The writing paper is not as simple as using pretty words to make nice sentences.  There are very clear instructions for each section and you must follow all of the instructions to receive a good mark.  Below are my tips for each of the parts.

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Writing Part 1
  1. You are required to complete the task in Part 1.  You will need to write an essay.
  2. Read the instructions carefully. There are some parts of the material which you are required to discuss and some parts which you can use if you like. Be very careful to include the required material!
  3. Identify the main point of your essay, what exactly do you need to do? Make a plan before you start writing so you are certain you fully answer the question.
  4. Notice that the word limit is written at the top of the page in bold type, do you think this is important?  If your boss asks you for a one page proposal, he will not be pleased with a two page proposal. Expressing your ideas completely within the word limit is an important part of getting a good mark.
  5. Next to the word limit is another important phrase: “in an appropriate style”. An essay is typically written for a teacher or professor, so it is more formal than a letter to a friend. Read more about the style of an essay here.
  6. One of the last phrases on the page is “use your own words as far as possible”. This is another important part of getting a good mark. Using the words which appear in the question do not show a good range of vocabulary. As you read the question and plan your answer, write paraphrases next to the information on the question sheet.  This will help you avoid subconsciously using the words from the question as you write.
Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Writing Part 2
  1. You have a choice of tasks in Part 2.  You will be able to choose from a range of subject matter and a number of different writing formats: a review, a letter/email, a report or a proposal. Check my style guides for a quick overview of the different requirements of these formats.
  2. Select the question you wish to answer based on your familiarity with the writing style required, your interest in the topic, and your range of vocabulary related to the topic.
  3. Read the question carefully and underline the task (usually the task will have two or three parts) and the target reader.  This will help you ensure you answer the question completely and use the correct level of formality.
  4. Make a plan before you begin writing.  This will not only improve your organization, but writing down the information will allow you to concentrate on the language.