NO NEED TO BE SHAKESPEARE
THE WRITING SECTION
Here is a short introduction of what you are expected to do.
You’re given 80 minutes for two different tasks:
Essay (compulsory for everybody).
Review, report, letter, email or article (you have to pick one of those proposed).
Both texts have to be between 140 and 190 words long each.
The Essay is the only component of Part 1 of the Writing. It’s compulsory. (OBLIGATORIO). In it, you have to talk about a topic, mentioning two points you’re provided plus a point of your own.
In other words, in an essay you give info, you explain your viewpoint, you compare and contrast.
So, in less than 200 words you have to talk about the two points offered plus a point of your making.
What are some basic principles you should follow?
You have to show a B2 lexicon: tablets, superfoods, nutraceutical, etc;
the composition must be structured in paragraphs, linked one another with proper connectors;
you have to tap into a language portfolio to express comparisons, explanations, agreements and disagreements, personal views.
What do I mean in point 3? Making use of:
Although, despite, even if;
firstly, to begin with, first of all;
on the one hand, on the other hand; f
or example, for instance;
additionally, on top of that; to summarise, in conclusion…
A real-life example of an Essay:
Children spending time healthily outdoor
First of all, I wholeheartedly agree with the statement, but I will try to describe all the pros and cons related to the matter, before coming to conclusions.
To begin with, it’s easy to come up with several reasons why our kids ought to spend some daily hours in places such as parks, gardens or in the countryside. Physical activity is paramount to a person’s wellness, even more at a young age; besides, it would prevent obesity and subtle manipulation from TV and the internet.
That doesn’t mean there are no downsides. It’s difficult to be outdoorsy if you dwell in a 50 sqm-flat downtown or if you reside in a bad dodgy neighbourhood. In that case, we may want these children to stay indoors, watching the TV and being looked after.
However, the most crucial element in this regard is, in my opinion, parenting style. We’ve been breeding a generation of “helicopter parents”, hovering constantly over their offspring in search for hidden threats. Media play a big role in this, as they blow everything out of proportion: there’s rather plenty of evidence that such fears are irrational.
To sum up, I do admit there are pros and cons in letting the kids stay less indoor, but I firmly believe there’s a lot more to gain than to lose.
The Article is one of the options you’re given in the Part 2 of the FCE Writing: whether to go for this one or not, is your choice.
In the Article, you have to write an engaging text for a website, a magazine, a newsletter. In other words, in an article you describe, provide examples and articulate your opinion, in a way that you readers feel compelled to read it all.
A catchy title is recommendable, but do not go Huffington Post-clickbait-ish.
A school newspaper requires a style that a tech magazine does not. Learn how to pass from informality to formality in your writing.
Away from the exam, read as many articles as you can given that they are your raw material.
Here is a good example of an article:
In your opinion, is learning programming languages necessary in today’s world? Is it something you would invite all young people to do?
The best article will be published next month in our college magazine.
Human languages are the present: programming languages the future
In modern-day society, a good curriculum has no real appeal if not completed with the mastery of one or two foreign languages. But… Do you think it will always be this way? I don’t think so.
Sooner or later, human languages will be translated and interpreted by machines that will run on an entirely different set of languages: that of computers. Programming languages, we call them.
That’s the future. It will take ten years, perhaps twenty: but in that moment, these tools will be as popular and embedded into our daily life and professions, that ignoring Python, C+ or Java will be just as prejudicial as is nowadays not knowing English or French.
Hence, I strongly recommend our youth to start exploring the subject. It’s no more difficult than learning any other discipline: a bit of patience, some guidance, good materials.
So, guys: read about it, try coding, come to our so-called “Hackatons”, attend courses and hone your programming skills. Before you know it, it will be impossible to live without.
The Email is also one of the options you’re given in the Part 2 of this section, so it is not compulsory.
In this, you have to write in response to a certain situation, formal or informal, being careful to include everything you’re told according to the conventions of an email.
Points I want you to be aware of:
1. The Email writing is more difficult than what it looks like.
Because in life you may read a lot of essays, articles or reports so that you will have an idea of how to draft them even if you do not specifically train yourself for them. But emails? Not really.
That’s when textbooks and prep books come in very handy: they contain this stuff, so you should rely on them.
2. A maximum of 190 words is less than what you imagine.
Don’t get carried away or you’ll still be talking about yourself by word nº 220 and you still haven’t even glossed over your writing genius and your manuscript.
3. Don’t warp your English in an effort to make it superduper cultured.
It’s unlikely that this email will end up in a posthumous collection such as The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. At a B2 you know enough English to communicate richly, but to be Virginia Woolf-like, a great deal remains to be done.
A real-life example of an Email
Every year, two scholarships are offered to candidates from overseas who can show how our one-year course in English studies would help their career.
Scholarships cover fees, accommodation and food but not transport or personal spending money.
To apply, write an email explaining why you think you deserve a scholarship.
Dear Sir/Madam, I hope this email finds you well.
I am writing to your attention about the ad on your website, concerning the two scholarships for overseas students. I believe it would make a huge difference for me: allow me here to explain why.
As you know, Italy is a tourism-based country. Thus, I have been pursuing an education in Hotel Management and Sustainable Tourism. Unfortunately, in my country English teaching is not cutting-edge: neither within the education system, nor in the general society. As a result, undergraduates like me are forced to take matters into their own hands.
I have carefully read your one-year English studies program: I believe it would be very formative for me, beside being a boost for my employability.
