Exercise 6: Writing a report (Ultimate Guide)

Exercise 6: Writing a Report (Ultimate Guide)

Exercise 6 of the Reading and Writing paper of the IGCSE English as a Second Language (ESL) exam (0510/0511/0991/0993) is always a formal or a semi-formal writing. It can be an article, a report, or a review.

In this article, you will discover how to write an almost perfect report that impresses the examiner and gets you the highest band.

So, what is a report?

A report is a nonfiction account that presents and/or summarizes the facts about a particular event, topic, or issue to a person of authority. Reports are a mixture of facts and opinions.

The purpose of a report is often to give relevant information in an ordered way and to make suggestions to the reader based on that information. Therefore, the vocabulary should be Standard English and straightforward, presenting the topic precisely.

The Tone and register of a report

The audience of the report is often a teacher or someone in charge (e.g., the head teacher, organizers of an event, etc.) so the language and tone tend to be more formal and impersonal.

A report should be well-organized and clear. It often has headings to show the reader what information can be found in each section of the report. This helps the reader to locate the information they need more easily.

Now, let’s discover the ideal format of a report.

The format of a report

A report often follows a 3-part structure (in addition to the title), which may span 3-5 paragraphs:

  • Title/heading: The title of the report you are writing about. It should be brief and relevant. For example, “Report: School Trip to a Recycling Centre”, “A Visit to a Recycling Centre”, etc.
  1. First Paragraph: Introduction
  2. Body paragraph(s): Findings (organized according to the requirements of the report asked for in the question), for example, what you enjoyed about the trip, what you learned, etc.
  3. Final paragraph: Conclusion and Recommendations


The purpose of the introduction is to provide a background and an overview of the report. It should include:

  1. The 7 WHs (of which 3 are absolutely necessary): Who (e.g. your class), What (e.g. a day spent at a science exhibition), When (e.g. last week), Where (e.g. in the town), Why (e.g. to learn about recycling), (written by) Whom (yourself), to Whom (e.g. your teacher, organizers of the event, etc.).
  2. The purpose of the report (what it will cover): This is mentioned in the question, e.g. things that students enjoyed about the trip, suggestions for improvements if it’s repeated next year, etc.

Here are some example phrases to mention the purpose of the report:

  • The report aims to highlight/present/investigate …
  • The report contains relevant information regarding …
  • The (aim/intention/purpose) of this report is to (present/discuss/outline/detail/highlight) … based on (my observations/feedback from students, etc.).
  1. How you collected the information you have based your report on (e.g. observation, feedback from students, from a survey, interviewed classmates, etc.). This is optional, so you may or may not include it.

Here are some examples of effective report introductions (the 3 necessary Whs have been underlined):

  • Last week, our class spent the day at a science exhibition in the town. This report aims to detail what we learned from the visit and provide recommendations for improvement if it is repeated next year.
  • As requested, I have prepared a report about a sports festival my class attended last week. I have interviewed my classmates, and my findings are presented below.
  • As requested by my teacher, I have compiled a detailed assessment of the work experience week that my class participated in on the 1st of March. This report aims to outline what was learnt by students and provide suggestions to enhance the experience next time.
  • Last week, our school had the opportunity to visit The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC). The purpose of this report is to provide an account of our visit and offer suggestions for improvements based on my observations and feedback from students.

Remember to keep the introduction brief.


