Guidelines for Essay Writing  in CBEST

Sample Essay on CBEST

All candidates who want to become educators in the state of California must take the CBEST. Amongst the various sections of this examination, the Writing test is designed to appraise the basic essay writing skills of the candidates. In this article, we will give you an introduction to this section, along with crucial essay-writing tips and a sample essay.

An Introduction to the CBEST Writing Test:

The essay writing section assesses the ability of the candidates to produce a well-written and coherent essay in grammatically correct American English. It consists of 2 topics; namely, an essay on a personal experience and one on supporting an argument or position for a given situation. You will be given 30 minutes to complete each assignment. The minimum passing score for this test section is 41.

Some Important guidelines to a Well-written CBEST Essay:

  1. Take the first 5 minutes to create an essay plan by answering the following questions on a scratch paper –
    • Who is the audience?
    • What is the main idea or experience?
    • Why is your experience or idea in the essay relevant to the given topic and the audience?
    • How would you explain your experience or support your position (with relevant examples)?
    • How does this position or experience impact your life or personality?
    • For essay responses requiring personal experiences, when and where did the experience occur?
  2. Create an essay outline as follows:
    • Your response must have a proper introduction, body and conclusion.
    • In the introduction, you must state (what) your main idea or position and/or where and when your experience took place.
    • The body of the essay must contain the reason behind your stance or the importance of your experience. Here are some tips to build the essay body:
      • Note down all reasoning/supporting arguments.
      • Organize your points into different paragraphs, while ensuring the flow of the essay.
      • Avoid adding generic statements such as “Everyone will”, “All teachers should”, without evidence.
    • The conclusion to the essay must provide a re-cap of the main topic/stance. Here are some tips to conclude your essay:
      • For arguments, conclude with the most convincing reason.
      • For personal experiences, conclude with its greatest impact on your life or personality.
      • Use choice vocabulary words.
      • Avoid platitudes and repetitive statements.
  3. Your response should not be longer than 300-400 words.

Sample CBEST Essay:

Here is a sample topic in the argument category:

“In today’s world, some of us believe that “Winning is everything”. In an essay for an educated adult audience, state whether you agree or disagree with this belief. Support your stance with coherent arguments and examples.”

Sample Response:

“All through our school and college years, many of us have been extremely competitive and have believed that winning is the single-most important thing in life. However, due to our unbalanced focus on winning alone, we generally lose the real joy of participating in activities that we love doing. Every win is followed with extreme fatigue and every loss with a self-defeating feeling, so much so that we may finally stop competing at all. That’s when most of us come to realize that we are on a wrong path and that winning isn’t everything.

Perseverance and a healthy competitive spirit are life-building skills and it is good to develop these skills early in life. However, when winning becomes the most important thing in life, the focus lies solely on the outcome and not the process itself. Many of us may find ourselves in a similar position where we try to win at all costs, even if it means outsmarting our competitors in devious ways and risking some of our friendships. In this process, we become very self-centered and pay less attention to the journey itself. The run-up and preparations for the competitions don’t seem as enjoyable as they used to at the outset.

We see this happening in the world of professional sports very often these days, where more and more sportsmen and women want to win at all costs. One classic example is the experience of Lance Armstrong, where he believed that he had to do everything to win, even if it meant breaking the rules and not worrying about the consequences. Professional jealousy and the willingness to put anyone or anything in line for your success is becoming prevalent in other competitive fields too. This is directly against the principles of sportsmanship and camaraderie on which sports or any competitive field is founded upon.

Not everyone is a born genius or all-time winner. Hence, those of us who believe that winning is everything may develop a self-loathing attitude when we lose. Some of us who believe in this will overwork ourselves to the point where we lose a balance between our personal and professional lives. In one way or the other, this belief will manifest its ugly face and cause damage to our personalities and value systems.

I would like to conclude this essay by saying that “Winning is not always everything”. The joy of participation, the journey of self-discovery and the experience of heightened learning is what is important and these will eventually shape our future. The values we learn through the process of healthy participation will help us in the long run and make us better human beings.”

We hope the above-mentioned writing tips and the sample provided have helped you gain some insight to this test section. If you follow these simple guidelines, you can be rest assured of achieving good scores in your CBEST Writing test.