Monday, 20 March 2017

CPE EXAM Practice. Writing correction and feedback

Hello Gustavo,

I have been preparing for my CPE exam for a few months now, but I concentrated mostly on the grammar, listening and reading parts. My writing has been rather neglected, since i passed my FCE exam about 4 years ago. 

I started visiting your blog and it really inspired me to start preparing more thoroughly for the exam, so I would be grateful if you could take a look at the article that I wrote and point out the mistakes that i'm sure i made a lot of. I took the liberty of using the task about happiness, that somebody sent to you, i hope that's ok. 

One last thing -I am aware that the word count is way above the limit, but since it is my first writing in a very long time, i didn't want to restrain myself ( on the exam I'll stick to the official word count limit ;) ). I hope that won't be a problem. 

Best regards,


An English languange magazine is running a series on the topic of happiness. You decide to send in an article.

You shoud briefly describe one or two situations in which you have expreienced a sense of happiness. you

should also analyse what contributes to feelings of happiness for many people, and suggest whether the pursuit 

of happiness is a worthwhile aim

A formula for happiness

Even though the sense of happiness is most likely familiar to most people, the causes of it can differ for everybody. Some individuals can experience contentment doing the most basic tasks and activities like spending time with their loved ones, working out or taking up a new hobby. Others, can have a different approach and find happiness in the oddest of situations like bungee jumping or on the contrary- lying in bed all day. Who are we to judge?

For me personally, happiness is a feeling, I try to aim for every single day, because is usually appears alongside others like love, empowerment or the sense of achievement. I can recall a few situations, which had me filled with happiness and which I consider milestones of my life. One of them, concerning my relationship is quite cliché, but to be honest, which relationship story is not? Before my fist boyfriend, I never really knew what people meant when they referred to “ butterflies in their stomach” . Little did I know about the swarm of butterflies that would came flooding in, when on one beautiful day, my boyfriend told me for the very first time that he loved me . Never before have had I felt so filled with love and happiness. So I guess what they say is true- that the fist “ I love you” is a moment you do not forget. (Feedback: Last line gives the impression you are taking about love. Maybe better to re-write and say something about "happiness").

Another moment in which I felt indescribable happiness, is connected with my academic career. A few years ago, I applied for a student exchange program in my university and I was extremely anxious since there was only one spot available and my competition was rather strong. After the results were announced and it was revealed that I was the one who got the spot, I felt like I could conquer the world- the feelings of happiness and achievement were overwhelming.

Happiness is a feeling experienced by a great number of people around the world every single minute. So what exactly contributes to this feeling ? The answer to that question is unfortunately, not that easy. Happiness is a very personal and individual concept, so the means to achieving it can be different for literally everybody. Obviously, there are some things that are universally known for contributing to this feeling like family, love, realising dreams and even money, but there is no formula or recipe for happiness. When you think about it, that is a good thing- it helps us discover ourselves on a different, psychological level.

The pursuit of happiness is a lifelong experience. It can be hard, it can be challenging, it can even make you want to give up on chasing a feeling, that can be so easily taken away. But it is important to remember, that once you finally find it, you will realise that everything leading up to that moment was worth it. That, in my opinion, is the purest of human needs- wanting to be happy. (Feedback: What you write as a conclusion must be somehow connected to what you wrote before. I fail to see this connection. It is not so clear to me).

General Feedback:

All in all well done. The text is organised and the level of grammar and vocabulary are more than just Ok! 

Just remember to stick to the number of words and you should do great in the exam. Best wishes and please give us a Like on Facebook or Google+

CPE free writing correction and feedback 2017

Hi Gustavo! :)

The moment I found this website I realized that it would definitely help me improve my writing skills as I can get to see the way in which other candidates approach different tasks and compare them with mine, but when I found out that you were also correcting writing papers, I was just delighted.

I would very much like for you to take a look at my essay and briefly comment on it as I haven’t really gotten anyone to check one of mine and was curious as to whether I’m doing them correctly.

If you were kind enough to do that, I’d forever be grateful! :)

Nicolás Procopio


Read the two texts below. Write an essay summarizing 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.

Fashion is full of contradictions

It is beyond dispute that fashions plays an important role in social and cultural life today. Since it has such power, it is natural that questions are asked about its role in society. The fashion industry has always said that it gives people the freedom to express their unique individuality, even to experiment with alternative identities. However, critics argue that fashion dictates to society what should be considered beautiful and elegant, and ultimately encourages everyone, especially the young, to dress in similar ways. It is this very ambiguity that makes fashion fascinating and which can also provoke hostility.

Is fashion for everyone?

There will always be those who say that fashion is trivial and that obsession with it is the sign of a second-rate mind. But despite this, it is hard to believe people who say that they are not interested in what they wear. They may mean they are not interested in fashion, and believe that following the latest trends is a waste of time. They look for comfort and a reasonable fit in the clothes they buy, and that is sufficient. However, there is something shallow about asserting you don’t care what you look like, because in your heart of hearts you know it isn’t true. Appearances do matter, when, most of the time, they are all we have to go on.

