Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Writing Tips - Article and Competition Entry

Photo by Charles Jeffrey Danoff, Flickr
Articles can be formal or informal depending on who your reader is. However, in the CAE exam they are almost always informal and give you the opportunity to really show the examiner that style that you have and all that language that you know. Imagine you are chatting to the reader and, above all, make it interesting and entertaining.

As with all writing it will really help you to make a plan – note the main points you want to make in each paragraph and impressive language / vocabulary you could include in that section; then expand this into sentences, adding appropriate linking devices and examples.

Remember that the first thing the examiner looks at when marking your work is that you have answered all the points in the question, so read the task carefully and write down the things it says you must include. (This may sound simple but you'd be surprised by the number of people who get low marks for this reason, although their article is full of fantastic language and vocabulary.)

Main features of an Article
  1. An imaginative title – e.g. 'Scoring that goal', 'Lights, camera, action!', 'She's the one', 'Logging on'. Can you guess what these articles might be about? 
  2. The first sentence should make the reader interested in the article and want to read on. 
  3. Answer all the points required in the task. This could be the difference between passing and failing.
  4. Direct everything at the reader – so make sure you're clear on who that is. 
  5. One or two rhetorical questions can give your article a great style ( but ensure they are appropriate and don't use too many as it will then sound unnatural ). 
  6. Use a good range of appropriate vocabulary and some informal expressions or phrasal verbs. 
  7. Use different types of sentences to avoid it becoming boring, eg. Cleft sentences, participle clauses.
  8. Ensure that it is easy to read and each thing follows on from the previous one by using linking devices (but don't be over formal ). 
  9. The last paragraph should leave the reader with something to think about and relate back to the introduction. Some writers like to finish with a question. 
  10. Read the finished article to look for places which don't connect well, sentences which are difficult to understand and grammar, spelling and punctuation errors and make some final adjustments.
Competition Entry
These are articles but you need to include one or two sentences in which you say why your entry should be considered and persuade the reader that you deserve to win the prize / competition. This is usually done in the last paragraph but you could also mention it in the introduction if you wished.


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    You might have a look at: examwriting.blogspot.com for some samples of CAE writing tasks.

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