Explanations » B2 First (FCE) » Cambridge B2 First (FCE) – Exam 1 – Writing
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  • Cambridge B2 First (FCE) – Writing

    The B2 First Writing test has a duration of 1 hour 20 minutes and consists of two parts, and it accounts for 20% of the total score.

    The first part has one compulsory question. In the second part, there are three questions, and you must choose one.

    Candidates are required to write an essay of about 140-190 words in each part.

    Part 1: Essay writing

    Here, you’ll be given an essay title and two ideas related to the topic. Your task is to explain which idea is more important and provide reasons to support your opinion. It is crucial to cover both ideas in your essay, but you must also add a third idea linked to the topic. The topic of the essay will be of special interest, so specialised language isn’t required.

    Part 2: Choice of various writing formats

    The second part offers more variety, with candidates choosing one task out of three questions. There are four types of tasks that you can find in this part: an article, an email/letter, a report or a review.

    Article: Here, you are expected to engage the reader with interesting content, express opinions, and use an appropriate style.

    Email/Letter: Depending on the task, the email or letter may be formal or informal. The focus is on the ability to convey requests, complaints, or information effectively.

    Report: A report is more formal, requiring organisation and clarity to describe an event or situation, often with recommendations.

    Review: Writing a review involves evaluating a product, service, or experience. You should provide a balanced view and include specific examples.

    Assessment criteria

    Content: Examiners assess how well you have answered the task and whether the task is complete, easy to understand, and includes everything you were asked to do.

    Communicative achievement: This criterion focuses on how well your writing fits the task’s context. For example, if you’re writing an email to a friend, the style should be informal and friendly. The examiners assess whether the tone and style of your writing are appropriate for the specific situation you’re writing about.

    Organisation: This is about how well you structure your writing. Examiners look for a clear, logical flow of ideas. They check if you’ve used paragraphs effectively, if your ideas are connected coherently, and if you’ve used linking words and other cohesive devices appropriately.

    Language: This criterion assesses your use of vocabulary and grammar. Examiners look at the range and appropriateness of the words you use and how accurately you use them. They also consider the complexity of your language, giving credit for attempting to use advanced grammar and vocabulary, even if there are some errors. The key is whether or not these mistakes significantly impact the reader’s ability to understand the text.

    General tips for the Writing part of the B2 First (FCE)

    Understand the format of the exam: Familiarize yourself with the types of questions, number of questions and time limit for each section of the test. Practise using exam samples like the ones provided on our website or other published materials.

    Practice regularly: Engage in frequent practice both in class and at home, focusing on reading and writing texts similar to those in the exam, including essays, articles, emails, reports and reviews.

    Familiarise with exam conditions: Practice exam tasks under similar conditions, with clear time and word limits.

    Clarity in writing: Ensure your writing is clear and easily readable by examiners.

    Understand assessment criteria: Know what the examiners are assessing in your text. Work on improving those areas.

    Try using advanced language: Don’t be afraid to use more complicated words or grammar. Even if you make some mistakes, it’s good to try. You learn more this way. A useful practice is to revise sentences you’ve already written, incorporating more specific vocabulary or advanced grammar.

    Identify strengths and weaknesses: Recognise your own strengths and weaknesses, and work on improving areas of weakness.

    Use a mix of assessments: Incorporate teacher assessment, peer assessment, and self-assessment during your preparation to get varied feedback and perspectives.

    Tips to prepare for Part 2 of the B2 First (FCE) Writing exam

    Understand the task types: Learn about the different kinds of writing you might have to do, like articles, emails, reviews or reports. Find out which types you’re good at and which ones you like.

    Get feedback and learn from it: After you write something, show it to someone else, like a teacher or a classmate. Listen to their suggestions on how to improve.

    Choose tasks that suit you: Once you’ve practised various text types, you’ll recognise which ones you prefer and excel at. Focus on these types and opt to write one of them on your exam day.