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How to write a great article for the FCE Cambridge ESOL exams – FREE EXAMPLE QUESTIONS

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 160-190 words. This post will explain how to write the article option.

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In 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, about the environment of 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.

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Evaluation scale:

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:

  • Content
  • Communicative achievement
  • Organisation
  • Language

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.

 

Example of a question: 

You see this post on an English language website

 

The most useful bit of language learning advice

What is the best way to learn a language? Where did you learn about it? Who taught it to you?

 

Write an article about these questions. The best articles will be published on the site.

 

Example answer:

The most useful bit of language learning advice

The most useful bit of advice I have ever received was from an online course. I had been studying English for years but with no success, I wasn´t motivated to learn and I found it difficult. As it was so challenging for me; I started to give up until one day I came across this advice. Start with what you enjoy. But how can we make sure that we enjoy the language learning process?

The best way to learn a language is to relate it to yourself and your life. You need to think about what topics you are most likely to use and begin with those. If you study about something that doesn´t capture your attention, it is difficult to learn. As I read recently on the course, “to learn something well, you need to enjoy it”. This is very true with languages. The creator of the course has hit the nail on the head because not I use English every day. I try to think in English and I read in English all the time.

All in all, I reckon that languages are important to open your mind and be able to travel with ease. I´d recommend this course to everyone and I´m glad I found it.

 

Structure of an article:

Beginning:

Engage the reader and make them want to read more, you can begin with a question

Middle:

State your main points and relate them to personal experiences and opinions

Ending:

Summarize your main points but make an overall point to make the reader think they have learned something from reading the article

 

Useful language: 

Involving the reader

  • Have you ever thought about…?
  • How would you feel if …?
  • What would you think of…?
  • Are you one of those people who …?
  • If the answer is …, you should….
  • What do you reckon to …?
  • What would live be like if…
  • Just think for a moment…
  • Just imagine…

 

Making the article lively and interesting (use adverbs)

  • importantly
  • surprisingly
  • worryingly 
  • the most amazing 
  • absolutely
  • suddenly
  • amazingly
  • fantastically
  • frighteningly

 

Developing your points

 

  • Another advantage of …
  • On top of all that…
  • What is more, …
  • Above all,,,
  • The reason I think this is…
  • The reason I feel this way is…
  • On top of that, …
  • Let’s start with …

 

Giving your own opinion

  • In my opinion, …
  • In my eyes, …
  • To my mind, …
  • As far as I am concerned, …
  • Speaking personally, …
  • From my point of view, …
  • As for me / As to me, …
  • My view / opinion / belief / impression / conviction is that …
  • I hold the view that …
  • I would say that …
  • It seems to me that …
  • I am of the opinion that …
  • My impression is that …
  • I am under the impression that …
  • It is my impression that …
  • I have the feeling that …
  • My own feeling on the subject is that …
  • I have no doubt that …
  • I am sure / I am certain that …
  • I think / consider / find / feel / believe / suppose / presume / assume / reckon that …
  • I hold the opinion that …
  • I dare say that …
  • I guess that …
  • I bet that ….
  • I gather that …
  • It goes without saying that …

 

Justifying opinions

To begin, you can use these basic (B1) phrases to justify an opinion in English:

  • because…
  • the reason is…
  • the reason I believe that is…
  • the facts suggest…
  • the evidence shows…
  • taking into account what I have seen…

 

When you ARE certain, try one of these (B2) phrases:

  • There is a lot of evidence to support my point of view. For example…
  • There are many facts in favour of my opinion. One such fact is…
  • From my own personal experience, I am lead to believe…

 

When you are not completely certain, you can try one of these more advanced (C1) English phrases:

  • I don’t have any special reason for believing this. It just seems right to me that…
  • I could be wrong as I have no special reason for believing this. I just feel this is right as…
  • I´m not sure why I feel this way but I have reason to believe…

 

Example of a question so that you can practice at home

 

You have seen an advertisement in a local sports magazine:

 

Write an article about your experiences doing extreme sports.

 What was your best sporting experience? What made it so memorable and what did you learn from it? What aims do you have in the future of sport?

 Write an article (160-190 words) about your experience. Make it personal and tell anecdotes.

 

USE OF ENGLISH How to pass the Use of English and reading part of the FCE (B2) – INCLUDES FREE MOCK EXAM

SPEAKING SPEAKING with FREE PDF MOCK EXAM – First certificate (B2) Cambridge ESOL

LISTENING LISTENING – FCE (B2) Improving your grade

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