Hi everyone! Welcome to Cambridge Exam Coach Podcast!
My name is Kristian – and my name is Alexandra – and together we’re the team behind the brand new Cambridge Exam Coach podcast.
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In this podcast episode we discuss a C1 essay writing task and we also mention a FREE sample evaluation PDF that we’ve created to show you how we evaluate your essays. You can download the sample here:
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Kristian de Groot 0:02
Hi everyone. Welcome to Cambridge Exam Coach podcast. My name is Kristian. And I'm Alexandra. And together, we're the team behind the brand new Cambridge Exam Coach podcast. If you want to improve your English and learn more about exam preparation, this podcast is for you. We'll use vocabulary and grammar in a way that's engaging, authentic and nontrivial. And if you're a visual learner, you can find the transcripts of our episodes on the website as well. In the previous episode, we talked about the listening part of the Cambridge C1 Advanced exam. And today we're going to be talking about the writing part, specifically about part one, the essay. First, we'll help you understand what is required of you in this task. Also, we're going to teach you how to organise your essay. Unfortunately, there still no jingle. So without further ado, let's dive in. Hey, Alexandria, how are things? What have you been up to lately?
Alexandra Finyakina 1:06
Hi, Chris. Thanks for asking. I'm good. I've had a nice time with my family, snuggled with my dogs, feel absolutely happy. So what else can I ask for?
Kristian de Groot 1:21
I'm also I feel delighted right now. I've been to St. Petersburg. That was amazing. And now I'm back here in the Netherlands and spending time with my family. It's almost Christmas. Looking forward to other stuff. My nephews are coming in 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes? I don't know. So then I can play with them. So that will be lovely. And I'm now recording this podcast with you, which I'm also looking forward to.
Alexandra Finyakina 1:51
You're already doing this with me. So why are you looking forward to doing it?
Kristian de Groot 1:56
I'm still at the start. That's a huge part, that I have to record today. So I'm still looking forward. Alright, then. Let's go. Okay?
So the thing is here that we're going to be talking about the C1 essay. And specifically, we're going to talk about two essential steps every C1 exam candidate should take before starting to write their essay. And first of all, Alexandra, you are going to tell our listeners how to approach the task, right?
Alexandra Finyakina 2:33
Yes, absolutely. Okay. So let's start the ball rolling as they say, and for a minute, I want you listeners to imagine that you start your C1 Advanced preparation journey, you have never seen the C1 essay task before. You look at it and you are wondering, like, what am I going to do here? And to be honest, been there done that, and I hope that today, I'm going to help you understand what you should do. And you will definitely know that things are not that scary as they may seem. Okay. Today, we've chosen a sample task from the book called Straight to Advanced by MacMillan. And we'll take this particular task just to show you how you should approach this particular essay. Okay, let's go. When you get your essay task, first thing you should do and the first thing you should read is actually the input and let's look at what our particular task says.
Your class has recently attended a panel discussion on what methods governments should adopt to encourage young people to live in the countryside. I highly recommend, as they usually do, to underline the key words and key points in the output to clearly understand what topic you need to develop. So after you've done that, you read further and you see three notes and mind you, there will always be three notes or three points, sorry, three points that you read there. And our task gives us the following points. Here's the question: Which method should governments use to encourage people to live in the countryside? Point 1: Subsidised housing. Point 2: Improve transport links, and point 3: Increase awareness of health benefits. So, you have the three opinions from the panel as well. Their opinions are the following: Cheaper homes would encourage young families to move to the country. Second: high speed trains would make commuting easy, and the third opinion: Getting away from the noise and traffic of the city can reduce stress. While you see now that there's the topic and the points you need to develop. After you've read this, your next step is the instructions. And our task says this: Write an essay discussing two of the methods in your notes. You should explain which method is more important for the government to consider and give reasons in support of your answer. Again, at this point, you should underline the key words in the task itself, to make sure you understand it, and you address all the points in your essay. So, what are the key points in our task? First, you pick only two ways – not three! – of how governments can encourage people to move to the countryside. Second, you give reasons why you think so. And third, you state which method is more important. So you give your opinion. You know, some people say that this approach is too time consuming. Yes, it may sound so it may be so until we get the hang of it. Because the more you practice, the more automatic it all becomes, and it takes you not that much time. So little. So, now I hope I have given you a clearer picture what is required of you when you see the task, and then you can organise your essay well, after you, after you've learnt how to do it, and when you know exactly what is required of you. So Kris, that's, that's what I wanted to say about the first step, how you should do this. So do you have anything here to add?
Kristian de Groot 6:47
Nope. Excellent elaboration. It sounded clear to me, clear as day. Good. But I would like to add something about the organisation of your essay. So if you allow me, I can continue.
Alexandra Finyakina 7:01
Of course, how can I be against?
