In this post, we’ll discuss how to write an excellent B2 level essay in the Writing Section of the B2 First Exam. The word limit is 140-190 words. In the exam, this is a compulsory question (you will not have a choice of questions). You should spend about 40 minutes on this. It is worth 50% of the writing portion.

This article will be split into 6 parts:

  1. Example Questions
  2. How the essay is graded
  3. How to plan the essay (what to write about)
  4. Example answers
  5. Useful grammar and vocabulary
  6. Tips and tricks to get the best marks

Example Questions

EXAMPLE A

Children’s diets today are more unhealthy than in the past. Do you agree?  Write about:
1) Unhealthy snacks
2) Cooking habits
3) Your own idea

EXAMPLE B

Every country in the world has environmental problems. Do you think these problems can be solved? Write about:

1) Transport
2) Rivers and seas
3) Your own Idea

 

How the Essay is Graded

The essay is marked out of 20. You need 12/20 (60%) to pass. These 20 points are split equally between four criteria:

  1. Content
    • Does the content answer the question? Is all of the content relevant? Did they include the two points that the essay gave plus their own idea?
  2. Communicative Achievement
    • How well does the essay answer the question?  Did they express themselves clearly? Are the ideas expressed in a relevant way and in the right register (formal/informal)?
  3. Organisation
    • Is the essay well-structured? Does it flow? Is it logical? Have they used correct paragraphing and punctuation?
  4. Language
    • Have they used B2 level vocabulary and grammar structures?

In FCE it is okay to make grammar and vocabulary mistakes as long as the examiner understands what you want to say. You will not lose points for using advanced phrases incorrectly, you might actually get more points for this, as long as it is clear to the examiner what you want to say.

The most important criterium is content. In general, if you do not get 3/5 on content (ie, answer the question and include the topics they wish you to write about) you will fail.

How to plan

You need to spend at least 10 minutes planning the essay before you write. The essay should be written in 5 paragraphs.

Title: not necessary for an essay, but it’s welcomed by examiners
Introduction: 2-3 sentences. Briefly explain the current situation and rephrase the question.
Paragraph 1: Discuss the first idea that they gave you in relation to the question.
Paragraph 2:  Discuss the second idea that they gave you in relation to the question.
Paragraph 3: Discuss a new topic, your own idea (ensure that it is related to the topic).
Conclusion: 2-3 sentences that sum up your point of view on the question.

EXAMPLE PLAN FOR QUESTION A

QUESTION:
Children’s diets today are more unhealthy than in the past. Do you agree?
Write about:
1) Unhealthy snacks
2) Cooking habits
3) Your own idea

  1. Intro
    • current situation- children are more unhealthy than in the past despite the awareness of eating healthily.
  2. Unhealthy snacks
    • past generations snacked on fruit, children today snack on chocolate and crisps – this is bad – more calories and fat
  3. Cooking Habits
    • in the past = homecooked meals VS nowadays = dinner in front of the TV – more rushed and less nutritional
  4. My idea
    • chemicals in products – nowadays lots of additives and colouring in food- in the past this was not the case.
  5. Conclusion
    • It is true that children today are more unhealthy than in the past.

Example Answer

Children’s Diets in the 21st Century

Nowadays children are more aware than ever of the importance of eating healthily. However, their diets are worse than those of children in the past.

Firstly, children nowadays eat unhealthy snacks. Previous generations did not have the opportunity to snack between meals, and if they did, they would eat a piece of fruit. Young people today are more likely to eat chocolate or crisps which are full of sugar, calories and fat.

Secondly, cooking habits have changed dramatically; parents no longer have the time to prepare healthy, home-cooked meals. Meals are often rushed and people do not have the time to sit down and eat properly. Instead, parents give children ready meals to eat in front of the television. These meals have less nutritious value.

Lastly, products nowadays contain more chemicals than in the past; additives and artificial colours are used to make food more attractive to children but these have a negative effect on our children’s health.

In conclusion, I strongly believe that children nowadays have a more unhealthy diet than that of previous generations. This is an important issue which must be addressed by parents and governments.

(189 words)

Useful Vocabulary and Grammar

Introduction

These days/ Nowadays  + current situation

Many people say that … but is this the case?

It is often said/suggested that … However, to what extent is this true?

The question of whether … should be … is one which is often discussed these days.

Main Body of Essay

Firstly, Secondly, Lastly

A further argument is that …

Moreover / Furthermore / In addition

However / Nevertheless / In spite of / Despite

Another argument which is often put forward is…

Opponents of this view would argue that…

Not only is it …, it is also…

Conclusion

In conclusion, I strongly believe that …. due to the reasons I have mentioned above.

In light of the above arguments, it can be concluded that …

 

Tips and Tricks

  1.  The essay must be formal. This means…
    • no contractions (use “can not” or “do not”, instead of “can’t” or “don’t”).
    • Use the passive voice where you can (use “it is often argued that”, instead of “I think that”).
    • Avoid the first person voice (e.g. use “it can be concluded that” instead of “I conclude that”).
    • You will lose points if it is too informal.
  2. Keep to the word limit. You will lose points if it is too long or too short.
  3. Don’t give lists. This doesn’t show your level. For example, you should never write “unhealthy foods like chocolate, crisps, fizzy drinks, biscuits, doughnuts, and cake”. Instead “unhealthy foods like chocolate and crisps” (2 or 3 is enough).

FREE PRACTICE B2 ESSAY QUESTIONS:

Simply download the file below to get started.

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After you download the file and answer the questions, head over here and submit your answers for scoring and feedback ($25).