Top Exam Preparation Tips- FCE Writing

Here’s how to achieve a Grade A in your Writing!

At The English Group we often see our students struggle with the writing paper of the FCE exam. It can be the hardest part to practice.  However, our team of native experienced teachers and Cambridge exam experts are here to provide you with advice! 

Here are our top tips to improve your written English and achieve a higher score in the

Cambridge First exam!

Keep a correction log

Writing down your mistakes will help you identify your common errors. It could be prepositions, verb agreement, perfect tenses… Once you have a good insight on your weaknesses, it´s easier to know what to revise! Keep a log with columns and add:

-the mistake

-the type of error i.e spelling, tense, word order ..

-the corrected word/phrase

-another example to check you can use your corrected version in the right context

correction log

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Learn a new word as part of a whole structure/phrase

As soon as you learn a new word or expression, make sure you write it down as part of a full sentence or within a context, so that you know how to use it correctly. Practice using it straight away and personalise it! If you write a sentence that applies to your life and is true to you, you will remember the word/ expression a lot more quickly!!

Understand the task and who is the target reader

Read carefully the question, underlining key words and identifying who is your target reader. Who will read this? Should I use a formal or informal register? How should I structure this writing?
There are various FCE writing tasks including
– essays
– letters or emails
– reports
– articles

Time Management

The two tasks require the same amount of words, and therefore you should spend about 40 minutes on each. Spend enough time planning- Once you´ve got a detailed plan, you are half-way there! Spend:
-10 minutes planning
-25 minutes writing
-5 minutes checking

CORRECTED ESSAY

 Keep a mental checklist of what the examiner is grading you on 

You need to understand how the examiner grades you! Keep a mental checklist of the 4 things the examiners base their score on:

  1. Content – Did you answer the question? Is your writing relevant?
  2. Communicative achievement – Is it easy to read your text? Will the reader understand your ideas? Is the register too formal, too informal, or just right?
  3. Organisation – Have you structured your writing with clear, logical paragraphs? Have you used ´linkers´ to link together paragraphs, sentences and ideas? Is your text easy to follow in a logical flow from start to finish?
  4. Language – Did you use FCE-level vocabulary, add style with context-related words, or did you use basic words? Did you make lots of grammar and spelling mistakes?
    check-42926__340

You can’t cook without a recipe!

Remember that any chef, doesn´t throw all the ingredients in a pan without following a recipe! You need to spend enough time planning so that your ideas are coherent. Most students are tempted to start writing without planning first, and this is a recipe for disaster!!

Keep a notebook for essay ideas, opinions and topic vocabulary

One reason why students struggle with the writing paper, is that they haven’t got enough ideas and they have «Blank Page Syndrome».
Keep a notebook with different topic sections, and for each section, add opinions, ideas and topic-related vocabulary. Share ideas with your classmates. Remember examiners don’t mark you on originality- they base their score on your language, content, structure, register and style! No- one is expecting you to come up with a new opinion or a unique idea!

Now it’s OVER TO YOU!

Any questions or comments? Let me know in the comments section below! I’ll try to answer.

While you´re here, why not check out some useful tips for the speaking exam 

 

¡Ven a Conocernos y Mejora tu Inglés ya!

Somos un centro internacional y acreditado del British Council con 20 años de experiencia, especializado en la enseñanza de idiomas, y la preparación de exámenes oficiales Cambridge.  Dirige su oferta a las personas interesadas en aprender, mejorar y reforzar sus conocimientos de un idioma.

En The English Group, nos comprometemos a garantizar una calidad suprema- clases reducidas e impartidas por profesores nativos, que cuentan con experiencia en la enseñanza de la lengua inglesa.

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