What am I doing wrong? – Have you ever asked yourself that question after getting a poor grade in your exam?
It’s even more frustrating when you lack that 1 point to pass. What might have gone wrong?
There are a few things that can put your writing or speaking on the verge of passing or failing it.
Here are a few tricks of the writing trade which may help you succeed.
FORM AND STYLE
1. Follow the form and style required in the exam task instruction.
2. Use the form appropriate for a type of text – a letter, e-mail, report, memo, essay.
3. Use the appropriate style – formal, semi-formal, informal, and follow their rules, e.g don’t use contractions and colloquial words in a formal text.
4. Make your text easy to follow, read and understand.
5. Divide your text into paragraphs and connect them with each other. Use signposting and sequencing expressions.
6. Structure every paragraph correctly – start with a topic sentence, develop the idea, conclude. Use linking words.
7. Write clearly – an unintelligible text is difficult to follow.
CONTENT AND LOGIC
1. Follow the instruction closely, point-by-point. Use the functions required in the rubrics, such as asking for information, recommending, suggesting.
2. Don’t change the topic. Plan before you start writing to avoid it. Missing one point from the instruction or writing 10% fewer words than the required word limit can mean receiving not more than 6 points for the task and failing it.
3. Make every sentence in the text meaningful and important. Every new idea in your text should be explained, exemplified, justified, and connected with the rest of the text by using appropriate linking and referencing.
4. Develop every paragraph correctly, making the text clear and argumentation logical. For more details about paragraph writing see here: PARAGRAPH DEVELOPMENT
ACCURACY AND VOCAB
1. Read and self-edit your text. This is crucial as many mistakes can be eliminated by means of self-correction.
2. Plan before you start writing – you can plan organisation, content, grammar and vocabulary.
3. Check the grammatical correctness of your text:
- Are all the sentences complete and finished?
- Do all the sentences have a subject and a verb?
- Do subjects and verbs agree?
- Do you use appropriate tenses? Do you avoid unnecessary shifting from one tense to another?
- Do pronouns (it, they) have a clear reference?