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What was the band score?

Last week in Step 1.17 you wrote comments on a sample Writing Task 1 answer. As promised, in this step there are some comments from an examiner.

When you’re done reading, click the ‘Mark as Complete’ button and move on to the next step, where Nuria will tell you more about the topic for this week: the Speaking test.

Examiner’s comments

Task 1b

This response is generally satisfactory. The writer highlights key points, and makes suitable comparisons. However, these points could be developed more fully. The writer makes a satisfactory comparison of pasta with potatoes. Then the writer gives information about rice. However, the writer fails to compare information relating to rice with the other foods.

In the answer, the writer uses data to support the description of the graph. However, the writer’s description is not always accurate. The first sentence of the second paragraph is not correct. Pasta was not the most widely used food until 1986. In addition, the consumption of rice was at its peak at 300gr at the start of the period, 1976. It reached its lowest point (not peak) in 2000.

The answer is organised in a logical way with an introduction, main body and conclusion. The second paragraph contains all the main points but some of the sentences are quite long. The first sentence of the introductory paragraph would be easier to follow if it was divided into two sentences. There are some signal words such as ‘in conclusion’. However, there could be more linking words, especially when the writer moves from discussing one food to another.

The writer has a wide enough knowledge of vocabulary to respond to the task. However, at one point the writer does not use his or her own words: the words ‘potatoes, pasta and rice eaten by a European country between 1976 and 2006’ have been taken directly from the question.

There are occasional spelling mistakes and the handwriting sometimes presents difficulties for the reader – ‘pasta was peutin? popular’. However, on the whole the spelling mistakes do not prevent communication.

The writer shows a range of vocabulary to describe trends and patterns, but there are some errors in the writing. The phrase ‘the trend in grams’ is not accurate. The trend has to be defined – in this case it is trends in consumption. Other words and phrases that are inaccurately used include ‘it used to be erratic’. This should be ‘it fluctuated’. ‘Peak’ has been used in the wrong context – peak is a high point rather than a low point. ‘Returned to rise’ should be ‘rose again’.

In this response, the writer shows a varied range of grammatical structures and a mix of tenses. Although there are occasional errors these do not prevent communication.

One error in use of tenses is in the use of the present perfect tense to describe a period in the past (1976–2006). The writer uses the present perfect tense incorrectly. ‘Has fell’ is incorrectly formed – the past participle should be ‘fallen’ and in any case the simple past tense ‘fell’ should be used. Similarly ‘doubled’ should be used instead of ‘has doubled’.

The contracted form ‘it’s’, has been used (‘it’s clear’, and ‘it’s possible’) However, these words should be written in full in a formal piece of writing.

The verb ‘used to’ (‘used to be erratic’) is used incorrectly. It should be ‘was erratic’.

Generally, however, in this answer sentence structure is well controlled and the message can be understood without difficulty.

Overall band score: 6

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