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 focus on how to write a review at B2 level to get a GREAT grade in this part of the exam
OTHER POSTS ABOUT READING AT B2 LEVEL
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.
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.
You should think of the writing as a checklist to make sure you complete with the task:
- 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)
Look at the example texts for organisational ideas and useful phrases:
You have seen this advertisement in a local magazine
Movie reviews wanted
Have you ever seen a movie that really surprised you?
Write a film review and talk about who the main character was. Why the movie surprised you.
And your opinion of the movie including what you lost liked about it.
The best reviews will be published in the magazine
Structure of a review:
Start by stating which film you will review and why; it is a good idea to include a question
Describe the film in brief, the plot and the characters, using interesting vocabulary
To conclude, say who you would recommend the film to and why
The departed: film review
Do you want to see an amazing movie about cops in the USA with an added twist? Well, the departed is a must see. It has an amazing cast with the likes of Jack Nicolson, Matt Damon and Leonardo di Caprio. It is hard to say who the main character is because there are various stories that run simultaneously throughout the movie.
The movie is surprising because (spoiler alert!) almost all of the main characters die. In the movie there are undercover police officers infiltrated into the mafia and also many corrupt police officers on the payroll. Jack Nicolson is a mafia boss and he has an undercover policeman as one of his employees, but he also has Matt Damon feeding him information from inside the police department. The movie is tense and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.
The movie would be suitable for anyone over the age of 18 due to its violent nature and it is a great movie to have a look into the crime world in Boston, USA. I would recommend it to everyone!
For some Key Writing Phrases, see our CHEAT SHEET
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…
- It is so exciting (that)…
- It is really great (that)…
- Wow, it is awesome (that)…
- I am delighted (that)…
- It is thrilling (that)…
- I am over the moon about (gerund)
- It is awesome (that)…
Making recommendations and suggestions:
- It would be a good idea to…
- Would it not be better to…
- Why do we not…
- What about… ?
- How about… ?
- Should we not… ?
- Let us consider…
- Why not… ?
Example question to practice at home
You have been asked to write a review by your English teacher:
What is the best course you have ever done? What was the best part about it? Who would you recommend it to and why?