In this section, the information and skills needed to successfully pass the CBEST Writing section are presented. The Writing section consists of two essay questions. One of the essay questions asks examinees to write about a remembered experience (a "Personal" essay). The other essay requires analysis of a situation or statement to demonstrate analytic skills (an "Analytical" essay). Some sample topics are listed below.
Personal Experience Sample Topics
- 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.
- Unexpected challenges in our lives sometimes bring out the best in us. For example, we act heroically or courageously in emergencies, we are charitable when disasters affect our friends, or we are unselfish and patient when misfortune strikes our friends or relatives. Pick an instance in your own life when such a challenge stimulated in you a response that pleased you. Describe the situation, explain how you responded, and tell what you learned about yourself from the experience.
- There are times when one's principles or beliefs are tested by circumstances. One may be opposed to lying, for instance, but be tempted to lie or actually lie in order to spare another person's feelings. Describe a situation in which one of your principles or beliefs was tested by circumstances, explain how you handled the situation, and tell why you now think your behavior was or was not correct.
- Many recent high school graduates discover that despite possessing a high school diploma, they have no specific skills to enable them to obtain employment. Explain your feeling about introducing a "vocational skills program" as an alternative choice to the academic high school curriculum.
Analytical Essay Sample Topics
- There is a current trend in the United States toward smaller families. Sociologists attribute the decline in childbearing to many factors, including the dramatic rise of women in the work force, delayed marriage, divorce, and the high cost of raising and educating children. Discuss your view of the smaller family size and how it may affect future American society.
- The minimum wage in America has been the subject of debate for many years. Many people argue we should be careful about sharp increases in the minimum wage because of the resulting inflation (higher labor costs equal higher consumer prices) and layoffs. Others believe the minimum wage is too low to support a family and should be raised to keep up with the cost of living. Write an essay analyzing and evaluating these opposing views on the minimum wage. You may include personal experience, knowledge, or observations.