Cambridge English Southern Europe

Experts in Language Assessment

Tips and FAQS for the Writing paper of the Cambridge English: Advanced exam

leave a comment »

Here are some tips and answers to questions we often receive on the Writing paper of the Cambridge English: Advanced exam.


  • Read the task carefully and plan an answer which addresses all the content points of the task. Try to develop each point fully.
  • Demonstrate a good range of vocabulary and structures as well as writing accurately to get a good mark.
  • Consider who the ‘target reader’ is and the genre (e.g. newspaper article, formal letter) for each question and try to write in an appropriate style and tone.
  • Think carefully about whether the task requires you to persuade or justify your opinion and make sure you do this in your answer.
  • Allow time to check through what you have written.
  • Read the opening paragraphs and instructions in Part 1 very carefully to make sure you know what your role is and who you are writing to. (Part 1)
  • Plan your answer. Remember, you do not necessarily need to use all the input information. Usually, part of the task is to select the appropriate information. (Part 1)
  • Try to use your own words when using information from the input. (Part 1)
  • Select your question carefully. Consider the vocabulary, grammatical structures and register required by the task. (Part 2)
  • Don’t write answers that are much longer than the word limit as this means you may have included a lot of irrelevant material. Plan your answer carefully to avoid this.
  • Don’t use a pencil.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How many questions do I have to answer?
You need to answer two. The question in Part 1 is compulsory and you have a choice of questions in Part 2.

How much do I have to write?
You will need to write 180–220 words for the first question and 220–260 words for the second question.

Can I use a pencil?
No. Answers for the Writing paper must be written in pen.

How much time do I have?
You have 1 hour 30 minutes to do the paper.

Can I have a little extra time at the end of the examination to check my work?
No. As with all the papers, time limits are strictly observed by the examination centre administrators.

How many marks is the Writing paper worth?
Each of the five papers in the exam is worth 40 marks, or 20% of the total. See more details about the format of the exam

How many marks are there for each part?
Both parts are equally important as they carry the same number of marks. See more details about the format of the exam

What kind of texts do I have to write?
There is a range of task types which ask you to write different kinds of texts, including: magazine and newspaper articles, contributions to leaflets and brochures, notices, announcements, formal and informal letters, reports, proposals and reviews.

Where can I find model answers?
There is a range of official preparation materials available that provide model answers. Find them now on the Cambridge University Press website

Written by Cambridge English Southern Europe

May 7, 2013 at 10:00 am

Let us know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s