My Writing Score Breakdown
Read about my experience with the whole test here.
So I’ve received the breakdown from British Council. I was quite shocked to find out that I received only 6 for every criterion in Task 1. 😳 Frankly, I thought my report was pretty good, save a few points I’ll let you know below.
I think this will be a good case study for those who are about to take the test, as well as my colleagues who are teaching the subject.
Well, time for the big reveal…
# Task 1
The graph below gives information about the price of bananas in four countries between 1994 and 2004.
My attempt to reproduce the report (perhaps 90% the same as the one I wrote in the test; I remember I wrote 271 words though):
The line graph shows how bananas’ prices (in US dollars) changed in Japan, France, Germany, and the USA over a decade, from 1994 to 2004.
Overall, it is clear that bananas were the most expensive in Japan for most of the period shown, except in 2001. During the period, these four countries showed very distinct trends in banana prices, with Germany being the only country where the prices clearly dropped.
With regard to Japan, at the start of the period, a kilogram of banana cost about 1.7 dollars. After a peak of about 2.7 dollars per kilogram (dpk) in 1995, the price dropped and stayed at around 2 dpk until 2001, when it hit a low of just over 1.5 dkp, before finishing the period at exactly 2.5 dpk.
The two European countries, France and Germany, on the other hand, showed similar trends, with both starting the period with more or less 1.5 dpk in 1994, and after some fluctuation, standing at about 1.6 dpk and 1.2 dpk respectively in 2002. In the remainder of the period, while banana prices in the latter stayed unchanged, those in the former dipped to 1 dpk in 2003, before recovering to just over 1.5 dpk at the end of the period.
Finally, the banana price in the US rose from 0.7 dpk in 1994 to 1.2 dpk in 1995 and remained relatively stable over the rest of the period.
- I realized that I should have used “price” as a verb too.
- As written in the other post, I wrote 1.80 dpk instead of $1.80/kg. I know… 🤦♀️
- The overview could have been better if I include the price stability in the US.
Score breakdown from BC:
Now, if we look at the official public band descriptors, this means that I
- address the requirements of the task; present an overview with information appropriately selected, and present and adequately highlight key features/ bullet points but details may be irrelevant, inappropriate or inaccurate
- arrange information and ideas coherently and there is a clear overall progression; use cohesive devices effectively, but cohesion within and/or between sentences may be faulty or mechanical; may not always use referencing clearly or appropriately
- use an adequate range of vocabulary for the task; attempt to use less common vocabulary but with some inaccuracy; make some errors in spelling and/or word formation, but they do not impede communication
- use a mix of simple and complex sentence forms; make some errors in grammar and punctuation but they rarely reduce communication
Rereading my report, I realize that I went a bit overboard with subordinate clauses, the sentences look a bit monotonous. But there was no error.
Vocabulary-wise, I could have varied it a bit more and included more words (e.g. priced, pricing, a kilogram of banana cost etc.), but does it really deserve a 6 here?
To be honest, I am a little confused, so I’m going post this on Facebook and see what others have to say. Then, I’ll report their comments here.
# Task 2
Some people believe that women should play an equal role as men in a country’s police force or military force, such as the army. Others think women are not suitable for these kinds of jobs. Discuss both these views and give your opinion.
My attempt to reproduce the essay (pretty sure it’s 100% the same):
Opinions are divided on whether women should play an equal role to that of men in the police and military forces of a country. I believe that while there are certainly tasks that can be performed by women in these organizations, forcing equality in terms of roles to play is simply not practical.
On the one hand, women can certainly be active members in a country’s armed forces. In the army, for example, they can be trained to become doctors and nurses, as they tend to be more gentle and resiliant. And certainly they can fight as hard as any man in times of crises, such as during the current war against Russian invasion in Ukraine, where young men and women alike are both ready to volunteer to battle. Other examples can be found in the police. Although people often associate it with fighting crimes and maintaining public security, there are situations that are better dealt with by a woman, such as helping to calm a person in distress, who has undergone a traumatic event.
However, insisting that women should take on the same role as their male counterparts is a stretch. Evidence for this can be found in military training. Due to biological differences, women are simply incapable of carrying out tasks that most men can, for instance carrying 70-100kg of weapons and other equipment. If they are enlisted anyway, they may prove to be a liability. With regard to women in the police force, one is not hard-pressed to find footage on Youtube showing female police officers failing to pursue or restrain a suspect, thereby posing a threat to the public, as well as the incumbent officers.
In conclusion, although gender equality is desired in various aspects of life and fields of profession, I do not agree that women can take on the same responsibilities as men in highly specialized circumstances as mentioned above.
Now, just for fun, here are my own comments on the essay (I wrote these right after the test):
- I misspelled “resilient”.
- The word “incumbent” is definitely unnatural. I made a mistake I always tell my students to avoid: Do not use a word you’re not sure how to use in the test.
- I think I risked contradicting myself when I wrote “they can fight as hard as any man”, though to be fair I did the phrase “in times of crises” to avoid over-generalization.
- There are several parts I should have done differently. For example, I should have worded “biological differences” more specifically and written “thereby putting the public and the officers themselves in danger”, among others.
I handed the essay to a colleague and here’s his feedback (which I love):
- “Incumbent officers” is weird phrasing (confirmed!)
- The second paragraph is weaker. (This is interesting because I myself think the first one is weaker.)
- “is a stretch” could have been better phrased, perhaps “impractical” or “counterproductive simply for the sake of artificial diversity”.
- “fields of profession” is weird (Though I was reassured by a quick Google search—Perhaps it has also been used by some goofball like me?)
- Maybe you jumped into examples too quickly instead of elaborating on the general concept first.
Here’s a paragraph he wrote—an excellent piece, clearly worthy of a 9. A solid one.
Though it is preferable to have equal representation, female presence in the military should be encouraged, but never enforced through political means. Military has always historically been a male dominated profession, with women being only an insignificant minority. Even then, they were often delegated to non-combative roles – taking up the roles of medical support or left to handling logistics. The same could be said for women in the police force, as many hand-on duties (Patrolling or arresting) are more often than not, left completely in the hand of their male colleagues. The historical precedent for this is a simple one. Men are, by biological design, physically larger and stronger than their female counterpart, so are seen as more capable of handling tasks that require physical confrontation.
Score breakdown from BC: