Written English (1 hour)
Your responses to the essay topics are written in the Answer Booklet. Working space is provided for you to plan your essays. Use a blue or black pen, not a pencil.
There are two writing tasks and candidates will write in response to a topic in each task. One task invites an argumentative response, and the other invites a personal response. Good preparation for this section of the test is to attempt the essay task samples contained in the preparation material on this website. Set yourself the task of choosing and writing on two of the sample topics. Make some time when you will not be interrupted and give yourself an hour to write your essays under 'test conditions'. It is often helpful to ask someone else to read your essay and suggest improvements or alternative approaches. It can also be useful to put your essay aside for several days before re-reading it to look for ways to make improvements.
Don't be concerned about the expected length of the MSAP-UK Written English essays. Within reason, the quality of the writing is much more important than the length. Remember, you only have 30 minutes to plan and write each essay, and the examiners do not have unrealistic expectations of what you can produce in that time.
The criteria for the assessment of Written English:
- The quality of what is said in the piece of writing (developing & exploring ideas in response to the topic)
- The quality of the structure and organization developed to say something
- The quality of the language used to organize and present what is said (using language precisely & appropriately to produce a clear & fluent piece of writing)
Some comments from the MSAP-UK markers about the characteristics of stronger responses:
"The stronger responses were those who could challenge some of the ideas (you don't have to agree with the topic!) as well as support their point of view in some detail".
"...Ability to understand the whole topic (not just address part of it) and deal with it broadly; able to discuss complex issues..."
"...Ability to use personal anecdote and bed it into a widerdiscussion..."
And characteristics of weaker responses:
"Writing which used lists/dot points/sub-headings was not successful".
"Over-use of cliches".
"Candidates often only dealt with half the topic and omitted addressing the section that would enable them to show some depth and substance".
Some candidates are very concerned that their poor spelling will have a significant impact on their marks. Don't be. The markers are looking mainly at content - they want to see you thinking ideas through, managing complexity, going beyond the superficial. They are more interested in the words you have chosen and how you've put them together, than how you have spelled them.