CAE: WRITING – TIPS (4)

The word limit. It’s the same for both your writings: between 220 and 260 words. I’ll tell you a secret though – it doesn’t matter! Don’t waste your precious exam time on counting the words while you’re writing.

If you’re doing your writing right, it can’t be either too short or too long. If it’s too short, you didn’t follow the requirements of each genre – I shall write more about those in my upcoming posts. For example, in an essay you might not have provided two explanations for each of your two arguments. On the other hand, if it’s too long, you probably offered too many explanations, maybe you repeated your ideas or you got lost.

I guess it’s better, if anything, to pay attention to the number of lines. An essay introduction should be 4-6 lines long, the following two paragraphs 6-8, and the conclusion 3-5.

If you find yourself writing pieces that are too short because you lack ideas, remember to use synonyms, sprinkle your writing with a few adverbs (clearly, basically etc. – see my previous posts on writing vocabulary) and, most importantly, remember that you don’t have to be creative, original or interesting in your writing. Not this time. You can say things that are blatantly obvious (smoking is bad for your health) or invent completely ridiculous explanations (smoking in public places should be banned because if people smell bad, they kiss less, which leads to a lower number of children in the society).

If your writing tends to be too long, rigidly follow the structure of each genre, get rid of any repetitions and remember not to use more than one linking word per sentence (well, one of the two sentences you are linking may contain a relative clause, that’s OK).

keep reading writing samples and studying writing vocabulary! My posts on exam writing genres are coming soon.

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