CAEL Writing Samples – Long Writing

Read and Understand the Question

In these CAEL writing samples for the long writing question, you’ll see that the question asks you to consider the information in a lecture and a reading from a different perspective. In this template, for example, our information is all about the first wheat-based food, but the question is about the value of studying anthropology.

With a big jump like that, it really helps to familiarize yourself with the material with an open mind, and think carefully about the question before starting to write.

How long should
my response be?

You’ll have about 35 minutes to complete your essay, and you should plan on writing about 250 words.

Do I need to refer to both
the reading
the lecture?

Yes, for the long writing in the CAEL test, you need to refer to both the reading and the lecture. It helps to structure your essay around one example from the reading and one example from the lecture.

How should I start my essay?

You should start your essay with an introduction. Your introduction must do 3 things. It must:

  • paraphrase the question
  • stipulate your opinion if you’re asked for it
  • introduce your two main ideas

What comes after the introduction?

After the introduction, you’ll write about your first main idea. Typically the paragraph about your first main idea follows the structure:

Statement -> Explanation -> Example

What comes after
the first main idea?

After your first main idea, you’ll write about your second main idea, using the same Statement -> Explanation -> Example. structure:

What comes after
the second main idea?

After your second main idea, you’ll write your conclusion in which you must:

  • Restate your opinion if you’ve been asked for it.
  • Reiterate your main ideas
  • Answer the question

What happens if I can’t find
an example in the
reading or the lecture?

If you can’t find examples in the information you’ve been given, then you’ve probably misunderstood the question. Go back and read the question very carefully.

Will I lose points for
writing too much?

For most people, it’s difficult to write more than 250 words in 35 minutes; especially, if you leave a couple of minutes for editing. Therefore, it’s unlikely that you will write too much.

Will I lose points for
writing too little?

Yes, you will lose points for writing much less than 200 words. The CAEL examiners are looking for a certain amount of depth as well as language efficiency. It’s difficult to provide adequate depth if you don’t use an adequate number of words.

“…When I started class with Angela, I was so confused. I understand much better now…”

CAEL Writing

To get an idea of your score, please paste your essay into the comments box below.

If you would like detailed feedback, please submit your response to our writing correction service.

CAEL Writing Tutor

To spend a couple of hours with me practicing your CAEL Writing, please contact me or

call/text 613-614-6460

During our class, you can either pick my brain or work on your problem areas. Problem areas often include:

  • missing verbs – especially with tenses that combine an auxiliary verb with a participle
  • missing agreements – particularly the ‘d’ in the past tense
  • missing plurals – that’s the ‘s’ that you have to add to plural nouns
  • missing articles – they’re important!
  • inaccurate punctuation
  • inadequate sentence variety – examiners love BIG FAT juicy nouns
  • too many conjunctive adverbs – yes, you can have too many!
  • too few complex sentences – most writing and speaking needs more of them
  • too few referents – examiners hate repetition
  • confused adjectives when describing feelings and situations – you simply have to get those right
  • confusion over when to use a gerund or an infinitive – it matters!
  • language inefficiency

CAEL Writing Samples for Long Writing

The CAEL long writing, in section 4 of the CAEL test, is based on a reading and a lecture. Before you get to the writing, you answer 11 questions about the reading and another 11 questions about the lecture. That means you’ll be working with the information for quite a long time before you have to write your essay.

When your examiner grades your final essay, she will be looking at your organization, cohesion, vocabulary, punctuation, sentence variety, syntactic variety, grammar, and tenses.

Below, you’ll find some tips for your CAEL long writing, but if you need more help please talk to me about tutoring. If you would like me to grade your essay, please paste it into the comments box below. If you would like a more detailed evaluation of your writing, and what you need to fix before your test, please use my writing correction service.

The Reading

Since you won’t see the essay question until after you’ve read the text and listened to the lecture, we’ll start with the reading.

Typically, the reading for the long writing in the CAEL test is about 750 words. In this template, we’ll be using a text that’s about half that long.

You’ll have about 35 minutes to complete your essay, and you should plan on writing about 250 words.

Scant physical evidence remains of the first human domestication of grain. Still, there is enough to conclude that ancient peoples, motivated by the nutritional value of bread or cakes made of wild wheat, looked for controlled ways to grow it to provide a consistent food supply. Three related discoveries are likely to have led to the introduction of bread as the first grain-based food.

The first discovery was that wheat could be prepared for use by grinding. People probably began consuming wheat by chewing it raw. Because wheat is very hard, they gradually discovered that it was less trouble to eat if crushed to a paste between two stones. The result would have been the ancestor of the drier, more powdery, wheat flour we use today.

