Cambridge English Language Assessment Northern Europe

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Preparation Tips for Cambridge English: Advanced Writing

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Cambridge English Advanced

  • Candidates write most effectively when they choose tasks and topics suited to their interests and experience. When preparing your students for the examination, it is important to make sure they are familiar with the paper and the range of task types and topics.
  • Your students will need guidance on the particular features of each task type and the appropriate style and tone. Adopting an inappropriate style may mean that the overall impression mark is adjusted.
  • Train your students to read the questions carefully, underlining the most important parts. They  then need to plan an answer which addresses all the points required by the task. This will help them produce well-structured and appropriately balanced answers which deal adequately with  each point they need to address.
  • The time allowed for the Writing paper (1 hour 30 minutes) is designed to be sufficient for  candidates to make brief plans and then write two answers. Any corrections they need to make should be clear so that the examiner can follow and mark what they have written.
  • Each question on the Writing paper carries equal marks so your students should practise  planning the time they spend on each question carefully.
  • Counting words wastes time in an examination and leads to clumsy alterations to what a  candidate has already written. Students need practice in writing tasks within the word limit so that they know when they have written enough in their own handwriting.
  • Your students need to think carefully about whom the target reader is for each task and try to write in an appropriate style and register. Is the target reader, for example, somebody they know or a stranger, or someone in a position of authority? Do they need to present difficult information  politely (as in a complaint) or are they trying to persuade somebody to do something? It is important to have a balance between the functionrequired by the task and the relationship with the target reader.
  • When planning their writing, your students will need help in balancing their answers so that one part does not dominate at the expense of another. It is important that your students use effective paragraphing, and they should be encouraged to develop each of the required points in a separate paragraph.
  • Linking ideas effectively is also something your students will need guidance with. Using a  variety of linking words and phrases is important, as is ensuring that the flow of ideas in the writing is logical and easy for the reader to follow.
  • Your students should be encouraged to use a range of complex language. If, in doing so, they make mistakes, the examiner will always give credit for the complex language attempted as long as the mistakes do not impede communication. Your students will need to practise developing points as fully as possible in order to demonstrate a range of language and in using as wide a variety of vocabulary as possible by, for example, using synonyms.
  • Make sure your students are aware of the importance of spelling and punctuation. Although  spelling errors and faulty punctuation are not specifically penalised they can sometimes impede communication. If so, the overall impression mark will be adjusted. (N.B. American usage and spelling are acceptable) Remind them of the importance of checking their work.
  • Each question on the Writing paper carries equal marks so your students should practise  planning the time they spend on each question carefully.
  • Remind your students that they must write their answers on the lined pages following each question in the booklet. They may use the blank pages at the back of the question booklet to make notes, but these notes will not be marked. They may also use these pages to finish their answers, if necessary, but they should make it clear that the writing is part of their answer.
  • Make sure your students have practice in answering questions without the use of dictionaries. Dictionaries are not allowed in the Cambridge English: Advanced examination.
  • It is important to write clearly so that the answers are easy to read. However, it is not important if candidates write in upper or lower case, or if their writing is joined up or not.

Written by cambridgeenglishde

May 21, 2013 at 7:31 am

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