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CBEST Writing Examples: Test Questions, Tips, and Dates 2023

The CBEST Writing exam is a critical step in achieving your goal of becoming a teacher in California. It assesses your writing abilities and is mandatory for obtaining a teaching certificate. To give yourself the best chance of passing, it's important to start preparing now. Don't miss this opportunity to take your career to the next level, read on to learn more about the test and how to prepare for it effectively.

The page will include the following:

  • What is the CBEST Writing Exam?
  • CBEST Writing Examples .
How Is Your Writing Evaluated?
  • CBEST Writing Tips .
  • CBEST Writing Test Dates .
  • How to Practice for the writing section of the CBEST?

Let’s dive in.

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What Is CBEST Writing Exam?

The CBEST writing exam consists of two sections that measure your writing ability. The first topic asks you to analyze a situation or statement. The second section asks you to describe an experience you have had.

Test Instructions

Make sure you address all of the points raised in the initial paragraph and only write about the topics presented. Use specific examples to support generalizations. Take the time to read the content of the paragraph before you start writing, and build a mental plan in your mind.

Write an original response, without copying or paraphrasing anyone else's or some other work.

The responses you provide will not require any specialized knowledge.

How Long is the CBEST Writing Test?

The length of the CBEST writing section is 1 hour and 30 minutes.

CBEST Writing Examples and Topics

To practice read the following CBEST essay writing examples and topics and choose some for practice, the test will include a time limit so give yourself about 45 minutes to write an appropriate essay.

Writing example 1: Are you in agreement or disagreement with the following statement? Dogs are man's best friends. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Writing example 2: It has been said, "The key to success is to stop talking and start doing." Compare and contrast success gained from correct planning and consulting with other people with success gained from doing the work. In your opinion, which strategy is more important? Why?

Writing example 3: "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." Do you agree or disagree with the quotation above? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your position.

Writing example 4: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I will remember. Involve me and I learn". Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Writing example 5: Learning about the past has no value for those of us living in the present. Do you agree or disagree? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Writing example 6: Which habit is most important to be successful in today's world? Choose one skill and use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.

Writing example 7: What are the important characteristics of a good father or mother? Over time, have these qualities changed in your culture or remained the same? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Writing example 8: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? "In this life, we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love." Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.

Writing example 9: There are many people who prefer to work for themselves or own their own businesses. Others prefer to be employed by someone else. Is it more appealing to you to be self-employed or work for someone else? Break down your decision into specific points.

In order to determine the score for the CBEST Writing Score Scale, the following characteristics of written performance are evaluated.

Rhetorical Force: How clearly the central idea or point of view is expressed; the coherence of the writer's argument.

Organization: The author's logical flow of ideas and the clarity of his or her writing.

Support and Development: The quality, depth, and specificity of supporting information.

Usage: How carefully and precisely the words are chosen in the writing.

Structure and Conventions: A writer's ability to avoid errors in syntax, paragraph structure, sentence structure, and mechanics (e.g., spelling, punctuation, capitalization).

Appropriateness: The writer's approach to the topic and the way language and style fit the audience and purpose.

CBEST Writing Tips

The CBEST Test has a scoring system that ranks each essay from 1-4. A "4" is a well-written essay that effectively communicates a whole message to the intended audience.

To communicate your message effectively keep in mind the following tips:

  • Clearly present a central idea or point of view while maintaining focus on that topic.
  • Writing outline - Arrange your Ideas or points of discussion in a logical way, and state their meaning clearly.
  • Make sure you don't make generalizations without supporting them with relevant, specific, and detailed arguments.
  • Be precise, careful, and accurate in your use of words.
  • Build coherent paragraphs by composing sentences of syntactic complexity and variety.
  • Use language and style appropriate for the given audience and purpose when forming your response, and make sure it addresses the topic fully.
CBEST Writing Test Dates

You can set a date for your CBEST writing test through the following Pearson Vue link. Fill in the location closest to your home and a suitable date, and it will show you the closest test centers.

