What if I write too many words?

This is a question which often interests candidates.

In both Part 1 and Part 2 of FCE Writing, you’re required to write from 140 to 190 words.

First of all, examiners don’t usually count the number of words you write. They don’t have time. But they have an instinct. They mark hundreds of exams and very quickly – without doing a word count – they know if an answer is too long.

And if an answer is too long, you run the risk of a lower score.

  1. You may get a lower score for Content. To get a 5, all content needs to be relevant to the task. If you write too many words, you may be repeating yourself, or going off topic, so an overlong answer might result in a mark of, say, 4 for Content.
  2. Alternatively, you may get a lower score for Communicative Achievement (CA). To get a 3 for CA, you need to hold the reader’s attention. If you write 350 words instead of 190, you may lose the reader’s attention, and therefore get 2 and not 3 for CA.

These are possibilities but they may not apply. If you write slightly more than 190 words, it’s not a big problem. A lot more than 190, however, is a problem. To be honest, it’s best to stick to the word limit.


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