CELPIP Writing Tips: Developing Ideas

The purpose of the CELPIP Writing Test is to measure how well a test taker can write a response to an everyday problem, event, or issue that occurs in Canadian life. There are two written tasks: crafting an email, and responding to a survey. For many test takers, even those who send emails every day as part of their jobs, it’s often a struggle to come up with detailed, clear ideas for their responses. They might use correct grammar and punctuation, proper paragraphing, and even include advanced vocabulary and idioms, but they only manage to put forward vague or general ideas in task 1 and task 2. So if feel that you’re a capable writer, but you’re unable to develop quality ideas, here are some CELPIP writing tips for developing ideas.

Before You Write

As long as you have moderate typing skills, you should have time on each task to brainstorm, write, and check your response. But before you begin brainstorming ideas, consider the following two questions:

1. Who am I in this response? For example, an upset customer, a grateful employee, a concerned parent, etc.
2. To whom am I writing? For example, a store manager, my employer, a friend, a family member, etc.

Believe it or not, some test takers get these mixed up and end up responding to the wrong person and from the wrong perspective. If you’re thinking that this is just silly and it would never happen to you, consider how nerves can play a factor during a high-stakes exam such as CELPIP. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to take 30 seconds to read and then reread the instructions on both tasks so this doesn’t happen to you.

Clear Purpose

Next, clearly state your purpose. On task 1, you simply need to rephrase what is provided in the prompt, but in task 2 you must choose option A or option B – not both. Certain test takers try to argue both A and B with the false impression that this is a safer option. It’s not. This will negatively impact your task achievement and your overall score. If you’re unsure about how to state a clear purpose, use a common phrase such as:

  • in my opinion…
  • the purpose of this email is to…
  • I feel/I think…

Many writers choose to do this at or near the beginning of their response and then they continue with the main body of their response.

Details

After you have a clear purpose, add two to three reasons or ideas that support your opinion. Avoid the following:
• General adjectives. Examples: good, bad, big, small.
• Repeating ideas. Example: The customer-service agent was not friendly. She was not kind to me.
• Repeating words. Example: I really enjoyed our meeting yesterday. I enjoyed meeting you.
• Vague ideas. Example: I bought something from your shop last week and it’s not good.
• Going off topic. Tip: when you review your response, check the instructions and be sure that each sentence relates to the information in the instructions.
Look at the examples below and compare them with their revised versions:

Original: The coffee was not good.
Revised: The coffee was too strong and very bitter.

Original: I went to your store.
Revised: I went to your store, ABC Games, last Friday at 9:00am.

Original: The market was excellent. I think it was an excellent event for our community.
Revised: The market was excellent. I think it was a rewarding event for our community.

If you find that you’re stumped during the writing test, try to focus on adding details and specific information. Think of times, names, and accurate descriptions. Always remember that the examiner doesn’t know who you are, so it’s not the same as writing a message or email to a friend. Be clear, be precise, and you’ll be much better off on your CELPIP Writing exam.

For more information about the CELPIP test, visit their full website. If you have any questions about preparation, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.