The importance of understanding the criteria of the Cambridge CAE writing test.


20151209_144804Hi. My name is Hayden Meads and I am the Director of Studies at Langports Gold Coast.

With ‘exam season’ on the horizon for our Cambridge CPE, CAE and FCE students, today’s blog will look at the writing descriptors for Cambridge CAE writing. What is important to understand if you are taking these exams is that you are being assessed on 4 key criteria. These criteria are:

  1. Content
  2. Communicative Achievement
  3. Organisation
  4. Language

Now, let’s look a little deeper at each criterion because the more you understand about what is required of you during your writing examination, the more you will be able to impress the examiner and achieve a higher mark.


The first criterion is “content”

The first key criterion in the marking scheme is “Content”. What the criterion “Content” encompasses is that what you write is relevant to the task you have been asked to write. For example, if the task is to write an essay, you must write an essay and not a report. Also, you must ensure that the target reader is completely informed in that all of the relevant points asked of you are in your piece of writing and that there is nothing irrelevant to the points asked in the question.


The second criterion is “Communicative Achievement”

With this key criterion, it is important that you format your piece of writing to what is being asked of you. This means that a formal task must be written with the correct register and must be laid out, accordingly. In other words, if the task is to write an essay, you must write an essay with the correct format and not the format of a report. Your expert Cambridge teacher will teach you the format for each task. Furthermore, you must be able to hold the reader’s attention and demonstrate a mixture of both straightforward and complex ideas.


The third criterion is “Organisation”

“Organisation” is the third criterion that your writing task will be marked against. As a Cambridge student, you must ensure that your writing includes cohesive devices. Cohesive devices are the usage of words such as transitions (Furthermore, Firstly, as a result, etc.) as these words help the reader to follow the ideas in your piece of writing, which in turn helps with the readability of your writing task.


The last criterion is “Language”

Finally, “Language” is the last criterion that you must think about in your writing exam. The vocabulary you use is paramount to being successful in your exam. Using the correct vocabulary range and more importantly, using the correct collocation when articulating yourself will go a long way in your exam. Moreover, having a strong understanding of the grammatical forms you use is important. You must demonstrate a high level of simple and complex grammar structures in your writing tasks, which must be done accurately. The reason why accuracy is important is because you must limit the number of errors you make. Too many errors affect the readability of your writing, which will affect your overall grade.


I hope that, by breaking down the criteria that you will be assessed on, helps you achieve your academic goals by being successful in your upcoming or future Cambridge writing exam. If you have any further questions, please speak to one of our expert Cambridge teachers at your respective campus or your Director of Studies.

Thank you