In the first installment of this writing workshop we discussed presentation: Presentation is important because it reflects on the quality of our writing and speaks of who we are and how respectful we feel towards the reader. But presentation, let’s face it, doesn’t have much to do with the quality of the content.
In the second installment we touched on the topic of ideas and how to get them. Having something to say is essential for a good piece of writing. If we are unable to produce anything in writing, the teachers will also be unable to mark our work.
What next? Today we are going to discuss the assessment criteria that teachers at EOI Aragon use to mark compositions. It is important that we are aware of them, so that we can fulfill as many of them as possible when we write our compositions, especially if we are sitting an exam.
There are four criteria we should pay attention to when writing a composition: 1 Adequacy; 2 Coherence/cohesion; 3 Linguistic range; 4 Linguistic accuracy
Criteria 1 and 2 stand for 40% of the overall mark. Criteria 3 and 4 stand for 60%.
Is the composition well presented?
Does the student do the task completely?
Does the student keep to the required number of words?
Is the content (ideas) relevant to the task?
Does the student respect the conventions of the piece of writing (formal/informal letters, descriptions, articles, and so on).
Does the text read well and can be understood without ambiguity?
Does the text progress naturally, with no repetitions and no monotony?
Is the text well organized and structured in a logical order?
Is the text divided in paragraphs?
Are paragraphs and sentences correctly linked through connectors and through a good use of punctuation marks?
Are pronouns, adverbials and tenses correctly used?
Are both vocabulary and structures varied and complex enough for the student’s level?
How many different vocabulary items are used?
How many times is the same word repeated?
How many different tenses are there in the text? And conjunctions?
Is the student translating from his/her own language at times, and so creating incomprehensible information?
Does the text have (a few) complex sentences?
Are there expressions commonly used in everyday English?
Are both vocabulary and structures correctly used?
For most students, having something to write about and trying to make as few mistakes as possible are the two key factors when writing. But after reading the questions above, they might understand the reasons for the marks which are given to their compositions.
As you can see, composition writing is much more than writing in English, and much more than writing in English without mistakes. It has to do with our general knowledge and our understanding of the world and the way we structure ideas and present them on paper.
Next week: Feedback (the teacher's corrections of our written work)