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Prepare for the Composition Placement Test (CPT)

The CPT English test has two parts: grammar and writing. The first section requires you to identify grammatical errors in 40 sentences, and the second section requires a 300-500 word essay. Students are allowed 2.5-hours to write the CPT.


The grammar section of the CPT has forty sentences that may have grammatical errors. For each sentence, you will be asked to indicate if the sentence is correct or contains an error. There are no spelling or punctuation errors, and you do not need to re-write incorrect sentences.

Twenty of the sentences (ESL) may contain errors that are commonly made by people whose first language is not English. The remaining twenty sentences (REM) may contain errors that are often made by people whose first language is English.

Here are examples of each type of sentence. The incorrect word is bold.

English as a Second Language (ESL) sentences

  1. How many mans are there on the team?
  2. My friend’s mother go shopping on Tuesdays.

Remedial (REM) sentences

  1. We went to the movie theatre last night and seen "The Invisible Man."
  2. None of my friends thinks that I made a good decision.

CPT Essay

For the essay portion of the CPT, you will be given a choice of five essays topics. You will write a 300-500 word expository essay on the topic you choose. An expository essay involves presenting an idea, argument, or opinion, rather than just relating a story. Your essay should include several well-developed paragraphs.

You will be graded on how well you develop your idea, argument, or opinion. You will also be marked on word choice, sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation.

Practice Essay Topics

  1. Many people feel that parents have neglected their responsibility by not "bringing their children up properly." Write an essay in which you describe what you think are the basic concepts children should be taught in order to insure humankind a better world in the future.
  2. What aspects of the natural world do you find most attractive? Narrow your choice to two or three natural phenomena and explain why you are attracted to them.
  3. As we grow older our hobbies and interests tend to change. Write an essay in which you describe how your hobbies or interests have changed over the years.
  4. Imagine that you have been requested to select the world's best vacation spot. Write an essay in which you make this choice and then provide specific reasons for your decision.

Using each of the following statements as a starting point, write an essay in which you develop one significant idea related to the statement you choose.

  1. Household chores can be...
  2. The benefits of team sports are...
  3. People who are bored with life should...
  4. The characteristics of a good teacher are...

Additional resources