B2 – Writing Part 1 (Essay) – The effects of fashion on people’s lives

Love it or hate it, we all follow trends and fashion. It’s also one of the evergreen topics that can be approached in many different ways. You can deal with fast fashion and sustainability, the newest trends during the fashion week, or do what I did and talk about its effects on our lives.

My inspiration to create Cambridge lesson plans comes in waves, depending on the students and their upcoming exams. One of my B2 students is taking her FCE exam at the beginning of March, which motivates me to craft lessons for her and ensure that she gets the highest score possible. I thought that this week we could review and tackle Writing Part 1. As this part is obligatory, it is essential to be well-prepared and ready to write the best essay possible while following and having a deep understanding of the writing assessment criteria.

Scroll until the end of the post to get the worksheet with the teacher’s notes, and the presentation in case you teach online (like I do!). This lesson material can also be found in B2 Sample Paper 2, and all the example essays are taken from B2 First Handbook.

The other week in one of the podcasts that I listen to regularly, I heard about a fashion rule that we should all follow. Before you get dressed, think about three adjectives that best describe your style, and dress accordingly. I immediately thought that this activity could work well as a warm-up before the heavier part of the class, which is all about analysing the exam task and understanding the writing criteria. If you have a bigger group, you could ask them to write the three adjectives anonymously on sticky notes and then match the style descriptions with the students.


Once you match everyone with their style descriptions, present students with five stylish women. Students may work in pairs (or individually) and rank them from 1-5, 1 being the most fashionable and 5 being the least. Students present their order and justify their choices.

Introduce the writing task by showing the thesis of the essay – Some people say the fashion industry has a bad effect on people’s lives. Divide students into two groups. Group A thinks about reasons that support this statement. The other group thinks of reasons against this point. Once groups have a few ideas, put one student A with one student B, so they can debate each other’s points and reach a final decision.

Now, show students an example essay which relates to the previous statement. Students read for gist and check if any of the ideas mentioned in the previous activity appeared in the text. Read it again and identify three main points that the text deals with. Are they positive or negative? (There are one positive and two negative points). Show the exam task and explain the rules of FCE Writing Part 1. Say that in this part, students always have to write an essay. They need to include two points mentioned in the task and one extra idea of their own. Read the text again and underline the parts of the text that mention all three points. Point out the structure of the essay and the purpose of each paragraph.

  • Paragraph 1: Introduction
  • Paragraph 2: Points supporting the thesis (job creation)
  • Paragraph 3: Points against the thesis (judging appearance and the price of clothes)
  • Paragraph 4: Conclusion

Now that everyone read the example answer at least three times, analyse the examiner’s notes. Explain the criteria used in the writing assessment – content, communicative achievement, organisation and language. I think that students must understand what they are being assessed on to perform well in this part. It will help them see that even though grammar and vocabulary are important, they are not critical, and it’s possible to get a good score, even with some mistakes.


Once they understand the criteria, it’s time to put on the examiner’s hat. Show two essays answering the same task as before. Give some time to read the answers and discuss which of the two is better and why. It’s obvious that the second one is way better, but students may already start justifying their decisions using the writing assessment criteria. Put students into pairs and ask them to score the two answers. Look at everyone’s answers and compare them with the actual scores and explanations. Discuss if any of the scores surprised them.

If you have some spare time, you can give 5 minutes to plan the answers to the same task as before. Explain the importance of planning and thinking before jumping into writing. If you can afford it and make sure that everyone hands in their essay, give them about 40 minutes to write their answers. You can even shorten this time, as there was plenty of time to think about the answers, and most likely students already know what they want to write about. If you don’t have that much time, you can set it as homework.

Since the lesson was quite heavy with a lot of reading and analysis, finish by discussing four short questions on fashion and style. Think about the importance of getting dressed well and people who decide what’s fashionable or not.

Hope you enjoyed this instalment of FCE practice! Click the files below to get the presentation and the worksheet with the teacher’s notes.


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