Kristian de Groot 7:04
Okay, so listeners, the main purpose of the essay task is to allow you to underline relevant issues on a topic. And in this case, like Alexandria mentioned, the topic is how government should adopt measures to encourage people to live in the countryside. And the underlining issues are: subsidised housing, improve transport links, and increase awareness of the health benefits. To do this in a proper way, you should take your time to think about the organisation of your essay, before you start writing it. Really, do that, it's gonna help you a lot. So what does it mean? Well, an essay should be well organised with an introduction, clear development, and an appropriate conclusion. And listeners, that begs the question, how to develop your essay, what does it mean, a clear development? That's a bit abstract, right? Now, I'm going to explain this to you right now. And luckily for you, it's not exactly rocket science, because you can use a standard template. To keep things simple and structured, I always tell my students to use four paragraphs. Does it make sense to you until now, Alexandra?
Alexandra Finyakina 8:22
absolutely. Go on.
Kristian de Groot 8:24
Good, four paragraphs. So the first paragraph is your introduction. And that should be approximately 50 words. And if you do the paper based exam, you can count on on, let's say, 10 words per line. Yeah, that should be like a handy trick for you to not worry about the word count. This part, the introduction is where you clearly state the purpose of your essay. And I'm going to give you now the example essay to give you a clear example of what you need to do. So, here in this part, the writer, introduces the purpose of the essay clearly: It is generally accepted that cities these days are overcrowded and that housing is unaffordable for many people. The simple fact is that urban areas built 100 or 200 years ago, were not designed to cope with such a high population. In light of this, it has been suggested that government should encourage people to move to the countryside. This essay shall explore two of the proposed methods for doing this. Did you hear that listeners? This essay shall explore two of the proposed methods. This is exactly what you need to do in the introduction. I hope that makes sense. Now, in your second paragraph, which is called the first body paragraph, you're going to develop your first method. Yeah? So, it is either going to be subsidised housing, or improved transport links, or increase awareness of the health benefits, it's up to you. But you have to develop your first point. And it's going to be approximately 70 words. And to give you a clear example, again, I'm going to show you the text, or not show you, but I'm going to read out loud for you the text from the example essay, where the writer is discussing the first method of his choice, or her choice. Many young families cannot afford the type of housing to meet their needs in the cities. Therefore, if they were offered two or three bedroom homes at a reduced price, it would be a great incentive for them to move out of the city. In theory, this seems an excellent idea. In practice, it is doubtful that young families would move to an area without looking into the quality of nearby schools, the leisure facilities available, and employment opportunities close by. So did you hear that listener? The writer clearly stated his first method, but he already said something. And he said: In practice, it is doubtful. So you can already hear how this essay is going to develop. Right. Do you agree with me, Alexandre? Absolutely.
Alexandra Finyakina 11:19
I think it's the same point signposts here. So for their assessor, for you particularly, when you're reading.
Kristian de Groot 11:26
Exactly, exactly. And now in the third paragraph, which is called your second body paragraph, you're going to develop your second point. So in this particular case, the second method that the government should adopt. And in this particular case, the writer has chosen the improvement of transport links. Yeah, so I'm going to read out loud the third paragraph of this example essay right now for you: This brings us on to the next method to be considered, the improvement of transport links into the city. High speed railways would enable people to commute comfortably and quickly into work in urban areas. Consequently, any concerns over employment would be eliminated. Improving the roads and building motorways would also make leisure facilities more easily accessible. So, that was the discussion of the second method. And again, you hear no negatives here, right? The writer only mentioned positive points. So what do you think it's going to happen in the conclusion in the fourth paragraph? Alexandra's looking at me like, are you asking me?
Alexandra Finyakina 12:46
Like it seems to me that now you're assessing me and are sure you know what you're talking about Alexandria? Everyone can read the task, but to know what your essay should be about? Kris, thanks for putting me on the spot here?
Kristian de Groot 13:00
No, no, no, no, no, I was just making an inside joke here. But anyway, listeners now is the most important part, or not the most important part but an essential part of your essay, because one of the tasks is: you should explain which method is more important for the government to consider, giving reasons in support of your answer. And as I said before, the writer has already given hints, right, in the first body paragraph in the second body paragraph. But listen now carefully to the conclusion, I'm going to read it out loud from the sample: On balance, it appears that the best course of action would be to improve transport links from the countryside to urban areas. Research shows that many people worry about employment opportunities in less build up areas. Improve transport infrastructure would help to reassure them. So, that was the conclusion in which the writer states his opinion, or her opinion, and what did the writer chose Alexandria? Which method? Any idea? It was the transport links, of course. And the writer says, on balance, it appears that the best course of action, yeah, and this is a typical, what we call topic sentence, where you state your case, and then you explain after that, why it is the case. And then the writer says: research shows that many people worry about employment opportunities, and improved infrastructure would help to reassure them. So that's the conclusion. I hope this was a good example essay for you and that it makes things clearer. If you practice with this structure in mind, you will see that you don't have to worry about word count on exam day. And listeners, keep in mind that there's no time for a fair copy. So, you don't have time to reproduce your essay after final correction. Now, Alexandria, there's a lot more to be said here. We could talk about topic sentences, expressing opinions how to do that. giving evidence in your essay, how to use conditionals, and future perfect constructions to state your opinion at the end, and much, much more. But unfortunately, there is no time for us to get into all these topics today. However, maybe, Alexandra, you'll have some special tips or final advice for everyone who's listening?
