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NAPLAN Writing Test


NAPLAN Writing test information

The genre for the Writing test is either a narrative or persuasive. The genre will not be disclosed prior to the test day and students will not be able to choose the genre in which they write their response. The genre is the same for all year levels and is not made known to students, teachers or markers prior to the test. The writing topic for Years 3 and 5 is different from that for Years 7 and 9. This decision was made in 2015 to ensure maximum engagement and fairness for all students nationally.


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NAPLAN student writing test responses

Victorian schools can access scanned images of their students’ NAPLAN Writing test responses, which usually coincide with the release of NAPLAN 2017 reports in Term 3.

Please refer to the following documents regarding the use of NAPLAN writing test responses.

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Preparing students for the NAPLAN Writing test

Students who have read, written and created a range of texts in a range of classroom activities, are well prepared for the NAPLAN Writing test.

Test practice that aims to familiarise students with NAPLAN test conditions is recommended as a useful support strategy. However, over-preparation and focus on any particular genre is inconsistent with the approach to teaching and learning described in the AusVELS and the National Curriculum.  Over-preparation may also increase anxiety levels in students and lower performance levels under test conditions.


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Responding to the NAPLAN Writing test

Persuasive Writing

Students write to convince a reader of their opinion and structure their writing with an introduction, body and conclusion.

Students approach the NAPLAN Persuasive Writing test in different ways, some of which are shown in the support material provided in the following pages. (See VCAA Sample Teaching and Learning Activities)

Some students develop and justify their ideas, drawing on personal knowledge and experience or on more detailed general knowledge about a particular subject or issue. Some choose to present one side of the argument and may also include opposing arguments in order to rebut. Others seek to persuade by exploring both sides of the topic, before arriving at a clear and conclusive position.

Students also write in different forms. Most students present their argument in the form of an essay. Others choose to present their argument as a letter to the editor or as the text of a speech. Students may also use anecdotes or references to narratives such as films or novels to help convince their reader. Students cannot, however, present their entire response as a narrative (a story), or as a dramatised dialogue in which two characters argue.

Narrative Writing

Students write a narrative or story that develops events, settings and characters to entertain, move, inform or enlighten readers. The structural components of the narrative are the orientation, the complication and the resolution.

Students develop events, settings and characters in different ways, using first or third person narrators and past or present tense action. They may draw directly on personal experience and observation, for example, family or school events; or they may construct scenarios from multiple secondary sources such as shared stories, urban myths, books, films and computer games.

Students develop their stories imaginatively in a variety of narrative types or sub-genres, including fantasy, horror, quest and ‘teen literature’. They use language appropriate to their chosen narrative type, and arrange dialogue, description and action to support or progress their story.

Students support their reader by providing a sense of time and/or place (an orientation); they engage their reader by injecting tension or drama into their story through, for example, a problem or unexpected occurrence (a complication); and they provide their reader with a sense of completion (a resolution) by ending their story in an appropriate way.

Marking Guides

When reviewing writing results, please refer to the appropriate marking guide:

Further information regarding the assessment of writing can be found on the NAP website.

Please note that NAPLAN markers undergo intensive training and supervised marking before gaining competence in the interpretation of marking guide descriptors.  The marking guides are provided online for information but it is recommended that marker training be undertaken or that assistance from trained markers be sought before the guides are used to assess student practice tests in schools.


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How does the NAPLAN Writing test relate to the English AusVELS?

At all levels of the VELS, students learn to listen to and create a range of written, spoken and multimodal texts, including persuasive and narrative texts, for different audiences and purposes.


How does the NAPLAN Writing test relate to other AusVELS learning domains?

All teachers across the curriculum share the responsibility for developing the thinking processes and the knowledge and skills that enable students to confidently express and justify a point of view on a range of topics.


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Sample teaching and learning activities for persuasive writing

The VCAA has developed sample teaching and learning activities, based on the English VELS, to prepare Year 3, 5, 7 and 9 students for the persuasive writing task.

Each of the sample learning activities involves preparing students to express their point of view in a written text by creating a wider range of texts, in a range of modes. The activities are not intended to be prescriptive or comprehensive.

Sample learning activities for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 can be found at:

Year 3 (doc - 157kb) 

Year 5 (doc - 152kb)

Year 7 (doc - 173kb)

Year 9 (doc - 174.5kb)

The learning activities for all year levels focus on the same topic: ‘It’s cruel to keep animals in cages’. Separate teaching and learning activities for each year level reflect the different levels of the VELS and the range of NAPLAN Writing criteria.

Tables identifying links between the NAPLAN persuasive writing criteria and different levels of the English VELS can be found at:

NAPLAN VELS tables (doc - 164kb)

The VCAA teaching and learning activities at each year level indicate links to relevant sections of these tables.

The texts that students produce  vary depending on whether they are in Year 3, 5, 7 or 9, and there  is a range of ability at each level. Younger students begin with familiar topics, for known audiences; later, students go on to develop the knowledge and skills that enable them to present arguments on complex ideas for a range of purposes and audiences.


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Sample student persuasive writing

The students’ persuasive writing samples were produced by Victorian students from Years 2 to 9 during trials of the VCAA Teaching and Learning materials conducted in November 2010. These activities were informed by the Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening modes of the VELS English standards.

During the course of the trial, students created texts in response to the topic: ‘It’s cruel to keep animals in cages’. Students’ persuasive writing texts were not produced under test conditions, but as part of a range of activities. They have been annotated, rather than assessed. The annotations relate both to criteria published in the Persuasive Marking Guide (pdf - 5.82mb) and to the relevant VELS English standards.

Sample student writing and annotations can be accessed by clicking on the links below:


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Sample persuasive writing test topics

Sample VCAA and other Writing test topics, which may be used as part of teaching a range of persuasive texts, may be found at:


Sample student narrative writing

Student narrative writing samples are located in the Narrative Marking Guide.  Each sample is accompanied by scores and annotations designed to explain scores in terms of the narrative descriptors.


Sample narrative writing test topics

Sample narrative Writing test topics, which may be used as part of teaching a range of narrative texts, may be found at NAP website.


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