The body of the report generally includes your findings, which are the positive and/or negative things you and other people have noticed. It should be organized according to what is asked for in the question, for example, what you enjoyed about the trip, what you learned, etc. The choice of subheadings will depend on what you mention in the body of the report.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Read the question carefully, underline the keywords and draft a plan for your report in the blank space below the question using a pencil.
  • You can use the few prompts given in the question, but it is better to use your own ideas if you want to get higher marks. If, however, you are out of ideas, use the ideas in the question and make sure to paraphrase them (write them in different words) and develop them well.
  • Decide how many body paragraphs you need and what ideas you want to include in each paragraph; write a suitable subheading for each one.
  • Present each topic in detail under suitable subheading and support your ideas and develop them well with reasons, evidence, or examples.
  • Keep to the topic (don’t wander away from the main subject and requirements of the report). Remind yourself constantly by looking again at the question.
  • Use a wide variety of formal linking words and cohesive devices to create a smooth and logical flow in your writing. Here are some examples.
Showing order
  • First of all
  • First and foremost
  • Firstly
  • In the first place
  • To begin with
  • Subsequently
  • Finally
  • Addition
  • In addition,
  • Furthermore,
  • Additionally,
  • Moreover,
  • Not only … but also…
  • As well as.
  • And
  • However
  • Nevertheless
  • Even though
  • Although
  • Despite/ Despite the fact that
  • In spite of
  • While
  • On the other hand
  • On the contrary
  • By contrast
  • In comparison
  • Alternatively
  • But
Giving Examples
  • For example
  • For instance
  • One clear example is
  • Such as
  • Namely
  • To illustrate
  • In other words
  • Results and consequences: as a result, consequently, therefore, thus, hence, for this reason, as a result (of), which means that, etc.
  • Reasons and causes: owing to, because (of), on account of, due to, since, as, etc. 
Highlighting and Stressing
  • Particularly
  • In particular
  • Specifically
  • Especially
  • Obviously
  • Clearly

Conclusion and Recommendations

The conclusion should include:

  1. A brief summary of the main points raised in your report (expressed in different words)


Your opinion about the whole experience or on the facts that you have discovered.

For example, “In conclusion, I believe that the trip was an overall success, as it provided an invaluable opportunity for students to discover more about the fascinating world of science.”

In the new syllabus, the word limit is reduced to only 160 words, so it’s preferred to mention your opinion about the whole experience briefly rather than summarizing the main points raised in the report. For example, “To conclude, the visit was an exceptional learning experience and a success overall”.

Here are some concluding phrases you could use:

  • In conclusion
  • To conclude
  • To sum up
  • On the whole
  • All things considered
  • It can be concluded that …
  • I feel/ I believe/ I am convinced/ I am confident that …
  1. Your recommendations, solutions, or suggestions + Reason/ your prediction on what will happen if the recommendation is followed

For example: “I recommend extending the duration of the visit and prohibiting the use of mobile phones to maximize the learning experience.”

Here are some example phrases you could use for giving recommendations, solutions or suggestions:

  • I suggest/recommend/propose …
  • I would like to suggest …
  • A solution to this issue might be …

Note: It’s also possible to write 2 separate paragraphs for the conclusion and the recommendations.

Points to keep in mind


  • Organize your report into 3-5 paragraphs depending on the requirements of the question. Leave a line between paragraphs or indent the first line of each new paragraph. Don’t do both!
  • Take care of spelling, punctuation, and grammar. This is important as the examiner will look at the accuracy of your language.
  • Use a combination of simple, compound, and complex sentences, with more focus on complex structures.
  • Use a wide range of formal vocabulary, including some advanced and less commonly used ones.
  • Include a range of topic-related vocabulary to show that you have a good understanding of the topic, for example, if a question asks for a report about a sports festival that your class attended, sports-related vocabulary could be included, such as “fitness”, “warm up before exercising”, “gym”, “membership fees”, “tournament”, etc.
  • Use a wide range of formal linking words. Examples have been mentioned earlier.
  • Use advanced punctuation sparingly (1-3 in the whole report), for example, colon (:) and semicolon (;).
  • Aim to complete towards the maximum word limit (approximately 200 words for the current syllabus and 160 words for the new syllabus). Exceeding the word limit slightly (15-20 words) is fine as long as you write accurately and complete the task within the correct time. If you exceed the word limit by any number of words, be it even 100, no marks will be cut directly, but you increase your chances of making more mistakes and spending more time than required for this exercise, which may affect your mark indirectly. If you write towards the lower limit or below, you are highly unlikely to achieve the highest band for Content as your content is not well developed.
  • Spend about 30 minutes on this exercise: the initial 5 minutes for planning and the last 2-3 minutes for checking your work for simple spelling, punctuation, and grammatical mistakes.
  • Use passive voice to increase the formality of your report, for example, “No food had been provided.”, “We were given plenty of information.”, “The seats were damaged.”, etc. But don’t write entirely in passive voice; just try to include some passive sentences.
  • Use reported speech rather than direct speech to increase the formality of your report, for example, “Most students said that they would have liked to take part in more activities”.
  • Write legibly


  • Avoid contractions (isn’t, aren’t, etc.).
  • Avoid abbreviations and slang (texting language) such as, OMG, BTW, gonna, etc.
  • Avoid using informal vocabulary, informal linking words (e.g. “besides”, “anyway”, etc.) and idioms.
  • Avoid directly addressing the reader (using “you”).
  • Avoid listing (firstly, secondly, thirdly, etc.). There is no problem in writing “firstly” but avoid writing “secondly” and “thirdly”.
  • Avoid repetition of vocabulary and beginning your sentences with the same words. Sometimes, students write 3 or more sentences in a row starting with “The”!

Final note

Practice a lot of past papers and get feedback on your writing. If you don’t have a teacher, reread these notes and check for what you have done right and what you haven’t. Read some of the samples on the samples page to see what you have just learned effectively used and incorporated into a report.

Good luck! Go get that A*!

16 responses to “Exercise 6: Writing a report (Ultimate Guide)”

  1. rawan avatar

    thanks for all your effort

    1. ESL Kings team avatar

      You’re welcome 🙂

  2. Mohammad azab avatar
    Mohammad azab

    Extremely helpful and detailed notes! Appreciate all the hardwork put into this.
    One question though, with the new word limit, which I usually tend to follow, my ideas can be somewhat under-developed what can I do?
    To illustrate, a question asking for what I liked and improvements, I mentioned two points I liked and one suggestion and tried to develop them, yet, they feel under-developed, what can I do?
    And how can I tell if my idea is well developed?
    Thank you!!

    1. ESL Kings team avatar

      Thank you for your kind words! We’re glad you found them helpful!

      It’s normal to feel that your ideas are under-developed with the reduction in the word limit of the new syllabus. Examiners know this, and that’s why the focus is now more on language.

      However, you can do the following to overcome this feeling:
      1-Write a suitable number of strong ideas. As for the example provided, giving 2 ideas for each would be ideal, or if you can’t find more suggestions, write 3 points about what you liked.
      2-Exceed the word limit slightly (if you have good language and make few mistakes)

      You know you have developed the idea if it’s convincing (i.e. you have provided reasons, evidence or examples, whichever is applicable). And this doesn’t have to be lengthy.

  3. joanna avatar

    Thank you u have the best among all. I was dying for one like this. Keep it up and publish more! 🙂

    1. ESL Kings team avatar

      Thank you so much for your kind words and wonderful feedback! Truly appreciated!

  4. . avatar

    Thank you for the notes! it really helps! Will u be making notes for review? and if yes, when will it be out? Thx

    1. ESL Kings team avatar

      That’s great to hear! Yes, we’re currently working on it, and we believe it’ll be available within one to two weeks.

  5. abc avatar

    Thanks a lot, it really helps. Btw according to the word count, does it mean even if i exceed the wor count by a lot, it does not affect my marks at all as long as it’s well written? I’m quite concerned about this since 200 is already not really enough for me sometimes, and now they’ve reduced it to 160.

    1.  avatar

      i meant word count, there’s a typo, sorry

    2. ESL Kings team avatar

      You’re welcome 🙂 Regarding your question, it’s important to note that the word limit provided is only for guidance, and no marks will be cut for just exceeding it. However, we recommend writing towards the upper limit of 160 words or just above it by 15-20 words since exceeding the word limit too much could lead to making more mistakes, and most importantly, spending more time than required for this exercise, which could affect the time available for other exercises. So, if you have a good quality of writing and you manage to plan your time effectively, you can safely write towards 200 words.

  6. Samah Elkhayyat avatar
    Samah Elkhayyat

    Thank you so much. My first time to see such a helpful website!

    1. ESL Kings team avatar

      Thank you for your kind words! We’re glad our website proved helpful!

  7. David avatar

    Thank you so much you’ve helped so much thank you
    I love this website

    1. ESL Kings team avatar

      Thank you for your kind words! We’re glad it was helpful!

    2.  avatar

      God bless you. I am grateful for this help.

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