CBEST writing test for non native speaker

Discussion in 'Basic Skills Tests' started by ilazuardi10, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. ilazuardi10

    ilazuardi10 New Member

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    Nov 25, 2012

    Hi,
    My name is Ivan and I'm currently pursuing my MA in Special Education with m/s teaching credential.
    I've passed all of my CSET exams and CBEST math/reading portions, yet I have been struggling to pass my writing section. matter of fact, I've taken the test 6 times, yet, keep getting the same score.
    It is very frustrating, but I realize that i'm not the only one who is having trouble passing the exam. As a non native speaker I have trouble with my grammar, and word choices. But at the same time, i find it really difficult to write a solid, concise, cohesive essay on a short period of time, especially on a given random topic.
    also I've tried reading the Cliff note CBEST guides, and some of the samples seem very well developed which impossible for me to match their quality based on the given circumstances of timed exam and my limited writing skill.
    any input please?
    thank you so much
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Nov 25, 2012

    Welcome to A to Z, ilazuardi10, and hugs as regards CBEST.

    It's hard to know what to suggest without knowing more about your writing. What score have you been getting, and what diagnostic indicators do you see on the official score reports? Do you see the same collection each time, or has it varied? The categories are

    - Rhetorical force
    - Organization
    - Support and development
    - Usage
    - Structure and conventions
    - Appropriateness
     
  4. ilazuardi10

    ilazuardi10 New Member

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    Nov 25, 2012

    thank you for the reply.
    i keep getting the same indication for areas of improvement in:
    -usage
    -structure and convention.

    my scores stay in consistent 26 points. there were 2 tests which i earned 29. Each time I felt good after taking the test, i kept hearing ugly news.

    so my question also is, obviously the test examiner will not expect a perfect essay, rather looking on one's ability to write and proven a point in a given topic.
    so what would deduct an essay score the most? spelling? grammar? let say in a good written essay, if there were 1 bad usage of word choice or grammar flaw, will that instantly cause the essay to fail?

    thank you so much
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Nov 25, 2012

    One usage or conventions error won't doom an otherwise good essay, no.

    How many points do you have in reading comprehension and math, together?

    What is your first language? Did you attend university in California?
     
  6. ilazuardi10

    ilazuardi10 New Member

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    Nov 25, 2012

    I'm from indonesia and I earned my BA in CSULA. I earned 44 on reading and 49 on my math. I still need min 37 to pass my writing, correct?
    thanks
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Nov 26, 2012

    Um. "Indonesia" doesn't tell me what your first language is, though it narrows the possibilities down to only about 700 or so; Bahasa is fairly likely, of course.)

    As to you needing 37 points, yes, and there's no point in you retaking either of the other two sections; you probably already figured that out.

    What you'd probably most benefit from is essay practice with feedback. If you are now enrolled at a CSU, your cheapest option might be to go to the campus writing lab - most CSUs have one, and it's run either through the tutoring center or through the English or composition/rhetoric departments - for help in writing CBEST essays; this help should be free to enrolled students. Is that practical for you?
     
  8. ilazuardi10

    ilazuardi10 New Member

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    Nov 26, 2012

    Sorry for not being too specific, yes i speak bahasa. the language is relatively simple to learn and not as technical as English. There is no past/present tense,nor gender subject or possessive. Bahasa tend to be more "wordy" with their sentences, where english emphasis more concise and short sentences. this is why, i have to carefully construct my sentences and break out from my habit. I'm currently attending APU for my MA. they do have writing lab, but they only focus more on revising research paper. none of the staff ever worked with any CBEST students (or in this case anyone who shares similar situation with me). I'm just trying to hear out from other success stories of passing CBEST writing exam. I know some may find it very2x easy, others may struggle.
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Nov 26, 2012

    Thanks for satisfying my linguistic curiosity, and even more for your insights as to how Bahasa differs in grammar and style from English.

    For practice with points of English grammar, you could get work through LearningExpress's 501 Writing and Grammar Questions - it shouldn't cost more than $20, and I believe LearningExpress is now offering additional online help to purchasers. Most Barnes & Noble bookstores carry it routinely. You could also try the exercises on the Using English Web site, http://www.usingenglish.com, or you could Google "English ESL past tense practice", "English subject pronoun practice" and the like.

    What was your undergraduate major? Have you taken science classes (either high school or college) for which you had to write up lab reports in English?
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    As for APU's writing lab, if you can use it for free, explain that tell the tutor that you mostly need help with usage and sentence structure and conventions, and that what you need to write - and please quote me - is "a five-paragraph-style timed persuasive essay" and "a five-paragraph-style timed personal narrative essay". The format comes in for a great deal of criticism, not least because it does not encourage great writing, but it's highly adaptable for many sorts of prose that teachers need to be able to crank out quickly.
     
