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!

So, you’re planning on writing a NARRATIVE in the Composing Section?

Here’s what you need to cover to get the best mark possible 😊

🍄 Focus on QUALITY not quantity – think twice about covering too much time. Some of the best short stories only cover an hour or two.

🍄 Focus on the DETAILS.

🍄 Choose a GENRE if you like – science fiction, thriller, fantasy etc – and weave in its conventions.

🍄 STRUCTURE is important:

  1. Exposition
    • Describe the setting (year, time of day, country, urban / rural, location, weather)
    • Introduce your main character(s)
  2. Introduce a conflict or problem:
    • character vs person
    • character vs self
    • character vs environment
    • character vs society
  3. Create rising tension – short sentences are great for this.
  4. Climax
  5. Resolution

Your narrative structure can be chronological, use flashbacks, have a circular structure.

🍄 CHARACTERISATION – details will bring them to life!

  • speech
  • actions
  • thoughts – via first person or third person pov
  • appearance
  • interaction with other characters
  • values
  • attitudes

🍄 Depending on the question, you may be required to show an underlying THEME, ISSUE, SOCIAL VALUES, ATTITUDES etc.

🍄 Show off your LANGUAGE ABILITY

  • descriptive language - verbs, adjectives, and verbs
  • figurative language – simile, metaphor, personification, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, alliteration, allusion, symbolism

🍄 Vary your sentence lengths and types – short, compound and complex. Don’t start them the same way all the time.  Mix it up.  Keep it fresh!  It makes it interesting.

🍄 Proofread to within an inch of your life! Capitals, apostrophes, speech marks, spelling, paragraphs, full stops, commas.  A common punctuation error is the comma splice – students use a comma to punctuate the end of a sentence when it should be a full stop.

🍄 CHEAT’S TIP:  If you’ve reached Yr12 and still don’t know how to use a comma, well, at least you're honest!  Don't sweat it at this late stage.  But STAY SAFE and perhaps only use full stops.  Except in lists – surely you know how to use a comma in a list 😊   By NOT putting them in the wrong places, you prevent your work from being penalised so heavy when it comes to sentence structure and punctuation.

🍄 Sometimes the question may ask you to only write the OPENING OF A NARRATIVE.  In this case, the focus must definitely be on the detail (setting and character).  Bringing your scene to life.  Introduce the conflict and then end your narrative at that point.



This word can trip you up in the Composing Section if you don’t know what it means.
Here's the sort of question you might get:  Inspired by this image, compose two brief interpretive texts that represent different perspectives.  (2017 WACE ATAR English exam)
An INTERPRETIVE TEXT is defined for you on the last page of your YEAR 12 SYLLABUS DOCUMENT as “texts whose primary purpose is to explain and interpret personalities, events, ideas, representations or concepts. They include autobiography, biography, media feature articles, documentary film and other non-fiction texts.”
Take last year's exam question from above.  If you rush right in and write a narrative, then... BUP-BUM!  That’s the buzzer noise for UH OH. You didn’t follow the instructions. 😨
Make sure you know what an INTERPRETIVE TEXT is.
You are probably more familiar with these types, but check ‘em out just in case.  They are on the last page of the glossary in your SYLLABUS document.
If you don’t know what the syllabus document is then you’d better click HERE QUICK SMART! 👍😉

The Composing Section, Step 3 –  Who, When, Where? (AUDIENCE + CONTEXT)

While it might not seem relevant, if you’re seeking that elusive B or A grade it is well worth giving AUDIENCE and CONTEXT some consideration BEFORE you start writing.  It can make your piece of writing more MEANINGFUL than simply writing for a general or broad audience.

It also encourages you to be more selective of your content and language.

The best way to show this is to give you some examples:

A speech delivered at the W.A. Farmers Annual Conference in 2018 about the benefits of using new technology (e.g. self-driving tractors, drones) in farming.

AUDIENCE = WA farmers, CONTEXT = Annual Conference, WA, 2018, a time when farmers are doing it tough out there.


An article written for Australian Geographic in 2050 reflecting on why Australia should have done more to protect the planet when they had the chance.

AUDIENCE = Australian men and women.  CONTEXT = magazine that focuses on environmental issues, dystopian future when possibly the planet is ruined.

A letter to the editor of The Washington Post in 1968 protesting the treatment of African-Americans OR to the editor of The West Australian in 1910 protesting the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their parents.

AUDIENCE = white Americans / white Australians.  CONTEXT = 1968 during Black Civil Rights Movement and following assassination of MLK Jnr, capital city of America / 1905 Aboriginal Act and Stolen Generations

A speech delivered at an Anzac Day service about the need for Australia to do more for veterans suffering from PTSD.

AUDIENCE = Australian men, women, children, political leaders, military leaders.  CONTEXT = 25th April 2018, a day of remembrance and recognition of the importance of our soldiers.

You could also write a narrative using the idea above – a character leaves a concert at Perth Arena and meets up with a veteran soldier living rough on the streets of Perth.

A blog post on TIME TO CHANGE website encouraging young people to place greater value on their privacy and security in 2018.

AUDIENCE = teens and young adults.  CONTEXT = 2018 has seen the Facebook data harvesting, Google listening, encouragement to give up personal identifiers with fingerprint security locks, facial recognition, voice recognition apps etc.

A speech at a secondary school assembly on R U Okay Day 2018 about the effects of depression, exclusion, well-being, importance of real friendships etc.

AUDIENCE = boys and girls aged 11 – 17years.  CONTEXT = A day designed to encourage discussions about how people are travelling, what might be getting them down, opening up lines of communication.

A book or film review for a popular magazine or website about AN IDEA in a text you have studied.  E.G.  A book review about the use of technology to monitor citizens in Orwell’s 1984.  Your review would be written for a post-WWII in 1949 (AUDIENCE + CONTEXT) commenting on this idea.

A narrative for an LGBTQ audience that is set in Perth 2017.

AUDIENCE = LGBTQ (teens or older people, you decide).  CONTEXT = during the period of the National Referendum for gay marriage.


Of course it all depends on the topics and questions you get on GAME DAY.  And taking a moment to plan your response in an exam situation is a difficult thing to do – you will be feeling nervous and every second counts!

But it really is worth it to take five minutes to think about the basics before you start:  WHAT, WHY, WHO, WHEN + WHERE.

All of this decides HOW you will write it 😊


The Composing Section, Step 2 – Deciding WHY to write? (PURPOSE)

Before you start to write, you’ve got to have a PURPOSE – a reason for writing (aside from the fact that your teacher is making you do it! 🤨)
The PURPOSE (your reason for writing) determines which LANGUAGE FEATURES and STRUCTURAL ELEMENTS you will use.
Look at these ones:
Use lots of descriptive and figurative language for a start, particularly in narrative writing. Humour, anecdotes and allusions will work well to entertain audiences in an article or speech too.
Use your persuasive language techniques (also called rhetorical devices), emotive and descriptive language, and try to appeal to reason, values or emotion.
Use your factual information, statistics, authorities, expert opinions etc to be convincing and believable.
As you can see, the purpose for writing dictates the type of language devices you will use. And you will be rewarded for knowing which ones to use when.  Watch this video - now this girl knows the art of being persuasive! 😎👍
NEXT POST: The Composing Section Step 3 – Who am I writing for? (AUDIENCE)