How to plan and write your essay for FCE exam

In this article we will get to how to plan an FCE essay, then write it. Hopefully, you’ll find all the recommendations useful!

In the first part of your exam’s writing section you have to deal with an essay, so the foremost thing you should learn: essays are about using specific language functions, such as evaluating, expressing opinions, hypothesising, justifying and persuading.

Exemplary task — Part 1 of the writing section
Exemplary task — Part 1 of the writing section

Gathering ideas

Take a look at the title at the top of your exam sheet. Imagine you share your thoughts with a community of amateur scientists on Facebook. Which title are they more likely to click on?

  1. Why Pollution is Bad
  2. Climate Change is Fake, and Here is Why

Most people would click on the second one! You must not be so provocative in your essay. The register dictates it to be neutral/formal, but do try to make it interesting, convey your ideas in a clear and steady way.

Structure

Use the task as the structure. According to the example, you have these paragraphs:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Transport Pollution Problem
  3. Pollution in Rivers and Seas
  4. Pollution at Home
  5. Conclusion

— Try to connect the title you have chosen with the conclusion. If you start your essay ‘Climate Change is Fake!’ you should end by saying ‘and that is why climate change is not real.’

— You should write in a balanced way — don’t only say that something is good or bad. Example:

It’s clear that pollution from cars is a big problem that should be looked at. The air in some cities is not fit for humans. But the car is not totally a villain — it’s also a symbol of freedom for many people. So we need a solution that allows people to drive without being too harmful. For example, people can switch to electric cars, which are cleaner than diesel-engined ones.’

signposts for listing several points— As a minimum, move from paragraph to paragraph by using phrases like ‘firstly, secondly’. But try to learn some more advanced versions, too.

— I have to write an essay, which means giving my opinion on the topic. My English teacher will read it, so I should write in a neutral tone. I’m going to mention transport, rivers and seas, and think of a third point, and the whole theme is pollution and damaging the environment.

Planning

A student justifying his lack of finished ideas
A student justifying his lack of finished ideas

Let’s take 5 to 10 minutes to plan the essay before writing.

Briefly, we are going to do one or two sentences of the introduction, then move to three paragraphs, one for transport, one about rivers and seas, and one for the third point. Now is the right time to elaborate on that.

I’ve decided to take ‘pollution at home’ as my third point. But I could have chosen factories, plastic, cutting down the rainforest — a billion things.

Finally, there will be a sentence that ties everything together.

The next thing I want to do is thinking about some vocabulary and grammar I can use in my essay. Here is me brainstorming some words and phrases on 3 topics (all somehow connected to the topic of pollution):

TRANSPORT

traffic congestion

aviation

carbon dioxide

greenhouse gases

emissions

exhaust fumes

electric cars

driverless cars

freight/cargo trains

RIVERS AND SEAS

oil tankers

cruise ships

world trade

plastic

factories

lead poisoning

water quality

HOME

batteries

power grid

waste

recycling (cardboard, glass)

energy efficiency

fines

subsidies

Okay, I feel pretty ready to get started — this is a topic I know a lot about, and that quick brainstorm has me READY TO GO.

Writing

1. INTRODUCTION

Modern people in every country think that putting an end to the pollution must be extremely hard. But is it so? I believe there are three simple things we can do right away that will produce a beneficial effect.

2. TRANSPORT

Nowadays, we travel much more than we ever did in the past, and trade more than ever. That means a non-stop stream of planes, trains, and automobiles. Almost 100% of these are powered by petrol or diesel engines, which means emitting tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. One improvement would be to switch to electric cars, and there has been a progress in that direction.

3. RIVERS AND SEAS

In addition, seas are turning to acid, cities do not have clean drinking water, and fish get caught in old bits of plastic. Is there a solution? I believe, better controls in factories and fines for anyone who fails to recycle plastic would make a difference.

4. HOMES

And last but not least, energy waste starts at home — a 30% reduction in electricity use would be easy if people turned off their electronics when not in use and didn’t use tumble dryers so much.

5. CONCLUSION

In conclusion, pollution is a problem that affects us all, but we all have the power to make tiny changes that can improve the situation wherever we live.

(200 words)

Kate