How to write an essay (First Certificate Level)

Hi everybody!

I know that a lot of you are going to take a Cambridge Exam in the following months and that’s why, throughout the next four weeks, all our posts in the category “Teacher’s Corner” will be about that.

Today we start with the compulsory writing part 1 in First Certificate: How to write an essay.

This is the task we will be working on:

We have broken the planning into pieces and organised it in different steps and I think it will be useful so, come on! What are you waiting for? Take a look and give it a go! 🙂

STEP 1.- Understanding the task

What is one of the most common problems when it comes to starting a writing task? It doesn´t matter if we are students or professional writers, everybody has experienced the “blank page fear”, wondering “But, how am I supposed to write 140 to 190 words about this? I don’t have a clue where to start! I can´t think of anything to say!” Don’t panic, we are going to give you a hand with that! 😉

Usually we only read the part in the “notebook” area but today I am going to ask you to start paying attention to the very first lines. It says:

“In your English class you have been talking about the environment.”

This sentence, usually overlooked, is the key to come up with ideas so we can start planning our writing! Actually imagine you have had a discussion about the topic given in class, think about your classmates, what do you think their opinion would have been?

Here’s my example about ideas that may have come up in the class:

–          Polluted seas

–          Polluted water

–          Cars = Polluted air

–          Trees and vegetation damage

–          Bad air quality

–          Pesticides

–          Ozone layer damage

–          Greenhouse effect

–          Dirty beaches = skin problems

–          Cost: purifying water so it is potable.

–          Less oxygen in the air


–          Ashtma and breathing problems (Tokyo) Þ The more patients the higher social security costs

–          Contaminated food / Recent research Þ Possible cause of illnesses such as cancer

–          Harmful sun: Skin problems

–          Higher temperatures, changes in weather (harmful for crops), ice caps melting, raising sea levels

–          Industry residue control

–          Industries residues control

–          Better public transport system so as people won’t use their cars.

–          Exhaust fumes control

–          Promote bio food by helping farmers (grants…)

–          It cannot be undone but we can prevent it from getting worse.

How? ß

  • Recycling
  • Educating in schools
  • Educating in awareness of current environmental problems
  • Encourage: Using public transport, eating bio food, not using BFC’s, taking care of nature when outdoors.

STEP 2.- Lay-out

Or, how am I going to put all these ideas in the same text cohesively and coherently?

I know my essay should look more or less like this:

This being the content:

STEP 3: Language

Part 1.- Style In this case I am going to write in a neutral to formal style as this essay is for my English teacher.

Part 2.- Linking words Organising my ideas. In this part I am aiming to show a range of vocabulary so as to raise my mark in the writing part. In this way, it is useful to include: A variety of linking words and expressions, passive, conditionals, etc.


Opening: Impersonal passive …

Supporting the topic: It’s important to realise, as an illustration…

Expressing cause and effect: Conditional.


Opening: Firstly, …

Adding information: In addition

Explaining the reason: Due to

Expressing consequence: As a result


Opening: Secondly, …

Adding information: Not only … but also….

Explaining the reason: Given that….

Emphasising: With this in mind, indeed


Opening: Having considered… it is also reasonable to look at …

Introducing the point: Given that…

Expressing consequence: Consequently


Opening: In the final analysis, …

Emphasising: What is more…

Expressing consequence: Under these circumstances…

Now, you just have to put the pieces back together to get an awesome essay! 🙂 Next week I’ll post a sample but, why don’t you write yours first? Leave them in reception and we will correct them!