Hi. My name is Lee Kindler and I’m a literacy educator.
This video explains what’s required in the extended writing task and gives advice about how to write an extended piece of writing, an essay. The articles and example of the extended essay we’ll be looking at are referred to in the Candidate Information Booklet.
You can find the Candidate Information Booklet at vpol.acer.org
The extended writing task requires you to produce a clear and fluent piece of writing. You will need to read two articles that express different opinions on the same topic and then write an essay that clearly expresses your own opinion and point of view.
The task tests your ability:
- to evaluate and use different opinions on the same topic
- to structure a piece of writing appropriately, and
- to clearly express your opinion and provide reasons for it.
You’ll be tested on your ability:
- to use appropriate language and style of writing
- to spell and use grammar and punctuation correctly
- and your ability to manage your time efficiently.
You will need to use these skills at the Academy during your training and also once you have qualified and are on the job.
There is considerable reading and writing to do at the Academy and you need to be able to read complex pieces of writing, write clearly and give evidence to support your points.
This is also necessary in policing where you have to write reports and prepare briefs of evidence. You need to be able to structure these documents appropriately and spell, punctuate and use grammar correctly.
Both reports and briefs require the ability to identify relevant information in written documents. These written documents might be legislative documents like statements from different parties such as police, victims and witnesses.
Statements are a time, date and observation report that you need to compile and write. They need to contain specific and accurate detailed information that is relevant to a possible prosecution of offenders. This information needs to be reviewed by line supervisors and Prosecution staff considering the outcome of the Brief. Accuracy and detail in line with current Legislation are essential.
You have 45 minutes to do the extended writing task. This includes reading the articles and writing your opinion piece.
You will write using a computer.
There are a few things you won’t be able to do on the computer. You won’t be able to cut and paste, use spell check or grammar check. You also won’t be able to use bullet points, numbering, bold, underline or italics. You’re unlikely to want to use these in an essay but if you do, you’ll need to use the keys - asterisk, dash, 1 and 2 for bullets points and numbers. For headings and sub-headings, you’d need to use capital letters.
Your opinion piece should be about 300 – 350 words long.
Your piece of writing needs to be structured appropriately with an introduction, a body and a conclusion
It should be organised logically and use paragraphs with a main point in each paragraph and arguments and information to support each main point
You need to show you have an understanding of the articles you have read
And, you should also use a style of writing and vocabulary that’s appropriate for the audience. The audience is the people who are likely to read the essay. In a piece of writing such as this which expresses an opinion about an issue, the audience is usually people who are interested in or directly affected by the issue BUT in this instance the audience will be the person marking your essay.
You also need to use words correctly and to have correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.
And, it’s very important that your writing is clear and your arguments can easily be understood by a reader.
To help you understand what this means we’re going to look at how to do an extended writing task.
The first thing you need to do is to plan your time. There is only 45 minutes for this task and there’s a lot to do in that time.
We suggest you spend your time like this:
Spend 6 – 10 minutes reading the articles and make some initial notes or underline arguments you think you may use in your written piece.
Use 5 to 10 minutes to plan your piece of writing. This may sound like a lot of time but it’s important because it helps you organise your ideas and stay on track. You’ll also be able to write your essay quicker and be clearer and more logical than if you just start writing.
Spend at least 20 minutes writing your essay following your plan.
Finally, spend 5 minutes reviewing your writing making corrections to spelling and punctuation. You might even want to make some minor changes to wording.
These are the types of articles you will be asked to read for the extended writing task.
If you haven’t already done so, now would be a good time to download the articles and read them. You can find the articles in the Candidate Information Booklet pdf. It’s available at vpol.acer.org
First, read over the articles to get a general understanding of the topic and the main ideas.
As you read, think about your opinion on the topic. It may be something you have thought about before or it may be something you have never thought about it. You really need to have formed an opinion about the topic before you read the articles for a second time.
Make a note of the points and arguments you think are important and can use. There might also be points you disagree with.
You can make notes on your working paper or in the text box on the screen. If you use the text box, you must remember to delete your notes when you have finished writing the essay.
In this example, we’ve made notes on paper and underlined points we thought were particularly important.
Now you need to write your plan but first you need to be aware of how a piece of writing like this is structured.
It should have an introduction. The introduction has your opinion on the topic and briefly sums up the main points. The introduction is usually one paragraph but it could be 2.
