ESL Teacher 365

B2 First (FCE) Essay Writing Guide

The Cambridge B2 First (FCE) essay is easier to write than you think! Follow these steps to write the perfect essay.

Post Contents

What is the Cambridge B2 First Essay?

  • Part 1 of the writing test – there are 2 parts total
  • 140-190 word limit
  • You have about 40 minutes to plan and write your essay
  • You must answer a question using two notes and your own idea
  • The topic requires general knowledge only
  • The essay is always formal because it is written “for your teacher”

Step One: Look at the Task (1 minute)

To begin, all B2 First essays have a similar format . This is great because you know exactly how to write the essay before seeing the question.

Read the essay question carefully and HIGHLIGHT any keywords you need to write about.

Tip: If you don’t understand the question or notes, DON’T PANIC. Try your best to write the essay. You will still get points for grammar, vocabulary, and structure.

B2 First essay writing instructions

Sample exam test from Cambridge English .

Step Two: Write a plan (5 minutes)

A lot of my students dislike writing a plan. However, a plan helps you organize your thoughts and helps you write a better B2 First essay. Your essay needs 5 paragraphs . We will use the sample task from above as an example:

Paragraph structure for an essay

Introduction.

  • Rivers and seas
  • Your own idea

Next, to create a plan, write a few words for each paragraph . DO NOT write whole sentences. This takes too much time. Try to focus on keywords and short phrases .

Tip: “Your own idea” DOES NOT mean your opinion. You need to think of another topic related to the question to talk about. Some ideas for this task could be: recycling, agriculture, industry, etc.

Additionally, you can prepare a list of linking words and related vocabulary . Getting these words written down before you start helps you remember to use them.

Look at the example plan below. You can draw something similar on a blank piece of paper.

B2 First essay plan

Tip: Time yourself – see how long it takes for you to write a plan. Try to reduce that amount of time as much as possible.

Step 3: Write your essay (32 minutes)

On the official test, you must write with a pen . No erasable pens or pencils are allowed. I suggest writing your plan and essay with a pen every time you practice .

Let’s take a look at each paragraph of the essay.

The introduction to your essay should be 2-3 sentences long . It introduces the essay topic in a general way .

Tip: DO NOT include your opinion in the introduction. Your opinion goes in the conclusion.

If you are unsure how to write an introduction, try this structure and look at the example :

Structure of the introduction  

  • 1 sentence about the topic in general
  • 1-2 sentences about the topic more specifically, including a question if you like.

Example Introduction

On every continent, the amount of trash and waste is increasing each year. Rubbish causes damage to ecosystems all over the world. Is there a way for countries to reduce their carbon footprint and save our planet?

Body of the essay

The body of the essay has three paragraphs . These paragraphs talk about one idea with supporting examples .

For each paragraph, you need to write a topic sentence. A topic sentence is the main idea of the paragraph . DO NOT copy the notes. Instead, try to rewrite the idea in your own words. This is called “paraphrasing.” 

Your paragraphs should be 3-4 sentences .

Tip: Start each paragraph with a linking word .

Structure of a body paragraph

  • Linking word and topic sentence
  • Supporting sentences

Example body paragraph

Firstly, countries can decrease pollution and environmental stress by offering more public transportation. Cars and other vehicles which require petrol produce toxic fumes. If more electric buses and trams were available, fewer people would need to drive their cars.

Follow the same structure for each body paragraph.

Tip: Remember that “your own idea” is NOT your opinion . Write about an additional topic related to the question that you wrote down on your plan.

Finally, you get to say your opinion! In the conclusion, you need to summarize the topic and give your opinion on the question. A conclusion should be 1-2 sentences long.

Structure of the conclusion

  • Transition word and a sentence summarizing the topic
  • A sentence that gives your opinion

Example conclusion

To sum up, countries around the world must make changes in order to protect the environment. In my opinion, offering more public transport, reducing overfishing, and creating recycling programs are necessary for a cleaner planet.

Step Four: Review your writing (2 minutes)

This is another important step that students often miss. Take two minutes after writing your essay to check for spelling and grammatical errors.

Since you wrote in pen, simply cross out the incorrect word or words LIKE THIS and rewrite them.

How can I get a higher mark on the FCE essay?

Now that you know how to write an essay for the Cambridge B2 First exam, let’s look at how to get the best mark possible .

Increase your mark on your B2 First essay

  • Include 5-8 linking words – these words introduce paragraphs and connect ideas
  • Use a variety of grammatical structures – you should have both simple and complex forms. Try to use perfect and future forms, conditionals, comparatives, relative clauses and passive
  • Use formal vocabulary – do not use slang or simple words like “good, big, small, bad.” Also, do not use contractions. Write “cannot” instead of “can’t”
  • Make the essay interesting to read – the examiners read hundreds of essays so make yours easy to read and engaging
  • Use the correct amount of words (140-190) – it’s ok to be a few words over the limit, but not too many

Final Advice

The best way to improve your writing skills … is to write! Try to write a few essays each week and ask your teacher for feedback . I have had students who entered my class with very poor writing skills and with practice, they were able to pass the exam after only 10 weeks!

I help students prepare for the FCE exam with private lessons via Zoom. Email me at [email protected] or check out my private lessons page to learn more.

If you want more practice for the B2 First , try these Speaking exam tips , free writing checklist , and Reading part 1 practice.

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Breakout English

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B2 First (FCE) Writing Part 1 – Improve an Essay

Writing is the part of any English exam where you should aim to get a high score and B2 First FCE Writing Part 1, an obligatory essay, is no different. It’s also the most trainable part of the exam in a classroom. While other skills often take lots of time, effort and practice, writing can be taught through models, which learners can then take and replicate. Of course, it’s important to write your own material, but the format and many expressions are transferable for essays regardless of the topic. With this material, we aim to demonstrate areas where B2 First candidates often go wrong with writing an essay. With a few tweaks, you should be able to reproduce a high quality essay every time.

