THE FCE BLOG by Claudia Ceraso

Monday, February 28, 2022

You can count on it!

Every now and then, the question about the number of words in your essays pops up. Cambridge First (as well as the CAE and CPE tests) rubrics include an approximate number of words you must write. 

Foto de Mikhail Nilov en Pexels

A colleague from Poland, Simon Jones, has a couple of interesting posts about this topic in his C1 blog. In Do I need to count my words? Simon says;

  1. Before the exam, look at some old written work.
  2. Count the number of words in the first three or four lines and calculate the average number of words in one line. It’s usually around ten but depends on the size of your handwriting.
  3. Remember this number. Then, in an exam, you can multiply it by the number of lines you write.

I definitely agree with Simon's advice. You should not lose time on the word count. There are far more important uses of your limited exam time. As a general rule, I would say that if you write what you are asked, with proper expansion, without going off-track with your ideas, you need the number of words proposed in the rubrics to do your task well. 

So stay on topic. Remember you are communicating through writing, not just trying to write and reach number of words.


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