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 is aimed at teaching students to write a report at B2 level that will pass the Cambridge FCE exam.
OTHER POSTS ON WRITING INCLUDE
There are 4 questions in the writing part of the exam:
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.
Look at the example texts for organisational ideas and useful phrases.
You should think of the writing as a checklist:
- Is it in the correct format and organisation?
- Have you answered the question?
- Is it easy to read?
- Have you used complex grammar forms?
- Are there few errors? (spelling, grammar, vocabulary)
Our university has just released the new version of its official website. Write a report in response to your classmates´ opinion of the site. Talk about the usage of the site, the information provided and the news section. Also make suggestions about how it could be improved.
Structure of the text:
A report should be concise and easy to understand. You must include a title, headings and also make sure that you answer the points in the question.
Include the following:
- headings (the three points in the question)
Example of an answer:
Report on the University Website
In this report I will discuss and analyse my classmates´ opinions of the website and make some suggestions for improvements.
The site is really easy to use and all the students seem to be pleased with it. They were particularly happy with the links between sections and the fact that it was easy to find contact details for the adequate person in each teaching department.
The information was of a good standard and very informative. People seemed impressed with how up to date it all was.
The news section was very good and perfect for university students, just the type of thing that they like to talk about. If I have time, I will read it every day to find out about other student and new events.
How to improve it
All in all, there has been a request for more information about extra curricular activities and also where students can find discounts around the city. It would be a good idea to include a specific section for the latter.
To sum up, I´d say the new site has been a hit and that everyone will be making good use of it in the future.
- It would be a good idea to…
- Wouldn´t it be better to…
- Why don´t wee…
- What about… ?
- How about… ?
- Shouldn´t we… ?
- Why not… ?
- the reason is…
- the reason I believe that is…
- the facts suggest…
- the evidence shows…
- taking into account what I have seen…
You can justify your opinion more effectively by being more specific. Try some intermediate (B2) phrases like these:
- The first reason I believe this is…
- The main reason I feel this way is…
- There are several reasons I believe this. The first is…
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…
When you ARE certain, try one of these 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…
Take into account the 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:
- 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.
Example question for you to practice at home
You have recently seen an English-language film on a university trip and you have been asked to check other people´s opinions on it. Write a report about the following things.
- Was it enjoyable to watch?
- Who was the most interesting character?
- Did you all understand it easily?
- Would you have prefered it with subtitles?
- Who would you recommend it to?
Write a report of 140-190 words.