How Important is Task 1?

I have received this question from a candidate who does not want to be identified.

“A teacher (actually he is a friend) told me to forget about Task 1 and spend my time on Task 2 because it is worth double Task 1. He said just do a little of Task 1 and I will still get to Band 5.5.”

This candidate only needs to get to 5.5 in order to satisfy her Thai university for graduation.

This is extremely bad advice. Some years ago I also heard a ‘teacher’ give this same advice.

It is true that Task 2 is worth double the marks of Task 1 – that’s why they recommend spending double the time. If we do the mathematics we will see the problem.

Suppose a candidate does a quite poor response to Task 1 in order to spend most of the time on Task 2 and they score:
Task 1: Band 4
Task 2: Band 5.5

The mark is calculated this way:

(task 1 + 2 x Task2)/3

and the result is rounded to the nearest half mark, but rounded down if it is exactly halfway i.e. 5.25 is recorded as 5 NOT 5.5. So our candidate would get:

(4 + 2 x 5.5)/3 = 15/3 = 5 and is recorded as 5 overall for writing.

In fact, this candidate would need to score 6 on the Task 2 to reach an overall score of 5.5 in writing! (A Band 5 on the task 1 would have achieved overall 5.5 also – this is easier to do than getting Band 6 on the Task 2 essay.

So the advice to spend most of the time on Task 2 because it is the most important essay is actually WRONG. Candidates MUST balance their time between the two essays in order to do well.

This is an excellent question, thank you for asking. I hope this helps.