You are asked to take a personal stand in a formal letter, a review of a film/book or an article.

Discursive writing means that you may be required to either:

• present and defend an argument

•  express and then justify an opinion

• explain a problem and suggest a solution

• evaluate ideas and make recommendations

 The reading section of the exam lasts for 1 hour and 25 marks are available.

You are asked to write about 250 words

  •  Stage 1: Reading the question very carefully

 You need to read the question very carefully in order to identify the issue, the context, the writer’s role and the target reader. As a matter of fact, you will handle and write on the same subject differently whether it is a formal letter, a magazine article or an opinion in a forum.

  •  Stage 2: Making a plan

In order to get an organised and coherent approach and prevent irrelevant digression, it is worth getting into the habit of making a plan before you start to write.

First of all, you start with an introduction and then you figure out what your parts will be (2 or 3 parts). Once you have thought of the main points and examples that you need to include, you work out a more detailed paragraph structure before you begin to write.

  •  Stage 3: The discursive focus

 As mentioned previously, you will be asked to write a letter, an article, a proposal or participate in a forum. Traditional essays are seldom given. All of the task types require the language of persuasion, recommendation and opinion.  Also keep in mind that half the points are obtained with this discursive part, which means that the examiners will consider the organisation and cohesion as essential.

It is therefore necessary to use logical connectors so that we can follow your train of thought without being impeded by an inadequate development of topicYour writing must be well planned and paragraphed.

Moreover, the way you write must be appropriate to the task typeYou are not writing in the same manner when, as a reader, you express your anger in a letter to a newspaper and when, as an employee, you are making a proposal to your company.

Reading articles in French on a variety of issues will help you to develop your ideas, extend your vocabulary and use the appropriate register  as well as being conversant with the latest news taking place in France. Bear in mind that you must base your writing on specific criteria and you may not agree with the opinion you are asked to express. Thus, when you gain a good understanding of what is going on in Franceit will be easier to deal with the current topics which are submitted to you. What’s morereferring to real examples will impress the examinerIndeed it can be wearisome for examiners to constantly read the same generalisations.

  •  Stage 4: Mastering your French language

Apart from skilfully organised and coherent drafting with effective use of stylistic devices, you are expected to use a good range of vocabulary and expression appropriate to the task set as well as a competent use of a wide range of structures.

Concerning the expressions, your essay must include idioms and figurative expressions when you speak and write. You can find many of them in the French quality press. Without them, French people consider the articles dull and unappealing. Therefore, it is worthwhile learning a few of them that you can insert into your essay in order to make it lively and more natural.

As for the range of structure, we have to find in your essay clauses of cause, consequence and purpose as well as clauses of concessive-condition or opposition. As you are asked to express opinion, it goes without saying that you will use the subjunctive. Apart from this, you need a good understanding of all tenses, the position of adverbs, the use of present participle and gerund, object pronouns, reported speech, common verbs and adjectives and their constructions and so on.

  • Stage 5: Checking

Check your work carefully for grammatical mistakes and look for any words that have been repeated. Concentrate in particular on the first sentence of each paragraph and read through your composition looking for errors you are usually likely to make. If you suspect a sentence is wrong, rewrite it. Pay special attention to your use of link words. It is essential to use logical connectors to link the paragraphs such as cependant, de surcroît, en outre, certes…

Do not forget to count your words and remember not to write less than required as you will be penalised for doing so. You are allowed to write more than required.


You will find the grid the correctors use to mark your writing.