If you feel your writing needs improving, you may find some ideas and resources to that effect below:
To improve your communicative achievement:
You can find sample writing tasks on Write and Improve. This is an artificial intelligence tool developed by Cambridge English, which features a growing body of writing tasks (different text types are included, and the tasks are modelled on exam tasks). Choose a task appropriate for your level (if you are preparing for a C1/C2 test, choose “Advanced”). Then type your text (or copy and paste from a word processor), and Write and Improve will spot mistakes, make suggestions, and, interestingly, will tell you the CEFR level of your written output (A1-C2).
You can see how it works here (open video on YouTube):
Besides that, please remember to read the rest of the instructions for your writing task really carefully:
- What text type are you instructed to write? Is it an essay? An article? A formal email? A report? Each text type has its different conventions and structure- please, follow them. You can find information on each text type here.
- Make sure you cover all the points in the instructions, and that you provide relevant content. Do not read the instructions quickly, get a general idea, and give a vague, general overview of what you feel the topic is (if you read something about the environment, don’t just think “OK, I have to write about the environment”, and just write a collection of clichés and platitudes about the topic, but totally unrelated to the task in hand, and therefore, off-topic.
The planning stage is essential. There is no need to write the whole text in your draft version, but think of all the ideas you would like to discuss; in what way you are going to organise them so that they will be understood. Then you can think of the linking words and discourse markers you can use to glue your text together (between paragraphs and within the paragraphs).
You can find a sample graphic organiser and how to use it here.
To improve your organisation:
- Remember to organise your text into paragraphs. Think of your paragraph structure when you are planning your text. These tips may be useful.
- Use punctuation correctly. Make sure not to overuse commas, and not to make sentences extremely long (and hence messy). Together with that, remember that colons and semi-colons do exist. Use them appropriately. You have some ideas here.
- Remember to use linking words and discourse markers frequently and accurately. Really, please, do use them: they will make your text shine. It is so much easier to read an organised text: ideas are understood much more clearly when they are signposted correctly.
- You may find extra resources to improve your organisation here.
To improve the range of language shown:
Please, do make an effort to “show off”: try to use relevant, sophisticated vocabulary and grammar structures that show performance at the level you are being assessed on. For example, if you are taking a C1 exam, and you simply write a “good B2” essay, that will not be enough to prove mastery of the language at C1 level. Or if you are taking a C2 test, and your article is OK, “correct enough”, but it does not prove that you can “provide an appropriate and effective logical structure which helps the reader to find significant points” or “can produce clear, smoothly flowing, complex reports, articles or essays”, you will not be meeting the requirements of the level. You can see the descriptors for each level in Spanish here, or in English here.
To improve your accuracy:
Unlike in speaking, when you are writing you do have the chance to revise your work. Consequently, please, proofread your writing before you hand it in/submit it:
- Check for slips of the pen/spelling mistakes.
- Making mistakes will give a negative impression, not just in the exam, but in real life, and it will make it harder for people to understand you. Proofread for mistakes.
- But (and this is the big “but”) some mistakes and errors (systematic errors, those that happen over and over again) will prevent people from understanding what you mean to say. These are the worst kind of mistakes, and this is why they will have the greatest impact on your grade.
This list contains some really “scary” mistakes: grammar structures associated with levels well below C1/C2, and, which, therefore, should not be happening either in writing or speaking at C1/C2 levels at all. Revise the list, and steer clear of making those mistakes.
Please make sure your grammar structures are clear in your head, and that you are not translating from Spanish. If you need to revise grammar from previous levels, please do so. Besides the materials you may have from previous years, you can find plenty of resources and tutorials here and here.
Together with that, are you using vocabulary accurately? You have some tools that might help you use vocabulary precisely and accurately here.
Last but not least, try to make sure your output sounds natural. Sometimes, a chunk of text you produce might not be 100% plain “wrong”, but it simply does not sound “natural” (that is, native speakers would not express the idea that way). If you want to sound more natural you can use some of the tools and resources here.
Self-assess your writing:
Self-assess your written texts using this checklist. Have you met the criteria?
- If all of this was not enough, you have plenty of other related resources here. Please feel free to check them out.
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