B2 First (FCE) Writing Part 1 - Improve an Essay

Essays may not be fun, but they are important. The Cambridge B2 essay might be the first time you need to write an essay for an exam, but it won’t be the last. This task continues to be obligatory at C1 and C2 levels. If you are doing a Trinity or IELTS exam, you’ll also need to write an essay. Basically, there is no escape. You either learn to write a good essay or you don’t pass your writing exam (I recommend learning it).

The challenge with essays is not only the style, which should be formal and academic. Exam candidates also often have issues with content in First (FCE) Writing Part 1. The B2 essay question is always the same, and it’s not particularly complex, but sometimes it still causes issues regarding what content points to include. At the same time, an uninspiring question can easily lead to an uninspired answer. That becomes a problem when your essay isn’t interesting to read. Keep in mind that whoever corrects your essay has probably read 95 other essays on the same topic, so it a good idea to stand out!

The Materials

With this activity, you analyse a sample essay contrasting living in a city vs the countryside. To use it in the classroom, have students discuss the issues with the essay in pairs. You can even have them use the Cambridge writing scales to give it a mark. Then, feedback in open class and finish with your students writing their own improved version. I like to do this task just after receiving a round of previously assigned essays from students as a sort of extended test-teach-test activity.

Check here for more First Certificate essay questions to use in class.

EXAM PART: First (FCE) Writing Part 1 – Essay

EXAM SKILLS: Improving content and communicative achievement in essay writing

TOPIC:  Lifestyle (living in the city vs living in the countryside)

TIME: 30 minutes + 45 minutes writing (in-class or for homework)

PREPARATION: One copy of the worksheet per student

breakout english fce

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How to Write an Essay for B2 First (FCE) Writing

Luis @ kse academy.

  • noviembre 24, 2019

As you probably know already, Cambridge English exams usually have some or all of the following parts: Reading, Writing, Use of English and Listening. In this post I am going to talk about the FCE Writing B2 part and, more specifically, about how to write an essay for FCE Writing . We will see a good example of an essay for FCE and you can check out a full FCE Writing Guide where you can find more examples of emails , letters and other types of writings.

Essay Sample Answer

Este artículo también está disponible en castellano.

The Ultimate B2 First Writing Guide: 15 B2 Writing Sample Tasks and 300+ Useful Expressions (Guías de Writing para Exámenes de Cambridge)

What are the parts of the FCE Writing?

The First (FCE) Writing has only two parts. For each part, you must write a composition which will depend on the instructions you receive for each task. For the  first part , you will always be asked to  write an essay , as it is the only option provided. However, in the  second part , they allow you to choose one out of 3 options. These include  different types of writing , which are : letters/emails ,  articles ,  reviews and  reports . Each piece of writing must have between 140 and 190 words , approximately.

Since they are different types of writing , the language and structures to use will also differ. But that’s what I’m here for, to explain to you exactly how to write each part. And today, I’m starting with  how to write an essay .

How to Write an Essay for FCE Writing

An  essay is an opinion writing with which we analyse a topic , a situation or an issue from different points of view , providing different arguments and expressing our opinion about it. For this reason, an  essay must have the following features:

  • Purpose: What we usually do with an essay is to analyse and assess a topic, situation or issue which, in some way, is interesting or controversial. It is normally set as a writing task after a class debate. In the exam, you have to imagine the debate, obviously.
  • Tone and style: Given that you’re writing about a  serious or controversial issue , an essay is written in a formal style, so we must stick to an objective tone and style . Our language must be formal, thus avoiding words that are simply too common or generic (E.g.:  things, stuff, get,   etc.) and contractions (E.g.:  can’t, don’t, won’t,  etc.).
  • Structure: Like every piece of writing,  an essay must present a defined structure . For starters, we can choose either to give it a title or not. Personally, I would say that it is more appropriate to have an essay with title . Then, the body must be divided into introduction, idea 1, idea 2, idea 3 and conclusion. This means that, in general,  essays must have 5 paragraphs ,   although it is not entirely necessary.
  • Opinion:  There are countless ways of expressing your opinion in an essay, so you must choose the one that suits you best. However,  it is advisable to remain impartial throughout your writing and give your opinion only in the last paragraph , as a conclusion. But, as I say, it is optional. The most important thing is that you justify everything you say in your essay.
  • Coherence: Coherence is essential in every type of writing, but especially in an essay. As it tends to be an argumentative text, you must avoid writing incoherent paragraphs that have nothing to do with one another. Your ideas must  follow a logical order and be well connected with appropriate linkers .

FCE Writing Essay Example

Now that we are familiar with the  characteristics of an essay for First (FCE) Writing , let’s take a look at an  example of an essay at B2 level , both at the task and at a sample answer.

Instructions of an Essay

In the following image you can see the instructions of an essay which involves a typical topic, that of the environment:

How to Write an Essay for FCE sample task / cómo escribir un essay para Fce ejemplo actividad

In these instructions, we must pay attention to the following:

  • The  first paragraph introduces the topic: … different ways in which you can protect the environment.
  • The  second sentence is usually the same in every task:  Write an essay using  all the notes…
  • In the box , you are given the main topic as a question and they give you something to talk about:  recycle, using bicycles and walking, your own idea . As you can see, you have to come up with the third idea, something connected to the topic which is not provided in the exam task.

