This is the second part of a CAE Essay writing mini-series of blog posts. Click here for part 1.
Let’s begin by taking a step into the future. To make sure your essay is up to the mark, you should be able to answer with a “yes” to the following questions once you have finished your writing:
- CONTENT: Did I cover all the points?
- COMMUNICATIVE ACHIEVEMENT: Did I use the right register and develop the points effectively?
- ORGANISATION: Are my ideas organised into a suitable layout?
- LANGUAGE: Did I make use of advanced grammar structures and appropriate connectors?
And now, let’s take another step back to the point when you are about to start writing. Here is a list of useful phrases and tips that will help you navigate through the essay, regardless of the topic at hand.
My advice for those of you that are not into writing or find it extremely challenging is: learn two or three phrases from each group and make sure you know how to use them correctly. Less is more!
For the language lovers out there: the sky is the limit! You can create sections for the various functions in your notebook and keep adding phrases as you go along, and thus, create an extensive compilation.
Introduction: paragraph 1
Start by outlining the general context:
- It is widely believed that
- All the evidence suggests that
- In this day and age
- Studies/Statistics indicate that
- Many people believe that
- There can be no doubt that
- Given / Considering
- In the light of
- Over the (last decade) there has been a rise/decrease in
Establish the aim of this essay
- The aim/purpose of this essay is to
- This essay is aimed at discussing
- In this essay, I will discuss/analyse two possible solutions and their upsides and downsides
Paragraphs 2 and 3
How to start the paragraphs
- (2) We need to begin by asking why // (3) It might be a (more practical/cost-effective…) solution to
- (2) One approach that could be taken is // (3) An alternative approach would be to
- (2) Firstly// (3) Secondly
Within the paragraphs
- On top of that
- What is more
- Another factor to consider is
- Together with this
Explaining the reasons
- Owing to
- Due to
- Because of
- Bearing in mind
- Generally speaking
- Broadly speaking
- As a general rule
- While it is true that …. + contrast idea
- Express an idea… +
- On the other hand
- Having said that
- In spite of this
- By contrast
- Firstly (Secondly/Thirdly)
- To start with
- First and foremost
- To finish/To conclude/And last but not least
- An example of this is
- For example
- For instance
- Take …….., for example (Take private gyms, for example).
- I would like to illustrate my point with an example.
- ….such as
Referring to people who have a say in the matter
- According to scientists/doctors
- Experts opinions lead us to believe
Conclusion: paragraph 4
- Taking all this into account
- All things considered
- In conclusion
- To sum up
- The way I see it
- I believe / It is my belief that
- In my view
- From my point of view
ADVANCED GRAMMAR STRUCTURES
Using some advanced grammar structures, in other words, the grammar that you have learnt in your advanced coursebook will help you achieve a higher score. Here are some of them:
- Participle clauses
- Relative clauses
- Neutral of formal modal verbs
- Verbs + gerund or infinitive
- Comparison … etc
EXAMPLE OF A PAST EXAM TASK AND AN ANSWER
Down below, you can find my attempt at this essay task where you can see some of the useful phrases in context, which will hopefully help.
There can be no doubt that environmental issues have become a major concern for countries worldwide. Many people believe governments are not doing enough to stem this problem. Therefore, environmental organisations and individuals need to take action. The aim of this essay is to discuss possible solutions to raise citizen’s awareness of this pressing issue.
One approach that could be taken is to demand the implementation of new laws to regulate green policies. This would imply not only the levy of new taxes but also imposing fines to minimise the damage to the environment. Having said that, it is true that for every law there is a loophole and there is evidence that large companies, for example, often find a way to bend the rules and get away with it.
An alternative approach would be to channel our efforts into education. While it is true that steps have been taken in this direction, more needs to be done. For instance, more hands-on activities such as outdoor learning, which could help children understand the importance of respecting green spaces and wildlife. Together with this, additional contents informing students about the importance of preserving natural habitats should be included in the curriculum. And last but not least, parents could be invited to contribute ideas, thus joining forces with the school system.
All things considered, in my view, both methods can be effective. Having said that, I am more inclined towards the educational approach as I believe it creates more awareness and it would have a more lasting and positive effect for future generations.
To conclude, try to read as many essays as you can. You can start by analysing the essays in your textbook and workbook and continue with other writing samples online: this is a good place to start as there are some great tips and several examples.