IB Chinese Writing Scoring: Completely Explained.
You feel the rush of adrenaline course through your veins as your eyes flicker nervously, keeping pace with your mind as it desperately rushes through all the vocabulary you’ve crammed the night before. Amidst the muted clatter of pens being laid out and finger nails rhythmically striking tables, beads of sweat trickle down as you watch the invigilators steadily approaching with the exam papers.
And then the moment of truth dawns, the clock strikes and immediately pages flick, eyes scan, pens click. You skim through each of the five questions, feeling your heart throbbing against your chest as you hope that at least one question will bear some semblance of meaning and understanding to you…
Such is the dread and fear most students associate with the IB Chinese writing exam, not entirely certain of the questions that could possibly come under what may be considered an overwhelming selection of topics. What many students don’t realise is that what’s expected of them in the exam can be fulfilled as simply as ticking through a checklist, given that students are well familiarised with the rubric for the exam. While one may never be able to fully guess the questions that may come up, students can still maximise their scores for the writing exam by fulfilling other aspects of the criteria. This blog will cover the main points all examiners are looking for in a well written paper, and comprehensively go through each criterion of the rubric. All it requires is a bit of planning and practice.
Every response to a writing prompt is marked against three main criteria, in addition to question specific criteria depending on the prompt chosen by the student, culminating in a total mark out of 25. The criteria are as follows:
Criteria A: Language (10 marks)
This criteria assesses the degree to which students use language accurately and effectively, and is scored out of a total of 10 marks. Essays in the top mark bands will be those that employ sophisticated and varied sentence structure as opposed to short, simple sentences that create a more listing effect. Students should bear in mind that the key to scoring highly in this band is not to spout out an endless list of idioms here and there, hoping they’ll add flair to your piece, but to ensure that the idioms are used correctly, and when they are used, that they actually enhance or add value to the message you are trying to convey. Idioms used incorrectly in the hope that they make your piece more sophisticated is more likely to hurt your mark, and therefore students should aim to only use a few key idioms throughout their essay as opposed to spattering each sentence with them.
There is some leeway with which mistakes you can get away with, however.
- Most questions have a minimum requirement of 300 words. Failure to meet 300 words (or whatever requirement stated) automatically leads to a deduction of one mark in Criterion A.
- Some mistakes (such as incorrectly writing a character) may not hinder the meaning of an article, and therefore will not impact the score as significantly as mistakes such as grammatical errors that disrupt the flow of the piece.
Criterion B: Message (10 marks)
This criterion assesses how clearly the message of the piece is conveyed. To score highly in this criterion, students should focus on including information that directly responds to the prompt and is organised clearly to enhance coherency. Often, this criterion is specific to the question. In the mark scheme, each question will have a list of key points the examiners are recommended to look out for in order to decide which mark band the response falls under.
These are some sentence structures you can use to improve the organisation of your piece:
- 首先(Firstly)。。。其次(Secondly)。。。最後(Lastly) – Use these as markers at the beginning of each new paragraph, or within the paragraphs themselves.
- 除了。。。。之外，還有。。。(Apart from….there are also)
- 總而言之(All in all) – Great word to use in a concluding setence
- 由此可見(Therefore, we can see that…) – This is a great summary word to use at the end of the essay to conclude and summarize the entire article.
Criterion C: Format
- The key to scoring highly in this criterion is as simple as learning the conventions of all text types as thoroughly as you can, and then abiding these conventions in the exam.
- For example, news articles should be affiliated with a newspaper (that the student has the liberty to make up), should include a headline, by line, date and name of the author. The first paragraph should also provide the key details of the article: who, what, when, where and why. It should be written in an objective tone.
- Conversely, a diary entry may simply have the date and weather on the top, and be written from a more personal tone involving one’s experiences of specific events, allowing for more emotional language.
Overall, while practicing various essays will certainly improve your writing ability, students should bear in mind that maximizing one’s score is more than memorizing and regurgitating idioms onto the page. Every student should ensure they learn the rubric thoroughly to write an essay that scores highly across all criteria by fulfilling the formatting, organization and communication requirements.
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