If you're interested in online proctoring here are the official dates for 2023

cbest test dates

How to Practice for the Writing Section of the CBEST?

Prior to the exam, write at least three or four full practice essays. Choose writing prompts formats that are similar to the one you might receive on the CBEST, rather than just writing samples about anything you want.

There will be very specific criteria that examiners will be looking for, so even if you're an excellent writer, you should make sure you're able to write in the way they expect.

Go over the 'how is your writing evaluated' section and make sure you cover all the key parameters.

Is the CBEST writing test hard?

The difficulty of the CBEST writing test can vary for different individuals. Some may find it challenging due to poor writing skills or familiarity with the test format, while others may have an easier time with proper preparation and practice. Ultimately, it is subjective and can depend on the individual's abilities and level of preparation.

What is the average CBEST writing score?

The writing section scores range between 4 and 16, and they are scaled to provide a more accurate representation of the student's performance, with an average range of 20 to 80.

Related Teacher Prep Pages

  • Full guide to the CBEST Test
  • CBEST Reading Practice Test
  • CBEST Math Practice Test

CBEST Practice Test

CBEST Writing Practice Test

The CBEST Writing Test consists of two essay questions. One of them asks you to analyze a statement and the other one asks you to write about a personal experience. The test measures your ability to write effectively, which is an important skill needed for California educators. To prepare for your CBEST essays, read our writing guide and then try our free practice questions. After completing your responses you should review our sample essays to see what a high-scoring essay looks like.

CBEST Writing Guide

CBEST Writing Prompts

CBEST Writing Samples

CBEST Study Guide

If you are serious about getting a great score on your CBEST test, try out our recommended CBEST Online Course .

CBEST Writing Essay Topics & Rubric

Instructor: Elliot Bailey Use this lesson to prepare for the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST): Writing exam. Practice with our sample prompts and review the scoring rubric.

CBEST Writing: Essay Section

The writing portion of the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) is designed to evaluate your basic writing skills and understanding of concepts that align with the expectations of educators in the state of California. The writing section has two essay topics for you to respond to: an analysis essay and a personal experience essay.

Your essays will be scored according to the following written performance characteristics:

  • Rhetorical Force - how well you state and maintain your main idea or thesis, as well as the quality and coherency of your writing
  • Organization - how clear your writing is and how logically you order your ideas
  • Support and Development - how relevant and specific your supporting evidence is
  • Usage - how much care and precision you put into your word choices
  • Structure and Conventions - how free your writing is of errors related to paragraph and sentence structure, syntax, and mechanics (spelling, punctuation, and capitalization)
  • Appropriateness - how well you address the given topic and use appropriate language and style for the purpose

CBEST Writing: Sample Prompts

Sample prompt #1 - analysis essay.

Oscar Wilde once said, ''Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.'' Margaret Atwood once said, ''Life's not fair; why should I be?''

What does it mean for life to be ''fair''? In an essay that will be read by other educators, respond to the quotes and the question with your opinion. Support your stance with logical arguments and specific examples.

Sample Prompt #2 - Personal Experience Essay

Throughout the course of someone's life, they will run into many situations in which they witness someone or something being treated unfairly. In an essay that will be read by other educators, discuss a time in which you stood up for something you believed in. What did you do and how did you do it? What was the outcome?

CBEST Written Section Rubric

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CBEST Writing Study Guide & Practice Test

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CBEST Writing Exam Overview

The CBEST Assessment, or California Basic Educational Skills Test CBEST , is a three-part assessment for those who wish to become certified as educators in the State of California. The test is proctored and may be taken at a testing center or remotely. The test can currently be taken in online format, as the paper-based test was discontinued in April 2021.

The three parts of the test consist of the following:

  • a reading section, with 50 multiple-choice questions
  • a math section, with 50 multiple-choice questions
  • a writing section, which includes two essays.

