Are you preparing the Cambridge B2 First (FCE) English exam? Do you want to improve your score on the FCE writing test?
Keep reading for 10 tips to help you get a higher mark on the B2 First Certificate exam.
Tip #1: Use your time carefully on the FCE writing test
The writing part of the B2 First Certificate exam is 1 hour and 15 minutes. You need to write:
- One essay
- One choice writing from three possible questions (letter/email, report, article or review)
Start with the writing task that is “easier” for you. Try to get it done in half the time or less. Then, use the rest of the time on the “harder” writing.
“Easier” = you know the structure of the task well and/or you have a lot of ideas/vocabulary for the question.
Tip #2: Write a plan
Only a few of my students like writing a plan. However, it’s very helpful and can help you from getting stuck.
Use 5 minutes or less to write a plan.
Write down five B2 level words related to the topic, 5 different grammar structures to use, and 5 transition words.
Write a few notes for each paragraph. Don’t write any sentences – this takes too much time.
Tip #3: Answer ALL parts of the question
Answer all parts of the question and you will earn more points for having a complete answer. Before handing in your writing, check to see if you’ve answered ALL of the questions.
For this task, you MUST include: some places the college friends could visit and the best transportation to take. If these points are not included in your answer, you will lose points.
Tip #4: Invent information if you don’t have any ideas
Luckily, you do not have to tell the truth in your answer. You can create information on the FCE writing test.
This tip is important for the writing and speaking parts of the exam. As long as the information makes sense, it doesn’t have to be true!
Tip #5: Use more advanced vocabulary when you can
To earn more points, try to use more creative and difficult vocabulary. When talking about your family don’t just talk about your “mom, dad, sister, and brother.” Instead, try to talk about your uncle, brother-in-law, cousins. This shows that you have a bigger vocabulary.
If the task is an email asking about popular sports in your country, talk about kitesurfing instead of soccer. Everyone talks about soccer/football! Show that you have a better vocabulary with more specific words.
Tip #6: Practice writing with a permanent pen
On the official test, you must use a permanent, non-erasable black or blue pen. It’s important to practice writing with this so you get used to it.
If you make a mistake, don’t worry. Cross out the mistake with a line through the text
Tip #7: Practice, practice, practice
I’ve had students in my class who were not at the correct level when they started the FCE course. I asked them to write something outside of class 3-4 times a week for 10 weeks. It’s a lot of work, but in the end, they passed the exam!
Just like a sport or instrument, you improve writing by practice. Ask your teacher to correct your writing and try to sit down and write a few times a week. I promise you that your writing will improve.
Tip #8: Know your mistakes – and fix them
Going along with number 7, look at your writing after your teacher corrects it. Making mistakes is how we learn – they aren’t a bad thing.
Make a list of common mistakes that YOU make. If you aren’t sure what they are, ask your teacher for help or contact me on my website or Facebook group ESL Teacher 365.
For example, one of my Spanish students used the word “the” too much. Before he gave me his writing to check, he always checked the word “the” in his writing first.
Tip #9: Read your writing aloud
When you are learning to write, the best way to catch your mistakes reading your writing aloud, sentence by sentence. This will help you catch more mistakes.
If you are in a quiet classroom, you can mouth the words of the text without making any sounds. This will still help you catch your mistakes.
Tip #10: Make sure each paragraph is a new idea on the FCE writing test
Sometimes students write one long paragraph. Don’t do this! You will lose points.
Each time you have a new idea, write a new paragraph. Be careful – the essay is always 5 paragraphs.
The Cambridge FCE writing test can be scary and difficult for some students. I hope these tips help you improve your writing.
You can schedule a 30-minute lesson with me over Zoom if you want help with your writing, please contact me here.
Check out this free FCE Writing Checklist with downloadable PDF.
Want more help on the exam? Here are some tips for the FCE Speaking Exam.
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