Official Essay Topics for the CBEST





List of CBEST Essay Topics - from Official Site

The CBEST Essay Writing test is a basic assessment of the essay-writing skills of the teaching candidates in California. This test is not administered to determine if the candidates have the required skills to teach effective writing to their students or not, but rather to appraise if they have the necessary writing skills or not. Moreover, the essays must be written in grammatically correct English. So indirectly this section of the test will evaluate your knowledge of the language. This article will provide a summary of this section, along with a list of sample topics from the official website.

The Key Aspects of the CBEST Essay Writing Test:

The main aspects of the Writing test are listed as follows:

  • It evaluates the skill of the candidates in delivering a well-composed, rational and logical essay in standard American English.

  • It comprises of 2 topics:

    • An essay topic wherein you are asked to elaborate about a personal experience or an escapade.

    • Another essay topic wherein you are asked to present an argument for or against a particular stance (for a given context).

    • Each essay needs to be completed in 30 minutes.

  • The minimum recommended score in this test is 41.

List of Topics:

Here is a list of topics from the CBEST website (http://www.cbest.nesinc.com/PDFs/CA_OPT_Writing.pdf), along with certain tips to craft effective essays for the same:


Topic 1: (In the argument category)

"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."

4 Key Tips to Draft an Effective Sample Response for Topic 1:

  1. You must begin the essay by clearly stating your opinion, i.e. whether you agree or disagree with the given statement. A sample response to this essay topic would be: "I completely agree with Ernest Hemingway's comment that...at this stage..."

  2. In the first or second paragraph, you could discuss and refute the opposing position in a logical manner. For example, you may reason out why the opposition to Hemingway's statement does not hold good as follows: "As we grow older, cynicism creeps into our minds and we begin to doubt our heroes..."

  3. In the subsequent paragraphs, you must provide relevant supporting arguments for your position with evidence or real-life examples. For example, if you agree with Ernest Hemingway's statement, then you may describe how one or more heroes have inspired you and state why such heroes are particularly important as you grow older.

  4. You conclusion must restate your position and include a convincing reason or impressive statement. For example, you may conclude like this: "As we get older, we therefore, need personal heroes...as they will help us find our silver linings."

  5. In general, while writing the practice essays that support or refute arguments, you must stick to your stance throughout the essay. Apart from this, the supporting reasons and evidence must be presented in a rational and step-by-step manner that builds up a convincing argument and must not be presented in a haphazard or confusing fashion.


Topic 2: (In the personal experience category)

"Most students have had some type of difficulty in one course or another. 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."

5 Key Tips to Draft an Effective Sample Response for Topic 2:

  1. You must begin the responses by directly stating the details of the course (when, where and what) that you had difficulty with in the past. One straightforward way of beginning this essay would be: "The subject I dreaded most in high-school was Physics".

  2. In the first paragraph itself, you should describe the difficulty and the reasons for it.

  3. In the second and third paragraphs, you should describe how you faced and overcame the learning difficulty (without beating around the bush).

  4. Then, you may conclude your essay by describing how the experience has impacted you and changed your outlook towards learning or education. One example of a good concluding paragraph is: "Thus, began a new discovery of the subject...all we need is a little inspiration, guidance and resolve."

  5. Your introduction and conclusion must include choice verbiage and create an interest and impression on the readers.

In general, while writing essays about personal experiences, you must avoid providing verbose descriptions about the superficial matters concerning the incident (such as the place, time, weather, location, physical attributes of people involved in it, etc.). While you are crafting a personal write-up, you must focus on the target audience and ensure that the content and wording of the essay will keep them engaged and intrigued.

We hope the above-mentioned topics and essay-writing tips provide you with sufficient insight into the CBEST Essay Writing section. Best of luck to everyone who is preparing for the exam!