The CBEST fulfills the basic skills requirement for candidates applying to a California Commission on Teacher Credentialing-approved program, substitute teachers, and candidates for initial licensure.

Easy-to-follow study guides, practice tests and resources.

CBEST Writing Test Format

The CBEST Writing Test consists of two essays. Overall, a one-hour and 20-minute block is allotted for both CBEST writing prompts, so all of the necessary work must be done inside of this block. To avoid going over the allotted time period, a good idea is to look at the CBEST writing examples beforehand to get a general sense of what to expect and get a feel for the format of the test ahead of time.

  • Performance summaries
  • Highlight strengths and weaknesses
  • Track your progress

CBEST Writing Prompts

There are two CBEST writing prompts on the essay portion of the test: a referential essay and an expressive essay on a personal experience. The referential portion gives a theoretical situation and requires the test-taker to apply insight, whereas the expressive portion requires recall of one's life experience. Both essays are graded on a rubric that measures the following aspects:

  • Rhetorical Force - How clearly the main idea is stated and maintained throughout the piece, the cohesion of the writing, and the overall form of the test-taker's design
  • Organization - Overall clarity of communication and sequencing of ideas
  • Support and Development - The information used to support the topic is relevant, well-rounded, and detailed
  • Usage - Accurate word choice
  • Structure and Conventions - Accuracy in syntax, structure, and mechanics
  • Appropriateness - How appropriately aligned the content, language, and style are to the topic

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cbest writing practice prompts

CBEST Writing: Analytical

This CBEST writing prompt will ask the test-taker to provide an analysis of a topic after providing specific examples. This essay should be structured using a five-paragraph essay format: introduction paragraph, three supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph.

The test scorers will be looking for content that is relevant to the topic and specific supporting examples in the body of the essay. The citation of sources/references is not necessary. Some strong CBEST writing examples to this prompt include an introductory paragraph that restates the prompt and provides a clear position, transitionary topic sentences within each body paragraph, and a conclusion paragraph that restates the prompt and summarizes the main ideas from each supporting paragraph. Candidates should keep in mind the elements that are assessed on the rubric.

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CBEST Writing: Personal Experience

The CBEST writing prompt will ask the test-taker to recall a personal experience in an expressive essay that should be written from the first-person point-of-view (using "I"). This essay would also best be approached by using a five-paragraph essay format: introduction paragraph, three supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph.

The test scorers will be looking for content that is engaging and entertaining. Strong story-telling should be the focus of this essay. Some strong CBEST writing examples to this prompt include a topic paragraph that addresses the prompt right away and draws the reader in, supporting paragraphs that makes the reader want to know more, and a conclusion paragraph that provides a resolution. As with the analytical prompt, it's important to keep in mind the elements that are assessed on the rubric.

CBEST Writing Scoring

CBEST passing score for Writing Test is calculated using a rubric. Generally, a passing score is 41 or higher, although a test-taker can receive as low as 37 in any one section and pass, as long as they have a score of 123 overall. The score for the essays is guided using a rubric with a maximum score of 4 and a minimum of 1. The rubric criteria are as follows:

4 - The highest score, indicates a strong piece that gets the point across effectively to the intended readers

3 - An acceptable piece that gets the point across to the intended readers

2 - The piece is somewhat formed and tries to get the point across to the intended readers

1 - The piece is not well-formed at all and does not get the point across to the intended readers

Each essay is reviewed by two scorers who will assign a score on the rubric and translate it to the score scale, which ranges from 20 to 80. Scores are available two to three weeks after the date of the test and are automatically reported to the CTC and any institutions of choice (this selection must be made when registering for the test). Score reports can be emailed to the test-taker, but the option must be selected when registering.

