Attempting the Essay Prompts for CAHSEE

The Best Way to Attempt the CAHSEE Writing Prompts

The CAHSEE or California High School Exit Examination is administered by the ETS and it is a mandatory test in the state of California. The high school diploma is awarded only when the students pass this test. English-Language Arts and Mathematics are the subject areas that are tested here.

In the English-Language Arts section, reading and writing skills are tested and the level of the questions in the test pertain to the grade 10 syllabus. There are a couple of writing tasks apart from the 80 multiple-choice questions. In the Writing section, Writing Strategies, Applications and Conventions are tested.

The Writing Section

Writing Application is one of the six strands or sub-topics tested in the English-Language Arts section of the CAHSEE. An Essay prompt is given to you and you are expected to write around 1500 words. There are five different prompts that are listed below and one of them will be given to you.

  1. A Biographical Narrative- You have to narrate a story relating a sequence and details of an event.

  2. An Expository Essay- In this type of prompt, you have to collect information and evidence to support a thesis and convey ideas from the data collected from primary and secondary sources.

  3. A Business Letter- In this case, you are expected to address the correct audience in the appropriate way and vocabulary and present clear information.

  4. A Response to Literature- In this CAHSEE prompt, you must demonstrate your understanding of an author's style and your knowledge of his/her literary works.

  5. A Persuasive Essay- In this prompt type, you are expected to write an essay in such a fashion that you convince the audience of your ideas and viewpoints.

The official website, contains the document pertaining to the Writing Application section of the test.

How to Approach the Writing Application Task?

While attempting the essay-writing task, if a few points are followed, the essay would be coherent and would fetch you higher grades.

  1. Understand- The first thing you must do before attempting the essay is to understand what is expected from you. Try to comprehend the exact meaning of the prompt.

  2. Think- The second step is to think about your idea and organize your thoughts. You could even pen down the important ideas. This would help in writing a coherent essay.

  3. Structure- You must structure your essay in a way that, there is an introduction to the topic, a few paragraphs called the body of the essay with the information and your ideas about the topic and a conclusion to summarize the essay. If your essay has all this, then it would be complete and coherent.

  4. Language- Language is an important aspect on which you would be scored. Try to use the appropriate words at the right places. Also, try to keep your language simple yet effective.

  5. Writing Style- Use a writing style that you are comfortable with. This will make your essay look original.

  6. Errors- Your essay must not have any grammatical or spelling errors. However good your thoughts and ideas are, if these errors are present in an essay, your scores would be low.


The CAHSEE is a pass or fail test and you need to score more than 350 on a score range of 275-450. Scoring of the essays is done by two readers on a scale of 1 to 4 and the average of the two is given as the final score. It is best that you practice with many different writing prompts because this will help you in drafting your essay with ease. Another important point you should understand is that the essay topics are simple and if you follow the above-mentioned six ways, your essay would be coherent and original and you would definitely obtain good grades.