From there, it was a short step to the next breakthrough – baking the simplest bread, which required no technology but fire. Loaves of wheat paste, when baked into bread, could be stored for long periods, certainly longer than raw seeds. This kept the food value of wheat available for an extended period after it had been harvested.

Finally, ancient peoples found that, if the paste was allowed to sit in the open, yeast spores from the air settled on it and began fermenting the wheat. This natural process of fermentation caused bubbles to form in the wheat paste, suggesting that it would be lighter in texture and even easier to eat when baked.

The Listening

For the purpose of these CAEL writing samples, we’ll be using a lecture that is about half the length of the lecture in the CAEL test. In the CAEL test, you should expect a lecture of about 750 words.

This is a transcript of the lecture:

Conventional Wisdom says that a very primitive kind of bread was the first grain food that human societies ate. But, you know, for the last few decades, there’s been an alternative hypothesis that quite a few anthropologists are starting to give a closer look. That hypothesis says that it was, in fact, beer- not bread – that was the first grain food. Sound strange? Consider a couple of things.

For one thing, you don’t have to grind wheat to make it easier to eat. If you keep it in a moist environment, it naturally starts sprouting, with a new baby plant splitting the hard seed case in half. Sprouted wheat is sweeter, softer, and actually more nutritious than whole wheat seeds – and it would have developed without human effort. In order to discover the usefulness of ground wheat, someone had to get the bright idea of crushing it. To discover the usefulness of sprouted wheat, people just had to let it sit. Which do you think happened first?

Another thing: what turns grain into beer is fermentation, and wheat begins to ferment almost as soon as it’s stored – from water and yeasts in the air. After the wheat sprouted, it would have started to ferment. The process would have been obvious because of the bubbles and foam that formed. People could have experimented by tasting it and discovering the first beer.

And even if you assume that people were already grinding wheat to paste, think about it. The paste ferments and bubbles. Is it likely that early peoples would have thought to fire it before eating? We’re used to cooking our food, but in prehistoric times, the idea that you would take fire to food to improve it for eating wasn’t obvious.

The CAEL Long Writing Question

In your opinion, should universities continue to offer courses in anthropology or is the subject redundant in today’s world?

CAEL Writing Sample Answer

In today’s world, the notion that anthropology, the study of mankind, might be redundant as a subject of study at university is held by some. However, I tend to think that a thorough and solid understanding of humanity is maybe more important now than it has ever been.

Notice that the introduction:

  • paraphrases the question – your CAEL examiner should be able to understand what your essay is about without reading the question.
  • identifies my opinion – because the question asks me to do that.
  • introduces my main idea – the need for a ‘thorough’ and ‘solid’ understanding of humanity

Conventional wisdom, however logical it may appear, provides a very shaky foundation for understanding the evolution of human societies. This lack of solidity is reflected in the reading where the author lays out the process by which grain was domesticated, beginning with the grinding of grain into a wheat paste and allowing it to ferment naturally before being subjected to heat and baked into bread. This idea that a food would need to be ground and cooked before becoming a food transposes modern societies’ norms onto prehistoric peoples. Anthropologists prevent that misconception from taking place and becoming accepted fact.

Notice that the first paragraph:

  • Identifies the purpose of the paragraph
  • Provides and example form the reading
  • Explains why this results in a ‘shaky’ foundation.

With their scientific evidence, anthropologists put forward a very different process that ultimately led to the first grain food being beer, not bread. The lecture describes how easily wheat sprouts into a food that is far more tasty, tender and nutrient rich than the original seed. No human effort is required during this natural process, just humidity. Given this delicious food that requires no heat or processing, and ultimately ferments into a beer-like food, it’s unlikely that prehistoric people would have gone to the trouble of grinding or cooking it.

Notice that the second paragraph:

  • Identifies the purpose of the paragraph
  • Provides and example form the lecture
  • Explains why this is results in a ‘solid’ foundation.

All told, the study of anthropology should continue because it sheds a great deal of light on the evolution of human society. Without anthropology, we are left believing falsehoods that transfer our modern lifestyles onto prehistoric peoples resulting in an erroneous historical perspective.

Notice that the conclusion:

  • Answers the question
  • Reiterates the main idea
  • Provides my opinion

If you’d like to try writing a response to this essay question, please paste it in the comments section below. I’ll provide you with a score so that you have an idea of what you’re likely to score in the CAEL test.

If you’d like more feedback about your writing, please use my essay correction service.

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