Given the model task above, each paragraph will correspond to a different idea, apart from the introduction and conclusion. Again, it is only natural to have 5 paragraphs. So, the best way to know how to write an essay for FCE Writing is to take a look at an  example of an actual essay for FCE Writing :

How to Write an Essay for FCE sample answer / cómo escribir un essay para Fce ejemplo respuesta

At first sight, the essay has  a title and 5 paragraphs (introduction + idea 1 + idea 2 + idea 3 + conclusion). And if we stop to read the essay more carefully, we’ll notice the following things:

  • The paragraphs are visual and well defined , which is very important.
  • The title summarises the topic  of the essay. Another option is to use the question ( What can people do to help protect the environment? ) as title. However, it usually tends to be too long, so I prefer to summarise it into a shorter heading.
  • Introduction: it introduces the topic in a general way and it leads to the second paragraph (first idea).
  • Paragraph 2: it deals with idea 1.
  • Paragraph 3: it deals with idea 2.
  • Paragraph 4: it deals with idea 3.
  • Conclusion: we express our opinion to conclude and summarise the essay.
  • It uses connectors to define the development of the essay:  firstly, second, finally, etc.
  • It doesn’t use many contractions or pet words.
  • One of the things that
  • In the last few decades,
  • For this reason,
  • First, / Second, / Third,
  • By doing so,
  • For example,
  • In conclusion,

This is a good example of an essay for FCE Writing . By the way, you must bear in mind that it has been written to simulate a strong B2 level, without reaching C1.

FAQ: Do I get penalised for writing over 190 words?

This is the most typical question in this part of the exam and the answer is « yes and no «. Let me explain myself. Cambridge English examiners don’t count the number of words and penalise you based upon that fact alone. There’s a rumour going around among teachers and pupils that says that for every 10 words over 190, they take «this many» points off, but it is not true. However, think about this: if you’ve written 50 or 100 words more than asked, you are probably including irrelevant information to the task , right? Now that’s a reason for losing points. In the same way that if you  write under 140 words you are probably missing essential information , don’t you think?

For this reason, I always recommend writing up to 10 or 20 words over the limit. In this way, you won’t lose any points for including irrelevant information.

FCE Writing Guide with examples (pdf)

Although I intend to write more posts on how to do each piece of writing for FCE, if you don’t want to wait any more, simply download the official KSE Academy FCE Writing Guide . In this guide you will learn:

  • How to write an essay  and 3 examples.
  • How to write an article  and 3 examples.
  • How to write a review  and 3 examples.
  • How to write a report  and 3 examples.
  • How to write an email or letter  and 3 examples.
  • Over 300 useful expressions for every FCE Writing .

Would you like to see a sample of this guide? Here it is!

Did you find this useful?  Why not share it with other teachers and students of English? Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, y YouTube. 🙂

Luis @ KSE Academy

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cambridge b2 essay topics

Upper-Intermediate

20 essay titles for the b2 first.

Here are some essay titles for Part 1 of the writing paper.

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If you are planning on taking the Cambridge B2 First exam and want to practise an essay for Part 1 of the writing paper, here are 20 essay titles .

For each essay, write between 140 and 190 words . Imagine you are writing an essay for your English teacher , so it should be formal in style. Make sure you write about the three ideas included in the notes.

For feedback on your writing , use the writing correction service .

You can download the list as a PDF file:

1. What can people do to help protect the environment? 1. recycle 2. using bicycles and walking 3. …………… (your own idea)

2. What effect does an ageing population have an society? 1. caring for the elderly 2. jobs 3. …………… (your own idea)

3. To what extent has our diet improved over the past few decades? 1. junk food 2. organic produce 3. …………… (your own idea)

4. Is it wrong to keep animals in zoos? 1. living conditions of the animals 2. educational 3. …………… (your own idea)

5. Some people believe that humans should not eat meat. Do you agree? 1. meat as a main ingredient of our diet 2. vegetarians 3. …………… (your own idea)

6. The fashion industry has a bad effect on people’s lives. Do you agree? 1. whether people’s appearance is important 2. the price of clothes 3. …………… (your own idea)

7. Older people are said to be much better leaders. Do you agree? 1. experience 2. knowledge 3. …………… (your own idea)

8. Do you think violence on TV causes crime? 1. children copy what they see 2. heroes are often violent 3. …………… (your own idea)

9. Robots will be good for society. Do you agree? 1. the workplace 2. entertainment 3. …………… (your own idea)

10. How has our standard of living improved over the past 100 years? 1. working conditions 2. leisure time 3. …………… (your own idea)

11. Violent computer games are bad for people. Do you agree? 1. violence in real life 2. younger and older people 3. …………… (your own idea)

12. Should we spend money on exploring space? 1. spending priorities 2. what we might discover in space 3. …………… (your own idea)

13. Is it better to study science and maths than art at school? 1. the economy 2. personal development 3. …………… (your own idea)

14. Is homeschooling a good or bad thing? 1. having a parent as a teacher 2. making friends 3. …………… (your own idea)

15. University should be free for everyone. Do you agree? 1. taxes 2. opportunities 3. …………… (your own idea)

16. Is it better to have a few close friends or a large group of friends? 1. entertainment 2. support when you have problems 3. …………… (your own idea)

17. Is attending a concert in real life better than watching it on TV? 1. convenience 2. atmosphere 3. …………… (your own idea)

18. Cars should be banned from city centres. Do you agree? 1. noise and pollution 2. transport 3. …………… (your own idea)

19. Is it better to live in the city of the countryside? 1. jobs 2. social life 3. …………… (your own idea)

20. Some sportspeople are paid too much for what they do. Do you agree? 1. which jobs are important in society 2. why some sportspeople are paid a lot of money 3. …………… (your own idea)

WRITING CORRECTION SERVICE Get your writing corrected .

