C1 Advanced Essay CAE | 1 Great Technique

C1 Advanced Essay

What is a C1 Advanced Essay?

A C1 Advanced Essay is a writing task which forms part 1 of the C1 Advanced exam writing paper. There are 2 parts in the CAE writing paper. There is one question in Part 1 and this is always an essay. The aim is to answer this question, writing between 220-260 words.

If you follow the order of information on this page, you will know exactly what you need to do to pass the C1 Advanced essay and get the examiners smiling 🙂

The information follows a specific order, so make sure you don't skip any parts!

Before we continue, I want to tell you about my new e-book of writing samples. It contains 6 essays with my corrections and feedback. You can get it with a free Kindle Unlimited trial in some countries:

1. Cambridge English Assessment Scale

In order to prepare for the writing paper effectively, it is best to understand what the examiners look for. If you know how the examiners mark your writing, you are in a better position to get top marks!  Watch the video below because it explains the marking criteria in detail:

2. How To Write A C1 Advanced Essay - CAE Writing Part 1

Here is a video I made which shows you:

  1. How to find an example question.
  2. Advice for writing an essay.
  3. An example answer.
  4. What mark the examiner gave this example (based on the assessment criteria above).
  5. Typical essay mistakes.
  6. Extra essay tips.
  7. Homework.

You should open the video in a new tab and complete the rest of the page with me at the same time...

3. i. C1 Advanced Essay - Example Question

In part 1 you are given only one question to answer.
Here is an example essay question from page 33 of the Cambridge English Advanced Handbook for teachers: https://shop.swiss-exams.ch/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Advanced.pdf.
Write your answer in 220-260 words and in an appropriate style on the separate answer sheet.

C1 Advanced Essay Question

The question tells us to only talk about two of the facilities. That gives us three options:

  1. Museums and sports centres
  2. Sports centres and public gardens
  3.  Public gardens and museums.

We also have to explain which is more important, which means we need to develop our points giving reasons to support them.

ii. C1 Advanced Essay Advice

Let's have a look at some instructions that are given for writing essays in the Cambridge English Advanced Handbook for teachers.


C1 Advanced essay advice

This advice is important for the Communicative Achievement marking criterion.

It's important to know who your target reader is as this will effect the level of formality or register. We know from the information above that our target reader is likely to be an academic tutor, which means that your writing should be formal.

CAE Essay Tip: I always tell my students "aim to pour the perfect pint with your writing". This means don't write so much that you have irrelevant information and don't write too little that information is missing. This is very important for the Content criterion.


C1 Advanced Essay

Okay, so the information above means we need to find the most important issues with regard to a topic and back these up with reasons, extra points and extra ideas if you can think of them.


CAE Essay Advice

This will help with the Organisation marking criterion. You should follow a clear structure with a good flow. If the examiner can see that the points are developed in a clear way, you will get higher marks.


C1 Advanced Essay

"Holding the target reader's attention" is important for the Communicative Achievement criterion. The way to hold their attention is to write in a way which is appropriate for the target reader, while using your Language to express simple and complicated ideas. The way you Organise and structure your essay as a whole and on an individual paragraph level can also help hold the reader's attention. 

CAE Essay Tip: To get high marks for Language, you should aim to use different grammar structures and some complex vocabulary.

Personally, I think planning your answer is also really important. I have a plan template which you can complete online here >> or print off here >>

My friend Charles Cornelius, a former IELTS examiner, runs a tutoring website for his IELTS students and he has some really useful tips for essay planning, including his 4 step essay planning approach.

iii. C1 Advanced Essay - Example Answer

While reading the answer, you should write down any mistakes you find here, along with their corrections.

I'd also like you to read the essay (page 38) below which is based on the question above and give it a mark from one to five for each of the 4 marking criteria below. You can use this online template or print this hard copy. Remember 1 is the worst mark and 5 is the best. If you give the content 5 out of 5 for example, write why it is so good.


If you can think like the examiner then you will get much better marks in the essay. In the words of Faithless, you can 'come 1' 😉 If you're tired, play their song, get up, jump around and then come back and complete the task with the example answer below the Faithless video...

C1 Advanced Essay Example Answer

Examiners' Assessment Scale Template

Download the hard copy here or write on the online template.


Mark (1-5)



Communicative Achievement





iv. Examiner Comments

Now we're going to look at what the real examiner thought about this essay. I'd like you to compare the examiner's marks with your own marks and see if you had similar ideas or if you had different ideas. I recommend reading the examiner's comments in detail, this will help you know exactly what the examiners are looking for when you're writing your essay. Take as long as you like to do this...


