First Certificate in English B2 First (FCE) is a well-known examination which level is between B1 and C1 It is a qualification issued by Cambridge Assessment English and it serves as a proof that the examinee is, for instance, able to independently work or study in the United Kingdom, or any English-speaking country. The exam assesses four basic skills, namely reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Today, we aim to discuss the section dedicated to writing and to reveal some useful tips.
About the Writing section
The authors of the exam give the examinee 80 minutes to complete the whole section. It consists of two parts. In the first one, you have to write an essay, and that’s a compulsory task, whereas the second part offers you the option of choice between three text types: article, report/review, or e-mail/letter.In the first part, you can score up to 20 points. You might be given a statement and your task is to write an essay of between 140 and 190 words, in which you will agree or disagree with this opinion.
FCE Writing: The First Part
Why stick to the number of words given? As organizers of the exam emphasize, too few words most likely mean the attempt was unsuccessful, whereas too long essay might repeat some ideas and also be a proof the work is not organized enough.
FCE Writing: The Second Part
In the second part, you can also score up to 20 points. In total, the section of writing gives you the opportunity to obtain 40 points. This time, your task is to choose one question from the three given ones. The organizers encourage to use different structures and show your skills there.
It is important to choose the topic you feel you can produce a solid work in. Also, be aware that you might want to omit the topic where some words unknown to you are used.
How to prepare for the written part?
Before you start writing, plan your structure and the most important points you want to touch.
A well-planned written task is much more readable, so it will be better evaluated! What you write must be the answer to the examination task! – Planning will help you to avoid the waffle! In fact, the word limit is not much, so you have to make sure that every word is in its place!
- Read the task and highlight the keywords – choose the words and phrases you know and are related to the topic, you can start and build the whole text on them
- Once you have selected your keywords, think if you know their synonyms – what similar phrases are worth using?
- Make a list of ideas that come to your mind and then divide them into paragraphs – remember that you cannot write in one sequence!
- Remember the connectors of your ideas – the most typical ones are: First, Second, In addition, To sum up…
- When you’re done writing, it’s time for proofing, or active error detection strategies – focus on the points in this post.
The problem with writing exams is that we have to be careful, very careful!
Tips for a Successful Attempt in Writing for FCE
1. Official sample tests – use them
Ever wondered how to start preparing for this examination? You should visit the official website for Cambridge exams. And since not only the writing section, but the whole exam do have an organized, typical format, you should spend some time studying those structures. You will know what to expect and what is expected from you.
2. Don’t stop practising
You will be more likely to succeed if you start practising from day number 1. It will give you the opportunity to learn new structures and develop your skills.
Remember that there are many options. Although the first part is all about essays, the second one consists of some choices. If you often practise writing reports, reviews, or e-mails, you will become a real master.
3. Formal or informal English
Some parts of writing require informal language. However, most of them, such as a review essay, cannot be written like a letter to a friend or a Facebook message.
It is worthwhile to read and remember formal vocabulary – verbs and nouns, which we may not use on a daily basis, but during this task will be necessary.
The common “sorry” in the formal context should be replaced by apologies. If you need a CV in English, use the formal language too.
4. Remember to do what you’re asked for
Often, the answers to your questions are hidden somewhere between the lines. Don’t forget that your performance depends on how well you perform the task according to the instructions. So, don’t try to be “wiser”.
5. Sentence Lenght, Adverbs and Adjectives
It’s worth making longer sentences – of course, this involves the risk of making more mistakes, but it also shows that I have a rich vocabulary. Adjectives are a great way to make our sentences look much more friendly and professional.
If you’re writing a story, it’s worth using adverbs – they tell you how, how something is happening and contain valuable information for the recipient!
I’m sure you know a lot of adjectives and adverbs – using a errors detection strategy, focus on adding them to your sentences in English – the person who will evaluate the work will definitely pay attention – because these are things you usually forget!
6. Capitals and paragraphs
The traditional division is: introduction, development and ending – each written text should consist of them.They help the reader and show that the person who wrote it has thought through his or her text and divided it into appropriate sections.
There may be more paragraphs – each of them should contain one main idea. If you start writing about something else or give counter-arguments it is worth to include it in the next paragraph.
7. Organize and polish your work
It might be that you’re thinking that your first draft will be perfect, but if you have some time left, take your time and polish your work. You might be really surprised to find some stuff that really shouldn’t be in your work.