Picture:  CollegeDegrees360  via Flickr, CC-BY-SA 2.0

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Cambridge B2 First (FCE): How to Write a Story

B2 First for Schools - How to Write a Story

B2 First story writing in a nutshell

  • Mandatory task:  no
  • Word count:  140-190
  • Main characteristics: engaging, interesting, well-structured
  • Register: depending on the story
  • Structure: beginning, main part, ending
  • Language: adjectives/adverbs, past verb forms, direct speech, time expressions
A day to forget – a day to remember Jerry read the email and decided to go to the shopping centre immediately. He hadn’t slept well at all and was feeling quite nervous that morning and he didn’t want to let his grandma’s wish to buy some milk ruin his day. He dragged himself into his old and dirty car and set off in the direction of Central Mall. Not even ten minutes later, he had a flat tire so he spent the next hour putting on the spare before he was able to continue his dreadful journey. At the shopping centre, he walked absent-mindedly into a family and their son fell on his knee. “I’m sorry,” was the only thing he could say, but the boy’s little sister replied, “This is a gift for you,” and gave him a little piece of paper. Jerry simply stuffed it in his jacket pocket and walked off as quickly as he could. Back at home, he just wanted to go to bed, when he dropped the girl’s paper on the floor. Jerry couldn’t believe his eyes. It was a scratch card with a win of €50,000! “Not such a bad day after all,” Jerry thought with a smile and he poured himself a steaming cup of coffee.

Introduction

A story is usually written for an English language magazine or website for teenagers. The main purpose is to engage the interest of the reader. Effective answers have a clear storyline which links coherently to the first sentence, successfully uses the prompts provided and demonstrates a sound grasp of narrative tenses. from: Cambridge English B2 First for Schools Handbook for Teachers

Stories are part of the second task in the B2 First Writing exam and they are exclusive to B2 First for Schools. In this variant of the test, there are no report tasks but instead, candidates have the choice between articles , reviews , emails/letters and the topic of this article – stories.

Feel free to check out my other posts on the different B2 First writing tasks by clicking on any of the links below.

Image of a notepad with the word essay written on it

Stories might be the most underestimated task in the whole writing exam as they are only part of B2 First for Schools.

They are discussed fairly little in preparation classes even with teenagers who are more likely to run into this type of text in their test. I think that stories are fun to write because they are probably the most open task type in terms of creativity. On the other hand, this level of freedom can also pose a challenge for many so story tasks can be time-consuming and difficult.

What a typical story task looks like

As with all the other task types, stories can be broken down in the same fashion every time you want to write one.

You should analyse the task carefully in order to collect as much information as you can. This way, the writing process itself is smooth sailing from start to finish.

B2 First for Schools - Story Example Task

At first sight, this could be like any other task for an article or a review, but we need to look a little bit more closely to see what is unique about stories.

As always, you should go through task analysis step by step and ask yourself a few specific questions that will help you get all the information you need.

  • What is the topic of my story?
  • What exactly do I have to include in the story?
  • Who is going to read my story?

The first question is fairly straightforward and can always be found by looking at the sentence given in the task.

cambridge b2 essay topics

In our example, the story needs to be about someone named Jerry you received an email and decided to go to the local shopping centre. All we get is a name a a little bit of a kickstart to the plot, but that’s it.

Every story task looks similar so always focus on the given sentence to find out more about the topic.

The second question is more specific and goes into more detail. Again, let’s see what we can extract from our example task.

B2 First for Schools - Story Example Task - Include This

The very first thing we have to include is the sentence about Jerry and the email. There is always a sentence which must be used as the very first sentence of your story. Don’t forget or change the sentence. Start your story with it as it is.

There are, however, two more ideas that you always have to write into your story. In this case, we must include a request and a present. The role these things play in your story is entirely up to you, but they should play a central role and be important parts of the plot.

The third and final question looks at the reader of the story. Remember that you never write for the examiner or your teacher but always for someone specified in the task.

B2 First for Schools - Story Example - Reader

Here, we write for the readers of an international magazine for teenagers, which means that teenagers from different countries are going to read your story.

As B2 First for Schools is designed to cater to people in that age group so we are writing for peers. Therefore, we can use rather informal language, but as you will see later on, register is not the most important aspect of a story compared to, for example a letter of application where a formal style is one of the key features. Stories already include so much useful language that choosing the correct register is secondary.

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How to organise a story in B2 First for Schools

When we try to put our story in a well-organised structure, we can simply look at every story ever written in the history of humankind and we will find that 99% of them look like this:

This pattern can be further broken down by splitting the main part into two or even three paragraphs, but we’ll get to that in a second. First, keep the above structure in mind for the future.

At the beginning of a story, we are usually introduced to the main character(s) and learn a little bit about the background of the plot. We might also find out about how the main character(s) feel right before the action starts.

The main part includes the main actions and parts of the plot. Here, the story progresses the furthest, but we normally don’t come to a conclusion yet.

The ending does what the name suggests. It brings the plot to a conclusion and ends the story in an appropriate and satisfying way. You don’t want to keep your readers guessing too much because there won’t be a sequel. You are not writing The Avengers Part 87 but a standalone story.

Now, however, let’s go back and see how we can apply all of the above to our specific task.

Luckily, the first sentence is already there for you, but we obviously need to be a little bit more creative. Think about how Jerry might have felt in this situation and what might have happened in the lead up to him reading the email.

I usually like to introduce the two topic points in the main part of the story, but they could already appear in the beginning. Again, this is completely up to you, which makes stories exciting and stressful to write at the same time.

Either way, in order to fill the main part of your story with life, try to come up with ideas of what could have happened on Jerry’s way to the shopping centre and when he was there.

Finally, we need to bring everything together in a good ending. You can try to end the story in an unexpected or funny way, but it is definitely more important to come to a meaningful and logical ending at all.

I find it quite often with my own students that they simply cut off the plot at the end of the main part, which leaves the reader not fully informed. So, make the reader (and examiner) happy and give your story the ending it deserves.

Always make a plan for your story

If I could give my students just one piece of advice for the writing exam in B2 First, I would tell them to always make a plan before starting to write.

It only takes a few minutes, but can save you a lot more towards the end on the test when you are in time trouble and don’t know what to do.

A plan helps you stay on task and all you have to do is follow it and fill the page with life.

