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By Principal Examiner Ms Helen Toner

On attending the CIE Workshop for English 1123, I have learnt and confirmed the following:
Paper 1
Section 1- Directed Writing: The 10 Formats of Directed Writing that is examined by Cambridge is mentioned as
below. It mentions in the syllabus that the formats are 'for example' which when clarified
means the following

Police Report

Principal Report


Formal Letter

Informal Letter

Magazine Article

Newspaper Article



Nb: Here Leaflet is not taught in most schools with the idea that it has not been examined for
many years. This is completely incorrect. As this is part of our curriculum, it must be taught
to our students.
The biggest debate is, should we teach formats of the 10 directed writing exercises to
the students or not? As the question in the Directed Writing questions start with:"'Start your letter with 'Dear Sir'"
so on and so forth. The answer is a clear YES.
Ms Toner clearly emphasized the importance of students knowing the formats as it is a basic
benchmark of knowledge that student must know at Grade 11.
Ms Helen Toner, Principal Examiner for CIE English Language 1123, then clarified that
Cambridge reserves the right to ask the students to write the formats to questions anytime it
wants to. So the general advise to teachers is that they MUST be taught.
She also gave the reasoning as to why the Directed Writing questions are worded in the
above manner. It is, so CIE can validate the marks set for a speech or maybe an account or
a letter in the same way. As a speech has no formal format!



By Principal Examiner Ms Helen Toner
It must be remembered here that the candidate is primarily being tested for Language skills.
So it is more important that the candidate write appropriately for the question given rather
than concentrate on things like formats.
Word Limit:- The word count is to be anywhere 200-300 words.
If the candidate writes anything less that 200 then he according to the CIE has not written
enough to justify adequate marks. If he writes too much however there is a big chance that
he might be rambling on for no reason. Directed Writing has to be precise and to the point.
So candidate are advised to adhere to the word count strictly.

Section 2 - Creative Writing

1. Again as far as word count is concerned it was clarified that marks are not deducted or
that the candidate penalised for writing above or below the word limit. Also everything that
is written is graded. But the Candidate must be reminded that writing a 1000 word essay will
only effect his grade in the negative way and definitely not enhance his performance.
Also discussions were held as to the subject matter of the essays that the candidates can
It was made clear that students CAN write on bloodshed, gore, gothic, violence etc. as long
as he is meeting the requirements of Language upheld by the CIE. It is therefore advised
that students stay away from any reference towards profanity, abusive language and
anything else that can be considered inappropriate.
Candidates can also write on science fiction and any other topic related.
Also if the candidate writes an entire essay in a dialogue form, then marks will be awarded
for language skills and on content that is if it is relevant to the topic in question. Also the
examiner will check the candidate's work for essay structure and format.
2. Essay topics that start with:
Start your story with,' it was the greatest day of my life'.
Here Candidates are advised to start their essays with this sentence. However, there have
been cases when the students feeling under pressure have put the sentence elsewhere in
their essays. Then it was stated that the examiner will check for the content of the passagethat if it correlates with the given topic sentence and then marks are awarded for language.
3. Discursive essays:It was advised that candidates first answer the question given and the PROVE their point of
i.e Do you believe that students must be taught comparative religion in their school?



By Principal Examiner Ms Helen Toner
Here the candidate will decide in a yes or no and then intelligently prove or set up a case in
their defence.
4. Single Word topics:
These can be written in any way that the candidate decided. For example. if the topic is
' Building' then the candidate can write an essay on buildings or use the building as a central
theme in their essay.
5. Descriptive essay:
The candidate is advised to describe the topic under discussion and be very careful to stay
away from making this essay into a narrative expose.
It was highlighted that writing a directed writing response as well as an essay the
candidate can indent or leave a line between paragraphs. it is entirely the candidates
choice. However, that said the examiner mentioned that writing in block form with left
margin justified.

Paper 2.
Passage 1
Content Point
The candidate may write as many points as you like. Cambridge does NOT penalise for
extra written points.
when checking if the point is incorrect, it is merely skipped and the next point is
Length of content point can be long- however Ms Toner mentioned that if the student
writes the entire sentence each time then he will risk running out of space and also end
up writing irrelevant details.
It was also mentioned what if the candidate writes too many points in one box and hardly
anything in the other. Here Ms Toner mentioned that there are an average of 9-10 points
per section. SO if the candidate is writing 15 in one box, it is quite possible that the
points being written would be irrelevant. In conclusion, write an approximation of 9 points
per section. This would not be a sustained attempt.
Though the question states that students can copy from the passage. It is always
advisable that the candidates write the points out in their own words. This would save
time when the candidate is writing the summary.



By Principal Examiner Ms Helen Toner
Verbatim- the dictionary meaning, exact words, or word for word. it was asked why the
marks are not deducted when the candidates are copying entire sentences in their
content points. Here we are informed that the CIE has to date NEVER followed it as yet.
and since most students write with a preposition/ pronoun here and there it is not exactly
so called verbatim anymore!!
There have been cases of editing and over writing by many candidates in their exams. It
is advised that students write the answer in the border of the page i.e outside the box or
in the blank page behind the booklet. I believe page 11, however please number your
responses correctly. When the pages are scanned, the CIE examines and scans the
ENTIRE booklet. cover to cover.
The first point of your content point is NOT part of your answer.
If there is a question in the content point passage, you cannot quote the question as a
point. You have to change the question's wording or rephrase the question for a valid
content point.
There are some candidates who paragraph their content points in the boxes!! In such a
case the CIE examiner will award the candidate marks for each valid point written in
paragraph form. Queries were raised as to what happens if the candidates copy entire
paragraphs into the box. Again the examiner emphasized that the candidate will only
lose marks as it is not possible to copy the entire paragraph- as each paragraph will only
earn the examiner approx 4 marks at a maximum!

Here CIE penalises for :
Incorrect sentence structure, missing conjunctions/participles.
It awards marks for coherence/ variety of sentences used/ connectives etc.
A candidate may cover as many content points in his summary as he wishes. He may
even add points not mentioned in the content point section. The candidate is
reminded that here, it is entirely a TEST OF WRITING. So it has to be entirely in your
own words.
The candidate is advised to write the number of words at the end of the exercise.
The length of the summary is advised to be of 160 words. However it was stated that
less than 125 words will cost the candidate marks as it would not be a well
formulated response by the candidate in the summary section.
So that said an appropriate summary is anything from 130 to 170 words.
It is imperative that the candidate must have a CLARITY OF EXPRESSION IN HIS
Passage 2


By Principal Examiner Ms Helen Toner
Candidates are advised to write short CONCISE answers. If they give long answers
with unnecessary details then Cambridge penalises the candidate with - Excess
Students are always encouraged to read the entire passage before answering the
In the Vocabulary section Candidates are advised to give only ONE option for their
answer. Anything more will result in the candidate losing marks.