How to Prepare for CBEST Writing

Here are some strategies to prepare for success with the CBEST writing prompts:

  • Allocate 5-10 minutes at the beginning of each essay to read the prompt and outline the response.
  • Use scratch paper or the blank space in the testing book to brainstorm thoughts. A bubble map, with 3-5 supporting details under each bubble, can help organize thoughts into a five-paragraph essay format.
  • Study CBEST writing examples to see what test scorers are looking for.
  • Practice mindfulness techniques to avoid testing anxiety.
  • Consider using allotted breaks to step away from the test momentarily. Often, taking a short brain break will allow one to refocus and avoid becoming frustrated.

CBEST Writing Practice Test

The best way to know what to expect on the CBEST test (and to practice the writing skills to be successful) is to take advantage of CBEST Writing practice tests. CBEST practice test writing examples give a glimpse of the material to expect for each prompt, as the two prompts are different. Practice tests help the candidate to get used to the timing as well, helping them to practice pacing themselves.

CBEST Writing Test Registration

A list of dates for the CBEST Writing Test, along with test locations and fees, can be found on the CTC website 24 hours per day. CBEST Registration for an account can be done on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing website. Test-takers can schedule their test, pay fees, and receive score reports all in one place.

If a test-taker wishes to request accommodations for a disability or any other condition that may warrant one, they may do so by filing an Alternative Testing Arrangements Request Form, along with supporting documentation, on the CTC website.

Registration Policies:

  • A testing appointment can be withdrawn through the CTC website by canceling with at least 24 hours' notice and submitting a withdrawal request. Fees will automatically be refunded.
  • There is no limit on CBEST retake as long as each one is at least 45 calendar days from the last testing date.
  • Changes to personal information, testing dates, centers, or times can be made on the CTC website.

CBEST Writing Test-Day Tips

When the big day arrives, knowing what is expected ahead of time helps to avoid any possible delays or worse, rescheduling of one's appointment.

  • Plan on arriving a few minutes early, as arriving 15 minutes late will cause the appointment to be canceled.
  • Bring a government-issued ID with a photograph and a signature, such as a driver's license, passport, state ID, etc.
  • ID must match the candidate's name exactly.
  • Visitors are not allowed to accompany test-takers, not even if they wait in the lobby.

A comprehensive list of rules can be found on the CTC website.

Expert Contributor

Bryan McMahon, M.A. is a high school biology and special education teacher in New Jersey with over 14 years of teaching experience. He has hundreds of hours of experience tutoring aspiring teachers to take the CSET/CBEST exam suite. He has successfully passed the science and special education Praxis exams. Bryan completed a B.S. in Education from Seton Hall University and an M.A. in Teaching from Mangrove College.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is on the cbest writing test.

The CBEST Writing Test consists of two essay prompts. One prompt is an analytical essay, which asks the test-taker to answer a hypothetical question. The other prompt is a personal experience essay, which asks the test-taker to recall an event that they have encountered.

What is a passing CBEST Writing score?

A minimum score of 37 is required to pass the CBEST Writing Test. There are three subsections to the CBEST - Reading, Math, and Writing. An overall score of 123 is required to pass all 3 subsections.

Take a CBEST Writing Practice Test Online

Exam instructions:.

Complete the practice test below to test your knowledge of CBEST Writing. Choose your answers below. Complete the 15 questions then click "See Results."

You have answered 0 out of 15 correctly.

The correct answers are highlighted with green below. Create an account to keep studying for the CBEST Writing.

All of the answers are correct.

When they refer to a specific person

They should never be capitalized.

When they appear as part of a clause

Statistics that allow you to pinpoint a quantity relevant to your topic


Expert opinion

That you focus on relevant experts who have expertise in the topic you are researching

That you research and understand opposing views, if available

That you identify multiple experts in order to compare opinions

I stayed up late last night studying; I want to do well on my exam.

Because I stayed up late last night studying, is why I will do well on my exam.

Because I stayed up late last night studying, I will do well on my exam.

