Writing

The knowledge, skills and understandings relating to students’ writing have been drawn from the Statements of Learning for English.

Students are taught a variety of forms of writing at school. The three main forms of writing (also called genres or text types) that are taught are narrative writing, informative writing and persuasive writing. In the writing tests, students are provided with a ‘writing stimulus' (sometimes called a prompt – an idea or topic) and asked to write a response in a particular genre or text type.

The writing task targets the full range of student capabilities expected of students from Years 3 to 9. The same stimulus is used for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. The lines in the response booklet for Year 3 students are more widely spaced than for Years 5, 7 and 9 and more capable students will address the topic at a higher level. The same marking guide is used to assess all students' writing, allowing for a national comparison of student writing capabilities across these year levels.

Writing genre for 2014 NAPLAN tests

As in previous years, all students across Australia will respond to a common writing prompt. The genre of this one prompt will not be disclosed prior to the test period, but will be either narrative or persuasive.

Assessing the writing task

Students’ writing will be marked by assessors who have received intensive training in the application of a set of ten writing criteria. The writing criteria for both persuasive and narrative writing are summarised below. 

Persuasive writing

Marking criterion Description of persuasive writing marking criterion

Audience

The writer’s capacity to orient, engage and persuade the reader
Text structure The organisation of the structural components of a persuasive text (introduction, body and conclusion) into an appropriate and effective text structure
Ideas The selection, relevance and elaboration of ideas for a persuasive argument
Persuasive devices The use of a range of persuasive devices to enhance the writer’s position and persuade the reader
Vocabulary The range and precision of contextually appropriate language choices
Cohesion The control of multiple threads and relationships across the text, achieved through the use of grammatical elements (referring words, text connectives, conjunctions) and lexical elements (substitutions, repetitions, word associations)
Paragraphing The segmenting of text into paragraphs that assists the reader to follow the line of argument
Sentence structure The production of grammatically correct, structurally sound and meaningful sentences
Punctuation The use of correct and appropriate punctuation to aid the reading of the text
Spelling The accuracy of spelling and the difficulty of the words used

More information on persuasive writing can be found in the FAQ section for NAPLAN - Writing test.

The full Persuasive Writing Marking Guide (PDF icon 5.7 MB) and the writing stimulus (PDF icon )used to prompt the writing samples in the marking guide are both available for download.

Use of persuasive structures

Beginning writers can benefit from being taught how to use structured scaffolds. One such scaffold that is commonly used is the five paragraph argument essay. However, when students become more competent, the use of this structure can be limiting. As writers develop their capabilities they should be encouraged to move away from formulaic structures and to use a variety of different persuasive text types, styles and language features, as appropriate to different topics.

Students are required to write their opinion and to draw on personal knowledge and experience when responding to test topics. Students are not expected to have detailed knowledge about the topic. Students should feel free to use any knowledge that they have on the topic, but should not feel the need to manufacture evidence to support their argument. In fact, students who do so may undermine the credibility of their argument by making statements that are implausible.

Example persuasive topics and different styles:

City or country (see example prompt PDF icon )

A beginning writer could write their opinion about living in either the city or country and give reasons for it. A more capable writer might also choose to take one side and argue for it. However, this topic also lends itself to a comparative style response from a more capable writer. It can be argued there are benefits and limitations to living in the city and living in the country. A writer could also choose to introduce other options, for example living in a large country town that might have the benefits of city and rural life. Positions taken on this topic are likely to elicit logical, practical reasons and anecdotes based on writers’ experiences.

Books or TV (see example prompt PDF icon )

A beginning writer could write about their opinion of one aspect and give reasons for it. However, this topic lends itself to a comparative style response from a more capable writer. It can be argued there are benefits and limitations to both books and TV. The reasons for either side of the topic are likely to elicit logical, practical reasons and personal anecdotes based on the writer's experiences of both books and TV.

It is cruel to keep animals in cages and zoos (see example prompt PDF icon )

A beginning writer could take on one side of the topic and give reasons for it. However, this topic lends itself to be further redefined. For example, a more capable writer might develop the difference between open range zoos and small cages and then argue the merits of one and limitations of the other. The animal welfare issues raised by this topic are likely to elicit very empathetic and emotive arguments based on the writer's knowledge about zoos and animals.

Narrative writing 

Marking criterion Description of narrative writing marking criterion

Audience

The writer’s capacity to orient, engage and affect the reader
Text structure The organisation of narrative features including orientation, complication and resolution into an appropriate and effective text structure
Ideas The creation, selection and crafting of ideas for a narrative
Character and setting Character: The portrayal and development of character
Setting: The development of a sense of place, time and atmosphere
Vocabulary The range and precision of contextually appropriate language choices
Cohesion The control of multiple threads and relationships across the text, achieved through the use of grammatical elements (referring words, text connectives, conjunctions) and lexical elements (substitutions, repetitions, word associations)
Paragraphing The segmenting of text into paragraphs that assists the reader to negotiate the narrative
Sentence structure The production of grammatically correct, structurally sound and meaningful sentences
Punctuation The use of correct and appropriate punctuation to aid the reading of the text
Spelling The accuracy of spelling and the difficulty of the words used

The Narrative Writing Marking Guide (used in 2008 - 2010 PDF icon ) is also available.

Use of narrative structures

Beginning writers typically structure a narrative by adopting a ‘beginning, middle and end’ approach to story-writing with a simple problem and resolution. As they mature their writing reflects a growing understanding that the middle of the story needs to involve a problem or complication that introduces conflict, danger or tension that must be resolved. It is this uncertainty that draws the reader in and builds suspense.

Students can be inspired by the wide range of narratives they have read, seen and heard, from traditional tales, myths and legends, to realistic adventure and science fiction. They will be familiar with themes like good versus evil, and surviving against the odds. A proficient writer uses these themes as a rich source of ideas for developing a cohesive, engaging story with elaborated characters in an appropriate setting.

Example narrative topic:

The Box (see example prompt PDF icon )


National minimum standards

The national minimum standards for writing describe some of the skills and understandings students can generally demonstrate at their particular year of schooling. The standards are intended to be a snapshot of typical achievement and do not describe the full range of what students are taught or what they may achieve.

For further information on the national minimum standards see Performance Standards.

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