Extended Writing Exam Tips

How to Pass the Extended Writing Section

Key Skills Covered

How Are You Assessed?

  • According to Acer’s Practise Now booklet on the Victoria Police Entrance Exam, your essay will be accessed on 5 criteria including:
  • Correct English ie, punctuation, grammar & spelling
  • Appropriate language
  • Writing organised in a logical manner
  • Arguments are supported with appropriate evidence
  • Page length (300-350 words)
The above criteria are then placed in 3 categories; proficient, partially proficient and not proficient. What marks (a total of 20) are provided for each of the above criteria, I do not know, but we have a framework to work with. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.


Correct English
To be considered ‘proficient’, according to Acer’s Prastice Now booklet, your essay will need to include:

  • Correct spelling for majority of words (does not include U.S spelling)
  • Punctuation is used correctly ie, full stops, commas etc
  • Proper grammar is used such as verb tenses ie, the correct words are used to describe the past, present or future. For example:
    I am hungry = present tense
    I was hungry = past tense
    I will be hungry = future tense
Appropriate Language
  • Use formal language, ie, don’t use slang or swear words.
  • Make sure to to differentiate between your personal beliefs/arguments from those of others. 
  • Use technical language if required, ie, if you are using a scientific study presented from the exam text to support your argument, make sure you reference where it came from and the year, for example, “According to the 2009 Study in Nature, blah blah blah”
Writing organised in a logical manner
  • Include and introduction where you state your position on the issue and provide a brief summary of your main points
  • Your body paragraphs should follow the “S.E.X” model: Statement, Explanation & Example.
  • Each paragraph should be about one topic
Arguments are supported with appropriate evidence
  • Evidence can be taken from the text in the exam or sourced from knowledge you may already have.
  • Try not to overthink your point of view or worry about including your own knowledge. You can take all the ideas presented in the exam text to use in your essay, no problems.

Page length (300-350 words)

  • Page length is approx 1 page of hand writing.
Now we have completed an overview on how you will be marked, let’s move on planning your essay response.
 

3 Steps to Plan Your Essay Response

In the exam, you will be presented with two pieces of text. Each piece is from a different person’s point of view on a topic. The topic in the Practise Now booklet is about whether performance enhancing drugs should be allowed in sports.

Once you have read through the two texts in the exam, it’s time to plan out your essay response. Make sure you do this so your thoughts and arguments are clear before diving into the writing. Below we will go through the plan before applying it to an example.

Step 1: State your position on the topic
This is where you decide where you stand on the topic. Are you for or against? Or perhaps, you are in the middle.

Step 2: List Key Points
List at least 3 points that you can use to support your position. 4-6 is good and then you can narrow it down to 3-4 strongest points. Each of these will be used as an opening statement in your paragraphs.

Step 3: Add Supporting Info for Each Point
Once you have a bunch of points you can use for your argument, list supporting information you will use. These can include, facts, examples, statistics, logical conclusion etc.

Below is an example of two opposing views on a subject, which we will use our 3 Step Plan strategy for.

Example of Text

TOPIC: SHOULD ANIMALS BE USED FOR SCIENTIFIC OR COMMERCIAL TESTING?

Sharon Winter, a biologist who is in favour of continuing animal testing
Animal testing has contributed to many life-saving cures and treatments for millions of people around the world. The California Biomedical Research Association states that nearly every medical breakthrough in the last 100 years has resulted directly from research using animals. For example, experiments in which dogs had their pancreases removed led directly to the discovery of insulin, critical to saving the lives of countless diabetics. Also, the polio vaccine, tested on animals, reduced the global occurrence of the disease from 350,000 cases in 1988 to 27 cases in 2016. Without animal testing, the scientific community would not be able to produce these medical breakthroughs, period.

Animal research has also contributed to major advances in understanding and treating conditions such as breast cancer, brain injury, childhood leukemia, cystic fibrosis, malaria, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, and many others, and was instrumental in the development of pacemakers, cardiac valve substitutes, and anesthetics. Chris Abee, Director of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s animal research facility, states that “we wouldn’t have a vaccine for hepatitis B without chimpanzees,” and says that the use of chimps is “our best hope” for finding a vaccine for Hepatitis C, a disease that kills thousands of people annually. 

