How to Write a C1 Advanced Task 1 Essay

If you use a structure and have a plan, then it is much easier to write a full Cambridge C1 Advanced Task 1 essay in the required 45 minutes (half of the 90 minutes allowed for both writing tasks). The more preparation and practice you do before your test, the more effective your planning will be and the more time you will have to proofread at the end. Only taking 5 to 10 minutes to plan during the test lets you know what you are doing when you write and gives your reader a consistent message. Practice is always the key to writing exam essays, so make sure that you have a teacher or a friend who can mark your essays for you and give you feedback that will improve your next draft. Cambridge C1 Advanced writing questions are here and the writing marking rubric, which hasn’t been included in this post but is incredibly useful, is available here for C1 with explanations and suggestions.

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1: Do I need to think of unique and interesting ideas to get a high score?

No! The examiner is NOT looking for ideas that are interesting or unique. To get a high score, you need ideas that are logical and, most importantly, that you can support them easily. The examiner will only look at how convincing your ideas are and how you analyse them.

2: Does a long essay mean more marks?

No! Keep your essay concise and clear! Write in formal English and also be realistic about how much you write, because you should also leave time to proofread our essay. Aim for 220 to 260 words, although a little more is fine. If you write much more, then the examiner will think you have included some irrelevant information.

3: My teacher said that the introduction is the most important part in an essay. Therefore, it is compulsory that I have to write an interesting introduction to intrigue the examiner by writing a hook. Is that true?

No! Every part of an essay is important, but the most important ones should be the body paragraphs where you present your points. You do not need a hook in your introduction because it is really difficult to write a hook, and it would waste a lot of time that could be used for the body. Besides, the examiner will not look at how interesting your introduction is, so writing a hook is unnecessary.

4: Do I need a concluding sentence for each body paragraph?

No! You do not need a concluding sentence because a conclusion paragraph is enough to round off an essay.

5: Is grammar important?

Yes! The examiner will check your grammatical mistakes and pay attention to the grammar forms you use. If you make grammar practice a part of your preparation, you should be able to increase your score by using the desired grammar forms.

6: Do I need to use uncommon words to have a high band in the Lexical Resource criterion?

No! Using too many strange words may cause your essay to be unnatural and there are chances of word misuses. I recommend you focus on your accuracy and using topic vocabulary collocations. As with grammar, if you have a ‘bank’ of vocabulary, phrases and collocations, you will be able to plan much quicker in your writing test.

7: Should I use templates? My teacher gave me a lot of memorized phrases to use when writing an IELTS task 2.

A loose template of the structure is fine, while having some template sentences in your toolbox will also reduce writing time. Remembering cohesive devices and other types of words and phrases is fine, as long as you know where they are most effective. Having some favourite phrases or sentences that you know how to use in different parts of any essay will always be useful and save you time.

8: Do I need to use advanced linking devices?

In my opinion there are no advanced or beginner’s linking devices. Which linkers you use do not reflect your level of writing, therefore I recommend you focus on the coherence of your ideas and supporting details rather than some linking words. Practicing before your test will show you what is best and using your favourites should become a habit.

9: Should I write every day? How fast can I improve if I write a lot of essays every week?

From my experience, you do not need to do writing every day. I usually recommend my students write about 2-3 essays a week and focus more on the quality of their work. Also, when you have written several practice essays and have had them marked and criticised, read them all again. What are your favourite phrases and sentences? Which linkers do you prefer? Where do you prefer to use more advanced grammar or sentence structure? Which phrases and words can you remember and use well in any situation? If you can answer these questions, then you should write a good C1 Task 1 essay in your test.

Timing

A rough guide to timing is

  • 10 minutes for planning
  • 30 minutes for writing
  • 5 minutes for proofreading

Planning

If you have trouble completing your writing tasks on time, it is incredibly difficult to allocate some of that precious time to planning, but it is worth it! Once you have a plan, you can write much faster and should even have a few minutes left at the end to proofread.

1/ Read the question carefully, maybe three times. Ask yourself ‘What is the topic’ What is the question asking me to write about?

2/Underline the key parts that MUST be included in the answer if you are going to answer every part of the question. This will help the Content part of your essay.

3/ Choose which two of the three points in the notes you are going to write about.

4/ Write down some ideas about each of these two points. Don’t be too careful, you can use shorthand or just letters rather than writing down every word. It is important, however, that you know what you are doing, and the examiner won’t see your plan.

5/ The question gives you three opinions, but you have to paraphrase them, you can’t use them ‘as is’. Are they better than your ideas? Would it be better to rely on these given opinions every time? You should decide this before your test. Of course, the given opinions will save you time.

6/If you need to give your opinion, what opinion is the easiest to explain? Use good English to write about an easy opinion rather than write a complex and personal opinion using poor English. It’s an English exam, not an opinion exam.

7/You are going to write a 4-paragraph essay, so decide what to put in each paragraph. You should be aware of the structure you are going to use before your test.

8/Write down some vocabulary ideas and some synonyms that you have learned that will fit with this topic.

9/Have the confidence to write simply but correctly rather than writing confused and unclear sentences because you are trying to use too many ‘good words’ and ‘better grammar’. Simple writing is clear and easy to understand, but not always easy to write.