C1 Advanced Essay Examiner's Comments

Okay so hopefully you've read the comments above, so now I would like to show you some of the bits which I thought were really important from these comments:


This means the person answered all parts of the question. They have poured the perfect pint 😉

Communicative Achievement

The opening paragraph and conclusion leave no room for doubt that where the money should go. Having a clear structure and argument mean it's easier to follow the writing.

Consistency is key. Remember that 😉

This writing is consistently formal and it is objective, which is important. You should try to be objective and use objective language rather than subject language.

Clear paragraphs help to keep the reader's attention as well. This comes down to flow and organization as well as communicative achievement.


There are a lot of different cohesive devices used. Cohesive devices are linking words (moreover, however) and organisational patterns (using parallel structures, 'He thinks x, while she thinks y'. Cohesive devices link different ideas and sentences together.


There is a range of vocabulary which is relevant to the topic. There is also a range of simple and more complex grammatical structures.

All of the above are positive points that you should try to incorporate into your writing. If you are confused by some of the terminology above, it explains most of these words and their meanings in more detail on pages 37 and 38 of the Handbook for Teachers: https://www.cambridgeenglish.org/images/167804-cambridge-english-advanced-handbook.pdf

I highly recommend having a look at my CAE writing samples book as well. I mention all these terminology while critiquing 21 CAE writings. If you read that book you will have a much better understanding of what the examiners want and how to get top marks in the exam.

Get The Book Now >>

v. CAE Essay Mistakes

When I read through the essay above, I noticed there were some specific mistakes with the language and so I've written these down here. They might be connected with spelling, grammar or whether the phrase is not very easy to understand. Are the mistakes below the same as the ones you identified above? If so, great. If not, it's possible I missed a couple of mistakes, so don't panic.

You should now write down the correct version of the sentences below. You can write your corrections on this worksheet.



People have lost the interest in visiting...

Moreover, the young men should be aware...

history museums provide people very interesting informations.

It can be organised events like...

there can be built spaces for kids to play

investment from local authority are...

vi. C1 Essay Corrections

Hopefully you've done the tasks above. Now have a look at my corrections below and see if you have the same corrections as mine...it's possible there may be more than one correct answer, so feel free to contact me if you want to check...but BE SPECIFIC in your email!

'People have lost interest in visiting'...(‘people have lost interest’ not ‘people have lost THE interest’).

'Moreover,  young men should be aware... ' (Not ‘the’ young men just young men in general without ‘the’).

‘history museums provide people WITH very interesting information’ (we always say to provide someone WITH something and information is uncountable so it shouldn't be ‘informations’ just ‘information’).

events like this can be organised... (I would say the subject first. ‘Events can be organised’).

‘spaces for kids to play can be built’. (Again the subject should be at the beginning of a sentence. ‘Spaces’ and ‘events’ at the beginning of the sentence and then say what you can do with these things).

'investment from local authorities are...' (it's probably more than 1 local authority and even if it is just one you would need to use an article ‘a/the’ before ‘local authority’). 

There are 6 sample essays with corrections and critique in my new book...take a look >>

4. i. C1 Advanced Essay 2 - Example Question

Here is another example essay question:

You must answer this question. Write your answer in 220-260 words in an appropriate style.

Your university has attended a conference titled ‘the greatest advantages of the internet for people in their everyday lives’. You have made the notes below:

Advantages of the internet in everyday life

Write an essay for your lecturer discussing two of the points. You should explain which point you think is the greatest for people and provide reasons in support of your opinion.

ii. CAE Essay 2 - Example Answer

Read the essay below and write down any mistakes you find in the appropriate fields of this document.

Then mark the essay from one to five for each of the 4 marking criteria on the template below. 1 is the worst mark and 5 is the best.

You should also say why you gave it your score 1-5.

c1 advanced essay

iii. Examiner Assessment Scale Template

Download here or fill in the online version here.


Mark (1-5)



Communicative Achievement




Make sure you have completed the examiners template with your own thoughts before continuing with this page.

Once you have completed the template above, you should read my notes below and compare my feedback with yours. When you become proficient at this skill and when your thoughts resemble mine for all CAE writing samples you read, you will have a good idea what the examiners are looking for in the CAE writing paper and this will DRASTICALLY improve your marks in this part of the exam.

iv. My Comments

Compare my mistakes, marks, comments and improvements below with yours...

"Nobody could have imagined twenty years ago that the Internet would change our lives __ (missing word) the incredible way it has done so. The present essay (it might be better to say 'the purpose of this essay is to discuss…') will be aimed at discussing which are the greatest advantages of the Internet in our everyday lives.