My plan for our example looks like this:

  • Beginning: nervous; hadn’t slept well; request in the email –> buy milk for grandma
  • Main paragraph 1: flat tyre; had to change it; wasted time
  • Main paragraph 2: at the shopping centre; accident with family; little girl gave him piece of paper
  • Ending: piece of paper was scratchcard; won €50,000

Just from my plan, you can already guess what the story will look like even though I didn’t add a lot of information. Making the plan took me three minutes, but I only need to connect the dots now and get started.

Reading & Use of English Part 1

The different parts of a story in B2 First

In this part, I’m going to take you deep down the rabbit hole. We are going to go through the different parts of a great story with the help of our example task.

You will learn more about good content as well as useful language in each part.

As I mentioned earlier, the beginning of a story fulfills two tasks. It introduces the reader to the main character(s) and sets the scene. We can include previous events and background information so we can started.

One of the main criteria in a story is the correct use of narrative verb forms . These are different past verb forms, each of which has a distinct function in a story. We want to use past simple for the main events, past continuous for background actions and past perfect simple and continuous for things that happened before the main events.

Sounds complicated, but with some practice you’ll get better at it. If the names of these verb forms don’t ring a bell at all, you should definitely look into them as they are not only important in the writing test but also in Reading & Use of English and Speaking .

In addition to this particular grammar point, we want to make the beginning interesting from the get-go using some engaging adjectives/adverbs and other helpful expressions.

A day to forget – a day to remember Jerry read the email and decided to go to the shopping centre immediately. He hadn’t slept well at all and was feeling quite nervous that morning and he didn’t want to let his grandma’s wish to buy some milk ruin his day .

I gave my story a nice title. Every good story has a title so yours should have one as well, but don’t worry too much. It can be short and doesn’t have to be anything amazing. Just make sure that you include it.

I also used a mix of verb forms ( blue ) to show the main events, background actions and things that had happened before the main storyline.

On top of that, I included a few adjectives and adverbs which help make the story come to life ( red ).

Keep these things in mind when you start your story and you will be off to a good start.

The main part of a story is what the name says: the most important part which includes the majority of information.

Here we find most of the main events and the plot progresses between the beginning and ending.

Your focus in this part should lie on a logical order of events while keeping the reader engaged and interested.

We achieve this, once again, by using the correct verb forms (mostly past simple as we are in the middle of the main events) as well as other stylistic features, some of which we’ve discussed earlier and others that you can see in the example paragraphs below.

He dragged himself into his old and dirty car and set off in the direction of Central Mall. Not even ten minutes later , he had a flat tire so he spent the next hour putting on the spare before he was able to continue his dreadful journey. At the shopping centre , he walked absent-mindedly into a family and their son fell on his knee. “I’m sorry,” was the only thing he could say, but the boy’s little sister replied , “This is a gift for you,” with a smile and gave him a crumpled piece of paper. Jerry simply stuffed it in his jacket pocket and stormed off as quickly as he could .

We’ve got quite a lot to unpack here.

First and foremost, if you take a step back and read the paragraphs without paying attention to all the colourful stuff, you will see that there is a logical and chronological progression. Jerry leaves his house, has a flat tyre, makes it to the shopping mall and runs into the family. The girls gives him the paper and he leaves.

I guess this all makes sense, but I still used certain expressions of place and time ( orange ) that support this idea that there is a sequence of events. Little remarks like ‘before’ or ‘next’ can make it so much easier for the reader to follow the story so make sure you use them.

Another feature that we haven’t discussed yet is direct speech ( green ). By using direct speech we can bring the characters to life and the reader can identify with them more easily.

Finally, I continued with good and engaging past verb forms ( blue ) as well as adjectives/adverbs ( red ) which bring colour to the things and people you describe.

The very last part of every amazing story is a great ending. Here, we tie everything together and bring the events to a conclusion.

It is your decision if you want to give your story a happy ending or not, but make sure that it ends in some way. Don’t just stop after the main part and leave your reader with questions. Send them off with a smile on their face or tears in their eyes.

Back at home , he just wanted to go to bed, when he dropped the girl’s paper on the floor. Jerry couldn’t believe his eyes . It was a scratch card with a win of €50,000 ! “Not such a bad day after all,” Jerry thought with a smile and he poured himself a steaming cup of coffee.

I tried to bring a little surprise to the ending of my story and turn Jerry’s terrible day into a good one.

You can find the different stylistic features I used in different colours again. Past verb forms are blue , direct speech green , expressions of place and time orange and other interesting language and punctuation red .

Don’t stop being awesome towards the end of your story. Stay consistent and use good language throughout the whole text. That’s what the examiners want to see and that’s you you will give them if you follow the tips in this article.

Useful language for stories in B2 First

In the last part, I showed you some of the main ideas to improve your story writing. Using these language features can give you an edge over other candidates and impress your examiner. Always remember that an examiner checks dozens of texts per day and it is important to stand out with your pieces of writing.

So, below I’ve listed the different types of useful language with a few examples in each category. Obviously, this is not a complete list, but you can add expressions and adjust them to your needs.

How your B2 First story is marked

The process of marking candidates’ writing tasks in B2 First is an involved and quite complicated process. There are different criteria the examiners have to look at and even for teachers, it can be almost overwhelming to work their way through all the information.

I wrote an article on the topic that I hope will help students and teachers alike to better understand the marking process and to use it in order to improve their writing and/or teaching skills and insight.

Simply click here to find out more.

Time to become a storyteller

In this article, I’ve shared with you everything I know about how to write an excellent story in B2 First for Schools.

Take my advice and start practising. If you have any questions or problems, feel free to leave a comment and I will reply as quickly as I can.

Lots of love,

Teacher Phill 🙂

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I am in fact glad to read this weblog posts which consists of lots of useful facts, thanks for providing such data.

Thanks a lot! Best explanatatory article I’ve read about writing a story. I’ll definitely check your other guides. Love the coloring and comments to each part!

