B2 First (FCE) Writing
B2 First (FCE) WRITING Here’s everything you need to know!
Like most of the English exams, the First Certificate consists on four parts, the Speaking part, which evaluates if you are able to communicate with others and keep a conversation flowing, the Use of English part, which assesses accuracy in grammar and structure points and the ability of understanding different types of texts like magazines and newspaper, fiction, short stories and internet articles, the Listening part, which checks if the student is able to understand different types of dialogues and conversations, and the writing part, which expects students to produce two sorts of texts. This last fragment is the one we’ll be focusing on today!
So here it is; the ultimate tips on how to be ready for your FCE Writing task.
To begin with, let’s take a look at the assignment.
You have 80 minutes to write two texts.
The first text will always be an essay and should be 140-190 words long. This essay is usually written in a formal style.
The second text can be an article, informal email or letter, a formal email or letter, a report, or a review and should be 140-190 words.
The examiners give you a grade based on 4 things:
Content - Did you write what you were asked to write?
Communicative achievement - Was your writing too formal, too informal, or just right?
Organization - Did you link paragraphs and sentences? Is there a logical flow from start to finish?
Language - Did you show off your sparkling vocabulary or did you use basic words? Did you make lots of grammar and spelling mistakes?
Another thing to take into consideration is how to manage the time
The two texts are worth equal points and have the same word lengths, so you should spend equal time on them. That gives you 40 minutes per text. Spend some of that time planning and checking. For example:
Planning - 10 minutes
Writing - 25 minutes
Checking - 5 minutes
You might think that's too long for the planning stage, but the truth is, the more you plan the fewer problems you will have later.
However, this is entirely up to you! If you feel like there’s one of the two productions which you’re smoother in, then you might wanna start with that one and get it over with quickly, so that you can focus on the other one.
Again, here are just some tips. The order and time you dedicate to each section is entirely up to you, as long as you finish within the 80 minutes!
Now for a moment, let's place ourselves at the examiners’ point of view and find out what it is exactly that Cambridge cares about in your writing.
The first point, and the most important one, is the content itself. If you are asked to write an article about the importance of movies in our lives, and you write a report on BTS’ latest performance instead- well, it doesn't matter how good that report is. Maybe you can write like Shakespeare himself would- the examiner will be impressed, and then still give you zero points.
In other words, READ THE TASK AND DO EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS!!!
Another important thing to pay attention to is to mind the tone at all times, attempting to maintain the same style throughout the whole task. Let me rephrase it: if you’re gonna use a formal style, make sure to use it throughout the whole process. You don’t want one part of your production to sound like you’re writing a Whatsapp text to your bestie and the other part to look like you’re trying to reach the NASA headquarters. Establish which style you’re gonna use from the beginning (formal or informal) and stick to that.
Of course, this only applies to ONE production. The second production is independent and can and probably should be written with the other style. In fact, the instructions themselves will most likely tell you which style to use, so just remember to check the instructions twice and don’t forget them in the middle of your exam…
Another tip that can help you is learning some useful connecting words, or transition words, beforehand. Nothing delights an examiner more than reading words like ‘whereas’, 'however', 'Firstly, secondly’… and if you use expressions like ‘on one hand’ and ‘on the other hand’, trust me, you’ll be the Messi of FCE Writing.
And last but not least, it is important to have a wide variety of language to implement. Your writing will be more interesting and you'll get a better grade if you do so. Use high-level vocabulary when you know it; don't repeat the same word too many times; use synonyms (those bastards are gonna become your best friends If you know how to use them), and try to use a variety of grammar (not just 'subject verb object' all the time). And if you learn some idioms to add, your score is gonna get higher than the sun.
And that’s a wrap on the writing tips! Hey, I’ve been there. Writing can be hard. 80 minutes trapped only with your inner thoughts and imagination in a foreign tongue? Sounds like something only Spongebob could pull off. But trust me, if you follow these suggestions, you take a deep breath, get a good night of rest and go with enough preparation, then there’s nothing to be afraid of! Because the best part of the writing task is that YOU KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT! No surprises will come along the way. Relax and slay!