There is no doubt that the Internet has broadened the possibilities of communication among people, not only in terms of time but also distance. Currently, smartphones permanently connected to the Internet allow us to keep in touch (this phrase is slightly too informal for an essay) with relatives, fellow workers and friends practically in real time. We can stay in touch either with people living close to us or with those that are a hundred thousand kilometres away, on the other side of the globe.

Accessibility is another factor affected by the Internet that has given birth to such modern concepts as teleworking, meaning working at home using a high-speed broadband Internet connection and in a rise in flexitime for workers. Probably, this is not only the beginning of something which could will have a huge impact on many companies, but it’s also a dream of many people who hate waking up very early in the morning.

Taking into consideration the previous ideas we can conclude that whereas the global percentage of teleworkers all around the world is still excessively low in comparison with real commuters, access to the Internet and communication-based applications are nowadays considerably more extensive than in the past ded and therefore technology has affected how most people communicate and in a deeper way, it has enriched our daily lives."



Mark (1-5)




This is a very well written essay. You could address the question a bit more closely during the body of the essay. Stating more explicitly why improved communication is a good thing, or why your points about accessibility are not as important as your points about communication. You could then re-iterate this main idea in the conclusion.

Communicative Achievement


Your points are communicated in a clear manner and they are easy to understand.



You have organised your essay well. It has a clear introduction and conclusion with well balanced paragraphs in the body of the essay.



You have used a variety of simple and complex vocabulary and grammatical structures to good effect. For example: ‘not only...but also…’

The language is slightly informal for an essay at times, e.g. ‘keep in touch’.

v. Pass or Fail

Pass or Fail

Content - 3
Communicative Achievement - 4
Organisation - 4
Language - 3

Total: 14/20

If you got the same marks for part 2 you would get 28/40. This would be a pass in the exam as the pass mark is 24/40.
Well done!

Remember, there are 6 essays and 15 other writing samples with feedback etc. in my new book >>

5. i. C1 Advanced Essay 3 - Example Question

Here is a question which one of my students sent to me recently. It has come from the 'Ready for Advanced' coursebook.

cae essay

ii. CAE Essay 3 - Sample Answer

Read the essay answer below and note down any mistakes you find in this document.

Write a mark with a comment for each of the marking criteria on this document.

c1 advanced essay answer

iii. My Comments

If you have written your mistakes here and completed the assessment scale, then you should compare your notes with mine...

"It goes without saying that the urban environment is a vitally important part of every city (Good first sentence - using a less common expression). Councillors often do everything they can to sustain (We don’t normally say ‘sustain’ + noun + adjective. You can say ‘sustain this diverse system in a clean way’, or you could simply replace the word ‘sustain’ with the word ‘keep’) this diverse system clean but not messy (‘messy’ is a slightly informal/colloquial word). The majority of people doesn't (‘people’ is plural so say ‘people don’t...’) care about the environment at all. Although, throwing away (‘throwing away’ can have the same meaning as ‘throwing in the rubbish bin’ so it would be better to rephrase this) things such as plastic bottles instead of putting them into a rubbish bin has a detrimental effect on the whole eco-system. If we were more considerate of the urban environment, we would be able to achieve amazing results in terms of reducing pollution. What would be the most effective method to ensure this? 

First of all (‘Firstly’ is better to use here as it is more formal), I have to mention the (don’t put ‘the’ unless you specifically mention which ‘legislation’ you are referring to) legislation. It could be said that if we put forward ‘and enforce’ (‘put forward’ is only to suggest or propose) tougher laws, we would achieve amazing results. As far as I am concerned, I am not fully convinced about that. (Could you write the previous sentences without using first person pronouns (‘I have to…’ ‘I am...’). According to a recent study, implementing tougher laws can result in disrespect for the local council. Moreover, it can lead to rebellion. 

Another way of tackling the problem would be to focus on public services such as the underground, buses, hospitals etc. (don’t write ‘etc.’ in formal writing). If the government put a huge amount of money into funding new electric buses, it (‘this initiative’) would contribute to the decrease in air pollution and noise. 

To sum up, I think the advantages of the second solution weight up ‘outweigh’ those which are mentioned in the first one. From my point of view, if we want to sustain ‘keep’ the urban environment clean, we should embark on the refurbishment of public services."



Mark (1-5)




All of the content is relevant to the task, however, some of your arguments could be made stronger. The question asks you to give ‘reasons’ to support your answer. Your main argument is to improve public services and while you state funding “would contribute to the decrease in air pollution and noise” you do not progress this idea in any way. 

