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FCE Essay – Pass B2 First Writing

FCE Essay Writing

Do you want to know how to write an FCE essay which will boost your marks on the Cambridge scale?

If the answer is "I have no idea how to get top marks", then this page will be incredibly helpful for you.

FCE Essay Tip: Make sure you separate your writing into clear paragraphs.

This page will be useful if you are preparing for the B2 First exam. If you are a teacher, helping your students pass this exam, you will be able to use this page in your classes or for homework activities. Continue reading the page and you will see, there are worksheets for you to print out etc.

Before we continue, if you haven't seen my page explaining how examiners mark your FCE writings, visit my marking criteria page now.

If you have read and understood how examiners mark your writing and you are a member of this website, watch the video below:

B2 First: FCE Essay

The video above is for members only. If you cannot watch it, you need to register as a FCE student here or if you already have FCE/CAE student membership log in

How To Write An FCE Essay

The next video will take you through all the information you will find on this page, including:

3:30 - Examiner Advice for FCE essays

4:48 - Example FCE essay question

7:53 - Write an Essay Plan

13:05 - Analysing An Essay

19:31 - Pass or Fail?

20:27 - You don't need to pass the writing paper

20:53 - Essay Vocabulary

20:53 - Homework

22:46 - Send me your FCE writing

FCE Essay Advice Summary

1. You should identify the target reader.

For an essay, this will normally be a teacher.

2. Write about all the 'notes' in the question. There will probably be 3 notes, so you should have 5 paragraphs in total including an introduction and a conclusion.

3. Use formal and neutral language. If you don't know what this means, watch the 2 videos above.

I go into a lot more detail on how to write an FCE essay in the video at the top of this page. You must be a member to watch it, but you will find it really useful as I critique real examiner feedback and give you exercises to complete.

FCE Essay Question 1

Part 1 - You must answer this question.

Write your answer in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.


You have been discussing environmental topics in a university lecture. Your professor has asked you to write an essay.

Write an essay using the notes below and give reasons to support your ideas.

Can we solve environmental problems globally?
Notes
Write about:
Science
Economics
…………… (your own idea)

FCE Essay Plan Template

You should always plan your answer.

Can you remember how long I suggested to plan your answer for in the video above?

2 minutes?

5 minutes?

If you said 2 minutes, you should go up and watch this video again now.

If you said 5 minutes, great...

Handshake, Hand, Give, Business, Man, Giving, Offer

 

Write An Essay Plan

Take 5 minutes (like in the exam) and write down a plan for the question above.

Write your plan on a separate sheet of paper, you can use this online template or this physical template or use your own style (it's up to you). If you use my template, remember to add 3 body paragraphs (one for each note).

FCE Speaking Tip: Notice I used the phrase 'up to you' in the last sentence. This means 'it's your decision'. This is an informal expression, so you shouldn't write this in an essay, but you could say it in part 3 of the speaking exam when deciding which idea to discuss next.

 

My B2 Essay Plan

Type of Writing: Essay.

Target Reader: University professor.

Content: Talk about all 3 notes. Good and bad points for each note.

Language: Formal. Neutral. Passive constructions. Linking words.

It's also a good idea to write down some words which you can use in the essay (these will help you think of ideas).

Vocabulary: Pollution. Traffic. Transport. Technology. Animals. Money. Economy. Subsidies. Finance. Financial institutions. Big companies. Green technology.

Format:

Introduction (30 words) - Popular topic nowadays. Difficult question to answer.

First paragraph (40 words) - science
Science can help us resolve environmental problems. Linking word. Problem of science.

Second paragraph (40 words) - economics

Economics can help us solve problems, but it can also prevent us.

Third paragraph (40 words)

Social co-operation. This is fundamental, we also need this for science and economics.

Conclusion (30 words) -
Can I make a decision based on the 3 main paragraphs?

Sample FCE Essay Answer 1

Here is an answer that an FCE student wrote before taking the exam. You should download the answer and write any mistakes you find.

FCE Essay - Download This Sample Answer


 

How To Write An FCE Essay - Sample Answer

B2 First Examiner Assessment Scale Template

Have you written any mistakes you found on the student's essay?

Now it's time to complete the examiner's assessment scale with your marks and thoughts about the writing. If you can't remember how to do this, go back and read this page again.

Complete an online version of the template below here (it looks a bit different)

or

Download the physical template here, then print it off and write your thoughts on it.