  11. Nyuck

    Nyuck Rookie

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    Jan 26, 2016

    Hello Ivan,
    This is Tang. After reading your poster, I feel I need to talk to your for asking some advice. I get the same situation as yours. I am an international student and my first language is Chinese. After passing math 58 and reading 43, I got my writing in 26, and I am so frustrating. I thought it was not that bad, but.... I am here for asking you, did you pass it finally? How did you practice it? Many thanks in advance!!!!!!
     
  12. Kwanx

    Kwanx Rookie

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    Mar 19, 2016

    Hi Tang.. how is it goes?? were you able to get in touch with IVan?? did you pass your Cbest test?? i am planning to take the test soon.. need some advice..

    thanks
     
  13. veracholakian

    veracholakian New Member

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    Jun 6, 2016

    Hi
    This is Vera I have difficult time to pass the writing section in cbest.please I need help help
     
  14. nida

    nida New Member

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    Jun 16, 2016

    Hi
    I just took CBEST writing and was able to write my first essay consisting of 776 word and with 7 supporting paragraphs and my second essay was 740 words with five paragraphs in a chronological order .
    Is that considered good ?
     
  15. nida

    nida New Member

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    Jun 16, 2016

    Hi
    I just took CBEST writing and was able to write my first essay consisting of 776 word and with 7 supporting paragraphs and my second essay was 740 words with five paragraphs in a chronological order .
    Is that considered good ?
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jun 16, 2016

    The proof will be whether you pass.

    With that said, I'll note that the longest of the sample essays on the CBEST webpage is under 500 words, and it's perfectly possible to write a passing essay in 300 words.
     
  17. nida

    nida New Member

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    I am confused now ....
    Is there a rule that you cannot write more than 5 paragraphs or exceed 500 words as I had to do that to explain my supporting points .
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    No, there isn't a rule to that effect. CBEST doesn't specify a word count. Since the passing sample essays (scores 3 and 4) range between 220 and 460 words, however, the obvious conclusion is that the CBEST scorers are fine with shorter essays, and many struggling writers get themselves in much less trouble when they keep things brief.
     
  19. Megan2393

    Megan2393 New Member

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    Jun 22, 2016

    Hi Ivan,
    Did you pass in the end? I have the same problem. I took CBEST 4 times and my highest score was 29. I need 37. Do you have any advice ?
    Thank you
     
  20. Megan2393

    Megan2393 New Member

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    Jun 22, 2016

    Hi Tang,
    I feel your pain. I am Chinese too and my score is not high enough to pass. I know you can try to take "ept and elm" to qualify basic requirement. This was what I did. You can check on CTC. I am still waiting for my test result of ept and elm. While waiting for my test result, I would like to retake CBEST writing test again. Shall you know any tutor or method to improve writing, would you please share with me? thank you
     
  21. lanie :P

    lanie :P New Member

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    Aug 26, 2016

    Hi guys! :) This is Lanie. I'm a Filipino, and my native language is Tagalog. Nobody speaks English in my home in the Philippines so kindly forgive me if I'll commit grammatical errors in this comment. Anyway, I just recently emigrated to America and I have only been here for three months. I wanted to get my teaching credentials, and the university required a passing score in the TOEFL, CBEST and CSET exams.

    I took the TOEFL first and met the university's standard. Then, I took the CBEST and passed all of its three sections. My technique - I took the reading and math sections on the first day. Then, I took the writing section on the other day.
    Since I'm not a native speaker, the reading section was confusing for me. I really spent most of my exam time reviewing this section. It's funny, all the choices looked correct to me. Math wasn't as hard as reading. I think that Math is a pretty universal subject. I don't need to be a native speaker to solve math problems as long as they're showing the symbols.

    I decided to take the writing section separately because I know that this is my weakness. Oh my God! Reviewing for this section drove me nuts!! Like most non-native English speakers, my weakness is writing. I believe that English grammar is very complicated.

    My advice for the writing section is to practice writing, and then have an English native speaker evaluate your essay. Once they read it, ask them to tell you the problems and errors. You should know your weaknesses so that you'll know the areas that you have to improve. I was very terrible in verb+preposition. Sometimes I say "count in" instead of "count on", "reply with" instead of "reply to", and so much more! After knowing your weakness, obviously, STUDY. I felt like a nerd in the corner studying all these complicated grammar structures.

    My next advice is as same as the saying "less talk, less mistake". I think that your writing doesn't have to be so long. When I did this writing section, I wrote a shorter essay on the first topic, and a much longer one on the second topic. Guess what, I had a higher score on my first topic (which had the shorter essay). Just make sure that you'll respond directly to the questions. I know, we have all these nice ideas, it's just so hard to express them without committing grammatical errors!

    These are my scores:
    Reading: 52
    Mathematics: 62
    Writing: 39
    Total: 153
     

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