There’s no reason for the writing exam to be a challenge. Use these materials to help you write great answers every time…
Part 1: Essay
There’s a good chance that before you started studying B2 English, you had never written an essay before. It’s a type of writing that’s really common in schools and universities in the the UK and USA, but maybe not so much in some other countries. With this B2 Essay recipe, you can write a great essay with no problems.
First you need an introduction. This tells the person reading your writing about the topic you’re writing about. The first sentence should have a strong statement or rhetorical question to get their attention. The second sentence should explain the topic of the essay. This can be a paraphrase of the question on the exam paper. Then the third sentence should explain what your essay will talk about. For example, here’s a typical B2 essay question, and an example introduction:
When was the last time you thought about the way we harm the environment? All over the world there are problems with global warming or things which damage the world around us. This essay will discuss three different ways of solving these problems.
It’s really important that the introduction to all your writing tasks explains clearly what the question is about, and what you have to do. This will make the ideas in your writing very easy to follow, and you’re more likely to get a good mark.
One of the difficult things in B2 is including your “own idea” in the essay, and often it can be hard to think of something interesting to say. Remember that there are never right or wrong ideas in a Cambridge exam, and so as long as your idea is connected with the topic you will get the point. The order of information in the essay is important. You don’t have to include the ideas in the same order as the question. Instead, it’s best to include what you think is your best idea (or the one that’s easiest to talk about) right at the end before your conclusion. This will make your ideas easier to understand.
Remember that in the conclusion you need to make a decision. Take a look at these two examples. Which is better, and why?
In conclusion, this essay has looked at different ways of solving environmental problems. All of the ideas are important, and the environment will only improve if everything is done well.
In conclusion, there are lots of different ways of solving environmental problems. On balance, I believe that solving transport issues is the best way to improve the environment. If this happens, then we can start to make a difference.
The righthand conclusion is the best, for two reasons: 1) it makes a decision about which idea best answers the question, and 2) finishes with a strong statement, just like the introduction started with one.
Use the Essay Recipe to help prepare for your B2 writing exam, and learn how to write a great essay every time.
Part 2: Formal & Informal Letter.
Do you like writing letters? Most students think that the letter is the easiest writing task. It’s something that we all learnt to do a long time ago, and it’s got a nice easy structure that is easy to repeat each time.
You must be careful, though. It’s really important that you take a few minutes at the start to read the question. Like you did with the essay, think about who you are writing to and why. This will help you decide if the letter is informal or formal. If it’s formal, you need to be careful that you’re using more formal expressions, and that you don’t use too many conversational phrases.
Before you choose to write a review, read the question carefully. Decide if you know enough vocabulary to be able to answer the question well enough. Remember that a review should not be a spoiler of the movie, or a story about your trip to a restaurant. Pay attention to the structure in the recipe – although you do need to spend some time explaining the topic of the review, most of your answer should be about answering the question and evaluating how good or bad the thing you’re reviewing is.
For example, in this review the focus is on the main character, what they did, and why it was surprising. In fact, this question doesn’t even ask you for a summary of the book or the story. It can be a good idea to check the exam question a few times when you are writing, to make sure that you are still doing the correct thing.
Part 2: Report
A lot of students are scared of the report because it’s a writing task they have never done before. It might be the best task you can do, though. Let’s take a look at a question:
A report has a fixed structure, and many parts of it can be learned before the exam. There is always a simple title, and each paragraph will have its own title as well. You can invent statistics and information to support your ideas, and this means that it’s very easy to use passive forms and reported speech – two of the most ambitious B2 grammar structures you can use. Here’s an example answer to the question, using the same structure that you can use in the exam. The words and phrases in bold are ones you can use in any B2 report.
College Technology Visit: A Report
In a few weeks, a group of your teachers will visit our school. This report looks at how technology is used in some different lessons. A final section gives recommendations about the best subjects the teachers should visit.
Six teachers from Britain are coming to visit our school shortly. The teachers were contacted by email to complete a questionnaire, and all of them commented they are interested in seeing interactive apps in the classroom. Another third suggested they want to take some ideas back home after the visit.
Subjects to visit.
The vast majority of subjects use technology in the classroom, although the ones which use it the most are English and Social Sciences. PE, on the other hand, barely uses any IT, and so should be avoided. A number of students have expressed an interest in seeing how the visiting teachers use technology, so perhaps they can take part in the lessons as well.
We suggest that teachers visit the following subjects: geography, because of it’s use of interactive maps; English, where the teachers like students to write on the board, and Social Sciences, which make use of different apps. If the teachers visit these subjects, they are bound to get the most from their visit.
Part 2: Article
This might be the most difficult writing task because it is the least structured of all. Here, you need to write an informative and engaging article on a given topic, and usually also have to answer some different questions as well. If you choose this task, it’s really important that you write thinking about the target reader (the person who will read you article), and what they are interested in. You should avoid writing in the first person, and instead use rhetorical questions and pronouns like you or us to talk directly to the read and to get them hooked on your ideas. You can include an anecdote (a very short story) about a personal experience, but in general you should be avoiding long descriptions of things that have happened to you.