DO NOT try and figure out what steps you did wrong. START OVER COMPLETELY, even using a different space for scratch paper. Trying to fugure out where you went wrong is time consuming and confusing. Most people are very sloppy when writing down steps and calculations. This perfectly okay! And this is another reason to start over-sometimes it is impossible to actually read what you have written.

If a problem asks you to add a list of numbers together and then do another operation to the sum, do the total twice. This is where most people make errors. This will help you avoid starting completly over as in the previous tip.

[ Go back to CBEST Math Tips Page One ]

Mental Math tips

CBEST Math Practice Test #1

CBEST Math Practice Test #2

CBEST Math Practice Test #3

More CBEST Test Prep Resources

CBEST Test Tips - Overall tips to take and pass the CBEST Test.

CBEST Math Tips - Read our tips to pass the math section of the CBEST Test.

Essay Writing Tips for the CBEST - Get our CBEST essay writing guide here.

* Privacy Policy