Thank you so much!!! This is excellent…easily explained…everything included A must to have when teaching…FCE!!

Comments are closed.

Oxford House

  • How to Write a Great Article in the Cambridge B2 First Exam

cambridge b2 essay topics

  • Posted on 11/12/2019
  • Categories: Blog
  • Tags: B2 First , Cambridge Exams , Writing

Writing in your only language can be a challenge, but writing in another language can be a complete nightmare ! Where do you even begin?

If you are taking your Cambridge B2 First exam you’ll have to write two texts in an 80-minute period. In part 1 you must write an essay but in part 2 you will be able to choose between a number of options. This could be could be an email, a letter, a report, a review or an article.

Read more about the format of the Cambridge B2 First exam .

In this writing guide, we’ll focus on how to write an article for the Cambridge B2 First Writing paper – part 2. We’ll also share with you some tricks and tips for passing this part of the exam. You’ll learn how to plan your article, structure it, use rhetorical questions , exclamation marks – and lots more. By the end, you’ll have the confidence to write an amazing article in English!

What is an article and how do you write one for the B2 First?

You’ll find lots of examples of articles in magazines, newspapers and internet blogs. In these texts, writers share information, guides and opinions on specific topics. The idea is to write in a way that grabs the reader’s attention and keeps them interested until the very end.

In the Cambridge B2 First Writing Paper – part 2, you could be asked to write about a variety of topics. However, it’s often something you’ve recently learned to do or know a lot about. For example, the question might be about a concert you’ve been to recently, you favourite hobby or your hometown.

Here’s an example of a B2 First article question.

How to write an article - Cambridge B2 First | Oxford House Barcelona

Now let’s look at how to get started!

How to write an article in three simple steps

You’ve got the question in front of you, so now it’s time to start writing your article, right?

Wrong! If you do that, you’ve missed an essential stage: planning.

You can compare writing an article to preparing your favourite meal. No good tortilla de patatas was ever made without carefully preparing the ingredients first. It’s exactly the same with your writing – only, you’ll need fewer onions. Time management is also important. You only have about 40 minutes total so you need to plan your time carefully.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Make a plan (10 minutes)

Think about the question.

Really focus on the question. Decide who your role model is. Is he or she a sporting hero you really admire? Or someone closer to home? It could be a family member that you look up to or a person in the community who’s done something amazing. Think about why they inspire you and make some notes on your ideas.

Think about the tone

Consider the best blogs you read on the internet. Are they relaxed and friendly? Or do they sound like boring school essays? The truth is most articles are quite conversational. They are somewhere between semi-formal and informal. They are often informative, whilst entertaining and engaging the reader. You can also try to add some humour in too!

Think about the structure

Structuring your article is key and there’s normally more than one way to do it. Decide which structure makes sense for the question. Try to keep it logical and include different ideas in different paragraphs.

Here’s an example structure:

  • Paragraph 1 Introduction Start with a catchy opening line to hook the readers. Then introduce your role model.
  • Paragraph 2 – Describe what makes them special Giving examples and developing your answer.
  • Paragraph 3 – Why you chose them as your role model This should be like a conclusion and give the reader a lasting comment or a question to think about.

Note: For many articles four paragraphs will be more appropriate – it depends on the question you are given.

Linkers are a fantastic way to organise your ideas. Experiment with some of these in your next article:

For a start…

Not to mention…

On top of that…

*Remember, you don’t need headings or titles in the article it should read as one continuous piece of work.

Think about vocabulary

Brainstorming vocabulary is a great way to get your ideas flowing . What are some great words related to the topic? List some adjectives for being a good role model. Pick out some verbs related to motivation or any good nouns or collocations you think would work. Throw some phrasal verbs and idioms in there too!

Here’s an example for the question above:

Write an amazing Article - B2 First | Oxford House Barcelona

Think about ways to personalise your writing

Articles tend to have a personal touch. You can be a lot more familiar with the reader addressing them personally with pronouns like ‘you’ and ‘I’. Give your own opinion and also use contractions. Here are some more ways to sound personal:

Have you ever wondered…?

I’m sure you can imagine…

Can you believe…?

I will never forget…

There’s nothing more amazing than…

If you ask me…

Step Two: Write it (25 minutes)

An interesting introduction is the key to a first-rate article. You want to capture your audience’s attention whilst making it clear what it’s going to be about. Start with an opening line that sets the tone of the topic. Try to catch the attention from the first word. Here’s an example:

Firefighters and superheroes are obvious role models. But sometimes the person that inspires us the most is so much closer to home. I have never had a favourite singer or sports star but my father has always been an important inspiration for me.

Next, think about the original question. What makes your role model special? Remember to keep it interesting and include some personal feelings. Use exclamation marks like this:

One of the things that makes my father so special is that he always does everything for his family, and he’s an excellent listener too. Whenever we have a problem he’s always there for us. Not to mention the fact that he’s also really fun-loving! If there’s a party, my dad is the first person on the dancefloor.

But only include one or two exclamation marks in the article or they’ll lose their impact.

Finally you want to tackle the last question. Why did you choose him as your role model? A great technique here would be to address your reader personally and even include a rhetorical question at the end. This gives them something to think about. A little bit like this:

I think my father is the best role model because he is the most hardworking person I know. He has a really difficult job as a doctor and is always saving lives. That’s so inspiring for me!

I really look up to him and he really pushes me to be the best I can be. Wouldn’t you want a role model like my dad?

Step Three: Check it (5 minutes)

Everything has come together and you’ve got your final article. Now you can sit back, relax and put your feet up until the examiner says stop. Wait, not quite!

You’re missing the last important step. Always check your writing. You’d hate for all your hard work to be wasted at the last moment. Here are some things to check for.

  • You included everything in the question
  • You’ve used a variety of sentence lengths
  • The spelling is correct
  • It’s personal and engaging
  • You haven’t repeated the same vocabulary too often
  • It’s not too formal

What are the examiners looking out for?

