Studying English

B2 First Cambridge Writing Checklist

What is the First Certificate writing checklist for?

When preparing for the First Certificate (also known as FCE or B2 First) Cambridge exam, it is important to practice writing. I use this checklist with my students to help them review their own writing before they give it to me to correct. 

You can use the First Certificate writing checklist as part of a course, or if you are studying on your own. The more you write, the more you will improve, especially if you use this checklist. Using the list will help improve your score.

This post will describe each part of the checklist so you understand what it means. Read the post and download the FREE checklist by clicking here.

Writing in a notebook

First Certificate Writing Checklist (in detail)

Content and style

 Correct length (140-190 words) – if your answer is too short, you haven’t answered the question with enough detail. You need more grammatical structures and vocabulary. If your answer is too long, there is extra information that is not important and the reader will stop reading.

 ❏ Answered ALL parts of the question – this is especially important for an email, report, or review where there is usually more than one question. Earn all the points in this part by answering all the questions. It’s easy!

 ❏ Consistent and appropriate style and tone (formal, informal, or neutral) – who is the reader? If the reader is your friend, you need to use a friendly, informal style. If the reader is the headmaster of a college, you must write in a polite, formal way.

 ❏ Clear explanation or message for your reader – you don’t want your writer to be confused, so make sure your writing is easy to follow and understand. 

 ❏ All content is relevant – because the word count is low, do not include any extra information. Use the task as a guide for what to write about.


 ❏ Title and sub-headings (if needed) – no title for the First Certificate essay or email/letter, write a title for the review and article, and write a title and sub-headings for the report

 ❏ Writing is divided into paragraphs – each new idea should be a new paragraph. The essay is always five paragraphs. 

 ❏ Each paragraph has a main idea – use a topic sentence to give each paragraph a main idea.

 ❏ Paragraphs are in a logical order – your writing should be easy to follow and read.

 ❏ Supporting sentences for each topic sentence – use examples, opinions, and facts to support your ideas in each sentence.

 ❏ A variety of linking words are used – use different types of linking words, in different parts of the sentences. Remember to use linking words that are appropriate for the style (for example: nevertheless is very formal, while so is informal.)

 ❏ Correct spelling and punctuation – check your use of commas, periods, exclamation marks, and question marks. Check for spelling errors in difficult to spell or confusing words (to, too, two.)


 A range of grammatical structures (from simple to complex) – use simple sentences as well as more complicated structures like conditionals. To get maximum points n the First Certificate, include perfect tenses, modal verbs, passive sentences, and reported speech.

 ❏ A range of vocabulary (including B2 words) – include different levels of words, but make sure you are using some B2 level adjectives, nouns, adverbs, and verbs. Try not to use words like good, bad, beautiful, small, big, etc.

 ❏ Task or topic-specific vocabulary – include expressions and vocabulary specific to the task (for example: I look forward to hearing from you for a letter of application) or topic (for example: star, plot, cast for a film review).

 ❏ Time expressions used correctly – use expressions like for, since, ago, etc. with the correct grammatical structures.

 ❏ Checked for grammar mistakes that you usually make – make a note of grammar mistakes that are typical for you and write them down. Check for these structures in your writing.

Where to get help on your First Certificate Writing

If you are studying on your own, you can practice writing using the website: Write and Improve. This website is free and gives you instant feedback.

Check out these other posts:

FCE First Certificate writing tips

B2 First Email/Letter Writing Guide

B2 First Essay Writing Guide

Happy writing!

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FCE Writing Checklist

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