What is an Essay
Background: In the Cambridge B2 Exam you will be required to write an essay. There are two sections to the Writing portion of the exam: Part 1 is a mandatory essay, and in Part 2 you will be given three options to choose between including a letter/ email, article, review, and report. Both writing samples must be between 140-190 words.
Purpose of an Essay: Essays are designed to give information about a central topic. You will be provided a main question or point to respond to, two ideas to write about, and then you will think of your own idea.
Example Question Structure:
What can people do to protect the environment?
- Public transportation
- Your own idea
Your response should therefore be 5 paragraphs:
Paragraph 1 – Introduction
Paragraph 2 – Idea 1
Paragraph 3 – Idea 2
Paragraph 4 – Idea 3 (your own idea)
Paragraph 5 – Conclusion (summarize and include your opinion)
The paragraphs should be clearly visible – we suggest including a line between each paragraph so it is obvious. A title is not necessary.
Language – Not making a lot of mistakes might be the first thing that comes to the students mind when writing an essay. Although this is utterly important, it is not the most important point, you may allow yourself minor mistakes as long as they don’t interfere with the proper communication.
The correct use of grammatical forms is a key factor at this point. For a successful essay you need to show flexibility and control of grammar, as well as lexis that are considered more complex.. Using the passive voice isn´t required, but it will create a more objective and formal tone, which will help earn a better mark. Similarly, saving your opinion for the conclusion will prevent the essay from being too personal or subjective. Use topic-specific, precise, elevated vocabulary, instead of common, generic words. (Check out NEP´s blog on language for the B2 Essay for more details!)
Nonetheless, lexis is not all either.
Vocabulary is also critical for a B2 level, this is the perfect time to use
those unlikely words that you’ve learnt, and eloquence is the essence of any
Opinion – After explaining the logic supporting the three ideas, in the conclusion of the essay you are able to express your opinion in a funny, angry, heartfelt, interesting or any other way that you’d see fit. Keeping the reader interested and provided that you always take into consideration their probable point of view, you should limit sentences such as “in my point of view” or “in my opinion, maintaining a level of formality will help you create content that is grammatically acceptable. This way, inviting the reader to take a “walk” in your way of seeing things and not imposing universal truths or assuring your opinion above all.
Ending – If you’ve persuaded your reader, you could say that you’ve done a good job. Think about the question that generated the subject in the beginning, have you responded it? Have you presented enough points of views to sustain your beliefs? If so, congratulations. If not, don’t panic, try to read your text again and come to the conclusion that you wish to deliver to your reader and only then start writing about it. Never finish your essay with sentences such as “…and this was my essay.” or “see you on my next essay, teacher” we don’t need to pointed out that this is your ending and this is the worst way to achieve that word limit requested. Be creative.
By Gina, Ivan and Desi