Cambridge Advanced Part 1 Essay Writing

Cambridge Advanced essay writing is the mandatory exam task in part 1. Here we will look at what you need to know. 

What you find in the Cambridge Advanced Exam Essay

In Part 1 of the exam, the essay question asks you to select two points out of the three given, to include in your answer, along with an evaluation of the merits of one of them. Your answer must also include an opinion on the second part of the question as well.

CAE Essay example

cambridge advanced essay example

How to write your essay

Before you do anything prepare a plan. Although some people persist with the double copy method you really will not be able to complete two tasks properly in the time allowed. Even assuming you are a fast writer or typist it can take up to an hour to write an essay with that method, leaving you very short of time for the second task.

The method of constructing a plan is entirely up to you. The link above has some suggestions and ideas but choose the approach that suits you best.

Essay layout

As always a writing task should follow the standard layout of

  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion

In this case the body contains the two points you’ve selected. As regards the third point where you are asked to choose the most useful/important etc. Many books suggest that this should be incorporated into a final fourth paragraph with the conclusion. We tend to draw attention to a 5 paragraph model , one for each stage, the advantage being that you remember to include all required components.  So your layout might look like one of the following.

Four paragraphs

Point 1
Point 2
Conclusion(+ most challenging)

Five paragraphs

Point 1
Point 2
Most challenging

For and Against or just one side?

There are two approaches you can choose to write your essay.

  • For and against
    This is the traditional approach where a writer discusses points in favour of their position and against. Typically this means that one point will be used to contrast the general position. There are advantages to this method. Firstly, candidates are often more familiar with it and find it easier to write. Secondly, it gives you more scope to use a wider variety of linking language.
  • One side only
    Writing an essay like this means that all the points will be included as if part of a list and requires language like firstly, additionally etc. Commonly a writer supports the idea. As mentioned above it can limit some language people might want to use but it may suit some writing tasks.  

Structuring your essay writing

Armed with a general plan the next step is to structure each section of the essay.

As always this is just a brief overview of what the essay intends to consider. Some initial comments on the topic for discussion and the overall context tend to provide the best approach. Having a strong initial sentence can also help focus reader attention on what you have to say.

Your Points(First & Second)
The simplest approach is to write about the points in order so that point 1 becomes your 2nd paragraph and so on. If you are using the for and against method it’s a lot easier to start with the positive point first and then do the contrast.

Second Part – Most Challenging
Giving your views on this second part, in addition to your two selected points, is essential. An answer that does not contain all three components will not get a pass score.   

The conclusion is often quite brief and as mentioned above can be combined with the second part of the task. Every essay should have one as it is considered fundamental to a writing task. Its purpose is to conclude the writing task in a suitable manner. 

Sample Cambridge Advanced Essay


Being a young person nowadays is filled with difficulties. While some things may be easier than the previous generation there are many greater challenges for them.

Decisions about Careers

One of the most important things in the life of a young person is to make a decision about what career they want to pursue. The biggest difficulty, in a lot of respects, is the fact that they are so young and that such decisions will affect their life so much. Furthermore, what they choose to study may also influence these career choices and people can make mistakes by choosing areas of study that are simply not right for them.

Living accommodation

Once they feel they have addressed the career problem there is a question of trying to find somewhere to live. As many people are aware the cost of living in urban centres has increased, enormously. This can make it difficult for younger age groups to find suitable accommodation, often due to a lack of disposable income. They may even be forced to remain longer in the family home than they want. This, in turn, has an effect on the plans that they have for their lives, like developing their career or perhaps starting a family.

Which problem is most challenging?

Accommodation is perhaps the more difficult one to deal with, in the sense that a young person has no control over that cost. Even with career decisions there is enough personal input to feel that it is your own choice. This is not the case with accommodation and it perhaps is one the most key challenges to all young people today.

Some points to think about!

  • Answer the question fully
    This means choosing two points and giving your opinion on the second part of the task.
  • Vary your language
    A wide range of vocabulary and in particular linking expressions will improve the overall score for your essay. 
  • Make a plan
    While this is obvious, not using one may result in a very disorganised essay. There are also two posts on topic sentences and paragraph organisation which may help you structure your essay writing better.  Learn more on our special page about how examiners mark your writing scores.

Learn more in our YouTube video

Find out more about other Cambridge Advanced writing tasks