You are on page 1of 6

Pro-ELT Upskilling Project

Aptis Writing Exam: Analysis, Guidance & Practice


Task 1 minutes 3 marks - 3

1a) Task 1 requires you to complete a simple form with your personal details. You should have no difficulty getting all 3 marks. But the writer of the answer below will not get full marks. See how many mistakes you can find: You want to join a library. Fill in the form. You have 3 minutes.

Aptis Library
Full name: Date of birth: Day City / Town / Village: First language: Interests (list 3): A. Ibrahim 24 04 Month (write in full) 1984 Year

Malaysia (Asia) bahasa melayu to read atletic book and newpapers

1b) Heres a checklist you can use when completing task 1

Checklist for Task 1


Use capital letters where appropriate. Write using full words. Provide the correct information. Use (verb)+ing when describing interests (e.g. fishing, reading novels, etc.). Check your spelling carefully when you finish.

Task 2 minutes

5 marks - 7

2a) Read the answer below and compare it with the checklist underneath. How many marks out of 5 do you think the writer will get? You are a new member of a library. Fill in the form. Write in sentences. Use 20-30 words. You have 7 minutes. Aptis Library Please tell us about what you like to read and when you would like to use the library.

Jason Anderson for The British Council, 2013 The British Council is the United Kingdom's international organisation for cultural relations and education opportunities. British Council Malaysia is a branch (995232-A) of the British Council, registered as a charity in England and Wales (209131) and Scotland (SC037733)

Pro-ELT Upskilling Project


I like to read novels, history books and biographes mainly, but I also enjoy to read magazines. Id like to use the library in the evenings and on Saturday mornings. Checklist for Task 2
Use full sentences with capital letters, full stops and other appropriate punctuation. Answer both parts of the question. Stay within the word count (20-30 words). Check for any grammar errors. Check your spelling carefully when you finish.

Task 3 10 minutes Understanding the task

7 marks -

3a) Read the task below and discuss these questions. Guess if youre not sure: How many answers will you have to write? Do you have 10 minutes per answer or 10 minutes for all your answers? Will the computer respond to your answers? You are a member of a library. You are talking to M. in the online library chat room. Talk to M. using sentences. Use 30 to 40 words per answer. You have 10 minutes. Hi! Ive just joined the library. I joined because I wanted to get some recommendations of good books to read. Why did you join?

Thats interesting. What are the best things about being a member?

Pos t

I know what you mean. What do you think about the new reading caf theyve just opened?

Pos t

Jason Anderson for The British Council, 2013 The British Council is the United Kingdom's international organisation for cultural relations and education opportunities. British Council Malaysia is a branch (995232-A) of the British Council, registered as a charity in England and Wales (209131) and Scotland (SC037733)

Pro-ELT Upskilling Project


Pos t
3b) Here are 7 sentences from an example answer. Working in pairs, try to put them in the right boxes in the right order. Then check that each answer is the right length:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. They can really help you to find something that youll enjoy reading. Ive only been once, but its really nice. I joined because my sister was a member and she was always showing me really interesting books. You can take library books in there and see if you enjoy them before taking them out. My only criticism is the music they play - it can be quite distracting! The books are obviously the most important thing, but its also nice being able to consult the librarians when youre there. I thought the membership fee would be expensive, so I was really surprised when she said it was free!

Checklist for Task 3


Give yourself about 3 minutes for each reply and keep an eye on the time. Reply fully to each piece of input. Check each of your replies for errors of grammar and spelling before you post them. Include a nice range of vocabulary, but dont go off topic. Use a few conjunctions to link your ideas together (but, so, although, etc.). Keep your replies informal (contractions are OK), but punctuate fully and dont use text slang (C U l8er, etc.).

Task 4 minutes

9 marks - 30

4a) Read the exam task and the example answer. How many marks do you think it would get? You are a member of a library. You have just received the following email from them. Dear Library Members, Due to high membership, two new rules will be introduced from today: members are only allowed to take out 2 books at a time, instead of 4 books previously allowed all members will be charged $5 per day for books that are overdue, increased from $1 We hope you understand these changes are in the interest of all members. Please feel free to email us about this: library@aptis_library.com Write an email to a friend. Write your feelings about the new rules and suggest possible alternatives. Write about 50 words. You have 10 minutes.
Subject: Library blues! Hi Susan,

Jason Anderson for The British Council, 2013 The British Council is the United Kingdom's international organisation for cultural relations and education opportunities. British Council Malaysia is a branch (995232-A) of the British Council, registered as a charity in England and Wales (209131) and Scotland (SC037733)

Pro-ELT Upskilling Project


Im really brassed off about the new library rules. 2 books arent enough for fast readers like me, and the $5 overdue fees are ridiculous!!! Why dont they charge us to be members? That would keep membership numbers down, wouldnt it? Not only that, itd give them money to buy more books! Cheers, Ali

Also write an email to the library, explaining your feelings about the new rules and suggesting possible alternatives. Write 120-150 words. You have 20 minutes.
Subject: New Library Regulations Dear Sir or Madam, I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with the new library regulations. While I understand that your library has limited financial resources, the changes you have introduced are, I feel, unwarranted. Firstly, two books are not sufficient for fast readers like myself. I will now need to make two visits to the library per week, instead of one. Secondly, the $5 per day overdue penalty seems extremely harsh, and represents a large increase on the previous penalty. May I suggest an alternative solution to your problem? If you were to charge a small membership fee, this would reduce the number of members while also providing a modest income to purchase more books. I would imagine a fee as small as $20 per annum would suffice. Thank you for your attention to this matter. Yours faithfully, Ali Mohammed

4b) Notice the difference in register between the two emails. The first uses an informal register, the second uses formal. Working in pairs, find equivalents in the first email to the underlined expressions / words in the second email. 4c) Notice what does and what doesnt change when we switch between formal and informal registers. Working in pairs complete the following table. What changes? Length of sentences Spelling Vocabulary choice Verb tense choice
Often longer in formal emails. No change (except in text slang - CU L8er). Use standard spellings in Aptis exam.

