Top Tips to help you Pass the Aptis Writing Test
In Aptis Writing: Overview & Tips you’ll find a detailed description of each of the four parts. There are also tips on timing and how to do each task. Here we give you our top tips on how to prepare for and pass the Aptis writing test.
For many students, writing and reading are a lot easier than speaking and listening. This is probably because you have more time to consider the language you’re going to use when you’re writing. And unless you’re doing an exam, you can read at your own speed. In contrast, when you’re speaking you have so much to remember at once. Not only what you want to say, but also grammar and pronunciation – and you have to do it quickly, too. Similarly, when you’re listening you can’t usually control the speed of the words coming your way.
But even if you’re good at writing, you can still improve!
These tips will also be useful for doing all types of public exams, not just the Aptis test. For example, Trinity ISE exams, all the Cambridge exams, IELTs, EOI, Language Cert – in fact, any exam with a writing component. So here are our top tips to help you pass the Writing Test.
Before the exam
Top tip: practise every day
- Try to get into the habit of writing at least a little every day. Since you take the exam on a computer, it’s probably a good idea to practise that way. Even if you only write for five minutes, you’ll soon see an improvement. In fact, writing against the clock is the best idea, so that you get used to writing within a time-limit.
- Feeling confident helps in any exam situation. Can you touch-type? If you can’t, why not learn how? It’s a great life-skill to have, and is useful not only for the exam, but for many jobs and activities these days. There are lots of free online tutorials to help you learn to touch-type. We quite like typingclub.com as it’s very user-friendly, but there are many more.
Read as much as you can in English
- Reading helps you notice things about the structure of language – how it’s put together. It will also help you with other parts of the exam, such as the grammar and vocabulary test.
- The more you read, the better you’ll start to hear what sounds right. This will be especially useful for doing the ‘word collocation’ exercises. Read Aptis Vocabulary Practice Test 1 for more details about this.
Keep notes of your mistakes
- Whenever you make a mistake, write it down, and next to it write the corrected version. From time to time, re-read your notes and look at your typical errors. Studying these can help you prevent your mistakes from becoming ‘fossilised’. What does that mean? Well, if you always make the same mistake, it becomes a habit and then it’s really difficult to correct. Very often these ‘fossilised mistakes’ are small, such as mispronouncing an ‘-ed’ ending, or forgetting to add an ‘s’ in the third person singular. These things don’t really matter when you’re talking to your friends, but they do when you’re taking an exam!
- We suggest you write something like this in your notebook. Use a different colour to highlight the corrections:
I wrote … The correct version is …
He go to work every day He goes to work every day
She wanted go there She wanted to go there
How can I check my work?
- Of course, the best way is to have your work read and corrected by a teacher. But if you don’t have the time or the money, you could always use a free online grammar and spellchecker. These days, they’re a lot better than they used to be. OK, they won’t be perfect, but they will give you some indication of how good your writing is.
- The free version of Grammerly at grammerly.com will correct your spelling, punctuation and grammar. For example, it can tell you if you’ve forgotten the ‘s’ in the third person or the plural form. It can also check verb agreements. But for more feedback on style and level of formality, you’ll have to upgrade to the premium version. This is another free one that also has a plug-in for Firefox: https://languagetool.org/.
Which topics should I practise writing about?
The whole test is based around a common theme. This is usually joining some kind of a club, doing a course or becoming part of an activity group. The writing itself mostly takes the form of giving personal information relevant to the club or activity, contributing to social-media forums and writing emails. The emails are both informal and formal, so you should practise both kinds of register, or style. In Overview of the Writing Test you can read our sample questions and answers based around joining a film club. That should give you an idea or two.
During the exam
Make sure that you have understood the question
- Read the question and make sure that you’ve fully understood what you have to do. If you don’t follow the instructions carefully, you’ll lose marks for task fulfilment. Even if your answer is written in near-perfect English, you won’t get a good mark if you haven’t fulfilled the task.
Revise and check your answers
- Try to leave yourself some time to re-read what you’ve written at the end of the test. Under exam conditions – especially if you’re feeling stressed – it’s easy to miss something. Quite often you’ll be able to spot any ‘silly’ mistakes yourself, and correct them.