How you are assessed on your writing ability depends on your exam board - your teacher will give you all the details. If you are doing your GCSE from 2011 onwards you will do two controlled assessments. This section is on writing and is full of hints to help you write the best you can. We’ve got tips on how to plan, how to write, how to manage your time, the best ways to check through your work and all this helps you to the grade YOU want to achieve.

Controlled assessment

You will have to do two controlled assessments. You’re already prepared for it by your other key skill areas and by the work that you’ve done in class. This section is broken up with great ideas on how to prepare for the writing exam, tips for the controlled assessment and how the exam is structured.

An empty exam page always seems daunting but follow these tips to help you get over writer’s block and scribble away...

How to prepare

As well as looking over your vocab book regularly to remember all the words and how their are spelt, here are some tips on how to prepare for your controlled assessments:

Top tip:

”Have a look in your text book for example sentences and phrases that you could put into your own work - write them out to make sure you learn them.”

  • Make your work really colourful (use highlighters, gel pens, colouring pencils) so you can see important things quickly.
  • Write accents in a different colour so you’re used to putting them on the words and in the right places.
  • Colour code all masculine and feminine words in your vocab book.
  • Keep your words neatly listed under the right topic in your vocab book.
  • Ask your teacher to check through any written work that you have done at home.
  • Have a look in your text book for example sentences and phrases that you could put into your own work - write them out to make sure you learn them.
  • Get plenty of regular practice at writing. Write emails to a friend or create a homework to-do list in your foreign language.
  • Change the language of your facebook or your mobile phone - to get the feel of your foreign language.
  • Set your homepage to the bbc news in your foreign language - the titles are short and sweet and the pictures will help you to understand what the news article is about.
  • Ask your teacher about the mark scheme and what you need to do to get the grade that you’re aiming for. Look at the marking criteria for the grade above just to see if you can aim for that grade.
  • Learn high scoring phrases and remember which tenses to use with them.
  • Look over what your common mistakes are - everyone knows you learn from your mistakes and this way you’ll know not to do them in the exam.
  • Revise your vocab book every day. For your brain to really remember a word it needs to ‘meet’ it at least 20 times.

Controlled assessment tips

Don’t be tempted to just dive straight in and start writing. You may feel like you just want to start filling some of the gaps in but you’re better off taking a few minutes and thinking through things first.

Insider info:

”Use lots of opinions and back them up with examples.”

Here are some more top tips:

  • Remember, if you don’t use the past, present and future tenses you won’t get above a grade C.
  • Make a mini plan of what you must include to get the points and also to see where you can fit in some high scoring phrases, vocab or opinions and then move onto writing your assessment.
  • Try not to translate what you want to say from English as it sounds weird and your foreign language sentence structure’s different.
  • Only include relevant phrases. 
  • Don’t write too much! It’s not quantity, it’s quality. Look at the word count; anything over this may not get you any more marks.
  • Use lots of opinions and back them up with examples.
  • Try not to have lots of short sentences, but link them together using conjunctions (and, or, but, so etc) to build a longer sentence.
  • Make sure you write in full sentences and always include a verb.

How the assessment is structured

  • You will have done some advance preparation.
  • The assessment will be around 60 minutes each - check with your teacher.
  • Answers may include - filling in a form, answering questions, writing a letter or postcard and responding to a writing task all based around topics that you’ve learnt during Years 10 and 11.
  • Accuracy is important - check spelling, gender, tenses, plurals, accents and word order.