The Vic Selective School Test is coming up soon on 18 June 2016! This is the main entrance exam to gain entry into the four selective high schools in Victoria being MacRobertson Girls’ High School (MacRob), Melbourne High School (Melb High / Mel High), Suzanne Cory and Nossal.
There are two writing tests (creative writing and persuasive writing) and together they make up one-third of the exam (1/3). The thing with writing tests is that if there is a deficiency or weak areas in your writing, this will show - especially in a time limit. In the persuasive and creative writing tasks, there’s no where to hide - unlike the four multiple choice tests. Furthermore, it’s not equally weighted. If you get average in the writing tests and above average in all 4 other multiple choice tests, you’re still unlikely to get a spot. The school wants above average scorers all round.
If you’re doing another selective school or scholarship test, chances are you’ll have one written expression test and if may be creative writing, discussion writing or argumentative writing.
To help you do better and not lose out on marks for the writing component of the test - here are three easy mistakes that you can try to avoid in the real exam (these are mistakes that I see a lot of during preparation!):
Mistake #1 - Avoid Telling the Story, but instead Show!
The A+ scorers ‘show’ in their story, they hardly ‘tell’. For example, “Xiao went to the beach to meet Bruce” is a telling sentence. A showing sentence could be “Twitching his fingers and twiddling his thumbs, Xiao shuffled through the burning sand towards Bruce, who was waiting eagerly for him at the water’s edge”. The difference? The ‘feeling’ aka tone or atmosphere. With the ‘showing’ sentence, not only do you know that Xiao met Bruce, but… he was nervous. You could pretty much picture Xiao meeting Bruce in your head, but with the ‘telling’ sentence, you don’t get any of that. Want to score well in your creative writing and stand out from the rest? Then avoid telling and learn how to show!
Mistake #2 - Don’t Misinterpret the Question.
This is a common problem in persuasive writing / argumentative writing. Let’s say that a question that asks you to write an argumentative writing piece on “Global laws should be in place to prevent whaling”. Most often a student would then write arguments on why “Whaling is bad”. But…these are two different things. The first is whether or not a global law is the right thing to address whaling, and the second thing is whether or not whaling is a bad practice. Our mind often links up law with doing the right thing and so most people thing ahh, this is asking me about to write about whaling being bad’. Wrong! it’s asking you to write about a global law. Even if you’ve written a fantastic piece, if you’ve written it on the ‘wrong’ topic due to misinterpreting the question - it’s the surefire way to lose marks!
Mistake #3 - Avoid too many Events and/or Activities in A Single Paragraph.
Have you ever ordered a coffee? Well… imagine if the person making your coffee decided you might enjoy a hybrid instead like a coffee that includes a green smoothie, ice cubes and to top it off, ice cream and a marshmellow. It would be horrid (although, consumed individually, those things would be ok).
The result is similar when students put too many events/activities in one paragraph. It’s confusing and the quality of what’s expected goes down. The paragraph then becomes just a concoction of a number of different things, but it’s not one or another. Sometimes, a coffee should just be a coffee. And a paragraph should just contain one main event that’s build upon and developed.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these insights and remember - these are things that many people do in the exam, if you avoid them, you’ll be able to gain yourself some extra points!
Want an easy way to improve? Join Exam Success’ Writing Club and boost your test scores for selective school, scholarship tests and IELTS.
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