Because I stayed up late last night studying.

emphatically, surprisingly, nearly

additionally, however, conversely

whenever, sometimes, often

if, then, because


main arguments

An editorial about what's wrong with the media today

A 1989 Honda Accord repair book

An essay comparing the similarities and differences of breeds of cows

A magazine essay about the causes and effects of water pollution in a region

investigative journalism

academic goals

writing user manuals

Order of importance

Cause and effect

Compare and contrast

  • I don't always use commas however, when I do I use them correctly.
  • I don't always use commas, but when I do, I use them correctly. Correct Answer
  • I don't always use commas and, when I do I use them correctly.
  • I don't always use commas, however when I do I use them correctly.

To combine adjectives

To indicate omitted words

To indicate spoken words in writing

To add explanatory information to text

His goals were simple; find the girl, get the bad guys; take off with the cash.

His goals were simple: find the girl, get the bad guys, take off with the cash.

His goals were simple; find the girl, get the bad guys, take off with the cash.

His goals were simple: find the girl, get the bad guys; take off with the cash.

By presenting the writer's accomplishments

By citing applicable statistics on the topic

By calling upon the readers' values and feelings

By presenting facts and data

  • compare and contrast, analyze, and describe. Correct Answer
  • analyze, revise, and strategize.
  • argue, analyze, and hypothesize.
  • describe, respond, and revise.
  • describe, compare and contrast, and determine.

A timed essay exam requires you to pay attention to paragraph breaks.

In a timed essay exam, you should think about paragraph breaks and should vary your sentence structure.

Most paragraphs contain fewer than ten sentences.

A good writer must fully develop his or her paragraphs.

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cbest writing practice prompts

How to Prepare for the CBEST Writing Test (With CBEST Writing Examples)

Last Updated on August 10, 2023

The California Basic Educational Skills Test or the CBEST is one of the credentials aspiring teachers in the state should get. It is available for test takers all year round, and can even be retaken as many times as needed.

One of the three sections of the CBEST is the Writing portion, which unlike the other two subjects, is not in a  multiple-choice format . Beyond basic grammar and language skills, this test challenges test takers to prove their competency in creating and organizing arguments. If you are worried about not getting a passing score in this section, we are here to help you prepare and improve.

Table of Contents

CBEST Writing Structure

The CBEST Writing portion is offered by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) to qualified individuals who want to be teachers or want to apply to certain positions in the education system. It is one of the qualifications that cover basic requirements in the state. The CTC website offers in-depth information about the test.

The CBEST consists of three sections:

  • Reading – 50 multiple choice items, 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Math – 50 multiple choice items, 2 hours
  • Writing – 2 essays, 1 hour and 30 minutes

For the Writing section, test takers will be given two topics: first about a given situation or statement to analyze, and the second about a specific personal experience and their reflections on this.

cbest writing practice prompts

The most important part to remember about the Writing section is that there are certain rubrics or standards your essays will be graded over:

  • Rhetorical Force : the overall cohesiveness of the essay in relation with the central or main idea, as well as the quality of the writer’s ideas
  • Organization : the clarity of the writing and the logical sequence of the writer’s ideas
  • Support and Development : the relevant and proper use of the supporting statements in the essay and how it flows or develops down the line
  • Usage : the use of proper terminologies and precision in word choice
  • Structure and Conventions : the proper use of grammar, language, syntax, paragraph structure, sentence structure, and mechanics (e.g., spelling, punctuation, capitalization)
  • Appropriateness : the extent to which the writer addresses the topic and uses language and style appropriate to the given audience and purpose

Try to not worry too much about word count, although an ideal length would be around 300-500 words. Write only about the topics or prompts presented and make sure the main idea is supported by the rest of the essay.

CBEST Writing Test Examples

The following are sample CBEST Writing Test prompts you can start with:

  • Steve Jobs once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” In an essay to be read by an audience of educated adults, state whether you agree or disagree with Jobs. Support your position with logical arguments and specific examples.

