Topics for the Writing Section of CBEST

Best Way to Write CBEST Essay

The Law and Employment Board of California stresses that all educators who are working or aspire to work in the state should be certified through the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). This test is developed by Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) by specialized educators in order to assess competencies of a candidate who wishes to join the teaching profession. However, this test is not a credibility test and does not provide any form of ranking for those who take it.

About the Writing Section:

According to the CTC guidelines, in order to pass this section and other sections of the CBEST, you need a minimum score of 41. The minimum and maximum score one can obtain in each subtest is 20 and 80. Apart from this score, the Writing section is scored on a scale of 1-4 based on the style of written communication. Since this section involves two performance assignments based on expository and narrative writing, test preparations takes more time. However, there are a few things that are common in essay writing, irrespective of the topics, that can be incorporated in order to improve the quality of the write-up.

Helpful Essay Writing Tips:

  1. Outline Your Thoughts: This section is designed to assess the test taker's specific competencies in writing essays and since these have to be completed in a specified time frame, it is suggested that you invest the first few minutes in creating an outline for your essay.

  2. Strong Opening Statement: The opening line of every presentation is what catches the reader's eye. Thus, the opening statement should have your opinion highlighted in order to give a good start to your response.

  3. Account All the Aspects: The essays require you to assess the entire situation and acknowledge the counterviews in order to present an unprejudiced opinion.

  4. Mention a Conclusion: It is suggested to mention a conclusion towards the end of your response, which would reflect and summarize the arguments of the essay in a clear, simple yet strong manner.

Expository Essay Writing:

The topics for expository essays will involve analytical thinking and require the candidate to express his or her opinion on the matter along with acknowledging counterviews. It is important for you to state realistic arguments and create your write-up. Some of the sample topics for expository essays from the official test website are mentioned below:

  1. ZigZiglar, a well-known motivational speaker once said, "Obviously, there is little you can learn from doing nothing." Explain whether you agree or disagree with this statement.

  2. In American sports, there have recently developed two philosophies. One philosophy is winning at any cost. The other philosophy is fair play or sportsmanship. Choose the philosophy you feel is prevalent in America today and give reasons why you feel that philosophy is prevalent.

  3. Oscar Wilde once wrote, "We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities." In an essay to be read by an audience of educated adults, state whether you agree or disagree with Wilde's observation. Support your position with logical arguments and specific examples.

Narrative Essay Writing:

In narrative essay writing, you are required to discuss a personal experience. Hence, it is best to keep the description of your experience short and simple. Alongside, you have to mentionwhat you have learned through your experience. Given below are some of the topics that you can work on:

  1. Dan Rather, former CBS anchorman, spoke of teachers who help other by being one "who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." Consider a situation where a teacher, coach, mentor, friend or relative acted in this way towards you.

  2. Imagine that you could have made one change in your college experience. Explain what change you would have made and what difference it would have made.

  3. Many childhood experiences leave lifelong impressions on people. Write an essay in which you describe a memorable childhood experience and explain its effect on your life.

It is suggested that you visit and check out the sample topics for the Writing section provided there. Some other websites you can refer to are and You can also visit for the topics that have appeared in past CBEST exams.

It is essential that you keep practising on a regular basis, develop a good typing speed and minimize grammatical or typo errors in order to score high in this section of the CBEST. The flair for essay writing is developed overnight, thus, it is important that you read sample essays and work on sample topics regularly.