To get the very best results, you need to know what the examiners are looking out for when they are marking your writing.

These are the four most important things to consider:

How to write an article - B2 First - What are the examiners looking for | Oxford House Barcelona

Ask yourself these questions when checking your work and make any necessary changes before the time is up!

Any other advice for writing an article?

Read, read, read. Go online and search for blogs in English that interest you. If you love sports, look at the sports news. If you prefer fashion, find fashion articles. Whatever it is read real examples for real inspiration!

If you’re still not confident about writing in English, or you want some help preparing for the B2 First exam, take a look at our exam courses .

You can also check out our articles on how to write an Essay or a Review in the Cambridge B2 First.

Glossary for Language Learners

Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

Nightmare (n): : a bad dream.

Rhetorical question (n): a question that doesn’t need to be answered, for dramatic effect.

Time management (n): the way to use your time effectively.

Look up to somebody (pv) : to admire someone.

Humour (n): something amusing or funny.

To hook (v): to attract and captivate your attention.

To flow (v): to move steadily and constantly.

First-rate (adj): excellent, top quality, well made or done.

An exclamation mark (n): this punctuation symbol: !.

To tackle (v): dealing with a challenge or something difficult.

To put your feet up (exp): to rest and relax.

pv = phrasal verb

adj = adjective

exp = expression

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A Black Friday Guide to Shopping in English

  • By: oxfordadmin
  • Posted on 26/11/2019

Telephone Interviews In English, Advice And Tips For Success

  • Posted on 19/12/2019

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cambridge b2 essay topics

B2 First Exam Preparation

Cambridge B2 First (FCE) Exam Topics

10 and 20 us dollar bill

Environment

two persons playing ice hockey with referee

Food and Drink

panda eating bamboo

Feelings and Emotions

woman taking selfie

Health and Fitness

group of people drinking inside room

Leisure Activities

woman in white coat standing beside man in white dress shirt

Main navigation

B2 first exam format.

B2 First is a test of all areas of language ability.

The exam is made up of four papers developed to test your English language skills. You can see exactly what’s in each paper below.

The Speaking test is taken face to face, with two candidates and two examiners. This creates a more realistic and reliable measure of your ability to use English to communicate.

The formats below are the same for both the paper-based and computer-based exams and digital exams. Please note, during March 2024 we will be moving from our current computer-based exam delivery to Cambridge English Qualifications Digital, which will offer you even more benefits. Information on the switch and what this means for you can be found on our Cambridge English Qualifications Digital page.

  • openbook Reading
  • compose Writing
  • playlist Listening
  • megaphone Speaking

openbook What’s in the Reading and Use of English paper?

The B2 First Reading and Use of English paper is in seven parts and has a mix of text types and questions.

For Parts 1 to 4 , you read a range of texts and do grammar and vocabulary tasks.

For Parts 5 to 7 , you read a series of texts and answer questions that test your reading ability and show that you can deal with a variety of different types of texts.

Part 1 (Multiple-choice cloze)

Part 2 (Open cloze)

Part 3 (Word formation)

Part 4 (Key word transformations)

Part 5 (Multiple choice)

Part 6 (Gapped text)

Part 7 (Multiple matching)

compose What’s in the Writing paper?

In the two parts of the B2 First Writing paper, you have to show that you can write different types of text in English.

Part 1 (Compulsory question)

Part 2 (Situationally based writing task)

playlist What’s in the Listening paper?

The B2 First Listening paper has four parts. For each part you have to listen to a recorded text or texts and answer some questions. You hear each recording twice.

Part 1 (Multiple choice)

Part 2 (Sentence completion)

Part 3 (Multiple matching)

Part 4 (Multiple choice)

megaphone What’s in the Speaking paper?

The B2 First Speaking test has four parts and you take it together with another candidate.

There are two examiners. One of the examiners asks you questions and gives you the booklet with things to talk about. The other examiner listens to what you say.

Part 1 (Interview)

Part 2 (Long turn)

Part 3 (Collaborative task)

Part 4 (Discussion)

cambridge b2 essay topics

IMAGES

  1. Writing B2 First (FCE): Guía Completa con Ejemplos

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  2. Cambridge Proficiency Essay Examples

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  3. How to Write an Essay for B2 First (FCE) Writing

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  4. Cómo escribir un Essay para B2 First (FCE) Writing

    cambridge b2 essay topics

  5. Ejemplo essay Cambridge B2: guía 2023

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  6. Ejemplo essay Cambridge B2: guía 2022 (2022)

    cambridge b2 essay topics

VIDEO

  1. Important Essay Topics

  2. IELTS Writing Task 2: Discussion essay (3)| Advertising

  3. Writing Summary for the Cambridge B2 First (FCE) exam

  4. IELTS Writing Task 2: Opinion essay (5)| Language Barriers

  5. Cambridge First B2: How to write an essay

  6. A2 Business Paper 4 Survival Guide [CAIE Updated 2023 Syllabus]

COMMENTS

  1. 20 English Essay Topics/Questions

    Article navigation: B2 First (FCE) Essay: Example Topics / Questions B2 First (FCE) Essay: Download (PDF) An essay is a piece of writing in which you are asked to discuss a topic that might be controversial or relevant somehow. It usually follows a class discussion. The language of an English essay should be formal.Also, make sure that you justify all your ideas and that you use appropriate ...

  2. PDF B2 First for Schools Writing Part 1 (An opinion essay) Summary

    • Learn useful techniques for planning your own essay. • Evaluate two examples of a Writing Part 1 essay. • Practise and evaluate your own answer to a Writing Part 1 task. Review: Writing Part 1 . The B2 First for Schools Writing paper has two parts. Part 1 has only one task, which you . must. answer. You will: be given the essay title.