For this writing prompt, you can begin on whether or not you disagree with the quote, to introduce the main idea of your essay. You should then follow this up with at least three strong supporting ideas, such as the role of passion in innovation, how it brings out the best and the creativity in people, and if you can, give an example of other famous personalities who are known to be passionate with their work. End the essay by reiterating your stand on the quote and a closing sentence that summarizes everything.

  • Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.
  • Explore the role of history in promoting empathy and understanding among individuals and communities. Discuss how learning about the past fosters tolerance and helps bridge cultural divides.

For this writing prompt, begin with stating your main idea, which is how history promotes empathy in people, no matter the race, age, or nationality. You can support this by talking about significant cultural events that have brought out the best in people, bringing them together amidst tragedy or adversities. Follow up with how history helps us remember as people, and how it reminds us that no matter what age or era we are all humans who survived because we learned how to help each other. Add other strong points that support the main idea and end with an inspiring closing sentence.

  • Explore a course where the content was particularly complex or demanding. Describe the specific challenges you encountered in understanding and mastering the material, and discuss the strategies you utilized to enhance your comprehension and performance.
  • Reflect on the role of extracurricular activities in a student’s educational experience. Discuss the benefits of participating in extracurricular activities and how they contribute to a student’s personal growth and development.

For this prompt, open with your main idea, which is the main benefit of extracurricular activities. As an educator, draw from your personal experience and observations to use these for your supporting statements. You can talk about different extracurricular activities and how they helped you or a student come out of their shell. List down benefits of physical activities without making generalizations. End your essay by reiterating your main argument.

You can get more free sample prompts and premium CBEST Prep Packs over at our partners at JobTestPrep !

How to Interpret the CBEST Writing Test Score

Unlike the Reading and Math Sections of the CBEST which are in multiple choice format, the Writing Section has scorers who will read and evaluate each of your responses using the standard set of criteria mentioned earlier. You will get a score anywhere between 4 and 16, which are then scaled to provide a more accurate representation of the student’s performance, with an average range of 20 to 80.

The official CBEST Test Results Information provides an official writing score scale and description, with 1 being an “inadequately formed writing sample that fails to communicate a message to the specified audience” and 4 as “a well-formed writing sample that effectively communicates a whole message to the specified audience.” This diagnostic scoring will also be provided to you when you receive your results, and will help you see where you excel and where you might be lacking, in case you have to retake this section of the CBEST.

How to Prepare for the CBEST Writing Section

cbest writing practice prompts

Writing is not for everyone, but with enough practice, you can learn to write well enough to get a high score in the CBEST Writing Test. Here are some tips on how to prepare:

  • Begin with the official CBEST Writing Practice Test . This is the best way to begin your practice writing sessions. The practice test provides prompts and a writing sheet, as well as the official guide to scoring to remind you where to focus.
  • Remember: the first draft is the most important. Not everyone likes writing, and some even find it daunting. For the Writing section, practice by writing and using test prep packs. Begin with a simple outline, and then get to writing. Avoid second-guessing every sentence and focus on writing your thoughts down first. Once you finish, then you can reorganize your thoughts, flesh out some ideas, and of course proofread to weed out mechanical errors.
  • Review the Rubric. Focus on the scoring standards so you know which aspects of the essay to prioritize, which are mainly the structure, the contents, and the mechanical aspects. Don’t try to use words you are not sure of the meaning of just to “sound smarter.” Don’t add more words and sentences for the sake of length, but don’t try to write it too short either. The official writing practice test shows the sample responses with their respective scoring to give you a basis.
  • Keep on Writing. There’s no better way to improve than using writing prompts to keep you going. Practice organizing your thoughts and ask for feedback from friends, mentors, and colleagues. Write about your day at work, an article you just read, or a movie you just saw.
  • Read to Improve. Learn about new topics, discover how other writers flesh out their ideas, and see how they open or close their essays by reading. This will also help you expand your own vocabulary and strengthen your mental capacity to take on any writing prompt when the test day arrives.

