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Preparing for the writing exam


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Between now and the exam you need a clear idea of how to practise and improve your writing.

Before the Exam

  • Be clear about what the examiners will be looking for. For example, to get a grade A, you must be able to write an accurate account in the past tense. You must also be able to give and justify ideas and points of view. There are a number of other criteria that an "A" candidate has to meet.

  • Be sure that your teacher has given you the criteria for writing that match the grade you are trying to achieve.

  • Make sure that you have a vocabulary book/record that covers each area of the syllabus.

  • Build up your personal vocabulary by learning a small number of new words every day.

  • Be clear about which aspects of grammar you need to revise. For example, you will need to be able to use verbs in the present, perfect and future tenses if you are aiming for a grade C or above. In the higher tier exam you will also be expected to use the imperfect tense .

  • Use the notes you prepared for the speaking test as part of your revision for writing. They are certain to contain a lot of useful words, phrases and ideas.

  • Get plenty of regular practice. Use past papers. Use this website - both the 'Revision Bites' and the 'Test Bites'.

  • Make sure you practise the different types of task that could occur at your level. Popular foundation tasks are lists, diary entries, postcards, short letters, messages and forms to fill in, so for instance you will need to know how to write dates and how to begin and end letters.

  • Popular higher tasks are formal letters, factual or imaginative narratives, articles and job applications.

  • Do some practice tasks under exam conditions.

  • Go carefully over all old work that has been corrected by your teacher. Try to understand where you went wrong so that you can avoid making the same mistakes again. Then write your work up as a fair copy with no mistakes. It is easy and effective to revise from perfect copies of your own work.

  • Have a look at model answers that can show you, for example, what a grade A essay looks like. The 'Revision Bites' and 'Test Bites' in this website often contain model answers.

  • If you are doing coursework, be sure that you know the rules of your exam board in relation to drafting and redrafting, as well as the use of support materials such as text books, grammar books and vocabulary lists.


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