How to write a composition (basic guidelines)

The first draft of this post (Ph. by Ana García)
When writing a composition, we may feel scared of the blank paper, that is, a white paper in front of us which we have to fill with 100, probably 120 words. That is the reason why I always tell my students to write a draft beforehand. There are some questions that can help us get started on our composition:
  • What is the composition about? What vocabulary will I need?  Do not hesitate, write down all the words or expressions you may remember on that topic, maybe you won't need them all, but you will be able to choose and have a more varied vocabulary.
  • What time-line should I follow? Is it present, past or future, or maybe a mixture of all?  Try to figure out what the real time of the composition is, for instance, if you have to narrate something that has already happened, it will be in the past (past simple and continuous, past and present perfect, used to...); however, in the conclusion we may use a future (to say that we will never do something again because we have learnt from it). If possible, draw the time-line and remember the verb tenses and expressions used.
  • How many paragraphs should I write? What should each one contain?   Depending on the type of text we are dealing with, we may use three or four paragraphs (probably not more if we have to write only 100-120 words). Normally texts have an introduction (1st paragraph), a body (1 or 2 paragraphs- like in "for and against" compositions) and a conclusion (last paragraph). In the introduction, the topic -person, action, setting- is presented. In the body, we find the more specific information, in "biographies" we normally find different events in a chronological order; in "for and against" compositions, we find one paragraph with reasons for the main topic and another one for reasons against the topic and so on. In the conclusion, you should support a decision for or against the topic or say why you have chosen a particular person, so as to round up the text. Take notes.
Now you have something on the paper, it is time to put it all together and start writing, that will be your first draft, once you have finished, I recommend you to:
  • Read your composition slowly and look for grammar or vocabulary mistakes.
  • Revise repetitions or redundancies, that is, you do not want to get less marks because you have repeated the same word once and again, look for a different one, you probably know it. Besides, if you have said the same thing twice, try to take it out, it will make your composition redundant and you will miss words to talk about something else which will make your composition richer.
  • Try to add connectors, now that you have finished, see if you can make your composition more coherent with the help of connectors of addition, of sequence, of contrast, of reason, of result, of example, of purpose...
Now you are ready to rewrite it in a clean way and hand it in. Was this useful for you?


  1. In this post we have many importants advices to write a good composition. I will try to use them in my future writings.

    I've just found your blog. I am learning english in an academy in my city and this blog will help me to improve it and pass FCE in June.

    Thank you Ana.

    1. Thank you ???? I'm glad you found it useful and hope you feel free to ask any questions and write as many comments as you want. Regards

  2. Upppppss.... Sorry Ana. I didn't introduce myself. I'm Iñigo from Navarra ( Spain).
    As I've mentioned before, I am learning english. So I'm sure I will make mistakes in the future comments.
    Sorry in advance

    1. Don't worry Iñigo, I am quite happy that you came back. We all learn when it comes to blogging, commenting... For example, I don't know what FCE exams are, can you tell me, please?
      Best regards

  3. What a great blog, and where from you get so much nice information and experience in this field.

  4. Ana, FCE is First Certificate Exam. In June I will try to pass this exam, more exactly, B2 exam. These two types of exams are the same level more or less.

    1. Ahhh, I should have known, but I don't prepare my students for those emails, thanks for writing me back and letting me know ;)

  5. Although there are many people who already knows how to write this kind of writing perfectly they still tend to absorb some new ideas that would make them create a more better composition. Thanks for sharing this one.

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