A+ Grade Sample Writing Piece for the NSW Selective Schools Test & Why it's Good

What does a good writing piece for the NSW selective school test look like?  It has the makings of any good writing piece - that means it’ll have:

  • Good structure
  • Lots of great ‘showing as opposed to telling’ and last but not least
  • ‘Relevancy’ to the question at hand.

That means simply, if the examiner has asked you to write a story on a rabbit - please do not write a story about a dog or anything else.  Unless that dog has a best friend that’s a rabbit (but even then the rabbit must be central to the story) - just don’t name them Rebecca Rabbit or Danny Dog as the plot would resemble something out of a Peppa Pig episode!

The sample writing test that the NSW Department of Education has released on its selective school test website is interesting.  Download it at http://www.schools.nsw.edu.au/media/downloads/schoolsweb/learning/k_6assessments/ss/shs_testWrite2.pdf

First, there are no faces.  Just a bunch of hands, microphones.

Look at the dress - most people have suits.

The actions?  We’ll everyone is recording something so the image is saying “There’s something really important being said that needs to be recorded”.  Think about things like “breaking news”.

So how does one write about this?  Here’s a sample essay one of the students I tutored did (you can also now get me to tutor you via video on examsuccess.com.au).  Her essay is excellent and I’ll go into detail why later on.  First, let’s just read her essay:

I barrel my way through the crowd of reporters, desperate for the first scoop of the scene happening.  

We were notified that a nine stack car crash had occurred leaving at least ten people seriously injured.  The reporter who would be able to secure an interview with the Officer would be praised and glorified back at the office.  The warm ashphalt did nothing to hinder the stampede happening before my very eyes. Handbags, microphones and audio recorders were being waved about in air, or dropped and abandoned on the floor. A cacophony of noises surrounded my ears, almost bursting my eardrums.  The reporters were like slick and well-dressed vultures scrambling forward and closing in on their prey.

* “Move out of my way! I said move!” I shouted helplessly, but my pleas were lost in the cries of other questions  that were aimed at the Officers protecting the crime scene.  Finally barging headfirst and securing a spot near the front of the crowd, I started firing questions of my own.  It was the only way the Officer could hear me.  This was my chance to get glory.*

* “Sir, how did you break the news to the unfortunate familes of the victims while you were eating hamburgers at McDonald’s? And did you really assist the car crash with the true conspirators?” As those words left my mouth the Officer’s friendly demeanour turned sour.  With a menacing scowl upon his youthful face he growled “Just. Get. Out.”  Slowly, one by one, each journalist turned on me having the same scowls on their faces as the Officer.*

I knew I had broken the one rule of journalism which was to never anger the interviewee.  In seconds my moment of glory turned into shame and in worse still, it was recorded by dozens of voice recorders and notes.  I would never be able to regain my dignity. ~ by N S.

So why is this sample essay good?

  1. Originality - it’s written in the perspective of the journalist and interesting.

  2. Relates back to the question - there’s no doubt that the image has been incorporated as the main event and central theme.

  3. Great description - check out the words she’s using ‘moment of glory’, ‘pleas were lost’, ‘well dressed vultures’, ‘warm asphalt’, ’cacophony’.  By adding description and choosing her words wisely, this girl was able to write a very vivid story.  It’s a great writing piece!

  4. Structure - see how her writing flows well.  Read through your own writing - does it make sense to you?  Does it flow?  If it doesn’t go back and fix it up.

  5. Not to long or too short.  People ask how many words do you need to write and most teachers never really give you an answer that you’re looking for (really?  why no answer).  Look, IMHO (in my honest opinion), should be looking at 250 words.  But good writing over bad any day.  Write 100 words of a very good piece of writing will trump 1000 of really bad writing.  The length of this piece is just right.

Hope you enjoyed this blog post and comment below - what would you have written your story on if that picture was your exam question for the NSW selective schools high school placement test?

Next: You Can and You Should Study for a Reasoning Test


Writing Study Plans (Creative and Discussion/Argumentative Writing) – 21 Weeks | Exam Success Blog August 14, 2014

[…] The study plan I’ve used here, in combination with tutoring and also because the student I tutored was already an A student resulted in her writing an A+ grade essay – which you can check it out here. […]

Black Hiss September 06, 2015

Hey guys I am studying for a year 7 exam and that helped a lot thank you sooooooooooooooooooo much

Patrick September 09, 2015

thanks this is helping me for my year 11 standard english exam tomorrow ty

critical October 08, 2015

AMAZING!!!!:):):):) Although at the start of the essay i was tentative whether the essay was worth reading. The piece did give an excellent view in your head however, the piece's resolution and climax was not evident. I think that although it is good in essence, marks should be taken off, as its too short and rather obvious that the writer has not had enough time to complete his/her essay, thus the reason it has ended fast.

critical October 08, 2015

This essay has the possibility of being graded with an A but unfortunately not an A+, as you are writing a creative essay and this is short and it is not fully evident to the marker that the student has been paying attention in class and extracting the largest amount of information. This should be graded as an A.

sohail October 21, 2015

ive learnt a couple of things to im studying for the creative yearly exam for english

Student February 21, 2016

Hi, my selective exam is on 10th March 2016. Creative writing is my weak point so could you please post more blog posts like this??

Matilda February 27, 2016

Is this story in past tense or present tense? Is it just me or is she writing in both because she writes "I barrel my way through" and "I shouted helplessly" . I don't know wether to write in past or present tense for the creative writing sorry for the Perth Modern School test.

Sampada March 05, 2016

i am not that weak at writing but i am the weakest at GA can i have some tips (i am also doing selective this Thursday

hi March 07, 2016

me toooo good luck!

Aayan May 06, 2016

AMAZING!!!!!! Thank you so much this will help me a lot when I do my year 7 exam tomorrow THANKS A LOT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dat Guy June 17, 2016

You da best Vi

Jamie September 04, 2016

This essay lacks imagination but thats everything to do with age and life experience. Open ended writing prompts like this deserves drama. How about a celebrity drug scandal (cocaine kate) or a scorned mistress of a politician (so many to choose from). If I was a teacher I would advise my students to be writing to themes such as scandal, lies, betrayal, deceit and revenge. The most potent, dramatic, devious stories stands out above the rest and shows the teacher who marks it, what this kid is really made of.

S.Mann November 30, 2016

hey you are from CCPS

Jasmeet January 05, 2017

I am doing selective on ninth march 2017 and this helped me a lot

S.Mann January 05, 2017

im doing selective this year

Hanatewakusoshiseotadashiteteriyakisuzukihondacivic April 24, 2017

I like this and i did same as him !!!

NOTHING February 19, 2018

I agree

Hasi says hurray!!! March 12, 2018

any one 2018 I am trying out for 2018 selective high school placement!!!!

Shesh Murali May 12, 2018

Yeah I am for nossal

critic January 21, 2019

Ths writting changed my life. I have been inspired to o well, WELL DONE...

Not Palmer March 09, 2019

Anyone for 2019 selective placement test??????

Lex March 13, 2019

who are you?

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