Unfortunately, there is no adequate alternative to testing on a living, whole-body system. Animals are appropriate research subjects because they are similar to human beings in many ways. Chimpanzees share 99% of their DNA with humans, and mice are 98% genetically similar to humans. All mammals, including humans, have the same set of organs (heart, kidneys, lungs, etc.) that function in essentially the same way with the help of a bloodstream and central nervous system. Because animals and humans are so biologically similar, they are susceptible to many of the same conditions and illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, which means they are a preferable to test upon.

The vast majority of biologists and several of the largest health organizations in the United States endorse animal testing. A poll of 3,748 scientists by the Pew Research Center found that 89% favored the use of animals in scientific research. 

Finally, relatively few animals are used in research, which is a small price to pay for advancing medical progress. People in the U.S eat 9 billion chickens and 150 million cattle, pigs and sheep annually, yet we only use around 26 million animals for research, 95% of which are rodents, birds and fish. 

Bryce Wilson, an animal lover who is against animal testing
Animal testing is simply cruel and inhumane. According to Humane Society International, animals used in experiments are commonly subjected to force feeding, forced inhalation, food and water deprivation, prolonged periods of physical restraint, the infliction of burns and other wounds to study the healing process, and the infliction of pain to study its effects and remedies. The Draize eye test, used by cosmetics companies to evaluate irritation caused by shampoos and other products, involves rabbits being incapacitated in stocks with their eyelids held open by clips, sometimes for multiple days, so they cannot blink away the products being tested. 

95% of animals used in experiments are not protected by the Animal Welfare Act. The AWA does not cover rats, mice, fish and birds, which comprise around 95% of the animals used in research. The AWA covered 820,812 animals used for testing in fiscal year 2016, which leaves around 25 million other animals that are not covered. These animals are especially vulnerable to mistreatment and abuse without the protection of the AWA. 

Alternative testing methods now exist that can replace the need for animals. In vitro (in glass) testing, such as studying cell cultures in a petri dish, can produce more relevant results than animal testing because human cells can be used. Microdosing, the administering of doses too small to cause adverse reactions, can be used in human volunteers, whose blood is then analyzed. Artificial human skin, such as the commercially available products EpiDerm and ThinCert, is made from sheets of human skin cells grown in test tubes or plastic wells and can produce more useful results than testing chemicals on animal skin. 

Animals are very different from human beings and therefore make poor test subjects. The anatomic, metabolic, and cellular differences between animals and people make animals poor models for human beings. Paul Furlong, a Professor at Aston University (UK), states that “it’s very hard to create an animal model that even equates closely to what we’re trying to achieve in the human.” Thomas Hartung, Professor of evidence-based toxicology at Johns Hopkins University, argues for alternatives to animal testing because “we are not 70 kg rats.”

Because of the differences test animals and humans, animal tests do not reliably predict results in human beings. A staggering 94% of drugs that pass animal tests fail in human clinical trials. According to neurologist Aysha Akhtar, over 100 stroke drugs that were effective when tested on animals have failed in humans, and over 85 HIV vaccines failed in humans after working well in non-human primates. A recent published study found that nearly 150 clinical trials (human tests) of treatments to reduce inflammation in critically ill patients have been undertaken, and all of them failed, despite being successful in animal tests. The suffering invoked on the research animals is not worth the cost for such dismal results.

Edited content has been sourced from: https://animal-testing.procon.org

Creating a Plan

Step 1: State your position on the topic
I believe animals should continue to be used for scientific testing as they still provide the best method to conduct medical research. 

This sentence states my position and also outlines why I believe that to be the case.

Tip: Regardless of topic, you can start off your essay with “I believe that…” or “I agree with Sharon Winter that…”

If I was to present the opposing point of view, I would say:

I believe animals should not be used for scientific testing as the results of using animals in medical research is dismal.

Or

I agree with Bryce Wilson that animals should not be used for scientific testing as the results of using animals in medical research is dismal.

