In this article I'll plan an FCE essay, then write it. Hopefully you'll find it useful!
Here's a task from Cambridge: First.
First things first - what do I have to write and who is going to read it?
I have to write an essay, which means giving my opinion on the topic. My English teacher will read it, so I should write in a neutral tone. I'm going to mention transport, rivers and seas, and think of a third point, and the whole theme is pollution and damaging the environment.
I could write in the style of Donald Trump and say that pollution isn't real and there's nothing to worry about... but I do have a brain so I'll write the truth.
Let's take 5 to 10 minutes to plan the essay before I start writing.
I'll do a quick one or two sentence introduction. Then I'll have three paragraphs, one for transport, one about rivers and seas, and one for my third point. Now's a good time to think about that.
I've decided to take 'pollution in the home' as my third point. But I could have chosen factories, plastic, cutting down the rainforest - a billion things.
Finally there will be a sentence that ties everything together.
Now, ideally I'd have a nice title for this essay. Mentioning Donald Trump before gave me an idea. (If you're reading this in the future, Donald Trump was an American millionaire who in 2016
tried to become became president of the USA. He had many crazy opinions, and his beliefs about pollution were especially stupid. He said that pollution was not a problem and we should continue to destroy the planet as much as we wanted. Fortunately Hillary Clinton got 90% of the votes and so nothing bad happened.)
My title will be '3 Reasons Why Donald Trump is Wrong About Pollution'. It's not a very elegant title, but it'll have to do. I don't have 15 minutes to think about it!
The next thing I want to do is think about some vocabulary and grammar I can use in my essay. Here's me brainstorming some words and phrases on the 3 topics (all somehow connected to the topic of pollution):
rivers and seas
recycling (cardboard, glass)
Okay I feel pretty ready to get started - this is a topic I know a lot about, and that quick brainstorm has me READY TO GO.
3 Reasons Why Donald Trump is Wrong About Pollution
Donald Trump may be admired by millions of Americans, but he's dangerously wrong about climate change. In this essay I'll discuss three reasons why pollution is a huge problem and suggest ways they can be solved.
First I'd like to talk about transport. We travel much more than we ever did in the past, and trade more than ever. That means a non-stop stream of planes, trains, and automobiles. Almost 100% of these are powered by petrol or diesel engines, which means carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere. One solution would be to switch to electric cars, and there has been progress in that direction.
Rivers and Seas
Thanks to pollution, our water is slowly turning to acid and major cities like Flint, Michigan don't even have clean drinking water. Seas are filled with plastic that traps and kills fish and dolphins. The solution is better controls in factories and fines for anyone who adds to the problem.
If you've ever left your computer running overnight, you're part of the problem. The solution must come from government intervention - no more subsidies for companies that pollute, and fines for those that do.
Pollution is a problem that affects us all, but if we elect rational politicians who understand basic science, we can start to make things better.
233 words! My god! How did that happen? Well, the good news is it only took me 10 minutes or so, so although I got a bit carried away I have time to fix it.
Making it better
Let's take another look at the topic and check that what I wrote is relevant. That will help me delete the unimportant parts.
It says 'Every country has a problem with pollution. Can it be solved?'
Hmm. So I don't need to say that pollution is a problem. I can focus on the solutions. That's good. But I should add in something about 'every country' - that's something I didn't do in the first draft.
And actually, the whole Donald Trump thing isn't needed if I'm going to focus on the solutions. So I should come up with a new title, too.
Pollution: 3 Simple Solutions
People in every country think that putting an end to pollution must be extremely hard. But is it? I believe there are 3 simple things we can do that will have a big effect.
We travel much more than we ever did in the past, and trade more than ever. That means a non-stop stream of planes, trains, and automobiles. Almost 100% of these are powered by petrol or diesel engines, which means adding tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. One improvement would be to switch to electric cars, and there has been progress in that direction.
Rivers and Seas
Seas are turning to acid, cities don't have clean drinking water, and fish get caught in old bits of plastic. The solution? Better controls in factories and fines for anyone who fails to recycle plastic.
Energy waste starts at home - a 30% reduction in electricity use would be easy if people turned off their electronics when not in use, and didn't use tumble dryers so much.
Pollution is a problem that affects us all, but we all have the power to make tiny changes that would improve the situation wherever we live.
So the word count is close to ideal now and it's much more focused on on-topic. 190 words isn't a lot! There's no time to ramble and talk about random things like Americans in wigs!
I'm quite happy with the addition of the parts in bold, because it links that very start with the very end, and it is something mentioned in the task.
I wasted a lot of time writing and rewriting this essay, but now I'm in the writing mood and ready to tackle part 2. I'll be much more efficient there. For a start, I'll read the task properly!
Over to you.
Any questions or comments? Let me know in the comments section below! I'll try to answer.