Case Study: Writing a CAE Essay

Hi everyone! A student from Italy (let's call him Dino Dini) asked if I would check an essay for him. He offered to pay my extraordinarily high hourly fee but because I'm basically a modern-day saint I said I'd do it for free (if I could make it into a blog post).

In this blog post you'll find the task, Dino's essay, my feedback, and then I'm going to rewrite the essay a little bit. Useful, right?

The Task

Your class has listened to a radio discussion on how more young people can be encouraged to study science. You have made the notes below:
Write an essay discussing two of the points in your notes. You should explain which way would be more effective in encouraging young people to study science, providing reasons to support your opinion.
You may, if you wish, make use of the opinions expressed in the discussion, but you should use your own words as far as possible.

The Essay

It goes without saying that science is not one of the most chosen careers by people, but how can we encourage them to enter this field? Advertising and government grants could play a significant role.

Media can be very useful in getting people interested in the field of science, just by promoting the constant breakthroughs scientists are making all around the world, as well as allowing coverage of most of the scientific TV programs. However, TV nowadays focuses mostly on other topics, such as sports, reality shows and gossip, not giving much weight to the world of science.

Another option we have that might trigger people’s interest in science is government grants. Governments can facilitate students’ access to scientific universities by giving them money packages, making them consider studying science as an important field to work on, which could lead to a bright future. Although this may be a good action, it could also prove to be ineffective. The reason is that people only study what they like and if they are not caught by the world of science, they will not apply for a science course no matter how many incentives they receive.

Overall, I strongly believe that advertising is the most effective way to encourage people to study science. Although money apparently seems a good reason for it, it is not vital actually. By advertising, people see that science and scientific research are really taken into account by the world of communication, and this makes them recognise that these subjects are worth studying.

(255 words)

"Let's make science sexy"

"Let's make science sexy"

General Feedback

In general this is a really good essay. It's easy to read and the structure seems natural and logical.

Let's check Dino did what he was supposed to. Did he discuss 2 of the points? Yes - advertising and grants. Did he explain which would be more effective? Yes - it was very clearly stated in the final paragraph. Did he give reasons to support his opinion? In the third paragraph he gets into specifics about government grants. So that's a 'tick'. And he does sort of mention his reason for preferring advertising - but it's tucked away in the last sentence. Of course it's better than nothing but I'd prefer he stated his reasons in the second paragraph.

Ultimately, though, he did what he was supposed to. So 'tick tick tick' on all the content points.

What about vocabulary and grammar? Anything nice? Anything advanced? Yes, lots:

  • play a significant role
  • constant breakthroughs scientists are making
  • giving weight to
  • trigger sb's interest
  • facilitate access

And much more. Great!

Linking words? Forget about it. Dino is a master of links - his use of 'however', 'another option', 'could also', 'overall' - it's spot on.

What grade would this get in the exam? Good question! Thanks for asking! I would be very happy if one of my students wrote this, but there are some areas for improvement and some phrases that are a bit awkward. I'd slap a big old A on it, but I wouldn't be too surprised if a grumpy examiner gave it a B.

"NASA Mohawk Guy" Bobak Ferdowsi - scientist, role model, heartbreaker

"NASA Mohawk Guy" Bobak Ferdowsi - scientist, role model, heartbreaker

My Rewrite

Let's work on guaranteeing that A grade.

First paragraph

Only a slight tweak needed here. The passive in the original makes it hard to read.

It goes without saying that science is not a career that most people choose, but how can we encourage them to enter this field? Advertising and government grants could play a significant role.

Second paragraph

'Media' needs an article. I'll also change it a bit to focus on the SOLUTION not the PROBLEM. Remember, putting key points at the end of a sentence/paragraph can give them more impact. (I should rewrite that sentence as - You get more impact from sentences when you put key points at the end. See how the second version emphasizes the word 'end'?)

TV shows nowadays focus mostly on topics such as sports, reality shows and gossip, not giving much weight to the world of science. That's a shame, because the media can be very useful in getting people interested in the field of science. To remedy this, adverts could be made that featured the constant breakthroughs scientists are making all around the world. By advertising these achievements, people would see that science and scientific research are really valued by society, and more would be interested in studying it.

Third paragraph

I wouldn't change much here - the only thing that's really a problem is the word 'caught' - intrigued would be a great alternative. Or at least 'interested in', if you don't know a high-level phrase. 

Another option we have that might trigger people’s interest in science is government grants. Governments can facilitate students’ access to scientific universities by giving them financial packages, making them consider studying science as an important field to work on, which could lead to a bright future. Although this may be a good action, it could also prove to be ineffective. The reason is that people only study what they like and if they are not intrigued by the world of science, they will not apply for a science course no matter how many incentives they receive.

Conclusion

I shifted a piece of the conclusion to the 2nd paragraph, which means we need a rewrite here.

Although money seems to be a powerful incentive, I'm not sure that it is enough to tempt young people to study something they are not interested in. Young people are idealistic and want to make a difference in the world. That's why I strongly believe that advertising is the most effective way to encourage people to study science - we can present role models in the world of science and make the field seem both cool and important.

Whoo, that was tiring!

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