Writing to Advise

Whilst you are given the option to do the writing to advise question in the exam, it is one of the most difficult questions to gain good marks in. It is therefore recommended that you choose an alternative question e.g. writing to persuade or argue. However, it is vital that you are prepared to answer the writing to advise question, just encase the alternative questions are particularly difficult.

Probably the first and most important thing to take into consideration when writing to advise is that the main purpose is to provide writing that advises on a problem. You should also consider:

The audience

Who is the writing for?


Why has this piece of writing being produced? Should the piece of writing advise for and against? For writing to advise you will generally be asked to give one side to advise for, or alternatively advise against. However, you should be prepared to write to advise for and against, such as, if you were asked to write a letter advising parents of the positives and negatives of homework for High School pupils.


How should it be organized: generally with an introductory paragraph, outlining the basis of the advice being given. Next move on to give more detail about these points and finally, conclude with a paragraph (conclusion) where you will summarise the main content. (Just make sure you don’t mention any new points, remember this is a summary!)


Like with every piece of writing, you must consider the layout; so if it’s an article for instance, make sure you include all the main aspects needed in writing an article (more on this in the General Writing Techniques section).

What is writing to advise?

Unlike many of the other styles of writing, people are often unsure of what is required of them in writing to advise. A point you should remember about advising writing is that it must provide advice on a problem. Therefore your essay should detail a problem before you start advising on ways to tackle this problem. You must do this in an ordered manner – so you could start with the problem, explain this problem in depth and then set out ways to deal with it.

Another useful tip is to be yourself in the exam, you are not some all-knowing God so be careful when advising someone not to act this way. You should only suggest things the person could do, rather than to tell them explicitly what to do, for example if you’re writing to a foreign exchange student about English customs you may say “it is customary in England to drive on the left” rather than saying “you must drive on the left”. The first strongly suggests what you should do without forcing it onto your audience, thus making the piece of writing more effective and giving you more marks!

Also remember when advising you should try to write in as fair a manner as possible. If you are advising the Prime Mister on Foreign policy, for example, you would try not to be heavily biased towards a particular country and instead weigh up the evidence fairly. This is important because if the writing favours a particular view, point or a certain aspect then you are writing to persuade not advise. Now you may subtly use argumentative or persuasive techniques, for example, try thinking of other pieces of writing that may be advising but also, arguing. For instance, someone advising you against having a ‘gas guzzling’ car may be biased against certain types of vehicles and subtly arguing against things that contribute towards global warming.

Tips for writing to advise

You gain marks in the exam, not just for giving them basic advice, but rather for going into detail about these views, and also by backing them up with facts, e.g. statistics, data. You can give some opinions, although they should be limited and only if suited to the piece of writing. The important thing is to be careful not to deteriorate from the advising nature of the piece.

I think you can now see why this style of writing is so difficult; you really do have to be careful about what you write and the way in which you portray it!

It is quite important that before the exam you familiarize yourself with advising writing. This can be done relatively easily by looking at information on the Internet or in newspapers and magazines, e.g. reading reports on school education statistics and reviews about the data. These for example, may give a series of facts and build these into a larger picture, next offering the writers personal response to what they believe on the subject.


When writing to advise you are expected to put the information across in a way that benefits the reader, to make it easy for them to understand; whilst still gaining the full context of what is being advised upon. You should also try to encapsulate the reader early on (opening paragraph), for example, by including several short sentences on the topic to give effect. This is important as it allows you to gain and maintain the reader’s interest and in turn the examiner will find the writing more interesting.

The main body should include several paragraphs that follow on from the preceding paragraph; thus expanding the nature of the piece. A good technique when writing paragraphs is to open with a ‘topic sentence’ where you state the main point that will be dealt with in the paragraph and then move on to advise the reader about this point, in continually increasing depth. For instance, you could mention that the shape-moulding mattress provides a more substantial comfort and overall more comfortable nights sleep compare to an old basic mattress and then go on to give examples, such as, technological advances and improvement in mattress technology. Remember a quality written paragraph should generally be about 4-5 lines long.

When writing you should use words that follow on and link the text to provide fluency and consistency in the writing. For example: therefore, afterwards, concluding, evaluating, next, precedent, subsequently and in due course. You should also make use of short sentences, alternating to long sentences when required; relevant to what it provides and gives to the piece of writing.

Test Yourself Questions

1. Your local MP has asked you to create a report to advise them as to whether she should support a new legislation that would lower the voting age to 16.
(27 marks)