Your Own Idea In Essays

B2 First Writing paper

Today we are going to practise a valuable writing skill: generating ideas and essay planning in Part 1 of the B2 First Writing exam. 

Let’s first look at two examples of essay exam tasks.

The task below is taken from B2 First for Schools Handbook for teachers:

In your English class you have been talking about education.

Now, your English teacher has asked you to write an essay for homework. Write your essay using all the notes and giving reasons for your point of view.

Some parents teach their children at home rather than 
sending them to school. Is this a good or a bad thing
for the children?

Notes

Write about:
1. having a parent as a teacher
2. making friends
3. ...................... (your own idea)

The second task is taken from First Certificate in English, Writing, Sample test 1:

In your English class you have been talking about the environment.

Now, your English teacher has asked you to write an essay for homework. Write your essay using all the notes and giving reasons for your point of view.


Every country in the world has problems with polution and damage to the environment.
Do you think these problems can be solved?

Notes

Write about:
1. transport
2. rivers and seas
3. ...................... (your own idea)

Each exam task is targeted at a different age group: young people and adults. Consequently, their main theme varies, one is closer to teenagers’ expertise and interests – education and schooling, and another centres around a theme adults are more likely to easily expand on – environmental matters.

The layout of both exam tasks, their structure, is the same, though. It contains a general statement following an English class discussion. Then, there are three notes, known as content points, that must be included and well-developed throughout.

It’s worth mentioning that your own idea is not your opinion. This latest is briefly mentioned in the introduction, and backed up with a convincing explanation and a strong reason for in the conclusion.

The activity I am inviting you to join consists in brainstorming ideas for the ‘your own idea’ part of the task. There are ten exam tasks. Rather than thinking of just one of your own ideas for the essay exam task, it is good practice to think of a few different ones and then pick the best idea to write about. The best idea is the one which you can explain well and provide reasons for, since it mustn’t be merely mentioned, or superficially discussed. A well-developed essay is a successful one since it will be valued at a high score by Cambridge examiners.

Let’s look at the example below:

Some parents teach their children at home rather 
than
sending them to school. Is this a good or
a bad thing for the children?


Notes

Write about:
1. having a parent as a teacher
2. making friends
3. ...................... (your own idea)

Note 3: My own idea

  • taking part in team activities
  • competing against other children
  • having more opportunities to learn about the world
  • dealing with different people’s character
  • learning to be open-minded
  • becoming stronger as a family

You can also use this activity to practise generating examples or reasons to support the main idea of each paragraph of the essay. Use the same cards, but this time focus on the ‘notes’ part of the task. Think of as many examples or reasons for the main ideas listed in the ‘write about’ part of the task. Once again, it is good practice to brainstorm a number of them and then choose the best ones, a couple for each paragraph, to include in your essays. 

Note 1: having a parent as a teacher

  • need focused
  • immediate feedback
  • serious approach
  • personalized teaching
  • better results

Note 2: making friends

  • meet new people
  • socialize easily
  • have extrovert character
  • share interests and opinions
  • be happier

Note 3: taking part in team activities

  • team sports, school trips
  • compete against others
  • learn to work in a team
  • become open-minded
  • learn life skills

B2 First Writing: ESSAY questions

B2 First essay question on schools
Schools are not teaching students the skills they 
need for their future. Do you agree?

Notes

Write about:
1. academic knowledge
2. money management
3. ............................. (your own idea)
B2 First essay question on teens and pensioners
Teens and pensioners can learn from each other? 
Do you agree?

Notes

Write about:
1. teens and parents having the same problems
2. pensioners helping teens
3. ..................... (your own idea)
B2 First essay question on opinions
Do you think life would be boring or interesting if we 
all held the same opinions?

Notes

Write about:
1. fashion
2. music
3. ........ (your own idea)
B2 First essay question on teenagers and celebrities
Celebrities have a big influence on the decisions 
teenagers make. Is it a good or a bad thing?

Notes


Write about:
1. behaviour
2. hobbies and interests
3. ................... (your own idea)
Is it better to take public transport or travel by car?

Notes

Write about:
1. convenience
2. cost
3. ................. (your own idea)
B2 First essay question on cinemas
It is better to watch a film at home than 
at the cinema.
Do you agree?

Notes

Write about:
1. convenience
2. atmosphere
3. ................. (your own idea)
B2 First essay question on endangered species
Should we spend money on endangered species?

Notes

Write about:
1. spending priorities
2. what we might learn
3. ................. (your own idea)
B2 First essay question on city life
There are more advantages to living in a city than 
in the country. Do you agree?

Notes

Write about:
1. lifestyle
2. career prospects
3. ......................... (your own idea)
B2 First essay question on museums
Museums are not necessary nowadays because we 
can find all information we need on the Internet.
Do you agree?

Notes

Write about:
1. bringing history to life
2. school trips
3. ........ (your own idea)
Some people think that advertising has the 
greatest influence on the decisions teenagers
make about style. Do you agree?

Notes

Write about:
1. parents
2. music
3. ........ (your own idea)

If you want to find out more about writing essays for the Cambridge B2 First exam and enhance your writing skills, here are two other articles earlier posted:

Stay tuned for more words of advice and handy material!
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