Author: Staff

CAE Writing Exam

Here is everything you need to know about the Cambridge Advanced Writing Exam: The writing exam counts for 20% of the FCE. The exam is 1 hour 30 minutes long and you must answer 2 questions. Both questions are equally weighted so you should spend 40 minutes per question. Part 1 is always an essay and there are no options. You must do this question. Part 2 gives you three options and you must choose one of these to answer. The options are: report, proposal, review or letter (both formal and informal are possibilities). The word limit for both Part 1 and Part 2 is 220-260 words. You must not write less or more than this. If you do, you will lose a lot of points. If you go over the word limit the examiner will stop reading after 190 words. You need 60% to pass the writing exam. However, all of the parts average out- so if you do extremely well on the writing exam (e.g. 70%) you can fail the speaking exam (50%) and this will average out at 60%. You do not need to pass all parts of the exam to pass overall. How the exam is graded All writing questions are marked the same. Each question is worth 20 points. These 20 points are split equally between four criteria (each criteria is a total of...

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First Certificate Writing Exam

Here is everything you need to know about the First Certificate Writing Exam: The writing exam counts for 20% of the FCE. The exam is 1 hour 20 minutes long and you must answer 2 questions. Both questions are equally weighted so you should spend 40 minutes per question. Part 1 is always an essay and there are no options. You must do this question. Part 2 gives you three options and you must choose one of these to answer. The options are: article, report, review or letter (both formal and informal are possibilities). The word limit for both Part 1 and Part 2 is 140-190 words. You must not write less or more than this. If you do, you will lose a lot of points. If you go over the word limit the examiner will stop reading after 190 words. You need 60% to pass the writing exam. However, all of the parts average out- so if you do extremely well on the writing exam (e.g. 70%) you can fail the speaking exam (50%) and this will average out at 60%. You do not need to pass all parts of the exam to pass overall. How the exam is graded All writing questions are marked the same. Each question is worth 20 points. These 20 points are split equally between four criteria (each criteria is a total of...

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Is this woman black or white?

Rachel Dolezal is an American woman, but her race is causing a lot of arguments in the press. She claims to be black, but her parents say she is white. Ms Dolezal works as a university lecturer in African American Studies and is a civil rights activist. She identifies herself as part black, or mixed race. Her parents say that this is a lie. Rachel grew up in Montana, USA and a photo of her as a teenager shows her with straight blonde hair and green eyes. She grew up with four adopted siblings, all of whom were black, and later married a black man. Her parents say that she was always interested in black culture and that she began to adapt her appearance after her divorce in 2004. They have told a local news channel that Rachel’s heritage is not black; but rather German and Czech with some Native American ancestors. Rachel wrote on a recent application form that her ethnicity was mixed and included white, black, Native American and several others. It is the black part that her parents dispute. Rachel has not spoken to her parents in over two years. She told local media that this is because of an ongoing lawsuit and that she does not view them as her ‘real parents’. American media and the internet has taken a lot of interest in this...

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How to Write a Report/Proposal

This guide is aimed at writing a Report (and Proposal) for the Cambridge First Certificate (B2) and Advanced (C1) exams. The advice might not be appropriate for other exams. Reports are an optional question in part 2 of the FCE and CAE writing exam. You will usually be writing a report for a Senior Teacher or an employer so the language should be formal (no contractions). You should use the third person/passive voice where appropriate to distance yourself from the reader. You are usually asked to write a report about something you have done in the past (e.g. a school trip or work experience programme) and to make suggestions to improve it for next time. You should use a variety of past tenses. The proposal (CAE only) is the same in style and content but instead of being in the past, it is for something to happen in the future (e.g. your college is given money- how should you spend it?). With the proposal you should use a variety of conditional tenses and modal verbs. Example Questions: FCE (B2): You have recently been on a trip to a nearby place of interest with your college. Write a report for the Director of the college explaining what you did, how the students benefited from the trip and make some suggestions about how to improve the trip for next time CAE...

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A mother fights for her son to NOT do homework

Eva Bailen, a mother-of-three, has started an online petition calling for her son’s school to stop giving the children homework. Her 10-year-old son is spending three hours a day after school doing homework and Ms Bailen says this needs to stop. Ms Bailen is from Spain and she says that in Spain the amount of homework a child is given depends on the teacher- there is no nation-wide rule about it. She says her other children (aged 8 and 12) hardly get homework and that this is not fair on her 10 year old. Her online petition has gained over 100,000 signatures already. One person who signed it was Alfonso Gonzalez, a teacher and fellow parent. He confesses that he used to do his daughter’s homework for her. He says “I did it because I wanted her to have a happy childhood and ten hours of sleep at night. I would argue that thanks to that, my daughter is now a healthy teenager, and a great athlete who loves to read.” Gonzalez says that “homework is nonsense” because “what a child needs to learn during primary education can be learned during the hours that he is at school”. However, he thinks children at secondary school should get some homework. The average teenager in Spain does about 6 hours of homework a week. Which is much more than poor Eva Bailen’s son’s 15...

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