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More about the Cambridge Advanced Writing Exam

We can only give you some example papers without any answers in this section, because there are so many different ways of answering the questions. The example answers which we give are to demonstrate the sort of responses the examiners are looking for.

Part 1. This question is compulsory. You will have to read a text of about 400 words. This material will be from something like a formal letter, a brochure or a memo. Sometimes the 400 words are divided among two or three different documents. You may also find that comments have been added to the documents in 'handwriting'. Make sure that you read the text carefully.

Part 2. This is similar to the first question, but now you have to choose one of four questions. The last of these questions is always a business task. The others might ask you to produce a report, a letter, or an article. The prompt giving you details of your task will contain about 80 words.

You are marked in bands from 0 - 5. Band 0 means that your handwriting was unreadable, you wrote less than 50 words for the question, or your answer was not connected to the question. You should aim for at least Band 3, which means that what you wrote would be effective in real life, even if it is not perfect. Even for the top band, Band 5, you do not need to be perfect, but your errors should not interfere with the reader's understanding. Remember, perfect grammar and spelling are less important than the overall impression you give the examiner. American English spellings are acceptable as long as spelling is consistent.

The best way to prepare for this test is to write, but you should also work hard at developing your vocabulary. Remember, it is seldom necessary to write sentences of more than 20 words, or sentences which include many different clauses. If you are writing something which seems long and complicated, you might be better off with two or more shorter sentences. Clarity and good organisation of your ideas will impress examiners much more than attempts to write literature.

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