Search

The CBEST Essay: Passing the Essay the First Time

When I first took the CBEST test, I went in without preparation. I past the writing section the first time; the other sections I scored just below 41. Since most test takers write extensively, they will pass the write portion of the test. However, there are test takers that struggle with writing and placing their ideas in written form.

Back to Basics
The CBEST test, you are given two essay prompts: The Writing test consists of two essay questions. One of the essay questions asks examinees to write about a remembered experience. The other question is designed to elicit expository prose that will permit writers to demonstrate their analytic skills (CBEST, 2013).

You are only given two pages for each essay, so your writing must be concise and articulate. Recall the five paragraph essay: the introduction, one paragraph; the body, three paragraphs; the conclusion, one paragraph. Remember, you are not writing a thesis or dissertation, keep it simple.

Most CBEST study guides have examples of an essay. Read several times the ones that are scored as “4” and “3”. Then read the ones that are less than “3” once to compare.

Use a regular school note pad or paper to practice handwriting your essay to simulate the test.

Below, I have provided you with past writing prompts from the Learning Resource Center at CSU Northridge. Here is the link, http://www.csun.edu/~hflrc006/ep16et.html

1. Technology is very much a part of modern life. Many people see technology as a force that has escaped from human control. Others feel that technology has improved the quality of life. Do you think that the contribution technology has made to modern life has been positive or negative? State your position on this issue and support it with appropriate examples.
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.
4. "The U.S. is becoming a nation of spectators--people who prefer to sit back and observe rather than a nation of doers. " Explain why you agree or disagree with the quotation above. Support your position with examples from your readings, observations, or experiences.
5. Think of one course taken in either high school or college that has had particular significance for you and explain why this course has had such an impact.
6. Wanting something and not getting it can be very disappointing, but wanting something and then getting it can be disappointing too. Have you ever wanted something, gotten it, and then were disappointed? Describe these disappointments.
7. In American sports, there have recently developed two philosophies. One philosophy is win 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.
8. Throughout your school life you may have taken a particular course about which you had certain expectations which may not have been met. Describe your expectations and how that course did not satisfy those expectations.
9. Some students can look back on their years in school and pinpoint one particular course or one particular teacher most instrumental in shaping their lives. Reflect on your own school years and focus on one such instructor or course. Describe the conditions or qualities that made that particular experience or teacher special.
10. A recent movement in education has been called "Back to Basics." Its proponents argue that the curriculum should concentrate only on reading, writing and mathematics skills and completely ignore such courses as sociology, art appreciation, and drama. Imagine that you are a school principal faced with the task of making policy for your school. Present your argument(s) either for or against "Back to Basics."

References
CBEST. (2013, June 4). CBEST. Retrieved from CBEST: http://www.cbest.nesinc.com/PDFs/CBESTUpdatedTestSpecs.pdf
http://www.csun.edu/~hflrc006/ep16et.html

Comments

Dear N,
 
Thank you for noting. 
 
Remember, writers make mistakes. 
This article is wonderful, Joe! I used your tips and some of the prompts while tutoring a teaching candidate last night.  It was a great help!
The above is exactly how I teach my students to pass basic essay inclusive exams. KISS (Keep It Straight n'Simple). Thanks.

$45p/h

Joe S.

MFA Grad for English and Creative Writing

5+ hours
if (isMyPost) { }