What is useful feedback?

Useful feedback is something more than correcting grammatical and lexical mistakes.

Feedback which is useful is the information which tells you how to make your language, writing or speaking, different, more varied, more advanced. Especially when given in the context of the exam, such feedback will include elements that refer to the exam marking and evaluation criteria.

When evaluating writing, useful feedback should include, such elements as: text organisation, paragraph development, topic sentences.

Another evaluated aspect might be task achievement, including comments regarding whether the text follows the instruction or if it is on or off topic, if it repeats phrases from the instruction.

When referring to grammar, feedback should not only indicate and correct mistakes, but also include:

  • tips on how to avoid them,

  • make the text more or less formal,

  • practical advice allowing to develop grammar and use it purposefully,

  • ideas on what new grammatical forms to use to improve your writing or speaking.

Why is feedback useful?

It’s useful when it’s not about embarrassing you and pointing to your weaknesses but focuses on finding ways to improve.

Why is feedback crucial when you prep for the exam?

  1. It’s tailor-made for you when you receive feedback on your texts or speaking. You receive invaluable and personalised information as it contains info on what you can improve and where you can develop, where your mistakes are, how to correct and never repeat them.That’s why it’s so effective.

  2. You learn faster and more effectively as feedback should give you info about mistakes that you repeat because they got fossilised (fixed and incapable of change or development until you realise you make them) and you don’t even notice them anymore or you are unaware of their existence. You can get rid of them faster by, for example, using alternatives. Sometimes it’s easier to replace a challenging form with a different one than to correct it.

  3. It can help you get unstuck, leave the unawareness zone and move forward. Thanks to finding out which areas need improvement, you can become aware what makes you fail during the exam. You get unstuck and move forward, start doing things in a more effective way.

  4. It can change failure into success and mistakes into strategies. When you learn to identify your mistakes, you can change them into strategies by learning how to avoid them, learning what to do to improve, how to do things differently, what your alternatives are. In this way, through failure and mistakes, you can learn how to do better and improve.

  5. Effective feedback helps discover your strengths. When you learn what you are good at, it can become a base for doing other things in a language better. If you are good at vocabulary, you can base your texts on advanced phraseology and build from there.

This is precisely why good feedback should include comments about things that you do well! It might be a game changer to realise that you are good at more things than you expected.

Why shouldn’t feedback be scary?

Because feedback is not about embarrassing you but about identifying points to improve and giving you tools and strategies to do it.

How does feedback change things?

  1. It prevents you from repeating the same mistakes and remaining unaware of this fact.

  2. You don’t know what you don’t know – the right feedback can draw your attention to the elements of writing and speaking that you were unaware of or you never focused on and which are crucial for the exam success.

  3. You get a new perspective on things when someone can tell you about their impression and reception of what you say or write. That’s why it’s also good to get feedback from a few different people – to get different perspectives if possible.

When can you do without feedback?

In some cases, when you have access to all the marking criteria and exam description and your language level corresponds with the exam required level, you can do without feedback.

In that case, it’ll be crucial to become familiar with the marking and evaluation criteria available and the detailed exam description. Follow the rues described and you are good to go.

When can’t you do without feedback?

Feedback might be necessary when you’ve tried to pass the exam a few times and each time you lacked one or two points. In such a case, feedback can help you identify where the challenge lies, which elements you’re missing or what you’ve overlooked.

Also, when your language level still needs to be improved, it might be a good idea to learn under someone’s supervision to go in the right direction from the beginning and focus on things that are crucial to pass the exam. Then, the process may become faster and more effective.

Why is feedback important in exam prep?

Feedback from someone who knows the exam is important because they will tell you what to focus on. During language exams, it’s, unfortunately, not only language that is evaluated. Sometimes it’s not enough to be an effective and correct speaker to pass your speaking exam. You might need to know the timing rules, word limits, types of tasks and how they influence your grade.

Where to get good feedback? 

Get feedback from people who know the exam – teachers, colleagues who have passed. In the case of STANAG 6001 exams, it’s crucial to know the rules and what is expected of you to pass. Random people won’t be able to give you effective feedback which leads to success even if they are great teachers, language users and have good intensions.

They should at least become familiar with the exam description, but it would be best if they had some experience with this particular exam.

Group classes and feedback 

Feedback is also very effective in group classes and workshops, because when you listen to other people’s feedback, you can learn as well, become aware of issues that may be new to you and avoid their mistakes.

Also, other people can share their experience, tips and strategies.

Plus, you get support from a community of people with the same goals and struggles. That’s invaluable to have mates who get you.


If you’re ready for expert feedback which focuses on strategies and strengths, Writing Feedback E-mail Course.

Learn to write STANAG texts and receive professional feedback.

Learn from scratch or revise before the exam!

The package includes:

  • 11 STANAG 6001 EXAM WRITING tasks (topics), such as letters/e-mails, memos and reports, notes, essays –  the tasks and the level (STANAG 1,2,3,4) depending on your needs and exam

  • written feedback and corrected texts sent by e-mail

  • access to the teacher by email (ask your questions anytime you need).

Click below for details and dates.

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