Hello guys! Here we are again! ABC English Levels and Valentine are welcoming you here in the next episode about the FCE exam. Today, as I promised in the previous audio lesson, we’re going to discuss FCE Writing Essay practice, which means that we’ll take a sample of an exam task and see how we can handle it. I’ll give you some handy hints on the vocabulary you should use in writing an essay. These tips, by the way, can be applied to other types of writing too. Okay. Ready? All right then. Let’s go!
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A sample of essay question and the notes
I’ve decided to take some simple situation for analysis and found this one in Complete First by Cambridge. So, the situation is like this:
In your English class, you have been talking about how long young people should stay in education. Now an English teacher asked you to write an essay. Write an essay using all the notes and give reasons for your point of view.
All young people should continue at school or college until at least the age of 18. Do you agree?
- Qualifications for jobs
- Students who don’t like school
- ……. (your own idea)
Write your essay in between 140 and 190 words.
Well, this is the task, and let’s deal with it. It’s clear that the 1st and 2nd points are opposing to each other: the idea you possibly get more qualified studying at school longer contrasts the consequences that you may experience if leaving school early.
How to start FCE Writing Essay practice
In the previous lesson, we understood that it’s really useful to draw up a plan which helps to organise your ideas and be logical in presenting them. That’s why we start with it. You might think it’s time-consuming and unclear. What should I include in the plan? I don’t know what to start with etc. etc. Well, here I just can remind you again of the fact that everything is in front of your eyes, really. Let’s see. I recommended having 5 paragraphs, remember?
- Para. 1: Introduction. This is where you can 1) explain why you’re writing; 2) explain the present situation of the essay question and outline your attitude (think simple: agree or disagree).
- Para. 2, 3 and 4 refer to each point of the notes and comprise the main body of the essay. Say, in our task
- Para. 2: Relates to the first point of the notes – qualifications for jobs. You can include 2 subtitles explaining how studying longer can better your chances in future. Always, give at least two reasons to support your opinion.
- Para. 3: Must discuss the 2nd point of the notes why some young people quit school as soon as possible and start work. Again, give two reasons.
- Para. 4: Is your own idea about the situation. Make sure you explain your view and suggest a solution.
- Para.5: Conclusion: Expresses your opinion supported by the reasons.
When students come to the forth para, they are sometimes blocked and don’t know what to say. A good approach could be returning to the essay question and reading it without paying attention to the notes. What comes to your mind? How would you answer the question if interviewed? Focus on this and include the idea into the last but one para.
So, schematically, your plan could appear like this:
Para. 1: Introduction: How I see the situation nowadays.
Para. 2: Studying longer is not a bad idea:
- 1st reason …….
- 2nd reason ……
Para. 3: Why leave school?
- 1st reason ……
- 2nd reason ……
Para. 4: My own idea ….. + solution …..
Para. 5: My opinion ….. + reason(s) …..
The language of an essay
First of all, decide on the register of the essay. In this example, you’re writing for your teacher so, the formal style would be the best choice, or at least neutral.
Tip. What does the formal style not allow?
- Contractions. Important! When writing in a formal style, avoid contractions, use full forms of auxiliaries: do not instead of don’t, will not instead of won’t, I am instead of I’m etc.
- Using slang, jargon, idioms and phrasal verbs is not appropriate in a formal register. Well, some phrases are so common in our everyday life that they might seem suitable for an essay, but I strongly recommend sticking to neutral or formal writing.
Secondly, to organise any writing logically, use linking words which help to follow the ideas easily.
You can start your essay getting straight to the point and say: In my opinion, To my mind, As far as I am concerned, As far as I know, To begin with, etc.
Indicate the order of your ideas by using Firstly/First of all, Secondly, Thirdly, Finally.
If your ideas are opposite, you can present them with words and phrases like On the one hand … On the other hand, Although, Despite/In spite of sth.
To express ideas which are not arguing with each other, use Besides, A further point is, Therefore, Furthermore, Consequently, So, etc.
A good way to mark the end of an essay could be saying: In conclusion, To summarise, All in all, etc.
Get it done!
In FCE Writing Essay Practice, let’s see how our sample essay could be organised by means of the expressions above.
Para.1: Introduction. As far as I am concerned, in my country, the law allows students to finish school at the age of 16, but I am absolutely sure that young people can get more benefits from continuing education until they are 18.
Para. 2: First point of the notes. First of all, currently, jobs require more and more specific skills, which 16-year-olds normally do not have yet. Therefore they can not find a job. Secondly/Furthermore, staying in education longer will equip them with better knowledge and training which can be used in the future.
Para. 3: Second point of the notes. On the other hand, this is true that many young people find school boring or too difficult and prefer to start work and earn money. Besides, if such students continue education, they often disorder lessons and disturb those who do want to study.
Para. 4: My idea. A further point is that the students lacking motivation can not be productive at all subjects that is why they should only study practical ones they are interested in.
Para. 5: Conclusion. In conclusion, I am convinced it is wrong to leave school too soon as people might miss their opportunities in the future.
All right, this is all for today. Hope you’ve learnt something new and useful, and now writing an essay doesn’t seem so scary for you.
Remember you can always ask us questions via the contact form on our web site abc-englishlevels.com.
Learn with pleasure, go further and take care!
That was ABC English Levels and Valentine. Bye!