Writing Study Guide for the CBEST

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General Information

A good way to prepare for the CBEST Writing test is to practice writing on these and other prompts and ask a friend or teacher to evaluate them according to the standards given. Then rewrite the essay, improving it in the ways suggested by that person. It may also be helpful to find lists of commonly misspelled words and grammar rules to practice before you take the CBEST Writing test.

It’s helpful to know what the evaluators will look for in your writing. As you write, review, and edit your essays, be sure that:

  • your writing is crystal clear and there is no possibility of misunderstanding your message
  • the content stays focused throughout your essay. (All parts of it should relate to the main topic and not stray into other areas.)
  • you support points with illustrations and examples as you write
  • your writing contains only standard written English conventions
  • you are especially careful to: separate fact from opinion, avoid internal contradiction, make only warranted conclusions, and avoid the use of non-sequiturs (If any of these terms are unfamiliar, look them up and learn how to manage them.)

The topics you are given will be these:

Topic #1: This essay will require you to recount a memory of a personal experience.

Topic #2: For this essay, you’ll need to write about a given topic, giving information about it and analyzing that information.

Example Topic #1

Most people can remember a time in their lives when the world seemed to stand still, even if just for a moment. All of a sudden, it was very hard to think. This could have happened during an extremely happy, sad, or surprising event. Think of a time in your life when you might have experienced this type of moment. If you cannot think of one that actually happened, tell about what it would take to make “time stand still” for you.

Example Topic #2

John F. Kennedy was quoted as saying, “Think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Think of one way you could take action on Kennedy’s suggestion. Tell how this would change you and the path you take in life. Also tell how likely you are to take this action and give reasons why, or why not.

All Study Guides for the CBEST are now available as downloadable PDFs