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Cambridge Preliminary Exam – (B1) writing question 2 – short text – INCLUDES A FREE PRACTICE QUESTION

The writing part of the Preliminary B1 Cambridge ESOL exam is joined to the READING B1 part. You have 1:30 minutes to do both of the parts. You should allow about 50 minutes for the writing part as it can be difficult to avoid mistakes. This post is aimed at giving students advice on how to write the short text (35-45 words) but we also have posts for the REPHRASING, the LETTER and the STORY

When writing at B1 level, it is important to remember that the examiner wants the text to be simple. It needs to be easy to read and have few errors with the use of simple grammar structures. It also needs to include some complex grammar (modal verbs, conditionals, passive, reported speech, relative clauses). DO NOT OVER COMPLICATE IT! Look at the example texts to see how it is done.

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The parts of the writing exam:

  1. Rephrasing: In this part you need to complete the second sentence with 1-3 words so that it has the same meaning as the first. IF YOU CAN USE THE SAME WORD, DO IT! DON´T LOOK FOR A SYNONYM IF IT IS NOT NECESSARY.

Focus on these grammar points:

Passive, comparatives, reported speech, conditional 1st and 2nd, quantifiers, connectives and cohesive devices, vocabulary based, tense changes (past simple to present perfect simple), modals

Question 2. Writing: short text. In part 2 of the writing you need to write a short text of 35-45 words (NO MORE THAN 45). Answer the 3 points that are given in the question in the most concise and direct way that you can, you must answer all 3 points to pass. You normally need to write an email, a message, a note or a postcard.

Question 3. Writing: letter (100 words). The format of a letter is essential. It is very important to organise the text with separate paragraphs so that it looks like a letter and not a general text. The letter is a response to a section of a letter that you have in the question. You usually need to answer 3 points or questions. DO NOT INCLUDE THE ADDRESS! The letter must be 100 words long, NO MORE.

Question 4. Writing: story (100 words). The story is simple; it needs to be written in either the past of the future (according to the question). What you need to do is have a clear beginning, middle and ending. You have to COMPLETE AN INSTRUCTION (title __, beginning with __, ending with __). The story must be easy to follow and be interesting (keep the reader’s attention). Try to use extreme adjectives to get attention. DO NOT WRITE MORE THAN 100 WORDS!

*DO EITHER 3 OR 4. NOT NOTH OF THEM!

 

The examiners are looking at the following criteria:

  1. Content

All of the content in the writing should be aimed at answering the question. It should be easy to understand and also take into account who is reading it. E.g. if it is a letter to a friends, it must be informal and familiar.

  1. Organisation

The organisation aspect of the evaluation refers to how clearly you present your ideas. If it is a letter, it must resemble a letter. You need to do it with paragraphs, the paragraphs must not be too short and they need to be set into separate topics. If you write a story it can be all in one paragraph but it needs to include a beginning, middle and end.

  1. Language

This part of the assessment focuses on the use of vocabulary and grammar. You need to show flexibility in their use and also include cohesive devices (X5) such as because, as, but, however, for example, like, and, in addition etc. To get a good grade in this part your grammar and vocabulary need to be accurate, appropriate and easy to understand.

  1. Communicative achievement

They are looking at communication of ideas; it must be clear, relevant to the question and the target reader, use good simple language with some complex grammar.

 

Example question:

Jack, one of your cousins, has asked you to meet him to go to the cinema this Saturday, but you can´t make it.

Write him a message to say:

  1. Say sorry that you can´t go

  2. Why you can´t go

  3. Suggest another day to meet up

 

Example answer:

Hi Jack,

I´m really sorry, but I can´t meet up to go to the cinema because I have to study for the exam on Monday. Please don´t be cross as this exam is really important and I can´f fail it. How about meeting Monday night to have a pint?

Let me know, Marc

Useful language:

Apologies

  • Sorry for (ing)
  • I apologise for (ing)
  • I´m really sorry, but
  • I regret to tell you that
  • Please forgive me, but

 

Suggesting

  • How about (ing)?
  • What about (ing)?
  • Why don´t we… ?
  • Should we… ?
  • What do you think about… ?
  • Wouldn´t it be a good idea to… ?
  • Let´s…

 

Justifying/explaining

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

 

Giving advice

  • should
  • ought to
  • had better (verb)
  • If I were you, I would/could…
  • I think it would be a good idea to…

 

Opinions

  • In my opinion, …
  • To my mind, …
  • As far as I am concerned, …
  • Speaking personally, …
  • From my point of view, …
  • 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 …

 

Congratulate

  • Well done on…
  • I want to congratulate you for…
  • Congratulations on/for
  • What great news that…
  • I am so proud of you for…

 

Good luck with the writing practice. Remember to read a lot and to practice using language a lot to improve your writing skills.

 

OTHER POSTS FOR THE B1

LISTENING LISTENING – Preliminary (B1) Cambridge ESOL

SPEAKING LISTENING – Preliminary (B1) Cambridge ESOL

 

Example question for you to practice at home

 

One of your friends has just moved to Germany and got the job of their dreams

Write an email:

  1. congratulate them on the new job
  2. Offer advice on how to be successful
  3. Suggest meeting in the future

 

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