Make sure you prepare for the day of the test and arrive at the testing center or login on your computer early! Shake off the nerves and know that you can ace this section.

The Write Way

The Writing Section of the CBEST challenges test takers on their abilities to analyze situations and talk about their stands or personal experiences in essay form. It tests their capacities to provide solid supporting arguments and their critical thinking abilities as well, which is important in becoming a good-quality educator.

Preparing for this section of the CBEST may sound difficult because you won’t know the prompts or questions until the day of the test, but sharpening your technical skills and using practice packs will definitely help. Keep in mind the scoring rubrics to focus and organize your essay and you will get that passing score in no time. Good luck!

cbest writing practice prompts


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CBEST Writing Prompts & Top Tips (2023)

The CBEST writing section is considered by many to be the ‘wild card section’ of the CBEST test due to the fact that one’s score can vary based on a number of factors as well as how lenient the evaluator was when looking over the entirety and style of your essay, making the use of CBEST writing prompts and guides highly vital in preparing for it.

This is because it won’t matter if you have perfect grammar and can write multiple paragraphs in the span of a few minutes because you will be given little to no points if you didn’t conform to the scoring criteria of the exam.

When you take the CBEST writing test, you will have to write two essays:

  • The Expressive Essay – Where you have to write an essay that contains your personal opinion or experiences on the topic given.
  • The Expository Essay – Where you have to make an analytical essay on the topic supplied to you.

This means that you should be careful not to mistake one for the other and make good use of CBEST writing essay samples and other CBEST writing tips and techniques as the mere volume will not get you anywhere and can even prove disastrous to your score if you try to brute force it.

How to Ace CBEST Writing Section։ Top Tips

Write your essay in five parts:.

Ideally, you should write your essay in five paragraphs, but since everyone has their own writing style, it is instead recommended that you compose your essay in five parts for both Expressive and Expository essays, namely:

  • The Introductory Paragraph
  • First Example
  • Supporting Example
  • Most Important Example

For the Expressive Essay, focus on impact:

Since this particular essay requires you to talk about a personal experience, mentioning how it affected you or changed you in some way will bolster your conclusion. Let’s say that the subject given to you revolves around saving money, you can use instances where you realized that it’s better to buy in bulk in the long run due to the convenience of never having to travel to the grocery store too often, saving you gas or transportation costs, among other things.

For the Expository Essay, try to mention statistics:

Due to the analytical format of this essay, it is almost completely vital for you to mention concrete information, recent studies, or recent national events to solidify your narrative or point

Don’t overshoot:

Apart from writing a terrible or mediocre essay, another reason why so many test-takers fail to get a lot of points in the CBEST writing test is because they try to use overly complex examples that they barely understand but wanted to use because it’s somewhat related to the subject given to them in the test. In reality, however, the CBEST essay writing section doesn’t require you to have an intensive knowledge of the topic in your essay, only enough to convey your message or point.

What is the CBEST Test and why is Essay Writing Included in it?

The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) is an aptitude test that measures the cognitive abilities of aspirant teachers in the states of Oregon and California. Math, Reading, and Writing are the three sections of the test. At Prepterminal we have created the CBEST guide and CBEST practice tests to help you ace the exam and start your career as a teacher.

The writing section was included in the CBEST test to measure a prospective teacher’s ability to write and convey information effectively. Because it is one of the three main sections of the exam, the others being the reading and math sections, preparing for it should just be as important due to how many points you can miss out on for just winging it. That’s why we have developed Math practice and Reading practice tests for you to get a taste of what is going to be on the real exam.

As practicing is the main guarantee that you can ace the CBEST test, Prepterminal offers you the actionable CBEST prep course. Our CBEST preparation course has been developed by experts and psychometric specialists who regularly keep an eye on the exam so that our content is always updated. The course includes 10 core modules and video-based modules on the reading and math sections of the CBEST assessment. These modules contain numerous question banks and practice tests for each subject or subsection, allowing you to be as prepared as you can be.

