What do you have to do in the exam?

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.

5 Simple Ways to Improve your Written English

 

Format of an email/ a letter:

In effect the format of the letter and email options in the FCE Cambridge exam are the same. You just need to be careful and know if the question requires you to be formal or informal. DO NOT INCLUDE THE ADDRESS. You need to know if it is formal or informal so that you can use the appropriate language. If it is informal you CAN use contractions, in the formal you CAN´T. all the points should be put into separate paragraphs with one line between each one.

It is important to consider the evaluation scale of the Cambridge exam (Here it is):

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

 

Evaluation scale:

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.

 

COMMON QUESTIONS:

  1. Should you do a plan? Yes! You must make a plan to organize your writing. On the day of the exam, you will be stressed and feel pressure. A plan is your way of organizing you text and your thoughts.
  2. What happens if I write more than 190 words? Nothing… Well, almost nothing. In the past for every 5 words extra, they took away a point, however, now they do not. It is not good to go over 190 words because of time, but you can. I wouldn’t write more than 200 words because they will probably lower the mark they give you for content. They will determine some of it to be unnecessary.
  3. What counts as complex language in the exam? You MUST use complex language at B2 level. You must use attention grabbing vocabulary and a variety of grammar structures. The passive voice, relative clauses, modal verbs, conditionals, reported speech and inversions all count as COMPLEX grammar forms and you must use them.

SEE OUR WRITING GUIDE HERE

 

Example question:

You have received this email from an English-speaking friend:

From: Jim

Subject: backpacking in Spain

Some friends of mine are coming to visit Spain next summer after the Covid-19 pandemic is over. They have some questions, would you mind lending them a hand?

Where should they begin their trip? Flights to Madrid are cheaper than the coast, but they don’t mind either way.

How long should they stay and what is a must see?

Thanks,

Jim

Write your email.

 

DOWNLOAD EXAMPLE QUESTIONS IN PDF HERE

FOR AN EXAMPLE OF AN EMAIL, CLICK HERE

Example question and answer

 

Writing an email:

A friend of yours wants to buy a computer to take advantage of the sales and is seeking some advice.

Hi, I’m going to get a new computer in the sales. What brand should I go for and how much should I spend? Should I buy it online?

 

Answer:

Hi James, 

Thanks for the email, it’s always great to hear from you. It sounds awesome that you are going to get a new computer. Do you want a laptop or desktop?

The sales is a great time to find a bargain so you should make the most of them. If I were you, I would buy an Apple mac as they are by far the best computers on the market, though it does depend on how much you want to spend. I would spend at least 700 as you want something that will last a long time.

You had better take a look online as the best deals for electronics tend to be on the internet. I would browse on various sites and compare prices too.

I hope this has been helpful and let me know if you need a hand with anything.

Catch you later,

Marc

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