Ensayo de opinión en inglés – B2/C1

An opinion essay is often the first part of the writing in the B2/C1 Exam. Here’s some tips to help you.

How to structure your opinion essay

Para.1. Basic, simple background that reflects the title and that speaks directly to the reader using a question.

Para. 2. A few examples of current opinion and thinking about topic related issues.

Para. 3. Contrasting information to para.2.

Para. 4. Your opinion, either agreeing or disagreeing with points in paragraphs 2/3.

Para. 5. Closing sentence.

Example paragraphs from opinion essay on Global Warming

Para. 1
Glance at any newsstand, switch on the TV, or listen to the radio and it seems we are heading towards an environmental apocalypse. Stories of melting ice caps, extreme weather patterns, and even the extinction of the human species are, it seems, fodder for our politicians and the media. But how true are they?

Para. 2
Let us begin by looking at some specific examples, beginning with deforestation. It is widely reported that… 

Para. 3
A number of solutions have been tried to tackle the above problems. Furniture made from sustainable forests is commonplace within Europe, governments urge us to recycle our household waste, and cycling to work as well as car sharing is actively encouraged. But is this enough?

Para. 4
Having examined the above issues it is my opinion that….

Para. 5
With so many conflicting opinions and statistics it seems we must wait and see for ourselves if current measures will avert the impending environmental Armageddon promised by so many. But by then it might be too late for mankind.

Register and vocabulary for your essay

The above example uses a semi-formal/neutral register but as discussed in another post (here) the level of formality will depend on the intended reader of the essay. As a general rule in B2 use a semi-formal register but a more formal and impersonal style in C1.

Vocabulary plays a vital role in getting the register right and is not as simple as using as many long Latin based words as possible as this hinders the rhythm and flow of your writing and increases formality, which might not be your intention.

In general use a mixture of vocabulary if writing in a semi formal style, for example in the first sentence of the preceding paragraph I chose the word vital rather than important but then used the low level verb get in continuous as well as the verb hinder, another higher level word choice, in the same sentence. If I had used all high level words the formality would be too high, and if too many low levels words the formality would have been too low. Everything is about balance, especially in semi-formal.

Read this for more help.

Getting the grammar right in your essay

Again, this is discussed in detail here, but as a general rule (the same as with vocabulary) a balanced mix of high and low level structures will give you the best result for a semi-formal essay. If you need to write at a higher level of formality use complex structures such as inversions, impersonal passives and perfect tenses, as well as high level linkers and connectors. You can learn about these here.

If you are in doubt the internet is a wonderful source of example material, however be careful, there are many poorly written examples online so choose carefully from well known sources such as Cambridge or Pearson, or academic papers related to the subject of your essay. Don’t copy or emulate influencer’s blogs, they may be clever at marketing themselves to the public but their level of English might not be the best.