So, don’t wait, ensure you successfully embark on your teaching career and enroll in our CBEST course today!

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Hey, I’m Michael, PrepTerminal’s CBEST Prep Course expert. I am here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have about the CBEST Prep Course. Feel free to contact me at [email protected] .

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CBEST Writing Practice Test

cbest writing practice prompts

The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) is an important step in the process of becoming a certified teacher in the state of California. It is made up of three separate tests including the writing test. The writing section measures a candidate’s command of the English language as well as their ability to skillfully express themselves in writing.

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When Is the CBEST Offered?

The computer based test is offered daily all year round so you have a lot of flexibility with scheduling if you opt for this version. If you prefer a paper based test, you do have that option as well. However, it is only offered on five dates throughout the year so you’ll need to plan in advance to make sure you get a date that still leaves you plenty of time to study and prepare but also fits with your schedule and time frame.

If you struggle with test anxiety or other issues that require additional test taking time, you can choose to take each section separately. This option allows you to use an entire four hour session on just one section as opposed to needing to complete all three in one four hour session.

How Long Will the CBEST Take?

You should expect to spend about five hours at the testing center. This includes:

  • 30 minutes to check in
  • 15 minutes to sign a nondisclosure agreement and complete a tutorial (if you are taking the computer based version)
  • 4 hours to complete the exam itself
  • 10 to 15 minutes to speak with the test administrator about any concerns you might have about the test (such as a disruption or distraction that might have affected your performance).

This is a long time so make sure that you are well rested and have eaten a nourishing, high protein breakfast before you arrive. Moreover, make sure you arrive half an hour early for checking in because you need to be checked in and ready to go by the time your appointment starts.

What Am I Expected to Know for the Writing Section of the CBEST?

The writing section of the CBEST will require you to provide written responses that demonstrate your command of the English language and your ability to express clear, coherent ideas in writing. Graders will be looking for the following criteria when grading your written responses:

  • Write clear and coherent sentences and paragraphs.
  • Keep writing focused and on topic
  • Develop ideas effectively using illustration and support
  • Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard written English
  • Avoid non sequiturs, internal contradictions, confusion of fact or opinion, and unwarranted conclusions.
  • Demonstrate ability to write both expressive and referential prose.

You will be given two types of prompts to craft written responses for. One will require an expressive response about a personal experience of yours. The second will be a more referential topic requiring you to demonstrate your analytic and reasoning skills.

How Is the CBEST Scored?

The CBEST is given one cumulative score which is the sum of the individual scores you received on each section. All three sections are scored on a scale ranging from 20 to 80. This includes the writing section. The minimum passing score for each section is 41, making the minimum cumulative score 123.

However, you can still pass the CBEST as a whole if you score less than 41 on the writing section as long as your cumulative score is still at least 123. So if you do well enough in math and reading, you have some flexibility. With that said, you can’t afford to completely bomb any section. No score below 37 will be accepted, even if your cumulative score is 123. So there’s no excuse for avoiding studying for a section!

How Should I Prepare for the Writing Section of the CBEST?

You should aim to write at least two or three full practice essays leading up to the exam. Don’t just write on any topic, however, choose something that is similar to the kinds of topics you might be given on the CBEST.

One source of topic ideas will be the Mometrix Study Guide . You will get sample writing prompts to help guide your practice writing sessions. Along with that, you’ll also get tips and strategies to improve your writing and meet the particular demands of the CBEST. Graders will be looking for a very precise set of criteria to be met so even if you are a good writer, it’s worth taking time to make sure you can write in the specific way that those graders will want to see.

For further help on this, you should pick up the Mometrix Flashcards which will help you build your vocabulary and review the most important rules and conventions that you should understand when writing your responses.


CBEST Exam Resources

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