First certificate writing exam

First certificate writing exam tips

Information about the task:

Part one: The first task in the first certificate writing exam tests is an opinion essay. You will have to write for your English teacher about a given question or statement. You will also have some notes to use as a guide for your essay which must be between 140 and 190 words. Because the target reader will be your teacher you should make sure the tone of your essCambridge first certificate writing examay is quite formal.

Although the Cambridge First certificate writing exam is 1 hour and 20 minutes long in total, you will need allow approximately forty minutes for the part 1 and the associated planning and checking.

To obtain a pass grade or more in the first certificate writing exam, is important that you organise your writing into clear paragraphs and use connectors or appropriately. The examiners want to see that you can write complete sentences with correct spelling and punctuation, additionally you should use a good range of vocabulary and grammar structures.

Useful language for the First certificate writing exam essay:

Putting points or reasons in order and giving more information is very important in the Cambridge first writing exam; here are some really useful linking words or connectors that you can use in part one of the Cambridge first writing exam.

Addition Conditional Contrast Purpose Reason
As well as Provided (that) although In order to Because of
besides unless Despite (the fact that) so On account of
In addition to As long as (and) yet In order that Due to (the fact that)
though So as to Owing to
whereas since
while In case
Even though
in spite of
Even so
however

Some of these words can go at the start of the sentence, however others cannot.

Have a look at these examples

  • In the shopping center there are more shops to choose from. Also they are open until later.
  • In the shopping center there are more shops to choose from. They are open until later too.
  • Working with heavy machinery requires skills. Furthermore it can be dangerous.
  • Working with heavy machinery requires skills. It can be dangerous as well.
  • In summer the days are much longer. In addition it is a lot warmer then.
  • In summer the days are much longer. It is a lot warmer then too.

Focusing on the question: text organisation

Remember when you are writing an essay to ask yourself two questions: 

  1. Does my essay include arguments for and against the question topic followed by my opinion?
  2. Have I organized my ideas in clear paragraphs to include:
    1. an introduction in the first paragraph – 25 words
    2. a second paragraph discussing note 1 – 45 words
    3. a third paragraph discussing note 2 – 45 words
    4. a fourth paragraph discussing my own idea – 45 words
    5. a conclusion – 25 words

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