  3. First (FCE) Essay Questions

    Once you've got a structure that works, rinse and repeat with different topics until you can consistently produce a well-polished text. The materials. Here are three First (FCE) essay questions. They have been designed using typical FCE essay topics for B2 level. Use them to practise and improve in preparation for the Cambridge B2 First exam ...

  4. B2 First preparation

    The B2 First handbook gives an overview of the exam and its place within Cambridge English examinations. This is followed by a focus on each paper and includes content, advice on preparation, and example papers. B2 First handbook for teachers. B2 First: Handbook for Teachers Listening Audio Files (ZIP, 72MB)

  5. PDF B2 First Writing Part 1

    B2 First Writing Part 1 . Teacher's notes . Aims of the lesson . to familiarise students with Part 1 of the Writing paper and give them practice at planning an essay . Time needed . 50 minutes . ... Is everything about the topic? 4. Language : D. Does the candidate get his/her

  6. B2 First (FCE) Essay Writing Guide

    Part 1 of the writing test - there are 2 parts total. 140-190 word limit. You have about 40 minutes to plan and write your essay. You must answer a question using two notes and your own idea. The topic requires general knowledge only. The essay is always formal because it is written "for your teacher".

  7. Cambridge B2 First (FCE): How to Write an Essay

    These three paragraphs are called the body of the essay. However, an essay wouldn't be an essay without an introduction at the beginning and a conclusion at the end. All together that's five paragraphs and we could structure it like this: With an introduction, body and conclusion every essay has three main parts.

  8. B2 First (FCE) Writing Part 1

    EXAM PART: First (FCE) Writing Part 1 - Essay. EXAM SKILLS: Improving content and communicative achievement in essay writing. TOPIC: Lifestyle (living in the city vs living in the countryside) TIME: 30 minutes + 45 minutes writing (in-class or for homework) PREPARATION: One copy of the worksheet per student.

  9. How to Write an Essay for B2 First (FCE) Writing

    Each paragraph has a clear purpose: Introduction: it introduces the topic in a general way and it leads to the second paragraph (first idea). Paragraph 2: it deals with idea 1. Paragraph 3: it deals with idea 2. Paragraph 4: it deals with idea 3. Conclusion: we express our opinion to conclude and summarise the essay.

  10. Part 1

    Test 1 / 25. Answer the question below. Write 140 - 190 words in an appropriate style. Your teacher has asked you to write an essay on the dangers of social media, and how people can protect themselves. Do you think social media can be dangerous? Write your essay using all the notes.

  11. Writing an effective essay: Cambridge B2 First

    The first part is the essay; the second part is an article, email, letter, report, or review. You will be given the essay title and two ideas or prompts. It's essential that you include both of these ideas in your essay, as well as another relevant idea that you have to come up with yourself. You have to write 140-190 words in each part and ...

  12. 20 Essay Titles for the B2 First

    If you are planning on taking the Cambridge B2 First exam and want to practise an essay for Part 1 of the writing paper, here are 20 essay titles.. For each essay, write between 140 and 190 words.Imagine you are writing an essay for your English teacher, so it should be formal in style. Make sure you write about the three ideas included in the notes.. For feedback on your writing, use the ...

  13. Cambridge B2 First (FCE): Writing

    Each of these two pieces of writing needs to be between 140-190 words in length, or 280-380 words in total. As there are five different parts to the exam, Writing counts 20% towards your overall grade. In the writing paper there are two parts, the first one being an essay and the second one your choice of several possible types of writing.

  14. PDF B2 First Overview of the Writing Paper

    An essay is usually written for a teacher and may be written as a follow up to a class activity. It should be well-organised, with an introduction, clear development and an appropri ate conclusion. The main purpose of this task is the development of an argument and/or discussion of issues surrounding a certain topic.

  15. B2 First (FCE) Essay Question About Climate Change

    The Climate Change Problem. Writing | Part 1. Environment. Practice for part 1 of the writing paper in the Cambridge B2 First (FCE) exam with this sample question about climate change. Try and use some of the vocabulary below in your answer where possible:

  16. B2 First FCE Cambridge English: Writing

    B2 First FCE Writing B2 First, formerly known as Cambridge English: ... You're given an essay title and two ideas clearly linked to the title. You write an essay giving your opinions about the title, using the ideas given. ... • Common topics . Some common topics to write essays about are the environment, health and tness, work and ...

  17. PDF Lesson Plan B2 First for Schools Writing Part 1

    Read the sample question. You are going to work with your group and think of ideas that give both sides of the argument in response to a B2 First for Schools Writing Part 1 question. Use the notes and brainstorm For and Against well-balanced argument in the essay. Think of your own ideas. Write all of your arguments into the For and Against.

  18. Cambridge B2 First (FCE): How to Write a Story

    from: Cambridge English B2 First for Schools Handbook for Teachers Stories are part of the second task in the B2 First Writing exam and they are exclusive to B2 First for Schools. In this variant of the test, there are no report tasks but instead, candidates have the choice between articles , reviews , emails/letters and the topic of this ...

  19. How to Write a Great Article in the Cambridge B2 First Exam

    If you are taking your Cambridge B2 First exam you'll have to write two texts in an 80-minute period. In part 1 you must write an essay but in part 2 you will be able to choose between a number of options. This could be could be an email, a letter, a report, a review or an article. Read more about the format of the Cambridge B2 First exam.

  20. Cambridge (FCE) B2 First Exam Topics

    Cambridge B2 First (FCE) Exam Topics. Money. Money is another topic that could come up in the exam directly or in a question related to ... Sport is a popular topic in the B2 First exam, particularly in the speaking paper where candidates will often have... view lessons. General. General exercises, lessons and questions that cover a wide range ...

  21. B2 First exam format

    In the two parts of the B2 First Writing paper, you have to show that you can write different types of text in English. Summary. Time allowed: 1 hour 20 minutes. Number of parts: 2. Number of questions: Part 1: one compulsory question, Part 2: one question from a choice of three. Types of task: