Advanced level: You will have 1 Â˝ hours to write two texts based on tasks or prompts. Part 1: In this first part you will have to write a text of between 130 and 150 words in length. The task you will be required to carry out will be something similar to the following: An email message which may be formal or informal in register. An invitation. A short formal letter. A note or short text which contains information. A short description of an event you have witnessed. You will have to choose ONE of TWO options.
Part 2: In this part you will be required to write a text of a maximum length of 250 words. You should not write significantly less than this. The task you will be required to carry out will be something similar to the following: A narrative text describing a series of events. A factual description of places and /or people. A report on a place ( a restaurant, a tourist attraction, etc) you have visited (or have been asked to visit) in which you assess the qualities of this place in order for your reader(s) to take action or decide to visit the place or not. An article for a magazine, newspaper or online publication. A discursive essay in which you present both sides of an argument or discuss a topic at length, justifying your opinions. You will have to choose ONE of TWO options.
Marking criteria: APPROPRIACY: Your written contribution should be of the required length, with very little variation. If it is too short (more than 20%) you will be penalized and if it is too long, you will also lose marks. It is
very important to follow the task instructions carefully as your response must be relevant and appropriate at all times. If you are asked to include several content points, then you must make sure that you cover them all. Think that when we mark your compositions we are looking for evidence that this written task could work in the real world so it must be very clear to the recipent/reader what you are saying /asking for and it must also be clear if the recipient/reader will know what action to take after reading your contribution. Even though the content if your contribution is very important, other aspects of appropriacy you should bear in mind are: Register: Formal? Informal? Semi-formal? Are you using the correct salutations? (Dear Sir /Madam, Yours faithfully, Yours sincerely, etc.) Will the impression on the reader be good? Is your presentation and format what someone would expect? You can find lots of information about these matters on the writing links provided in this blog.
ACCURACY: At this level we expect a relatively high level of grammatical control. Basic errors should not be present and you should show a good control of grammar. However, it is good to try to use as many advanced structures as you can even though you might make some mistakes. Think that it is not enough to write at a B1+ level, we are looking for a better knowledge than this.
COHESION AND COHERENCE: For this criterion, you must ensure that you contribution is easy to process. Your ideas must be organized coherently into paragraphs, you should use the appropriate connectors (bear in mind register here) and the examiner should have no difficulty in understanding the message. If the examiner needs to read a section more than once, that is usually because there is some cohesive problem: grammatical reference (maybe you are talking about a man but you use the pronoun “she”; the way you use the promoun “it” may cause problems because it is not clear what you are talking about); verb tenses; the use of synonyms, etc. Here we also penalize poor handwriting; it is very important that we are able to read what you have written.
VOCABULARY: Here the examiners are looking for a wide-range of vocabulary of the level which is used in a precise way. It is very important that you do not underestimate this aspect as it is where you can show you have a good knowledge of the level. There are many vocabulary books on the market that can help you on this.
Here are some practical suggestions to help you do well in the writing test: DO • • • • • • • • • • •
Read the whole question thoroughly and underline important parts. Make a plan for each answer, including ALL points. Expand the points in Part 1 if you can, using relevant ideas and information. Write in paragraphs, whenever appropriate. Use a range of vocabulary, even if you are unsure of the correct spelling. Check tense endings, plural forms and word order in sentences. Check irregular past tenses and question formation. Use language that is appropriately formal or informal for the task. Choose a question you feel confident you can write about in Part 2. Use your imagination whenever you can, you don’t have to write the truth, if you use your imagination you are more likely to use a better vocabulary. Write clearly, so that the examiner can read your answer.
DON'T • • • • • • •
Don’t waste time writing a draft version: you will not have time to finish to copy the final version. Don't misspell key words which appear on the question paper. Don't use the exact words from the question paper too much. Don't mix formal and informal language. Don't use formal linkers in an informal letter. Don't waste time writing addresses for a letter as they are not required. Don't worry if you run slightly over the word limit, just make sure that what you write about is absolutely relevant.