E.g. informal
Im really annoyed by -

Formal equivalent
I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with -

Jason Anderson for The British Council, 2013 The British Council is the United Kingdom's international organisation for cultural relations and education opportunities. British Council Malaysia is a branch (995232-A) of the British Council, registered as a charity in England and Wales (209131) and Scotland (SC037733)

Pro-ELT Upskilling Project


Linking expressions (conjunctions & discourse markers) Punctuation Use of paragraphing Directness of criticism Salutations and valedictions (how we open and close emails) 4d) Now try doing the exam task yourself, using the blank forms on the next page. When youve finished, swap answers with another teacher and use the Checklist for Task 4 to evaluate each others answers.

Checklist for Task 4


Complete both parts of the task for both emails (i.e. explain your feelings and suggest alternatives) Use Informal and formal registers appropriately Check each of your replies for impeding errors (i.e. errors that make it difficult to understand) Include a good range of vocabulary appropriate to the task Structure both emails well - include appropriate salutations, paragraphing and a logical order of ideas

Extension - Skills Audit for Aptis Writing Exam


To perform well in the Aptis writing exam, youll need the following skills. Notice that they are not all related to English language proficiency. For each one, write a number between 0 and 5. 5 = I can do this well. 0 = I cant do this at all. ____ I can type quickly in English on a computer (over 30 words per minute) ____ I can spell well in English (without spell checker) and punctuate what I type correctly ____ I can proofread my texts for spelling and grammatical errors ____ I know how to write in both formal and informal registers ____ I am aware of the important text genres in the Aptis exam (complaint letter, chat room post, etc.) ____ I understand what I have to do in all 4 Aptis writing tasks ____ I know how to complete the exam on the Aptis website (Ive practised using the example test) How will you improve the skills that you have self-evaluated at 3 or lower? Discuss in pairs.

Jason Anderson for The British Council, 2013 The British Council is the United Kingdom's international organisation for cultural relations and education opportunities. British Council Malaysia is a branch (995232-A) of the British Council, registered as a charity in England and Wales (209131) and Scotland (SC037733)

Pro-ELT Upskilling Project


Key to Selected Questions / Tasks
2a) Despite the two mistakes (biographes - spelling / enjoy to read - verb agreement) the answer would get the full 5 marks according to the mark scheme, due to the generally accurate, natural English, good grammar and punctuation and full task completion. 3a) You will have to write 3 answers, with 10 minutes in total for all 3. The computer will not respond to your comments, but will produce pre-prepared, generic comments. Dont worry if they dont follow very well after your contributions. 3b) Answer 1: I joined because my sister was a member and she was always showing me really interesting books. I thought the membership fee would be expensive, so I was really surprised when she said it was free! Answer 2: The books are obviously the most important thing, but its also nice being able to consult the librarians when youre there. They can really help you to find something that youll enjoy reading. Answer 3: Ive only been once, but its really nice. You can take library books in there and see if you enjoy them before taking them out. My only criticism is the music they play - it can be quite distracting! 4a) It would get full marks - 9/9. Its a model answer. 4c) Suggested answers:
What changes? Length of sentences Spelling Vocabulary choice Often longer in formal emails. Contractions No idiomatic language in formal emails. No slang or local varieties of English in formal emails (e.g. bucks, mate, wassap? etc.) Little change. Both use would for hypothesising and present simple to describe current state. Conditionals may become more unreal and convoluted in formal emails (E.g. If you were to). Spoken conjunctions more common in informal email (and, but, etc.). Discourse marking adverbials more common in formal emails (however, nevertheless, therefore, etc.) Main change is less use of contraction in formal emails. Keep all other areas standard (e.g. capitalisation, full stops and commas, etc.). Other informal features could include !!!. Little change, if any. They should paragraph both (with vertical spaces, rather than oldfashioned indents). Arguably more direct in informal email, but this may be caused by indirect recipient. Obviously changes. See e.g.s. In formal emails, Kind regards, Yours sincerely, and Yours truly, should be fine. The above e.g. goes for the conservative Dear Sir or Madam -> Yours faithfully,. Note also full name in formal and extra line at end of formal email. E.g. informal Im really brassed off about shouldve rules, keep numbers down, ridiculous, buy, Library Blues! Formal equivalent I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with should have regulations, reduce the number of members, harsh, purchase, New Library Regulations -

Verb tense choice Linking expressions (conjunctions & discourse markers) Punctuation Use of paragraphing Directness of criticism Salutations and valedictions (how we open and close emails)

and, not only that

Secondly, while

Im really annoyed They didnt even ask us!!!! are ridiculous Hi Susan, Cheers, Ali

I am writing

seems extremely harsh Dear Sir or Madam, Thank you for your attention. Yours faithfully, Ali Mohammed

Jason Anderson for The British Council, 2013 The British Council is the United Kingdom's international organisation for cultural relations and education opportunities. British Council Malaysia is a branch (995232-A) of the British Council, registered as a charity in England and Wales (209131) and Scotland (SC037733)