Here are 4 CELPIP writing tips that will help you succeed on your exam.
Don’t Worry About Academic Vocabulary
The goal of the CELPIP Writing Test is “to measure how well you can communicate through writing in everyday situations,” (Paragon Testing Services). The key phrase is “everyday situations.” The examiner is not looking for elevated, academic language. For example, rather than use a phrase such as “I would opine” stick to the more common “In my opinion.”
Use a Variety of Sentence Structures
As a general guideline, try to employ a blend of simple sentences, compound sentences, and complex sentences. It’s difficult to achieve this while you’re actually writing, so this tip is best applied when you’re checking your work. If you notice multiple short simple sentences in a row, try to combine your ideas or rearrange them to form a longer statement. On the flip side, if you have notice three or four longer, complex or compound sentences in a row, consider breaking one sentence up to form one or two short sentences.
Use Specific Vocabulary
Avoid simple verbs, nouns, and adjectives such as do, make, thing, stuff, big, small, good, or bad. You won’t lose marks for using a word like ‘good’ for example, but if it’s used several times throughout your task, you’re missing an opportunity to apply a variety of words that can better display a rich knowledge of vocabulary. Try to replace basic vocabulary with more specific words. For example:
- The chicken was bad. (first draft)
- The chicken was too salty and still pink in the middle. (second draft)
The second draft uses specific food-related vocabulary. Notice the language is also not academic; it clearly tells the reader what was wrong with the meal.
Stay on Topic
Task fulfillment is crucial and far too often candidates simply go off topic. It’s easy to do and worth being aware of especially if you tend to get nervous during tests. In task 1, for example, you will be given three bullet points that must be clearly covered in your email. Let’s say the first bullet point is, “State what problems you had with the food you ordered.” Your response might be:
“When our meal arrived, the chicken was too salty and still pink in the middle. I had a terrible stomach-ache that evening and became quite ill around 2:00am. The next day, I was forced to miss work because I was vomiting for the better part of the morning.”
These details might seem important, but the information about feeling ill and missing work is not a requirement for this task. The more effective choice would be to describe details about the rest of your meal, and not about the symptoms you were feeling. When you read over your tasks, go sentence by sentence and ask yourself if your content directly relates to what has been asked of you.
Just a final note: the Writing Test can go by quickly, but you should have time to check your work before continuing on to the Speaking Section. Use these last few minutes effectively by scanning your work and applying the CELPIP Writing tips above. It could be the difference you need. Good luck.
By Bryan Candy