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Writing: What the Examiner is Looking For


Writing: What the Examiner is Looking For Revision

What are AOs?

AO stands for Assessment Objective.

There are 6 categories that are used to assess answers by the examiners.

It is important to make sure you include all the requirements, or ingredients, in your answer to get top marks.

In this section we will be focusing on two Assessment Objectives for your writing exam, which are AO5 and AO6

AO5: What does it mean?

  • You will need to communicate clearly, effectively and imaginatively, selecting and adapting your tone, style and register for different forms, purposes and audiences.
  • A key part of this is to organise information and ideas, using structural and grammatical features to support coherence and cohesion of texts.


Golden light, a final glow. The moor lays still, holding its breath underneath the diminishing sky. Up there, the last wisps of crimson from the sunset are turning ashy, and on the ground the postcard yellow and purple of the heather and gorse desaturates as the sun finally slips behind the tor.”


In this answer, sophisticated language like the verbs ‘diminishing’ ‘desaturates’ and natural syntax ‘heather’, ‘gorse’ is used to capture the scene.

Because the mark scheme asks for ‘a range of vocabulary‘, it is important to know some higher-level words so you can use them confidently in the exam.

Colourful imagery like ‘crimson’, ‘ashy’ and ‘golden’ creates a vivid impression. Furthermore, the moor is personified as ‘holding its breath’. Imagery and personification are both good language techniques to use!

Structural devices like complex sentences are used confidently to add detail to points already made.

The tone is consistent throughout, keeping to an extended imaginative voice that doesn’t identify itself. 

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AO6: What does it mean?

  • You must use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect.
  • You should have consistently accurate spelling and punctuation.



The night deepens. Long shadows lengthen and stretch into the gaps between rocks, painting them inky black. A sheep’s bleat breaks the silence. The stars, clear from loud city lights, stare down at their scene; unmoving and unchanging even longer than this ancient landscape.

In this answer a range of sentence lengths are used. For example, ‘The night deepens’ is a short sentence to engage the reader.

There is also a sophisticated use of language techniques such as ‘inky black’, ‘unmoving and unchanging’ and ‘loud city lights’.

Importantly, for AO6, spelling and punctuation is used correctly here, and a sophisticated punctuation mark like a semicolon shows good understanding

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