COMPOSING SECTION – Writing an article.

So you’re planning on writing an ARTICLE in the ATAR exam. Sweet! 😎🤙
Here's some TIPS!
🌳 TITLE – this may be easier to do at the end. Make it interesting, e.g. use a pun or metaphor etc. BUT, don’t waste valuable time on it. If you’ve got nothin’, call it anything relevant. E.G. 'CLIMATE CHANGE' is perfectly acceptable! 😊
🌳 BYLINE – this is a good way to signal that you’re writing an article and introduce a topic. E.G. “Jessica Jones explores why climate change has become a burning issue.”
🌳 Use a HOOK (opening paragraph) to engage your reader – anecdote, imagine that…, rhetorical question, statistic or fact, famous quote, song lyric, line of poetry etc.
🌳 Have 3 to 5 strong POINTS/ARGUMENTS to make about the topic/idea.
🌳 Use statistics, factual information and quotations from experts/professionals.
REMEMBER: it's okay to make these things up since your piece of writing is a fictional composition. BUT - make sure figures and experts are believable!
🌳 Use SMALL paragraphs, as you would expect to find in an article. Totally fine to have one paragraph as a quotation from an expert.
🌳 Articles generally use more FORMAL language and can be written from the third person point of view. This can be different to blogs or editorials or opinion pieces (which can be more personal, collquial, emotive and written from the first-person point of view).
🌳 Use a variety of LANGUAGE DEVICES such as: repetition, rhetorical questions, listing or tricolon, personal/inclusive pronouns, simile, metaphor, hyperbole, anecdote, jargon, imperatives, analogy, allusion etc. Show off with your language! Show your marker how GOOD you are at writing! 😉
🌳 Finish with a strong CONCLUDING statement. Perhaps create a circular STRUCTURE by linking back to your opening paragraph somehow (your hook).
Students who prefer non-fiction and have a good knowledge of world and social issues, are more likely to choose this FORM of writing in the COMPOSING SECTION .
Ensure you can BACK UP your points and arguments with specific evidence.
For example, if your article is about the amount of WASTE IN SOCIETY, then mention the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch', a floating island of plastic now 3 times the size of France, floating between California and Hawaii.
OR you could mention the recent warning from the world’s leading climate scientists that we have only 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C.
Notice how specific these two examples are? That's what you're after - use factual evidence to make your argument strong, persuasive, convincing!
FINAL TIP:  Watch the news at least 3x a week between now and your ATAR exam to build your knowledge of social/world issues!

COMPOSING SECTION – STEP 1:  Deciding WHAT to write (i.e. FORM)

By Yr 12 you should have some idea of your writing strengths.  You may be a kick ass story writer, you may have a great sense of humor and wit that lends itself to satirical articles or you may be a speech writer good enough to outdo Obama.

Or you may have absolutely no idea what your strengths are and deciding what to write in this section makes you want to vomit!  If that is the case, our advice is to choose the FORM you find the easiest to write in and go from there 😊

The trick it to make it really clear to the marker what FORM you are writing in.

This is where SIGNPOSTING is really valuable.

Do you recognise the following FORMS of writing based on the SIGNPOSTING in their openings?

TIP:  DIARY OR JOURNAL WRITING should focus on exploring the emotions, attitudes, values, beliefs, fears, dreams, motivations etc. of an individual (non-fiction) or character (fiction).  It’s a highly EMOTIVE AND PERSONAL FORM of writing.  That’s why people hide diaries/journals or lock them up, especially from getting into the hands of a little brother or sister!


TIP:  ARTICLE / FEATURE ARTICLE - you gotta know your stuff!  Particularly about SOCIAL ISSUES in the world:  the problems with plastic and the impact on our environment, the refugee crisis, how social media is affecting our privacy and security etc.  ARTICLE writing relies on facts, statistics and hard evidence (anecdotes, quotations, specific examples etc).  Your ideas need to be strong.

ALSO, they can come from texts you’ve studied during the year – gender inequality (The Handmaid’s Tale), PTSD in soldiers (Slaughterhouse Five), gun control in America (Bowling for Columbine) etc.


TIP:  Open your DEBATING SPEECH with some sort of HOOK or OPENING STATEMENT and then address the audience and topic.  It’s a little more sophisticated that way.  Also, DEBATES can be a great FORM for exam questions that ask you to “construct two brief texts that represent different perspectives.”  First speaker of the AFF versus first speak of the NEG.


TIP:  When writing DRAMA SCRIPTS use the STAGE DIRECTIONS to show setting, symbolism and actions of the characters.  The DIALOGUE will drive the ideas or issues so be sure to tap into the attitudes, values and beliefs of the characters you’ve constructed when writing their dialogue.  And of course, lay it out as you would expect to read it in a script.


TIP:  SPEECHES rely on strong content knowledge (ideas, issues, attitudes, values) and all the RHETORICAL DEVICES that speech writers draw on.  Again, a HOOK is the best way to start – as shown in this excerpt from Stan Grant’s speech from 2015.


TIP:  NARRATIVE + GENRE.  Try lifting the sophistication of your story by writing in a particular GENRE.  You can tell this excerpt is a THRILLER NARRATIVE because of the conventions associated with the THRILLER GENREdark night, bad weather, female protagonist (alone) in entirely inappropriate footwear, phone is flat, isolated train platform, only one tiny light.  Proper scary stuff!

Write in a Science Fiction genre, or Zombie genre, or Fantasy or Dystopian or Western (to name a few)


  • Opinion Piece
  • Editorial/Column
  • Online Blog
  • Letter to the Editor
  • Interview (Radio, TV, Podcast)
  • Personal Letter form a particular era, take on a persona
  • Autobiographical Narrative from the perspective of a character or individual
  • Newspaper Report
  • Obituary
  • Film/Book Review
  • Essay

NEXT POST:   The Composing Section Step 2 – Deciding WHY to write? (PURPOSE)