Subscale

Mark (1-5)

Commentary

Content

Communicative Achievement

Organisation

Language

 

 

Sample FCE Essay 1 My Critique

Every problem regarding ‘the’ environment and pollution can be solved. Science is always working on new solutions, ‘and’ new suggestions for alternative  means of production are frequently put on the table (good language). The most difficult issue in this scenario is the interests of different social groups in the world society (this is okay to mention here if it is your own idea and third point).

The vision of profit gains must been align with environmental protectionve measures which is really challenging (good word). First (why did you write ‘first’ - do you mean ‘The first’) positive changes begin with this alignment, for example, hotels proposing to clients to use the same bath towe’l’r while they stays in. Its is good for nature, and it (your spelling doesn’t need to be perfect in the exam, but you will lose marks if bad spelling confuses the meaning of your sentence) good for the business men (you could expand on what you mean here).

For all other matters, conciliate (I don’t know this word. Perhaps you mean ‘finding an effective relationship between’) both aspects (does ‘both aspects’ refer to ‘the environment’ and ‘economics’)  is not a simple task, more difficult than the most high tech science. Efforts for environmental purposes should focus on changing culture, values, business perspectives of profits in global society, otherwise there will ‘not’ be not enough progress.

Examiner Assessment Scale Template With My Comments

 

Subscale

Mark (1-5)

Commentary

Content

2

Most of your content is relevant to the task. There is a strong introduction, however, not all the notes are addressed in the body of the essay. There are 47 extra words to use before reaching 190, so these could be used to talk about the other notes. There is also room to expand some of your points and explain why you made them, for example, in the first paragraph, how is it ‘good for businessmen’?

Communicative Achievement

3

The overall argument is fairly easy to understand, but some of the phrases used are not specific enough, for example what does ‘both aspects’ refer to in the final paragraph?

The main paragraph about ‘profit’ is developed quite well, it would be good if other paragraphs existed and were developed in the same way.

Organisation

2

The organisation of this answer is not clear. There is a clear introduction, which is good, however, there are only two more paragraphs after this. Two of the ‘notes’ are mentioned in the introduction but ‘social groups’ is not mentioned again and ‘science’ is only mentioned in the concluding paragraph. It would be better if these two points had their own paragraphs. The conclusion could be shortened to allow this.

Language

4

The language used is quite good. It is written in an appropriately formal style and there are some good words and phrases, for example:new suggestions for alternative  means of production’. The writing would benefit from more linking words and phrases being used. Some effort has been made to use simple and complex grammatical structures, for example ‘The vision of profit gains must been align’ and while there are a few errors, these do not impede communication.

 

FCE Essay Pass or Fail

This student got:

Content: 2

Communicative Achievement: 3

Organisation: 2

Language: 4

Total = 11/20

You need to get 24/40 in the Writing paper to pass at B2 level.

So if the student got 13/20 for their part 2 writing, they would pass this part of the exam.

You do not need to pass every exam paper but you need to have an average of 60% across all 5 exam papers to pass and get your B2 certificate.

If you want to find out more about how to calculate your scores, read page 4 of this document.

FCE Essay Vocabulary

Try to remember the words and phrases below which you can use in B2 First essays. A good way to remember is to write them down on a separate sheet of paper. Add more words and phrases to your list and write them in the comments section at the bottom of this page! If you are unsure about what language to use in an essay, you can also ask me in the comments at the bottom of the page.

Introducing an argument or point of view

Some/Many/A few people think/feel/say that...
Other people disagree/argue that....
One point of view is...
The general belief is that...
Most people believe that...
Public opinion is divided on the topic of...
It is sometimes/often said/thought/claimed that....

Giving opinions

In my opinion
I am of the belief that...
In contrast to .... I feel that...
My personal opinion is that...
It is my wholehearted/sincere opinion that...

Linking Words and Phrases

However
Nevertheless
In addition...
Firstly...Secondly
On the one hand...On the other hand...
In contrast...
Meanwhile
Whereas

FCE Essay Question 2

Part 1 - You must answer this question.

Write your answer in 140-190 words in an appropriate style.


At school you have been talking about environmental issues. Your English teacher has asked you to write an essay on this topic.

Write an essay using all the notes and give reasons to support your view.
(140-190 words)

The awareness of environmental problems has grown over the last few years. Do you think it’s possible for us to solve these problems?