My essay:

(no Title?)

Both texts consider how important a role fashion plays in our current society. (Feedback: Intro is too short, make it at least 2-4 lines long)

The first text is concerned with the apparent sense of independence that fashion gives us. It essentially argues that even though some people believe that fashion is an amazing way to express themselves and show the world their true colors, in the end, it is nothing but a subtle way to tell people what is socially acceptable and what is not. The writer seems to be of the opinion that this paradox is what makes fashion one of the most controversial topics in the world. (Feedback: The ideas in the first and second sentences seem no to be connected. Idea in sentence 3 is not clear enough for me: what paradox? )

Unlike the first text, the second one outlines the underlying significance of fashion in our world. It is mentioned that although some may argue that they do not care about fashion, deep down we all do. The author also emphasizes the importance of ‘appearances’, which I completely agree with, given that nowadays we live in a very materialistic world where personality is constantly overlooked. (Feedback: the second one outlines the underlying significance of fashion in our world? what do you mean by that? I don't think your paragraph really captures the essence of text two)

To sum up, I believe that fashion is definitely a force to be reckoned with, since over the past few decades it has become one of the biggest industries in the entire world. There is no denying that fashion has its own hierarchy full of categories which people fall into, regardless of their sex, race or religion. However, I’m inclined to believe that the benefits of fashion far outweigh its potential downsides, as it allows us to be ourselves and promotes self-expression – in its own twisted way. (Feedback: Make your conclusion shorter. 3-5 lines should be more than ok).

Final comment:

Dear Nicolás. Thanks for following the blog. Please give it a Like on Facebook or on Google+

I hope you find my feedback useful. I also invite you to make comments on other students' writings. 

Best Regards

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Dear Gustavo, 

I'm writing you to ask if you could check this piece of writing I've recently written. 

I look forward to reading your opinion since, from what I've read in your blog, you seem to be totally honest and quite demanding, like the CPE exam is supposed to be. 

Thanks in advance and have a nice day!

David Belastegui

Write an answer to one of the questions 1-3. Write your answer in about 300 words in an appropriate style. Put the question number next to your answer.

  1. You have read the extract below from a letter to a newspaper. Write your letter to the editor, commenting on what you have read and expressing your own views.

I remember the days when young people dressed smartly, were always home by 10 p.m, listened to proper music, were polite and respectful to their elders, and never ever used bad language. They obeyed the rules because they realised that their parents knew better than they did. And I believe they were happier as a result.

Dear Editor,

My name is Joshua Green and I am writing you to express my absolute disagreement with the opinion expressed in one of the letters sent by your readers and recently published on the Sunday issue of your newspaper.  (Feeback, Keep it short but say which opinion)

Having lived for over 65 years and worked as a professional sociologist, I have developed a broader perspective of life than that of the people who brought me up in my youngest years. Thus, I firmly believe that young people today are not lost or deranged as the letter implies because, although it is true that they are less happy than before since they present higher suicide and depression rates, they also account for most of the progress that we are making as a species.

Furthermore, I believe that the concepts of “smart music” and “smartly dressed” contain a quite palpable amount of bias and subjectivity that ultimately makes me believe that this person is not quite used to one of the most common events in our universe, change. This inexorable fact, to which humanity is well accustomed, brought about science, philosophy and progress in general. And the youth, notwithstanding their tendency to use profanity and disrespect their elders, are essential to keep alive the flames of creativity and curiosity that drive this change.

In conclusion, I believe that the person who wrote that letter has a number of things to learn, and if he or she is eager to expand his/her understanding of the intricacies of the youth, then the TV or social media should not be the sources of this knowledge. Instead I would recommend social studies conducted by scientists, which will not be biased and will objectively challenge the reader’s worldview.

Yours sincerely,
Joshua Green


Dear David. First of all thank you for following the blog. You asked me to be totally honest with the feedback so here I go. 

Here is the issue that I have with your writing. So... your name is David and you are a young student but you decided to imagine that you are an old man called Joshua Green to write your answer ???  If so, why would you do that???

Sure, you can use your creativity and write to the Editor from an invented character´s point of view, but in my opinion that is far too much effort and a very time consuming thing to do in the exam. If you answer as David it is just fine. 

That said, I have to compliment you on the level of vocabulary that you used. It is perfect for CPE and the text is also well organised. Yes, it reads quite aggressive at some points and I would probably want to change that but, thumbs up.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Free CPE Writing correction and feedback 2017

Hello Gustavo,

I have been visiting your blog website very often since I started working on my writing part of the CPE exam. I have struggled with creating a template for articles as I thought this might safe time but I haven't managed to succesfully put one together.

For that reason if you were so kind to look at an article I wrote as I haven't had the chance for anyone to look over it.