Alexandra Finyakina 15:42
Yeah, as usually I do have something. Well, I should say that Kris, I, you know, I just if I were one of our listeners, it will definitely be helpful for me to to hear what it should be like, because obviously, it's a podcast, and I can see, and there will be a transcript. Right?
Kristian de Groot 16:04
Absolutely. Absolutely. I think it's my turn.
Alexandra Finyakina 16:07
Your turn. Yeah. We shall negotiate it?
Kristian de Groot 16:12
No, it's my turn to write the transcript. It's gonna be there for sure.
Alexandra Finyakina 16:16
Yeah. And listeners, you will see everything again. So, and you will double check and maybe refer to the text. So thanks, Kris. Yeah, absolutely helpful. Well, what was the question you asked me? Sorry...
Kristian de Groot 16:34
I love these podcasts with Alexandra. I love it.
Alexandra Finyakina 16:38
It's evening here in Moscow, come on. It's Sunday, is it Sunday for you?
Kristian de Groot 16:48
The question was, now we've given them two essential steps, right, how to start writing their essays. But the thing is that, maybe you've got some special tips or final advice for them.
Alexandra Finyakina 16:58
I told you that I have. Yeah, of course I have, I want to look knowledgeable, to sound knowledgeable. So coming back, coming back to the task. Remember, I told you that in the task, you have three points. And there are always three points to consider. But, and but again, you have to pick only the two points, not three. Two points, everyone. Next thing, you remember that there are also some opinions given of other people of the participants of the seminar, a panel discussion. This, these opinions are obligatory, what I mean by that is, for example, if you don't have any ideas, and you just don't have any arguments to support your opinion, maybe you could rely on these opinions expressed, but it's not necessary. So if you don't do that, no one is going to strip you of any points, whatsoever. Also, make sure that you give reasons why you have chosen this particular point and pick the factor that is the most important according to you. So out of the two points you're developing, again, you should be in favour of one of them more. And the last bit here would be just to advise you to use your own words. So don't copy words from the task. And no matter what piece of writing you're doing, no matter what exam it is, I mean, the writing part, it's always said that, don't use the words from the task, paraphrase. Paraphrase, because it's the C1 exam and basically your vocabulary stock is pretty good, just to do that. Well, that's it, Kris.
Kristian de Groot 18:40
It's great stuff. I couldn't agree more. And I've got nothing to add, to be honest. I think, I reckon that we've given the listeners two essential steps that they should take before starting to write their essay. And I hope that our specific tips will help you write coherent and logical essays, listeners. But there's one more thing I think, just like Steve Jobs, always did in his Apple presentations. One more thing. Alexandra,
Alexandra Finyakina 19:15
Are you wearing this black turtleneck, right now? No, you're not.
Kristian de Groot 19:18
No, I'm not. Sorry. What if our listeners need extra help with their essay? Alexandra, can we help them?
Alexandra Finyakina 19:28
Well, yes, yes, we can help you listeners, and we will be happy to do that and we'll help you to improve your essays and to get a high score as a result, because okay, let's be frank, you all want it and we all want it to, so that's true. We've launched our C1 evaluation service, and that is available for all C1 exam candidates all over the world, no matter what time zone you're in, no matter what galaxy you're in, so far, far away. Yeah, I love it. It's just a reference to Star Wars. Okay, okay. Okay I'm serious now. So this service is really special because, not one, but two people will evaluate your essay. That's guess who? Yes, good or bad is Kristian and I, and we've both passed the C2 exam at grade A, so we know what we're talking about. Yeah, I know, it sounds a little bit too self indulgent. But let's take things as they are. Kris, I know that you're laughing. So coming back to being serious. For more information, visit our website, where you find all the details about this evaluation service. And what's more, you can even download a sample evaluation sheet, which shows you exactly how we evaluate your essay. So you will see how we work. So, my top tip for you right now is just to go to our website and get your free PDF right this minute. Kris, am I right?
Kristian de Groot 21:12
Yeah, absolutely. I totally agree. I just want to add one more thing. We've developed a structure that we use to evaluate your essays. And currently my students are basically our guinea pigs. And so far, so good, because the response has been excellent. And these people are also in our Facebook group. So, if you don't believe us, you can also ask them, I will say something there in the Facebook group about our essay evaluation, too. But for now, I've got nothing to add, except the fact that we do know what we're talking about listeners, believe me.
Alexandra Finyakina 21:51
Okay. Yes. Well, if you have nothing else to say, I think that we can call it a day. And if you like this episode, you can leave a comment on our website CambridgeExamCoach.com. We read all the comments, and we'll be happy to discuss with you all your ideas and suggestions. And thank you, everyone. Thank you for listening. We wish you happy learning and we hope to catch you in the next episode. Cheers.
Kristian de Groot 22:23
Bye bye. Take care of yourself and each other!