The introduction is quite long and would be better if you mention more closely which of the two main notes you will address in the rest of the essay.

Communicative Achievement


I think that your overall argument would be improved if you wrote more about ‘public services’ and less about ‘legislation’. You have an extra 40 words to use before you hit the maximum word limit which could be put towards making a stronger argument for this second note. 

The essay would also benefit from making it clearer in the introduction which of your notes you are going to talk about.



The overall structure and organisation of the essay is fine. You have clear paragraphs for the introduction, conclusion and two main arguments.

The second main argument could be made stronger, especially as this is your most important way of keeping the urban environment clean and tidy.

I think you could also reiterate in the conclusion why improving public services is more important than legislation.



There are a combination of formal and less formal words and phrases used in this essay. I have written some examples in the ‘corrections’ above. The essay would benefit from greater consistency in this regard.

There is a range of vocabulary used to good effect, for example when expressing opinions:


There are also some good formal linking words and expressions, “Another way... would be…”

Some more complicated grammatical structures have been used, for example the second conditional “If we were...we would be…” but it would be good to see a bit more variety here.

iv. Pass or Fail

Pass or Fail

I have awarded the essay the following marks:

Content - 3
Communicative Achievement - 2
Organisation - 3
Language - 3

Total: 11/20

You need a minimum of 24 out of 40 possible marks to pass the CAE writing paper. Remember, there are 2 different writings to complete, so you need to average 12 out of 20 for each writing task. If this student got 13 out of 20 for their part 2 writing, they would pass the Writing paper at a C1 level. Remember, you do not need to pass every exam paper in order to pass the C1 Advanced (CAE) exam and get a certificate, you just need to average 60% across all 5 exam sections.

If you want to find out more about what marks you need in order to pass the exam, have a look at my CAE exam page >>

I really recommend having a look at my new book >> it will definitely help you improve your writing exam score!

6. CAE Essay Examples

I created a book recently with loads of sample writings that students have sent me. I think this is the best body of work I have produced:



If you do not want to access the book, I also have a few more essay samples on my CAE essay examples page here.

When I have time I critique them according to the examiners assessment scale and sometimes turn them into a video for my youtube channel.

7. Send Me Your Writing

If you have a CAE/FCE writing task you would like me to consider marking and critiquing in a future article, you should complete the form on this Cambridge writing exam page.

You can check out some other CAE writings which students have sent to me, along with my feedback in my new book.

8. Class Activities For Teachers

Are you a teacher?

Why not use my resources to help your students either in class or as homework exercises.

With Computers

Do you and/or your students use computers in lessons?

If so:

    1. Become a member of my new website to access loads more useful information and exercises including more essays.
    2. Read this essay question and then write a plan for it here.
    3. Save, print and then note down any mistakes on this example essay answer.
    4. Complete an assessment scale template for the example answer.
    5. Compare your mistakes with the mistakes I found here.
    6. Compare your assessment scale with the examiner's assessment scale notes.
    7. Watch this video, note down the most important points on this form and then add any extra essay notes to the form too. Students receive a copy of the form by email.

Without Computers

If you or your students don't have computers, follow these instructions:

    1. Read this essay question then write a plan for it in no more than 5 minutes here.
    2. Save, print and correct any mistakes on this sample essay answer.
    3. Fill in the examiner assessment scale template for the sample essay answer.
    4. Compare the last two steps with the mistakes I identified and the examiner's notes on this assessment scale.
    5. Print off this form and complete it with notes from this video and elsewhere.

9. Homework

For homework, you should write your own answer to the essay question above or you could write an answer to the essay question on this page. If you write your essay on computer you can submit it via my Cambridge writing exam service and if I have time I will put your essay on my website with some of my feedback and my marks. You can also pay to have your writing marked within 7 days. Again, you can find loads more past writings students have sent me in my new book.

Finally, you should read the Cambridge English Advanced handbook for teachers because there is loads of really useful information in there. I really recommend reading the whole handbook before going into the exam because it will really help you to prepare.

10. CAE Writing Course

If you haven't seen my C1 Advanced (CAE) Writing Course, you should definitely check it out.

Follow the course and train yourself to pass the CAE writing paper.

Here are some reviews of the course: 

"Muy satisfecha con el curso, tanto por las explicaciones del profesor como con la claridad y utilidad de los contenidos." Lucia, CAE Writing. *****

"He puts the important knowledge in a nutshell and I am convinced that everyone who takes part in his online course will pass the CAE." Gina, CAE Writing. *****

Sign up to my newsletter and access some free lessons >>

There are some more useful tips for the CAE essay on this website

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