Tips on Writing Essays for the CBEST

How to Write the CBEST Essay

The Writing section of the CBEST consists of two questions based on which the test-taker has to give his/her response in the form of an essay. Ensure that the essays you write are grammatically correct. Moreover, you must be able to substantiate your arguments and the essays should not be vague. The first question of this section presents a topic pertaining to current affairs on controversy, for which the examinee will have to respond in the form of an essay in a persuasive style. The second question presents a situation and the test taker will have to write his/her personal experience in a narrative style.

The list of essay topics from the official CBEST website can be downloaded from the Practice tests webpage ( The CBEST official website has one sample test paper for each of its content areas. The sample for the Writing Skills section consists of two sample questions, one requiring a persuasive-style essay and another requiring the narrative style-essay, as an answer. The list of the samples from the official sample papers is as follows:

  • Topic 1- Ernest Hemingway once commented, "As you get older, it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary." In an essay to be read by an audience of educated adults, state whether you agree or disagree with Hemingway's observation. Support your position with logical arguments and specific examples.

  • Topic 2- Most students have had some type of difficulty in one course or the other. Difficulties stem from various sources, such as teacher -student conflicts or lack of interest in the subject field. In an essay to be read by an audience of educated adults, identify one class in which you faced a difficulty either as a student or as a teacher, describe the difficulty, and explain how you handled the situation.

How to Write the Essays?

As we are already aware, the questions are of two types and they are aimed to test your ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Your CBEST essays should be able to give an extremely good reading experience to the evaluators. Your ideas should be logically organized and placed under a well-structured content framework. Even though you may be factually accurate, it is your writing skills that will ultimately influence your scores in a major way. In order to achieve the aims, as described in this paragraph, a writer has to follow the following procedure:

  • Forming an opinion - As the assignments will require the examinees to provide their opinions about the ideas presented in the questions, one has to first form a viewpoint or an opinion upon seeing a question.

  • Framing the outline of your essays - The writer should aim to convince the readers to accept his/her viewpoint and also provide supporting details for the same. The best way for you to frame your essay would be to think about the different main points in favor of your viewpoint and elaborate each one of them in separate paragraphs. A good essay will have a powerful introduction which should ideally convey the purpose of your article and other salient features of your article. A well-written essay will have a conclusion that will create a lasting impression on the reader. Each and every part of the body of the essay should be relevant to the topic under discussion and to the paragraph to which it belongs.

  • Planning the content - The initial 4-5 minutes of the time allotted should be spent in planning the content that you would like to cover in your essay. Otherwise, you may end up writing content that may be less informative and containing more junk than required.

  • Write realistic realistic essays - The essay questions are based on realistic topics and therefore, the answers given should also be as realistic as possible. Though factual information is given less importance in comparison to the writing ability of an examinee, one will lose marks if one is found to exaggerate, even though he does so in an extremely effective language.

  • Each paragraph of the essay should have an introduction, a body and a conclusion, a topic sentence and a supporting sentence - It is recommended to start each paragraph of the with a single-line introduction, a four-lined body and a single-lined conclusion. The paragraph should essentially have a sentence called a topic sentence that conveys information that is relevant to the question in hand, and a number of supporting sentences.

  • Essays with a distinct writing style are given more marks - The essays written in response to the topics should be written in the original style of the writer in order to secure a high score from the evaluators.

  • Accuracy and variety are important ingredients - The words that you use in your essays should be accurate and varied to make your writing effective.


The CBEST essay section test one's English writing abilities. The response to each of the topics are evaluated strictly by more than one examiner. One should start preparing for this section by writing as many essays as possible on a regular basis.