Sunday September 4, 2016


I took the CBEST yesterday at the Pearson VUE test center in Oakland. I took the computer version of the test. It costs 2.5 times as much as the paper version but I had more opportunities for an appointment. I also had no desire whatsoever to use paper and pencil. It's 2016 not 1970 (or 1870)!

Personally, I think they should charge more for the hand-written version.

My appointment was for 12:15. I was told to arrive 30 minutes early (I was 45 minutes early).

Check in

I checked in at the front desk of a suite behind one of many semi-anonymous brown doors along a long crooked hallway on the 4th floor of a large office building.

  • My name is Vicki Brown and I'm here for the CBEST at 1:15.
  • Read the two-sided single-spaced laminated list of rules and regulations.

Pearson's level of cheat-prevention paranoia security is extreme much higher than I could have imagined.

  • Hand over my "one piece of current, government-issued identification printed in English, in the name in which you registered, bearing your photograph and signature".
  • Palm scan: right, right, left, left, right again.
  • Take a seat here please and look at the (logitech web) camera.
    Photo taken.
  • Remove all personal items from your pockets - wallet, keys, watch,... even tissues.
  • Turn out your pockets please.
  • Take off your glasses and lay them on the counter so they can be examined - no Google glass, recording devices, or micro chips allowed.
    • Wondering what they do about someone with hearing aids?
    • Wondering what they'll do about VR contact lenses?
  • All personal belongings (other than eyeglasses and ID) stored in a locker.
  • Take the key with you (it's got a 10x2" piece of plastic on it as a key holder; you can't possibly lose it).

I asked if I could hold onto my book for a while because I was early. I was told that I could start the test at any time. I didn't have to wait until 1:15.

Oh. OK. Sure.

Down a short hallway and I was passed off to the next person.

Hand Off

  • Show ID (again).
  • Palm scan (again). Only the right hand this time.
  • Turn out my pockets (again).
  • Glasses off (again) and laid on the counter so they can be examined.
  • Pat myself down, shirt and pants. Lift my pant cuffs. Show my belt buckle.
  • Would I like earplugs or sound-isolating ear muffs? Yes, please. Nice ear muffs, like we have at home for the garage.
  • Handed a pen (water soluble) and a booklet of "erasable sheets" (three or four sheets of legal-sized quadrille paper, laminated, spiral bound).
  • Final review of rules and regs.
    • All computer stations are monitored by video.
    • If I need a break, I must raise my hand and the proctor will escort me out.
    • If I need another pen or more "scratch paper", I should hold the pad or pen in the air.
  • I asked for a couple of tissues.

I was escorted into the room where the proctor logged me into a computer station. Each computer has a 22" monitor, mouse, and keyboard. Each station has walls between it and the next, so none of the test takers can see any others.


  • Don't write on the scratch pad until after finishing the tutorial.
  • Tutorial. (I had already done this two nights before, at home. No new material).
  • Three tests: Reading comprehension, Mathematics, Writing. The three Rs.
  • Four hours allocated for all three (plus 20 minutes for the tutorial). Divide that however you like. The clock just keeps ticking. (The clock can be hidden on the computer screen).
  • "Navigator" button shows what has been completed, not started yet, incomplete, or "flagged for later review".

If I rested my arms on the desk, I could "hear" the typing from the people on either side. I tried not to rest my arms on the desk.

I wished I could lower the height of the monitor just a bit more. My neck got stiff.

End of second essay; end of test. I had 70 minutes left on the clock.

  • Back to the beginning for a review of some of the reading questions I hadn't liked.
  • Should I go through the math questions again?
    Am I starting to overthink things?
  • My neck is stiff. Four hours is a long time. I'm tired and my nerves are frayed.
  • I'm done.
  • Exit.
  • Am I sure?
  • Really sure? I can't change my mind after this one.
  • Confirmation screen.
  • Raise my hand.
  • Proctor appears and takes my "scratch pad" and pen.
  • Back out to the desk.

The proctor got my initial (Reading & Math) scores from the printer. Handed the paper to me face down. I'll get the final scores in a couple of weeks.

Unlock the locker. Get my stuff. Put my ID in my wallet and my wallet in my pocket and head back downstairs.

Time to go home. It was a long day.

CBEST ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Sun, 04 Sep, 15:54 Pacific | «e»

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