ESL Resources: How to mark FCE writings

I just tried to become an FCE writing examiner, but sadly you have to be based in the UK, hence the reason it takes so long to get them marked I guess. Anyway, the main reason I did was because last term quite a few of my students did worse in the writing part of the FCE exam than I’d expected. I was hoping that by becoming an FCE writing examiner I could then help my students improve, just like I have done as a speaking examiner, but it’s not that easy.

So I’ve been looking into getting some more ideas on how to actually mark students FCE writings, in order to improve my knowledge and enable my students to get a better reflection of where they are actually at, because after all, know one really knows how they mark the writings, or do they? Any comments below welcome.

Here are a few resources for FCE teachers looking for a more detail insight in how to mark FCE writings. Unfortunately there aren’t loads of resources on the web, which might explain the mystery involved in the marking.

The Official Handbook

This has to be the best place to start. If you can figure out the terminology and bands then you should be fine. Have a look at the latest FCE handbook 2015 (pages 27-50). I’d recommend looking at the general info and also sample questions and answers, with marks given.

General Mark Scheme

For a general mark scheme on paper 2, then have a look at this detailed FCE page. Notice how it says about a Task-specific mark scheme, which apparently is confidential. This gives me reason to believe that actually marking your students like Cambridge examiners could be tricker than we might think.

Video from Cambridge

If you’ve got 45 minutes to go through how Cambridge mark exams, then I’d recommend having a look at the following video. I’ve flicked through to various stages, but still haven’t done the whole 45 in one whack, good luck to anyone who can.

I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did.

Like I said, there aren’t loads of resources out there, but I’ll try to add to this list.

My next post will be resources on how to actually teach your FCE students to write, plus loads of ideas for lessons. Good luck.

2 thoughts on “ESL Resources: How to mark FCE writings

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