BEC V Writing

Writing – Tips and FAQs

  • 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 elements.
  • Add relevant information and ideas of your own in Part 2.
  • Remember which format to use (email, report, etc.).
  • Use the correct style or register (e.g. formal/informal).
  • Use a range of business words and expressions.
  • Structure your writing with good linkers, such as ‘firstly’, ‘also’, ‘however’, ‘moreover’, ‘nevertheless’ and so on.
  • Write in paragraphs.
  • Check the question and your work again after you have finished writing.
  • 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 that Part 1 is marked out of 10 and Part 2 out of 20.
  • Don’t panic if other people in the exam start writing straight away. It’s better to read the question carefully and plan before you start writing.
  • Don’t copy too many words and phrases from the question paper – try to use your own words.
  • Don’t repeat the same words and structures too often.
  • Don’t waste time writing addresses for a letter, as they are not required.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How many answers do I need to produce?

In what ways is Part 1 different from Part 2?
In Part 1, the task requires internal communication (writing to somebody within the same company), which may be a note, a message, a memo or an email. In Part 2, the task may be a business letter, a fax or an email, or a report or a proposal.

Is the input different in Part 1 compared to Part 2?
Yes. In Part 1, the input is a situation with instructions for what to write plus the layout of the task type. In Part 2, there are one or more pieces of input. These could be in the form of business correspondence (letter, fax or email), internal communication (note, memo or email) or visuals (graphs, charts, adverts, notices, etc.). The layout is given if the task is to write a fax or an email.

How many marks is each question worth?
Part 2 is worth twice as many marks as Part 1. The scores are converted to provide a mark out of 10 for Part 1 and a mark out of 20 for Part 2.

How many marks does the Writing paper carry in total?
The Writing paper is worth a total of 30 marks (25% of the total score).

Where do I write my answers?
In the question booklet. This booklet also contains enough space for you to do your rough work.

What if I write less than the number of words stated in the task?
If you write an answer which is too short, it may not have an adequate range of language and may not provide all the information required.

What if I write more than the number of words stated in the task?
You should not worry if you write slightly more than the word limit, but if you write far more than the word limit, your message may become unclear, and have a negative effect on the reader.

How is the Writing paper marked?
The Writing paper is marked by small teams of examiners working with a Team Leader, all guided and monitored by a Principal Examiner. Each examiner is apportioned scripts chosen on a random basis from all the entries. In this way, examiners will be assessing scripts from a variety of centres and countries.

How are extended responses in Writing assessed?
Examiners mark tasks using assessment scales developed with explicit reference to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The scales, which are used across the Cambridge English General and Business English Writing tests, are made up from four subscales: Content, Communicative Achievement, Organisation and Language:

  • Content focuses on how well the candidate has fulfilled the task – if they have done what they were asked to do.
  • Communicative Achievement focuses on how appropriate the writing is for the task and whether the candidate has used the appropriate register.
  • Organisation focuses on the way the candidate puts together the piece of writing, in other words, if it is logical and ordered.
  • Language focuses on vocabulary and grammar. This includes the range of language as well as how accurate it is.

Each response is marked from 0–5 on each of the four subscales and these scores are combined to give a final mark for the Writing test.

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