Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Writing Classes

CPE Writing Part 1: Formal Essay

This is a lesson plan to help prepare students for part 1 of the CPE writing exam, in which students are required to write a formal essay which summarises and evaluates two other texts.

Here is my step-by-step guide to approaching the task:

Download the class handout here:

CPE writing essay 2nd plan

Step 1 – Text analysis

  • Read both texts and decide if they are complementary or contrasting.
  • Underline the two key content points in each text.

Step 2 – Paraphrasing and summarising

  • Brainstorm different ways to paraphrase and summarise the key points.
  • What impressive structures can you use? Inversions, passives, collocations, expressions.

Step 3 – Evaluate and react

  • Decide which points you agree and disagree with.
  • Brainstorm your own thoughts and experiences on the subject.

Summarise, evaluate, react.

Introduction

Present the topic of discussion and ask questions the essay will answer.

Hardly a week goes by without another report of …………….. appearing in the media.

Over the past ten years or so the media have frequently carried reports of ……………

The trend nowadays is towards (gerund)

How has the public’s opinion on this issue shifted over the last few years?

Although most people would generally agree that …………… few would deny that …………….

This raises the issue of whether or not……………..

This issue strikes a chord with the vast majority of the general public.

What impact, if any, have these shifts/changes/developments had on the general public’s psyche?

How are we to gauge the effect of such shifts/changes/developments?

Finish your introduction with the following sentence:

Both (1) extracts (2) discuss the nature of these (3) notions, but from different (4) viewpoints.

synonyms for text – extract passage

discuss/evaluate/explore

notions/concepts/ideas

viewpoints/perspectives/points of view

Paragraph 1 – Text 1

The first (1)text (2)argues that………

(1)extract/passage

(2)suggests/puts forward the idea that/asserts

Try and sum up the first point neatly with an inversion:

Seldom does the airplane make the top 5, let alone the top spot when the lists of the so-called most influential inventions are drawn up.

Not since…. Only when….. Not until…. Not only…. But also, No sooner… than
Seldom/rarely…….. Barely/scarcely/hardly……… when

Paragraph structure:

Option 1
  • Introduce content point 1 (paraphrased)
  • Evaluate and react. (your opinion)
  • Introduce content point 2
  • Evaluate and react. (your opinion)

Option 2

  • Summarise both content points
  • Own evaluations and reaction.

Stating opinion

Stating your opinion

As I see it,

It seems to me that ………… I would also say that ….

I am convinced that ……………

I am inclined to believe that ………………

There is no doubt in my mind that ………………

One of the drawbacks of ……. is ……….

However, one of the benefits is that …………

EMPHASIZING

I would like to stress that the research is still at an early stage.

It should be noted that there are a number of alternative methods available.

It is worth bearing in mind that 90% of the scientists researching herbicides in the US are employed by chemical companies.

CAUSE

-lead to: The research could lead to a cure for many serious illnesses.

-result in: The fire resulted in damage to their property.

-be responsible for: He was responsible for the accident.

-bring about: The war brought about enormous social change.

-give rise to: Poor performance in exams can give rise to depression and even thoughts of suicide.

-trigger: to make something suddenly start to happen, especially a bad situation such as a crisis or a war, or a medical condition: Certain foods can trigger allergies.

-contribute to: Passive smoking could contribute to the development of respiratory diseases among nonsmokers.

-factor: Cost is often the deciding factor when choosing any product.

Describing causes

One factor which has led to ………… is …………..

One of the factors which has brought this about is ………

The problem often stems from ………………..

The situation has been exacerbated by …………….

………….. has only made the situation worse.

One consequence of ……………. is …………….

Concluding

All in all it seems to me that ………..

The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that …………………..

All things considered, ………….

On balance, I tend to believe that …………

The world would surely be a better place to live in if …………..

If people stopped ….ing, we would have/ we could look forward to a ……………

The prospects for the future will be bleak/grim unless ……………….

Author:

Barcelona based English Teacher, blogger and sometime actor and director.

11 thoughts on “CPE Writing Part 1: Formal Essay

  1. I like this blog very much. Could you give me the result of the gapped text “A pastime to bring peace of mind”, please. I would like to check this up. Thank you in advance.

      1. Thank you Robbio! It is very hard to do this exercise. Is there any book that explains it, please? Thank you. Sandra

  2. Congrats on the blog! It’s fantastic.
    I have a doubt, though: our personal opinion should be stated in the last paragraph only or after the explanation of each text, at the end paragraphs 1 and 2?

    Thanks!

    1. There are several different ways to approach this task, different textbooks suggest different methods but the framework I generally teach is:

      1. Introduction
      2. Summarize text 1 in first half of 2nd paragraph then evaluate and react (giving personal opinion on the views expressed)
      3. Repeat for text 2.
      4. Conclusion.

      Another option is to summarize each text in separate paragraphs and then save your personal reaction for the conclusion.

  3. Some useful discourse management language for the essay, thanks, Robbio.

    In step 1 ‘complimentary’ should be ‘complementary’.

  4. Hi,
    Firstly, congratulations on your blog!

    I’d like to know if it would be suitable to add at teh end of the introduction the phrase: “This essay aims to summarise and evaluate …..”

    Thanks beforehand,
    John

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