The CBASE test was developed in the late 1980s at ARC (the Assessment Resource Center) at the University of Missouri. More than 135 colleges and universities in the United States use this exam to assess the qualifications of individuals wishing to enter teacher education programs and to test general academic skills and knowledge in campus-wide assessment programs. Students usually take the test after completing a college-level core curriculum.
The CBASE test was designed to fill the gap between generalized aptitude tests used for college entrance and specialized department exams. The test evaluates basic knowledge and abilities in higher order thinking skills (interpretive, strategic, and adaptive reasoning).
The content of the CBASE test is organized into four subject areas: English, mathematics, science, and social studies. All test forms are comprised of 180 multiple-choice items with the following distribution: 41 items in English, 56 items in mathematics, 41 items in science, and 42 items in social studies.
In addition to these multiple-choice items, the CBASE test includes a writing exercise. This exercise asks examinees to compose a writing sample in response to an argumentative prompt. The writing sample is then read and scored holistically by at least two college-level writing teachers, who use a six-point rubric. The score on this writing exercise is combined with responses to 16 multiple-choice items related to prewriting and editing skills, along with the knowledge of standard written English. These two scores are combined to yield an overall score for writing proficiency.
The subject content of the CBASE test is made up of clusters, as follows:
- Two English clusters: reading and literature, and writing
- Three mathematics clusters: general mathematics, algebra, and geometry
- Two science clusters: laboratory/field work and fundamental concepts
- Two social studies clusters: history and the social sciences (geography, economics, and political science)
The CBASE test is criterion-referenced, which means that it measures the examinee’s knowledge and skills in relation to an established standard rather than in relation to the performances of other examinees.