Good news, that’s your first sentence done and dusted, moving on…

Step 2: List Key Points

  • Testing on animals has helped lead to a range of medical breakthroughs 
  • But that doesn’t mean animal testing is as effective today as it was 100 years ago
  • All animals used for scientific research should be protected by the AWA
  • AWA should be updated to exclude unnecessary suffering
  • Humans should look to decrease unnecessary suffering regardless of the numbers involved with animal testing or meat consumption
  • Track record of successful results from animal testing to testing on humans is dismal

I’ve listed 6 key points that I could write a paragraph on. Now I’ll quickly a

Step 3: Add Supporting Info for Each Point

Testing on animals has helped lead to a range of medical breakthroughs 

  • Every medical breakthrough last 100 years all included animal testing
  • Eg discovery insulin & polio vaccines
  • Helped to advance our knowledge of treatments for a range of conditions
All animals used for scientific research should be protected by the AWA
  • 95% of all animals are not protected by the AWA
  • Rats, mice, fish and birds are not covered, comprise 95% of all animals tested.
  • AWA covered only 4% of animals used in testing in 2016
AWA should be updated to exclude unnecessary suffering
  • The Draize eye test used by cosmetic companies should be banned.
  • Continual testing on rabbits with their eye-lids held open indifferently is clearly inhumane. Instead, allow only a specific time period for testing allowing the animals some time to recover
Track record of successful results from animal testing to testing on humans is dismal
  • 94% of drugs that pass animal testing fail human clinical trials
  • Eg, over 100 drugs to treat stroke that were effective with animals were ineffective with human testing
 

Extended Writing Response Example

Introduction
I believe animals should continue to be used for scientific testing as they still provide the best method to conduct medical research. Although the track record from successful animal trials to human trials is dismal, the small amount of success achieved has lead to many great medical breakthroughs. Yet, more should be done to help protect the welfare of the animals used in testing, and with this in mind, the laws should be extended to cover and protect all animals used for research testing.

Notes
1st sentence = states my position.
2nd sentence = outlines my main argument. 
3rd & 4th sentences = provide an outline for my secondary arguments

First body paragraph
There is no denying that testing on animals has helped lead to a range of medical breakthroughs. The California Biomedical Research Association has stated that nearly every medical breakthrough over the last 100 years has included animal testing. From new discoveries such as insulin, to the development of vaccines like the polio vaccine and advancements in treating a range of conditions like cancer, testing on animals has helped lead to medical breakthroughs that have saved millions of lives. 

Notes
1st sentence = topic sentence for the paragraph. 
2nd sentence = provides more of an explanation on the topic
3rd sentence = examples provided to support claim

Second body paragraph
More can be done though to ensure a greater number of animals are protected during testing. Currently only 5% of the animals used in research are covered by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). This is simply unacceptable. Rats, mice, fish and birds, which make up 95% of the animals used in research are not covered. The AWA needs to be updated to include these animals, which make up most of the animals used in research. This will go a long way to help reduce needless suffering.

Notes
1st sentence = topic sentence for the paragraph. 
2nd, 3rd & 4th sentences = examples to support topic sentence
5th & 6th sentences = more explanation what I believe should happen

Third body paragraph

The AWA should also be revised to remove any clear instances of inhumane acts on test animals. As Bryce Wilson points out, rabbits are currently being tested to measure the effects of irritation from different cosmetic products in a horrific manner. These animals often have their eyes forced open for sometimes, days on end without respite to test possible allergic reactions to different products. I think we can all agree this practice, known as the Draize eye test, is inhumane and should be banned in the AWA.

Notes
1st sentence = topic sentence for the paragraph. 
2nd & 3rd sentences = Example of inhumane act
4th sentence = explanation of what I think should happen

Conclusion paragraph

Even with advancements of alternative testing methods, testing on live animals is still the most effective method for medical research. Although only 6% of drugs pass human trials after successful animal trials, the 6% of successes have saved and improved many lives. We shouldn’t become complacent though when inducing suffering on millions of animals that feel pain as we do. We can and should do more to ensure stricter practices are put in place to help reduce the suffering of these test animals, whose sacrifice, greatly improves our own lives.

Notes
1st sentence = opening position on the topic is repeated.
2nd sentence = further explains topic sentence
3rd & 4th sentences = summary of 2nd & 3rd paragraphs + call of action.

How to Improve

To improve your extended writing essay responses, practice… and then practice some more.

Start off by attempting your own response to the text above. Give yourself 45mins to finish the task and once done, go back and identify what things you could have improved upon. Then, repeat the whole exercise again. And again.

After some time, you will become better and more confident at writing paragraphs following the Statement, Explanation & Example model. Keep in mind that examples and explanations can be swapped around.

Wanting more practice texts to write essays on? 4 extra ones can be found here.

If you would like extra help on a question, drop me an email. 

All the best with your preparations!

Luke

For further Victoria Police Exam Tips:
Abstract Reasoning
Verbal Reasoning
Oral Communication Task
Numerical Reasoning
Summary Writing
Literacy Skills