B2 Business Vantage (BEC Vantage)
Writing Part Two
You must write either a business letter, a report or a proposal. You are given the context and the type of document you must write. There is a text for you to read and five handwritten notes added to the text. You must write your document and use all of the five notes on your document.
You have to write 120-140 words.
I recommend that you spend 35 minutes on this task because it includes reading, planning and writing.
You can download an example of Writing Part Two here (it includes Part One as well).
Common mistakes (which you will avoid making thanks to this guide!)
It is a classic exam mistake to forget to include one or more of the points made in the handwritten notes. If you do not talk about all of them in your written document, you are not completing the task so you cannot get the maximum amount of points.
Another regular mistake, unfortunately, is writing the document as a block of text with little or no spaces. This is a mistake for a letter because it needs a paragraph and even more serious for reports or proposals because they require a specific structure with paragraphs with headings.
Including irrelevant or incorrect material is also a common error. In most writing exam tasks there is a small amount of imagination necessary to give examples or add content. However, it is not necessary to invent or talk about things out of the context given in the exam task. Doing this will lose you points.
Writing too much or not enough can be a problem too. If you do not write enough, this probably means you have not included all the points in the notes. If you go over the word limit by too much the examiner will not read the extra words. It also means you have probably included irrelevant material. The word limit is useful because it is actually the correct number of words you need to complete the task correctly. Cambridge English is very experienced at preparing exams, so it is a good idea to trust them and follow their guidelines.
Read the context given in the first line. This tells you the context of who you are, what type of document you need to write, and who it is for/to. You do not need to read the other information because you know this already (it is explained in this guide above)
Read the text in the material provided quickly. It is not advisable to read the handwritten notes yet, because sometimes they refer to a part of the text you have not read yet.
If the material provided is mainly graphs and tables take a little more time than with text to make sure that you understand the information shown in the graph or table.
Read the handwritten notes in detail. Be sure that you are comfortable with what they mean and how they related to the material provided.
Plan! Use the handwritten notes to give structure to your document. With a letter, you can often use them in the same order as they are given on the exam paper. With reports and proposals, you can use them or what they refer to go provide headings to your paragraphs. For example, if a note talks about or refers to orders, then this can be the paragraph heading. With all three types of document, you can often combine two of the notes in the same paragraph.
Decide and make notes on the subject of each paragraph. It is important here to remember that you need to develop and the handwritten notes and also interpret the information in them. It is also a mistake to reproduce the notes using the same words.
Write your document.
Styles for each type of document.
You can learn more about the Cambridge English Marking Scheme and writing a Report in the B2 Business Vantage Preparation Guide, available here.
A letter should be formal. You will be writing to someone you do not know so your style should be polite and professional. You should start with an appropriate opening, use Dear + Mr/Mrs + first name + surname if there is a name given, or Dear Sir/Madam if there is no name given – do not use any variation of Dear Sir/Madam. Try to begin the content of the letter with a sentence explaining why you are writing, simply I am writing to….
Use at least two paragraphs in the letter combining points in the handwritten notes where possible.
After your paragraphs, write I am looking forward to hearing from you. (This is almost always the most appropriate form, do not try to vary the grammar).
Close the letter with, yours sincerely if you used a name in the opening, or yours faithfully if you used Dear Sir/Madam.
A report should be formal and impersonal. It is not usually necessary to use I, using the passive is more appropriate.
A report needs a title, (use Report on.…) and must start with an introduction and finish with a conclusion. These paragraphs must be introduced with a heading. The introduction should explain the purpose of the report with a sentence like, this report shows/outlines…
There should also be two or three paragraphs containing information and these must also have a heading. Ideally, you should use a heading which shows what the subject of the paragraph is, such as orders, prices, new markets. You can take the headings from the notes or the graphs/tables. If it is difficult to find an appropriate heading quickly, don’t panic, you can also write Findings as a heading in a report because this gives a general idea of the topic. Only use this if you can’t think of anything else though.
The paragraphs should explain data in the graph/tables.
The conclusion should summarise the content of the report including positive and negative information. It might be necessary to mention action required to improve any negative points.
A proposal should also be formal and impersonal. It is possible to use I, but using the passive is more appropriate, It is recommended is more professional than I recommend.
Visually a proposal and a report look quite similar. A proposal also needs a title (use A proposal to/for..) an introduction, a conclusion and paragraph headings. However, the perspective is quite different, a proposal talks about the present and future, making recommendations for changes and improvements. A report explains information from the past and might suggest changes.