Global Strategies for the General Training Module Writing Tasks
The General Training Writing test is challenging. In one hour you must do two tasks of different kinds, both of which require advanced language skills.
This section describes the two writing tasks required for the examination and specific strategies which you might use for these two tasks. There are also five practice tests.
Suggested approaches to the tasks in the Practice Tests are provided in the Answer Key. Please do not read these until you have attempted the tasks. Remember that these are suggestions only and that your answers may be equally valid. It is valuable to discuss your answers with other students.
For the General Training Writing test you are required to answer two tasks, of different types and lengths. The types of tasks are summarised below.
|Task 1||Task 2|
greeting, 1 sentence
4 or more
+ yours sincerely, etc
– request information
– seek assistance
– make arrangements
To convince by:
– giving reasons, examples
– weighing up advantages and disadvantages
The word length for both tasks should be taken seriously; if your answer is too short you will lose marks. We will now look at each task in more detail.
Writing Task 1
Your task is to write a letter. To help you understand what you have to do, look at the example on the next page, and the strategies below.
- Who are you writing the letter to?
Look through the text and you will find that you have to write to a particular person or group of people. You do not need to give them names. As you can see in the example, the Writing Task itself tells you who you should write to. The introduction to a letter is the greeting, “Dear _____ “, and the first sentence gives the reason you are writing the letter.
- What are you writing about?
Once again, you will find the clues in the question. Check the example, and you will see how to find the subject matter of the letter. Be careful to answer each point in the letter. This is the body of your letter, and it should be one or two paragraphs.
- At the end of your letter
At the end of your letter you have a final sentence summarising what you want the letter to achieve and perhaps thanking the person you are writing to. Finish a business letter, or letter to someone you don’t know with “Yours sincerely” or “Yours faithfully”, and then sign your name.
Example of Writing Task 1
You are organising a trip to the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales for a group of students from Perth in Western Australia. Write to the manager of Student Hostel Services and explain when you want to visit the Snowy Mountains, how long you will stay, how many students are in your party, and what accommodation you will require.
Who are you writing to?
The answer is: the manager of the Student Hostel Sendees, so you will write “Dear Manager” or “Dear Manager of Student Hostel Services”. This person looks after accommodation and probably knows a lot about what is available in the area.
What are you writing about?
… explain when you want to visit the Snowy Mountains: give a time or times when you will visit.
… how long you will stay: make up a sensible period for students to visit. A weekend? A week? It’s a long way to go for a few days!
… how many people are in your party: say how many people are going with you. Five? Ten? Thirty?
… what you will require: think of all the things a group of students might need. You could ask about hiring equipment for hiking or skiing. Maybe the students are all studying geology. You could ask about access to interesting geological sites. Think about the clues in the question, and use them to write your answer.
Enlarge upon the clues given in the question. You are looking for accommodation, so you might ask how many people can sleep in each room, and whether you will require separate accommodation for any of the students. You don’t want to spend too much. You could consider, for instance, whether any student might bring other family members. If they do, you may need different accommodation for them. Use your imagination.
How will you end your letter?
Write a sentence summarising what you want the manager to tell you and finish with “Yours sincerely” or “Yours faithfully”. Then sign your name.
The Sample Answer that follows shows you one satisfactory way of answering the example Writing Task, but any letter that gives the information requested and asks the required questions would also be acceptable.
Dear Manager of Student Hostel Services,
I am writing to seek accommodation in the Snowy Mountains for a group of students from Perth.
We expect to be in the Snowy Mountains between June 1 and June 12. There are fourteen people in our group, five men and seven women, and a married couple. The five men will accept dormitory accommodation, and the women are happy to share rooms, but the married couple would like a double room. We hope to keep our expenses as low as possible.
Please tell me about recreational services in the area. The group will bring their own boots for bushwalking, but we are hoping to hire equipment for other sports, like skiing. Some of our group will want to hire geological picks and other equipment, if possible. We also need to know about access to caves and other interesting geological features in the area.
I am looking forward to receiving information about the Student Hostel Services and other facilities.