Notes
Write about:
Plastic
Transport
……………… (your own idea)

FCE Essay Plan Template

You should complete this online plan in no longer than 5 minutes. This is how long I recommend you plan for in the exam.

Alternatively, download and add a third paragraph to this FCE Essay plan template.

My B2 First Essay Plan

Type of Writing: Essay.

Target Reader: English Teacher.

Content: Plastic. Transport. My own idea.

Language: Formal. Neutral. Passive constructions. Linking words.

Vocabulary: Waste. Congestion. Traffic. Pollution. Supermarkets. Government. Technology. Public transport.

Format:

Introduction (40 words) - I don't think we can solve the problems.

First paragraph (60 words) - plastic
International co-operation won't happen. Supermarkets aren't changing fast enough.

Second paragraph (60 words) - Transport

Planes are cheaper than trains. Out of balance. Link to 'news' being out of balance and how can we change people's mindsets (next note).

Third paragraph (50 words)

People's mindsets. People are naturally lazy and the government isn't producing enough information to help us.

Conclusion (30 words) -
Sum up arguments above.

FCE Essay Answer Example 2

Here is an answer to the question above which one of my students wrote.

FCE Essay - Download This Sample Answer and correct any mistakes you find.


fce essay answer 2

Examiner Assessment Scale Template

If you have written down the mistakes above, you're ready to complete the assessment scale below. If you want more help with this, check out my FCE writing marking criteria page.

Complete an online version of the template below here

or

Download, print and complete the template below here.

Subscale

Mark (1-5)

Commentary

Content

Communicative Achievement

Organisation

Language

 

 

FCE Essay 2 My Critique

Compare the mistakes you found with the ones I have written below...


At school, during ‘science and geography lessons  of science and geography, everyone studies how the’ is made natural environment ‘is made’ and how we can protect it. Despite ‘the fact’ we study the importance of environment, we don't pay much attention to this ‘in reality’. At the moment we are attending particular and extreme phenomena, so we are very scared and worried and we want to change. It may not be as easy as it sounds. 

(I would start a new paragraph here) Firstly, it is difficult to change our’ own lifestyle and habits. Change has an economic and personal cost. We don't mind how much plastic we use every day. Plastic is everywhere: it wraps the (you don’t need ‘the’ here because we’re talking about ‘food’ in general) food, it is useful when we want to eat quickly, it is also in our clothes. The products, that don't have plastic in their packagings, are more expensive (this is a defining relative clause, not a non-defining relative clause):. I think for example, when I buy drinks in the glass bottles, they are very expensive. So, if I want to save money, I buy plastic bottles. Then I observe that (‘Another example that I have observed is…’) in the supermarket I can find many small food packs, also for single dose’s/’portions’ of food’. I don't waste food but I pollute more ‘because of this’. So we can find sustainable development (If you want to keep this sentence, you should explain in more detail what you mean)

(I would start a new paragraph here) Another problem is about transport: we are all in favor that we have to use more public transports. The problem is that too often we don't have a good public transport service with a capillary distribution (this term is only used in specific fields of work and is not used in everyday English). However we can ‘make an’ effort to use ‘our’ own car’s’ only if it is necessary. 

‘The’ last thing it is about differentiated collection of waste: too few people does it (You should remove this sentence. Don’t introduce too many ideas without developing them into detailed arguments).

I think that there are many ‘environmental’ problems but we have to stop to think that ‘these’ are only an obstacle. It isThey are also an opportunity. So it is important to change our mind’set’ but we need also ‘need’ of more education in everywhere place (‘in’ schools, within familiesy, at cinemas, etc.) about good (‘environmentally friendly’) behavior. Secondly, (I would only write this if I’ve written ‘firstly’ before it), if the law and the penalties don't work, probably we would change them in (‘people’s behaviour’?) ‘through’ incentives. For example, if the condo (what is ‘the condo’?) applies perfectly the rules about differentiated collection of waste it would have a discount in the invoice (I don’t understand this sentence). Thirdly, we need more investment ‘in for transport and sustainable development.

Examiner Assessment Scale Template With My Comments

 

Subscale

Mark (1-5)

Commentary

Content

1

The writing is too long. If you write this much in the exam you will lose points because the examiners will regard the content as unimportant or irrelevant. 

In order to create more of a balanced argument, the introduction, conclusion and first body paragraph could all be shortened and more detail could be added to your own idea.

Communicative Achievement

3

Some parts could be improved through using different expressions, for example, it would be better to say ‘another example…’ rather than ‘Then I observe’ in the second paragraph. Your main paragraphs have good structure, but sometimes the argument falls down slightly due to inappropriate word choices, e.g. ‘capillary distribution’.

Organisation

2

The essay consists of two big paragraphs. It would be better to have 5 paragraphs in total. The overall structure within the two paragraphs is good, but some arguments should be shortened and others lengthened to create a greater balance. 

Language

2

The language is a little informal for an essay. The writing would benefit from fewer first person pronouns ('I don't', 'I pollute' etc).

There is attempt to use linking words, especially when developing points ‘secondly, thirdly’ but it is difficult to know which arguments these are addressing in the main body paragraphs. 

Some complex vocabulary has been used, e.g. ‘differentiated collection of waste’ but this sometimes impedes communication, e.g. ‘capillary distribution’.

The essay would benefit from a wider variety of grammar and different verb tenses.

 

FCE Essay Example 2 Pass or Fail

This student achieved:

Content: 1

Communicative Achievement: 3

Organisation: 2

Language: 2

Total = 8/20

You need to get 24/40 in the Writing paper to pass at B2 level.

So the student would need to get 16/20 for their part 2 writing in order to pass this part of the exam.

I can tell by reading this essay that the student has not prepared much for this part of the exam, so it is unlikely that they would get a much higher mark for their part 2 writing.

Homework Write An FCE Essay

Wow....you've made it this far through the page....congratulations, you should now have a good idea how to write an FCE essay!

I hope I didn't bore you zzzzzzzzzzz...here's a random picture 😉

Tiger, Budgie, Tiger Parakeet, Photoshop

Anyway, now it's your turn to write an essay. You can answer the question above or answer a different question. Then you have 3 options:

  1. Send your writing to questions@studentlanguages.com
  2. Write your answer in the comments section at the bottom of this page
  3. Write an answer and be too shy to send it to me or write it below (not a good way to learn)
  4. Be lazy, don't write an answer (the worst way to prepare for the B2 First exam)

I'll leave the choice up to you.

Adios amigos...don't forget to click the Next Video >> link below 😉

Class/Homework Activities For Teachers

Are you a teacher?

You can use my resources to help your students in class or set them homework activities.

In Class With Computers / Homework Activities

If your students use computers in class, or you want to set them activities for homework, this is what I recommend.

Tell your students to:

    1. Become a member of this website so they can access all the information. Email: admin@studentlanguages.com if you have many students and you'd like me to create a discount code for them.
    2. Watch this video and make notes of the important points on the relevant parts of this form (they will be emailed a copy of the form which they can bring into class): https://c.studentlanguages.com/fcewritingtips/
    3. Read this essay question: https://c.studentlanguages.com/fce-essay/#FCE_Essay_Question_1 and spend 5 minutes writing a plan for it here: https://c.studentlanguages.com/fcewritingplantemplate/
    4. Compare their plan with my plan here: https://c.studentlanguages.com/fce-essay/#My_B2_Essay_Plan
    5. Print and correct any mistakes they find on this sample essay answer: https://c.studentlanguages.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/FCE-Essay-Sample-Answer.pdf
    6. Complete the assessment scale template for the sample essay answer
    7. Compare steps 5 and 6 above with my critique and my notes on the examiner assessment scale
    8. Update this form during future classes.

In Class Without Computers

If your students don't have computers in class, this is what I recommend.

Tell your students to:

    1. Become a member of this website so they can access all the information and bring all the materials they need to class. Email: admin@studentlanguages.com if you want me to create a discount code for lots of your students.
    2. Print off this form for your students to complete while you show them this video in class or tell them to complete the form while watching the video for homework.
    3. Read this essay question: https://c.studentlanguages.com/fce-essay/#FCE_Essay_Question_1, then take 5 minutes and write a plan for it here: https://c.studentlanguages.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/FCE-Writing-Plan.pdf
    4. Compare their plan with my plan here: https://c.studentlanguages.com/fce-essay/#My_B2_Essay_Plan
    5. Print and correct any mistakes they find on this sample essay answer: https://c.studentlanguages.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/FCE-Essay-Sample-Answer.pdf
    6. Complete the examiner assessment scale template for the sample essay answer
    7. Compare steps 5 and 6 above with my critique and my notes on the examiner assessment scale

Next Video >>

How to Write an FCE Article - Time to move on to a part 2 FCE writing.

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