Details About CAHSEE Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts for CAHSEE

California High School Exit Examination or the CAHSEE is an exam that has to be taken up by students studying in the state of California because; only on passing this test would the high school diploma be awarded to them. The two subject areas tested are English-Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics.

The reading and writing skills in the English language that you have learnt up to grade 10 are tested in the ELA section of the test. Writing strategies, Applications and Conventions are tested under the Writing section. In total, there are 80 multiple-choice questions and a couple of writing tasks. The scores are scaled and are released in the range of 275 to 450 and you must score at least 350 to pass the test.

The Writing Section

There are 6 sub topics or strands tested in the ELA and Writing Application is one of them. Here, you will be expected to write an essay of around 1500 words. The essay prompt given to you will be one of the following:

    1. Biographical narrative- Here, you are expected to write a story giving the details of an event.
    1. Expository essay- Here, you are supposed to convey data and information from primary and secondary sources. The essay has to be coherent and accurate.
    1. Business letter- You have to use appropriate vocabulary to address the correct audience and provide clear information.
    1. Response to literature- You should showcase your understanding of an author’s style of writing and demonstrate your knowledge on the given literary work.
  1. Persuasive essay- Here, you have to write such that you convince the audience of your beliefs.

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

The following points will help you in tackle the essay section in CAHSEE writing prompts:

  • The description of the task – First and foremost thing while attempting the essay is to understand the description of the task carefully. Also, make sure that there are no hidden ideas.
  • Organize your ideas- Organize the ideas that you plan to discuss in your mind. If necessary, write down the points. This step helps you to write a coherent essay. Many times, students may have good ideas but while writing, they tend to jump from one thought to another and writing down the ideas helps them avoid this mistake.
  • Introduction, body and conclusion- The essay you write should contain distinct paragraphs like an introduction to the topic, the main body of the essay conveying your views on the topic and a conclusion as this provides the correct flow of idea to the reader.
  • Vocabulary – There are many words that you would have learnt in your school years, try to make use of the appropriate words at the correct places but at the same time keep your language simple.
  • Different styles of writing- Make your essay interesting to the reader by using simple yet effective language. You c an also try to use different styles of writing to convey your thoughts.
  • Grammatical or spelling errors- Make sure to check that the essay you have written is devoid of any grammatical or spelling errors as you will be penalized for it. Also, check for any spelling mistakes as well.


The section is scored by two readers and the scores are given in the range of 1 to 4. The average of these two scores is your final score. The essay is not scored and an ‘NS’ or ‘non-scorable’ is awarded if the essay falls under any one of these categories:

  • Given topic is not addressed
  • The essay is too short to convey any meaning
  • The writing is illegible
  • The essay is written in a language other than English

To Conclude…

The essay questions in CAHSEE are provided to understand your writing skills. There are examples of such questions online which can be used for your practice. With a continuous practice, you can improve your writing skills and attain good grades in the CAHSEE exams.