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The New GAT sample and the actual GAT 2022 writing tests

May 25, 2023 by Doug McCurry from BooBook Education

What are the GAT writing tests of 2022 like in comparison with the samples released in May 2022 and the old GAT tasks?

The only information given about the New Gat Part A writing test was the sample and the subsequent statement from VCAA that the two parts of Section A would take 10 minutes for the first part and 20 minutes for the second.


The sample tasks seemed to be based on the key terms in the revised English/EAL course of Purpose, Audience and Context.

The first part specified a context (school council grant), purpose (recommendation how to spend the grant), and audience (school council president). The second part specified the form or genre of a 'short report' for the school website.

Having read some hundreds of students writing on these tasks for the BBE marking service, it is clear that the nature of these specifications and the extent to which students understand them and conform to them is an important and challenging issue in grading these responses.

What should be the tenor of an email to the school council president?
How important is the 'appropriateness and effectiveness' of the writing?
How important is the suggested action offered and the reasoning to support the suggestion?

It is hard to know how these issues are to be balanced in making an assessment.

What does it mean to describe the second piece of writing as a report?
What should be the nature and tenor of a report?
How important is the 'appropriateness and effectiveness' of the writing?
How important is the substance and/or narrative about the implementation of the suggestion?

When and why would student responses to these tasks be found to be more or less inappropriate and ineffective?

The actual GAT Section A test is quite different from the sample. There is some visual stimulus for the first part about learning to ride an e-scooter and a direction to write about how to ride safely. The image in the sample task was more or less decorative rather than substantive. The issues of context, audience and purpose have disappeared from the actual task.

With the actual task, students presumably have to make reference to the suggestions about protective gear and hand signals, but what if the comments of the students are limited to these two issues? What would be the importance of a student discussing other issues about riding safely? What if they draw on the stimulus given for Part 2 in their Part 1 response?

Are the two parts graded separately or as a pair?

How important in this task is the assessment of the appropriateness and effectiveness of the writing as distinct from the range and substance of the issues identified by the student?

The second task is a 'short guide for e-scooter riders' that must refer to an 'online article' about a trial of e-scooters and an infographic. The purpose of the piece is to explain why there are rules for riding e-scooters. This task is a kind of exposition like the first task in the old GAT, but with a specified focus and involving a kind of reasoning.

One wonders about the comparative importance of language and content or argument in this task. Unlike the sample task which offered no stimulus, it would be possible to synthesise the language of the stimulus for this task into a response. Would such a synthesis be a satisfactory response? How important is the reasoning about why there are rules for riding e-scooters.

How substantial is the call for reasoning about rules anyway? Is there really much to be said about why there need to be rules about e-scooters? Would one offer the matter of having road rules at all as a matter for explanation or debate? We have road rules in general and should have them for e-scooters because otherwise we have dangerous chaos. End of story.

It looks as though the sample tasks had been criticised when published or they were found to be inadequate in trialling, and hence the actual test differs substantially from the samples.

One looks forward to having these matters clarified in an examiners report about the test.


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