The writing part of the exam lasts for 1 hour 20 minutes (80 minutes). In this time the candidates need to write two texts of 140-190 words. This post will explain how to write an essay that will get you a great score for the FCE. For more information on the different types of essay click HERE. Take advantage of the useful phrases.
What do you have to do in the writing part of the exam?
There are 4 questions.
The 1st task is obligatory. You must do question 1 and it is always an essay. The topics are varied, but they are usually social issues such as the environment or the advantages/ disadvantages of something.
The 2nd task is a choice; you can answer one question of 2, 3, 4. DO NOT ANSWER ALL OF THE QUESTIONS. The choices include: a letter (formal or informal), an email, a review, an article or a report. My suggestion is to focus on writing a formal or informal letter, a review and an article. The letter and the email are almost identical, so you cover both of them. The report is a little difficult because of the organisation and format.
Example of an essay question:
In English class you have been debating the advantages and disadvantages of studying English abroad.
Write an essay giving reasons for your opinions
Title: Many students spend a lot of money to study English in an English speaking country, but is it worth it?
Notes: write about
Many students spend a lot of money to study English in an English speaking country, but is it worth it?
To get started it is important to understand that learning English is of the utmost importance for people in Spain. Education experts say that the demand for a high level of English is only going to increase so we all need to find the best way of learning this language.
Firstly, we need to look at the cost of learning a language. We study English at school from the age of 3 but the level of classes and teaching is generally quite poor so our parents invest a lot of money in private language schools to help us through our exams. This is a costly process but we need to think, is it the quickest way to learn? Wouldn´t it be better to go to an English speaking country?
Going abroad to study is a fantastic experience and we generally make a lot more progress than we would that if we stayed in our own country, but it is extremely expensive. Not all people can afford it and they need to try to get grants to be able to go. The advantages are obvious because we are surrounded by the language and we are forced to use it in real life situations. But it is important to find people to practice with who are willing to be patient and help us.
To summarise, it is a fantastic opportunity to go abroad to study but it is important to have a good teacher and to be focussed on learning or you could waste your time, and a lot of money.
TO SEE A FULL VERSION OF THE EXPLANATION OF HOW TO WRITE THE PERFECT ESSAY, SEE APPF.ES
Structure of an essay (SEE FORMAL VERSUS INFORMAL WRITING HERE):
Introduce the topic and say what you are going to talk about and capture the interest of the reader
The first point from the notes (you can mix points if they are related)
The 2nd point from the notes, you need to link it to the first
A summary of what you have said in the main paragraphs and make your main point
FIXED PHRASES FOR B2
Making a point (in persuasive essays (HERE):
- In my opinion…
- I find it…
- I hold the view…
- The way I see it…
- It looks a bit…
- It seems to me…
- I am under the impression…
- It seems as if…
- From my point of view…
- I think…
- I would say…
- I reckon…
- From my understanding…
- I would like to point out…
- As I have said before…
- With respect to the point on…
- Like I have said…
- In relation to…
- Taking into account…
Speculating (LOOK AT GRAMMAR STRUCTURES HERE):
- Probably – He will probably do the exam next week
- Perhaps/maybe – Perhaps he doesn´t have time
- May/might/could – You might be luckier next time
- What if – What if he doesn´t arrive on time?
How it is graded at B2 level:
To say what grade you need to pass the writing part of the exam is not as easy as with the use of English and reading as the way it is assessed is fairly subjective and can be within a point of what another examiner would put. The assessment scale for the writing section of Cambridge is broken up into 4 sections:
- Communicative achievement
For the content part, Cambridge states “All content is relevant to the task. Target reader is fully informed”. This means, to get full marks for content the candidate must answer the question fully and not include irrelevant information.
For the communicative achievement part, Cambridge states “The candidate uses the conventions of the communicative task effectively to hold the target reader’s attention and communicate straightforward and complex ideas, as appropriate”. This means that the text is interesting enough to keep the reader´s attention and that the reader is informed of the ideas in the text with ease.
For organisation, Cambridge states “Text is well organised and coherent, using a variety of cohesive devices and organisational patterns to generally good effect”. To complete with this requirement the candidate needs to organised the text in the correct format (letter, essay, email, review or article etc.) The candidate also needs to use a variety of connectives (5-8 approximately). It is important to write the text in a logical way, it needs to be easy to read and understand.
For language refers to grammar and vocabulary usage, Cambridge states “Uses a range of vocabulary, including less common lexis, appropriately. Uses a range of simple and complex grammatical forms with control and flexibility. Occasional errors may be present but do not impede communication”. To pass this part of the assessment the candidate needs to use a range of vocabulary (they are not looking for strange and rarely used words, they want the correct word for the context), the grammar use needs to include both simple and complex (modals, conditionals, passive and relative clauses) forms with few errors.
For a full online course to prepare the B2 FCE Cambridge exam see WWW.APPF.ES
Practice question for you to do at home:
In your English class you have had a discussion about communication and the advantages of the internet in today´s society. Write an essay about the advantage and disadvantages of the internet.
What are the pros and cons of having easy access to the internet?
- access to information
- internet security