Cambridge Proficiency 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 Proficiency Exam

In Part 1 of the exam, the essay question asks you to summarise the key points in two given texts and to evaluate them with your own supporting opinions. Each text is approximately 100 words each.  

CPE Essay example
Read the two texts below.

Write an essay summarising and evaluating the key points from both texts. Use your own words throughout as far as possible, and include your own ideas in your answers.

Write your answer in 240 – 280 words.

Memory in our future?
A good memory is invaluable. An inability to make use of memory and past experience can severely impact how well we perform both mentally and physically. Nowadays, we rely on computers, mobiles and other electronic devices to store our most important information, which is never more than a mouse click away. However, there is growing concern that this reliance on electronic equipment may affect the how our internal memory system will develop in the future. It remains to be seen whether those concerns are indeed likely to figure in our future.

Using our memory
Memory is commonly assumed to be a record of our past, but all too often these memories have had our imagination shape them. It is not wise, therefore, to regard memory as a source of knowledge, as we will never be able to confirm the accuracy of a memory fully. Although memory is an unreliable source of knowledge about the past, its importance in our own identity is undeniable. With memory loss as a result of accident or illness, one of the most distressing consequences, for an individual, is likely to be a loss of self. Indeed, it might be said that a person’s true identity is really his or her collection of memories.

Write your essay.

How to write your essay

Initially you need to identify the key points in each of the texts. While the truncated nature of texts makes this task reasonably straightforward be mindful of what the supporting sentences do in the context. Linking them with their respective key information should also simplify the process. Another essential element of this and other Proficiency writing tasks is the emphasis on the use of your own ideas and language. You should avoid “lifting” phrases, even individual words from the texts and put your effort into drafting your own alternatives.      

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.

There are many ways to address this question. A common method is to combine the respective key points together in two paragraphs for discussion. As the initial texts provided context, these points will more readily combine in the exploration of a particular facet of the theme. 
A second approach might be to place each point in its own paragraph to explore. While such an option potentially facilitates better individual examination of points, the word limits in the question make such an approach a  lot more challenging     

The conclusion should draw the essay to a natural end with some commentary and thoughts on what has preceded and on the themes provided by the texts. You may also find it an opportunity to add some further ideas that the essay has brought up.

Some points to think about!

  • Answer the question fully
    This means successfully identifying the key points and discussing them in detail.
  • Vary your language
    Try to use a wide range of vocabulary and structures. Be mindful too to focus on language you can use with confidence and try not to use the essay to experiment with new expressions.   
  • Look at example of essays 
    Search online for examples of essays. Many quality newspapers and magazines regularly publish such essays, also commonly known as opinion pieces.