If you need more ideas try:

Brainstorming

Write down as many ideas that come into your head as quickly as possible then organise them.

Mind mapping – 

  • Start with a blank piece of paper. In the middle, write your subject or topic.
  • Draw 10 lines extending out from your subject with any kind of information connected to your topic at the end of those lines.
  • Draw 10 more lines extending out from your subject! It may become difficult at this point but keep forcing yourself to think of more connections; this may help you get to a really interesting and unique idea.
  • Draw lines coming off your smaller lines. You want your connections to be comprehensive and far-

Conversation –

  • A useful brainstorming strategy is to ask yourself questions (based on the question). Write down the answers to your own questions as a way of generating potential ideas.
  • A useful brainstorming strategy is to imagine you are having a chat with your good friends about the topic. Imagining doing this in a comfortable café or somewhere you meet is more likely to stimulate ideas.

Example

In this post I am going to use this question –


C1 advanced essay question

If you have any questions, send me a message below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

My Plan

The question asks:

Your class has listened to a radio discussion about how adults can be a good influence on younger people.

and

Write an essay discussing two of the ways in your notes that adults can influence younger people’s behaviour. You should explain which way you think is more effective, giving reasons to support your opinion.

I have underlined the main parts of the question that MUST be answered.


The two points I am going to choose are:

setting an example

offering advice

My own ideas about these points are:

setting an example – if someone is successful or not, you can tell by what they do why they are in that position / you try and behave in the same way as your role models (given)

offering advice – If the younger person respects the older person, maybe they will listen to the advice / younger people often think advice is not for them. (given).


I decided before the test that I am going to use a 4-paragraph essay

Introduction

Body paragraph 1

Body paragraph 2

Conclusion

and I am going to use this paragraph structure:

introduction – paraphrase of the question, introduce the two points I am going to write about.

Body paragraph 1 – topic sentence, supporting sentence, example, supporting sentence 2, overall sentence

Body paragraph 2 – topic sentence, supporting sentence, example, supporting sentence 2 + stating which one I prefer

Conclusion – A summary of what I have written and a restatement of my choice.

Introduction

So, using my choices and ideas from the question:

Introduction – A widely discussed topic on the media recently, has been how youngsters and adolescents are swayed by their elders. Out of the many ways this happens, I believe the two main ones are for adults to set an example and to offer advice.


Before moving on, let’s talk about paraphrasing the question

Paraphrasing

There are four main ways to paraphrase successfully.

1/ changing the word order,

2/ changing the form of some words (especially the important words) from nouns to verbs and verbs to nouns,

3/ changing active to passive

4/ synonyms.

You do not have to change EVERY word, in fact there are often words that cannot be changed accurately.

You can also add concessions using ‘although’, ‘while’ and ‘whereas’.


When giving my opinion I talked about A and B. A = setting an example, B = offering advice

ALWAYS write your body paragraphs in the same order – body 1 is about A, body 2 about B and this order should be kept throughout the whole essay. It is really good for coherence and cohesion.

Body Paragraph 1

For a fully developed body paragraph, five to six sentences are enough.
Examples are greatly important and help make your essay much more convincing.
Always keep asking ‘why’ in order to produce an in-depth analysis to support your essay. What is the reason for the reason, the cause of the cause, the result of the result

Topic Sentence

A topic sentence should be a simple statement that introduces the paragraph. It says ‘This is what you are going to read about in this paragraph’

  • Many teachers say that each paragraph should have only one idea.
  • Many students say, OK, but if that is true, how can I talk about more than one advantage or disadvantage, or more than one view?

Answer – If you have this issue with your topic sentence, it is too specific. This is why many topic sentences start ‘There are many reasons why ………’, ‘There are two main reasons why ………, X and Y’.

It is crucial that the topic sentence is easy to read. It is your signpost telling the reader where you’re going to go. If it is simple, then the reader understands what you are going to talk about in the paragraph, so if you make a mistake, there is still a chance that they will understand what you mean.

However, if you write a long and complicated topic sentence, there is a much higher chance that it will be so confusing the reader is not 100% sure what you are going to say. Then, if you make an error later in the paragraph, it’s almost impossible to understand because the context isn’t clear.

Note – If you talk about the main topics of your paragraphs in the introduction, you still need a topic sentence, but you can be a little more specific. If you do that (it isn’t always possible), then you will be able to develop the paragraph more in the same number of sentences.

This is where planning helps immensely. You know what you are going to talk about next, so you can introduce beforehand. In some ways this is like reverse referencing.

Example

There are various ways that older people can set an example for the younger ones.

Supporting Sentence

Some are confused about supporting sentences, but is only an explanation of the topic sentence, and there can be more than one in a paragraph. There are also many ways to improve your supporting sentences:

  • Prepare these reasons in the planning stage, so you know where and how you will use each reason or argument.
  • Be concise, which means not using too many words to say what you want to say. Make every word count.
  • Be accurate, don’t use language that means something is true 100% of the time, use adverbs of adverbs of frequency, adverbs of probability and modal verbs to increase your accuracy.

