Monday, August 16, 2010

Writing for the Cambridge Exam

The written part of the Cambridge Certificate Exams is one of the most difficult. It's not like you have a 25% chance of guessing the answer when it comes to a letter or report! A few remembered "Dos and Don'ts" can go a long way in not making basic mistakes. My tips:

DOs and DON'Ts

Read the question carefully and underline the important parts.

Make a plan before you start writing.

Write clearly and concisely.

Write so that the examiner can read the answer.

Check that you have included all the content points in Part 1.

Check that you have included all the 'hand-written notes' in Part 2.

Add relevant ideas and information of your own in Part 2.

Remember which format to use.

Use opening and closing phrases in your letter, fax or e-mail.

Use headings and sub-headings in a report and proposal.

Choose the correct register or level of formality.

Keep to the word limit.

Use a range of business words and expressions.

Structure your writing with good linkers such
as 'firstly', 'also', 'however', 'moreover', 'nevertheless' as these provide

Write in paragraphs.

Check the question and your work again after you have finished writing.

Don't write in capital letters only.

Don't use white correction fluid but do cross out mistakes with a single line.

Don't forget to divide your time appropriately between the two questions. Remember
Part 1 is marked out of 10 and Part 2 out of 20.

Don't forget to put yourself under exam conditions at home - this means answering
the two questions in the time given (including your plans), no dictionaries and
careful checking at the end.

Don't panic if other people in the exam start writing straight away.

Don't add too much information to Part 1 answers.

Don't 'lift' too much language from the question paper.

Don't misspell key words which appear on the question paper.

Don't misinterpret or mix up information contained in the question.

Don't use repetitive words and structures.

Don't mix formal and informal language.

Don't waste time writing addresses for a letter, as they are not required.

Don't worry if you run slightly over the word limit.