This email would not be complete if I failed to mention either my excellent academic results (I hereby attach my curriculum) or, particularly, my limited budget. Hence, a financial aid in the form of a scholarship would be most welcome.
I look forward to hearing from you and please do not hesitate to contact me for any queries you may have.
Yours sincerely, Tyrion Lannister
The Review is one of the options you’re given in Part 2: again, it is not compulsory.
The Review assesses how well you can describe and motivate your opinion about something you have first-hand knowledge of (the like of an electronic gadget, a theatre play, a holiday package, etc.), with a final suggestion to the reader.
In other words, in a review you have to describe, detail and give your opinion.
A review may be published on different media: daily newspaper, online magazine, nationwide printed cultural journal. Hence, different styles for different outlets.
1. Choose a title that is alluring and at the same time gives the readers an idea of what to expect from your review.
2. It’s a good thing to read reviews profusely in preparation of the exam.
A brief summary of your go-to resources:
3. Don’t get lost in the analysis that you forget to include your final recommendation.
A real-life example of a Review
The following announcement has been published in your English-language university website magazine.
Film reviews wanted!
Have you recently watched a film in which you particularly liked the main character?
Write us a review of the film explaining what the main actor did and why in your opinion he deserves praise. Tell us also to whom you would recommend this film to other viewers.
The Call of the Wild review: a light-hearted, comforting story
The latest adaptation of Jack London’s most famous novel, directed by Chris Sanders, won’t satisfy the sophisticated appetite of our most salacious critics, but it does have an appeal, in my opinion.
Starring Harrison Ford as gruff Thornton and a CGI imposing dog as Buck, the film will likely become a young adult’s classic. Unfolding in the northern wilderness, the story is about two losers, harshly beaten by life, that come to recognize one another and team up.
I found that Ford’s acting is convincing, not entirely so that of the computer-generated Collie-St. Bernard mongrel: at times it falls short of nowadays’ FX standards, besides conferring the dog an incomprehensible, semi-supernatural ability to understand the English language.
The other characters’ performances are not subpar, nor are they Oscar-winning. There are no cliffhangers or unexpected plot twists, as it’s easy to imagine.
All in all, in my opinion is worth seeing, for those that are in search of an eighty minute-long solace, an unadventurous film evolving among the jaw-dropping Alaskan landscapes. One to relax, rather than reflect.
The Letter is an option you’re given in Part 2, among others. Thus, it is not compulsory.
In the Letter, you have to write a written communication to a friend, a relative, an editor in chief, a head hunter, etc.
1. The example I brought up above is that of an informal letter, but some – such as job applications – are so not informal. You need to be equally prepared for both styles.
2. No exception to the GSP rule (care your Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation): it’s friends you’re writing to but neither you are allowed to misspell nor to use abomination like b4 for “before”, 2 for “to” or bcz for “because”.
A real-life example of a Letter
You met an old ex colleague at a trade fair, when he informed you his current company has been looking for an experienced account manager in the publishing business.
You write a cover letter to the head of Human Resources that will have your CV attached. In the letter, you briefly introduce yourself, mention a few highlights of your profile and ask for an interview.
Dear Mr Gladstone,
I’m writing under the suggestion of my former coworker, Mr Mormont, whom I have recently met at the press trade show in Zurich: there, he made me aware that your company is in need of an accomplished salesperson: I’d like to be included in the recruitment process.
I know your company to be one of the top-five providers of marketing services to publishing enterprises: ambition and commitment seems to be in the DNA of your firm, so they are of mine.
As you can see in the hereby attached curriculum, I’m a young yet experienced key clients administrator in the same field, with a proven track record. My educational background is in International Relations, which comes extremely useful when dealing with firms from all over the world. The fluent knowledge of French and Spanish complete my profile.
I’d be honoured to have an interview with you at a mutually convenient time. In the meantime, in case of further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
I look forward to speaking with you about this opportunity and thank you for the time taken to read this.
Sincerely, Alys Karstarck
The Report is one of the options you’re given in the Part 2 of the FCE Writing: again, it is not compulsory.
In the Report, you have to explain facts and express a recommendation.
1. Choose a report if you’re knowledgeable about the topic.
2. Spend time planning carefully to save time writing.
That’s it. Four to five minutes spent outlining your report are going to save you many minutes later when you do the actual writing.
A real-life example of a Report
You see this announcement on your city council website.
We are conducting research about how to save water in our town. We would like to hear our citizen’s feedback and ideas on the matter: what are we doing well? Which
The aim of this report is to assess the current situation in our town regarding the usage of water and how to reduce it. What follows is the result of my own investigations: recommendations are given to the best of my knowledge.
In our city, this matter is particularly relevant as it lays on a basin characterised by the scarcity of water resources. Frankly, I haven’t seen any environment-minded policies so far, that’s why I welcome such forms of citizen participation.
I am told that our Urban Cleaning Services use non-potable water to clean streets and waste containers: that’s an excellent approach, but it’s far from being enough.
There is a battery of measures that could be implemented, among which:
Substituting sprinkling irrigators in parks with more efficient dripping systems,
making new buildings water-efficient,
recurring to underground tanks to recover rainwater in public buildings,
refurbishing existing housings with water-saving taps and bath-wares.
To sum up, some proposals do need a minimum budget to be implemented: perhaps, we can start from the cheapest, most cost-effective ones, to grow in ambition according to what the municipal funds allow.
I hope to have clarified one main point: no need to stress in the FCE writing task.
Unlike the other sections, here you have a degree of freedom to include structures you know and language you are proficient in. If you follow the advice listed here, your FCE