Lucia CH


An English languange magazine is running a series on the topic of happiness. You decide to send in an article. You shoud briefly describe one or two situations in which you have expreienced a sense of happiness. you should also analyse what contributes to feelings of happiness for many people, and suggest whether the pursuit of happiness is a worthwhile aim. Write your article


There is something soothing about the repetitive sound of a photocopier printing endlessly and its corresponding dancing light. It was when I first paid full attention to this situation's nuances that I realised I was experiencing happiness. Or is this too much of a big word to use in this case? (Feedback: I personally find the photocopier example a little odd. I would probably have written something about watching children play or a flower blossom, or sth like that...)

Nowadays we are engrossed in a speedy life which leaves little room for noticing small things, let alone the chance to enjoy them. BUt this might be the cause for a never-ending search for happiness.

Since that realisation moment, whenever I think of a happy time I recall the simplicity of the situation. Such as the sunlight filtering through the buildings into my skin when waiting at the bus stop in a summer afternoon or even the warmth of a bunch of people traveling on a train in the middle of a cold winter are details that if noticed can offer happiness. In my opinion, life's small peasures have the potential to add up and provide us with a constant happy feeling. 

This thought might appear idealistic, and trust me I am aware of how fairytale-like it may sound. Samll worries in our lives might become a constant nag and therefore stand in the way preventing us from seeing beyond them. Likewise, bigger problems in life can take up most of our thinking time quite reasonably. All of those will jeopardise our search for happiness which will make us feel unfulfilled. It may often appear that we are in a constant rough ride, however it is all down to how we face these struggles in life. It may all be down to looking at life through the right lens. Rather than thinking of happiness as a dead-end aim, we might be better off by seeing it as a journey. Surely life istelf is a journey too!

Overall, my conclusion is that the key to everyone's happiness lays on being present and letting go of major constricting expectations. Finding contentment in the here and now would give anyone the perfect intention to work towards a happier existence.


Dear Lucia, unfortunately I do not have a positive feedback for you. I have the feeling that you started on the right way and lost your way.

You were supposed to describe ( in detail ) one or two situations in which you experiences happiness. Then write about what usually means happiness to people ( example, success, money, love? ) and then suggest if it is a good idea to "look for happiness".

In my opinion you did not write what you were supposed to write.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Hola Gustavo,

Qué tal?

Te mando un "essay" del nivel Proficiency. A ver qué te parece. Es encomiable el trabajo que estás realizando.
Por cierto, sería interesante crear un grupo de estudiantes del Proficiency. A diferencia del First y del Advanced, no hay mucho material. Por qué será?

Muchísimas gracias.
Amaia García Juaristi

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. 

The Financial Costs of Stress
Research carried out by the Health and Safety Council estimates that stress and mental illness continues to be neglected by many businesses, both small and large. And the economic impact of this is huge, costing employers around £26bn a year. Stress at work can lead to a lack of concentration, fatigue and low motivation, all of which will cost the company in terms of low productivity, customer satisfaction and the very reputation of the company itself. Employers are being urged to become more "emotionally intelligent" and to improve the way they deal with stress and mental illness.

Speak up about Stress
Many people find it difficult to talk about their feelings, particularly if we're feeling weak or vulnerable. However, when suffering from stress it’s vital you seek help. It's important to feel you can talk honestly with a close friend, a loved one, a work colleague or doctor about what’s going on. Stress is easily diagnosed and there is plenty you can do to successfully treat and manage stress. One of the most effective of these is to share your feelings with those you trust. Remember that accepting help and support is not a sign of weakness. Close relationships are vital to helping you get through this tough time.

Write the essay. (around 240 - 280 words)

Answer  ( No Title? )

Both texts speak about stress as something to be taken into account and treated. Whereas the first one points out the negative consequences of having stressful employees, therefore stress at work, the second one focuses more on its treatment. (Feedback: lines in red need correction)

Hardly a week goes by without another a new survey showing that employees from big companies are prone to taking more days off that the ones from smaller companies. The reason is simple: the unbearable stress. The tremendous pressure these workers suffer to finish their projects deadline and the brutal competition they have from their colleagues, make their hearts beat faster and suffer from frequent headaches if not severe migraines. Were I a mogul of these companies I would adopt a battery of measures, like installing a room on the upper floor so that employees can take a nap. (Seems to be incomplete. Paragraph doesnt really summaryse the first text). 

However, the second extract focuses more on the psychological side of the issue, not paying attention to the profits or losses of the company but to the way we should tackle the problem. The first step would be to accept that we have a problem and then expose it to the closest people because there is nothing to be ashamed of. The same way we need medicines to ease our physical pain the same way we need professional advice to relieve so much tension from our hectic lives.

To sum up, although there is nothing wrong being a top-notch employee who wants to fulfil the company’s expectations it might be at the expense of your physical and mental health and it is always worth bearing it in mind.  (Conclusion could be better connected with the info in the texts )

Hello Amaia. You are right. There is not much free online material for the CPE, and it would be great if we had a group to support each other. This is the idea of this blog.

I invite you to read the writings from other students and leave comments. This way we can start dialogue. You can also visit our Facebook page and leave some comments to start conversation.

Thanks a lot !