Example

Firstly, seeing how successful people act in both at work and socially will enable youngsters to understand at least some of the aspects of success, which they can copy.

Examples

Examples are greatly important and help make your essay much more convincing, however:

  • Try to restrict your example to one sentence to illustrate your meaning rather than using most of the paragraph.
  • If you cannot think of a relevant example, you don’t need to have one.
  • It is often much simpler to add an ‘inline’ example in a sentence using ‘such as’ for further clarity. Many mobile phone brands, such as Huawei, Apple and Oppo, use bleeding edge technology to compete in the market.

Example

For example, if an adolescent can watch how their parent’s friends or workmates act morally and honestly, then this will usually instill these values in the youngster too.

Second Supporting Sentence

This is the place for your second reason. This is exactly the same as the first supporting sentence in that you need to be careful about being prepared, being concise and being accurate.

Example

These same youngsters will usually not want to be like the less salubrious characters in their area, who act in ways that only lead to trouble or crime.

Final sentence(s)

As I said before, five or six sentences is enough. So far we have had a topic sentence, the first supporting sentence, an example and a second supporting sentence, which makes four sentences so far.

These sentences can be used to further develop the main idea of the paragraph as well as preparing for body paragraph 2.

This can be done in various ways:

  • You can aim for a more in-depth analysis by explaining the why of the why, the cause of the cause or the reason for the reason.
  • You can give an alternative view of what would happen if the explanations in your supporting sentences weren’t true. (ideal for conditional sentences – if that didn’t happen, then XYZ would, which would result in ABC) This is a good way to lead on to the next paragraph, if you have practice at planning.
  • Compare and contrast the supporting sentence with another point and the resulting benefits or drawbacks.
  • You can group together other supporting ideas, results or causes.

Example

Therefore, using both positive and negative role models will influence young people in a good way more often than not.

Full Body Paragraph 1

Topic sentence / supporting sentence / example / supporting sentence / further development

There are various ways that older people can set an example for the younger ones. Firstly, seeing how successful people act will enable youngsters to understand some of the aspects of success, which they can copy. For example, if they can watch how their parent’s friends or workmates act morally and honestly, then this will usually instill these values in the youngster too. Also, they will not want to be like the less salubrious characters, who act in ways that only lead to trouble or crime


Body Paragraph 2

Often, body paragraph 2 will have the same structure as body paragraph 1. This depends on the question type and how you want to answer them, as in this answer.

As for offering advice, there are both positives and negatives. The most positive aspect is that older people have survived being a youngster and so understand their feelings. Many older relatives need to make an effort to be accepted, for instance, by younger family members before any of their advice is heeded. Overall, from my perspective, setting an example is by far the best way to get through to these younger people due to the fact they can see the actions and results with their own eyes rather than just listening to words.


Conclusion

A conclusion is a summary of what you have written with no new information and, if necessary, a restatement of your opinion. One or two sentences is usually enough. However, you cannot repeat what you have written, you should paraphrase whenever possible.

Example

In conclusion, out of the many ways young people can be influenced by older ones, setting an example and offering advice are two of the best. In my opinion, setting an example is better than giving advice because it is more than just words.

The full essay is below.


A widely discussed topic on the media recently, has been how youngsters and adolescents are swayed by their elders. Out of the many ways this happens, I believe the two main ones are for adults to set an example and to offer advice.

There are various ways that older people can set an example for the younger ones. Firstly, seeing how successful people act will enable youngsters to understand some of the aspects of success, which they can copy. For example, if they can watch how their parent’s friends or workmates act morally and honestly, then this will usually instill these values in the youngster too. Also, they will not want to be like the less salubrious characters, who act in ways that only lead to trouble or crime

As for offering advice, there are both positives and negatives. The most positive aspect is that older people have survived being a youngster and so understand their feelings. Many older relatives need to make an effort to be accepted, for instance, by younger family members before any of their advice is heeded. Overall, from my perspective, setting an example is by far the best way to get through to these younger people due to the fact they can see the actions and results with their own eyes rather than just listening to words.

In conclusion, out of the many ways young people can be influenced by older ones, setting an example and offering advice are two of the best. In my opinion, setting an example is better than giving advice because it is more than just words.

(266 words)


How to write an IELTS essay

Proofreading


Once you have written your essay, try to take some time to check what you have written.

If you just read what you have written, you may find several errors that you can fix quickly, but it’s much much quicker if you look for certain types of error. Which ones do you look for? The ones you have made in your practice essays.

If you look for them, then
1/ it should be easier for you to find them
2/ you should know how to fix them by now
3/ read once for each kind of error, it’s quicker and more effective than trying to read once for them all.

If you find that you have written the wrong essay and your body paragraphs don’t match your opinion, then go back to the introduction and conclusion and change your opinion to match the body paragraphs. It’s much quicker!

Using a teacher to mark your practice essays will show you which errors you make consistently and how to check for them after you have finished. There are free and paid options you can consider.


Conclusion

I hope this has been helpful for you. I know there are more questions you would like to ask, but the answers will come in other posts. Thank you very much for reading and good luck with your B2 First Task 1 essay!

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