Then comes the body of the essay. This is made up of a number of paragraphs that each present an argument or point. The arguments are backed up with details and evidence. You should aim to have between 3 and 5 paragraphs in the body. This means you need between 3 and 5 main points.
And, lastly is the conclusion. In your conclusion you restate your opinion and your main arguments. Sometimes the conclusion includes a call to action – what the writer thinks should happen.
Okay, now on to the plan.
You can plan using your working paper or the text box on the screen.
We’ve used the working paper for the plan as we want to be able to see it when we write the essay and not have to scroll up and down between the plan and the essay. You need to try planning on paper and on the screen to see what works best for you.
First, write your opinion on the topic. This will be included in the introduction and conclusion.
Now write down arguments of your own or from the two articles that support your opinion. If there is an argument in the articles that you would like to include because you disagree with it, write it down too. You can use this if, by disagreeing with it, you can support your opinion.
Choose 3 to 5 of the strongest arguments. Each of these arguments will be a paragraph in the body of the essay.
Now find evidence and details to support these arguments. These might be facts, statistics, or logical conclusions. Here you can see how evidence is used to support one of the arguments.
Think about what order the arguments should go in. Make sure they’re ordered logically.
Your essay will finish with a conclusion which restates your opinion and summarises the main arguments. You may know when you are planning how you want to summarise the main arguments, if so, jot them down. However, many people aren’t sure how they want to summarise the main arguments until they have finished writing the body of the essay.
Now you need to write the extended writing piece, the essay.
Here is an example of an extended writing essay which used the articles we’ve been looking at. It’s a model only and isn’t perfect or the only way the essay could have been written.
If you haven’t already done so, now would be a good time to download and read the model essay.
It has an introduction which, in this essay, is 2 paragraphs.
There are 4 paragraphs in the body of the essay
And there’s a conclusion.
So the essay is structured appropriately.
The introduction gives the writer’s opinion on the topic and briefly sums up the main points.
The paragraphs that make up the body of the essay each have a main argument and give supporting details or evidence.
The conclusion restates the writer’s opinion and summarises the arguments. It also includes a call to action.
The arguments seem to flow as they are presented in a logical order and lead to the conclusion.
Remember each paragraph has one main argument. If the paragraphs in the body of the essay were in a different order the overall argument would be disjointed and hard to follow.
You might like to try reading the paragraphs in a different order to see if you think the order is logical.
The writer has used information and arguments from both the articles, showing an understanding of them.
The writer has also used full sentences and a style of writing and language that’s appropriate to the audience and the task. There is no slang and the writing, while not being informal, isn’t too formal.
There aren’t any spelling mistakes, the grammar is correct and capital letters are used appropriately. The writer has generally used correct punctuation although he or she has used dashes instead of commas. It would have been better to use commas but dashes are often used now so this is acceptable.
Finally, look over your essay checking your spelling and punctuation. If you have time, you may like to make some minor word changes, insert or delete words or correct your grammar.
The best way to get better at writing extended pieces is to practice. Look for articles that have different opinions on the same topic. Editorial and opinion pieces for different newspapers may provide this. Longer letters to the editor might also provide differences of opinion on the same topic.
Practise making notes and planning on the screen and on paper. See which works best for you. You also need to practise writing using a computer but NOT using cut and paste, spell check and grammar check. It can take a little time to get used to.
You can also read the chapter in Practise Now! Victoria Police Entrance Examination on summary and extended writing. It goes over the points we have been talking about. Read over the explanations, have a go at the practice exercise and compare it with the one that’s been done in the book.
Try to get someone else to give you feedback about your extended writing practice texts. There is a table in Practice Now that give some guidelines about what a good extended writing piece should have.
Practise Now! is produced by ACER. It describes the types of questions you’re likely to find in the exam and provides detailed explanations of the correct answers. It’s available from ACER bookshop and commercial booksellers.
When you think you are getting better at this type of writing, have a go at the Practice tests.
There is information about how to get the practice tests on the Victoria Police Entrance Exam webpage.
If you are having trouble with different aspects of the extended writing task, say spelling or punctuation, you may like to contact the Reading Writing Hotline. They can suggest organisations they might be able to assist you or resources you could use to help you overcome any problems you are having.
So, I hope this information has helped you understand what you need to do for the Extended Writing Task. Good luck with the Exam.
Reviewed 15 June 2022