englih language

non fiction writing


exam 2.

Unit 1 Section B: Writing

In Section B of the exam paper you have to create two non-fiction texts: a short piece, worth 16 marks, and a longer text worth 24 marks.

You will need to think about:

  • Content: what do you want to say?
  • Organisation: how should you lay out and structure your writing?
  • Accuracy: how good is your spelling and punctuation?
  • Vocabulary: how many interesting words are you familiar with?

Each text will have different purposes.

  • The shorter text should give information or instructions, or describe a place or a person.
  • The longer text will involve persuading a person (or group of people) or argue a point of view.
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genre, audience, purpous and style

Genre, audience, purpose and style - or GAPS!

With each piece of writing you will be tested on your understanding of genre, audience, purpose and style, so you need to be clear about the kind of writing you are aiming for - who exactly are you writing for and what you are trying to tell them?

For example, your text might be trying to:

  • change someone's opinion
  • encourage someone to do something in particular
  • make sure your audience knows and understands something

The examiner wants to see that you can adapt the way you write to meet different genres, audiences and purposes.

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Identifying GAPS

When it comes to the writing tasks in the exam, your first step is to clearly identify:

  • the genre - what type of text should you be writing, eg a magazine article
  • the audience who will be reading your text, eg teenagers
  • the purpose of your text, eg to convince people to do more sport
  • your chosen writing style, eg informal

Make notes on these four areas and use them to help plan your writing. Show that you understand how each of these will persuade the examiner to give you marks.

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Genre means the form of your non-fiction text. The lists below describe a few different forms.

If your non-fiction text is a letter:

  • put your address at the top right of the paper
  • put the address of the person you are writing to at the top left of the paper
  • start with "Dear..."
  • sign "Yours sincerely," (if you know the person's name) or "Yours faithfully," (if you don't - eg if you're addressing an organisation).

If your text is a newsletter:

  • give the newsletter a bold heading
  • use all the presentational devices you think you need - eg picture boxes and captions, subheadings, boxes for quotations etc
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Acknowledging genre

  • If you're writing a letter, you should include a comment such as, "I'm writing to you because..." or "...and that's why I thought I'd sit down and write you a letter."
  • If you're writing a speech, include a comment such as, "It's great to see so many of you here," and sign off, "Thanks for listening," or "Have a safe journey home."
  • If you're writing an article, think how a published article might open, eg with an appealing description such as "Think you know about teenagers?" Or it could start with a more personal point of view such as "Whenever I'm out with friends, there's always one topic of conversation that's bound to come up."

You also need to signal your purpose and audience as soon as you can: this means showing that you know who you are writing to and why.

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You can signal the audience you are writing for by:

  • using the right vocabulary in the headline of your newsletter (either chatty or formal language)
  • choosing a specific publication to write your magazine article in
  • using the right words and expressions throughout your writing


You can signal the purpose of your writing by:

  • explaining why you are writing your letter in the opening sentence
  • explaining what your article is about in the introductory paragraph
  • saying what your newsletter is aiming to do in a big bold headline
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Question:Write a letter to a friend, explaining why you would like him or her to join you in a visit to a place which you think is very special.


Letter (of invitation) AUDIENCE A friend (a teenager like you) PURPOSE Explain and describe (one of your favourite places) STYLE Chatty but persuasive and detailedQuestion

Write a letter to the local newspaper complaining about an article critical of teenagers. Argue that teenagers simply do not have enough facilities to keep them busy.

GENRE Letter PURPOSE Argue a point and make someone do something about it AUDIENCE Newspaper editor and readers of the newspaper (the best letters get printed) STYLE Formal and forceful

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Write a letter to the local newspaper complaining about an article critical of teenagers. Argue that teenagers simply do not have enough facilities to keep them busy.

"Dear Sir,

I was appalled to read the article in your newspaper last week criticising teenagers. As a parent of one myself, I feel personally insulted by the arrogant tone and ignorant attitude of your journalist.

My own son, for example, used to play in the local playground until two months ago when it was closed and bulldozed. All this was done just so some adults (who you might think are excellent role models) could get a nice view from their windows..."

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