How soon – or how late – is it advisable to show pupils what the written examination looks like, or how the oral examination takes place?

In my experience, adult learners ask about these points very early anyway, and in principle I think it would send the wrong signal if I tried to dodge the question or postpone my answer indefinitely. Sixteen-year-olds (and indeed adults) often have friends who have taken the exam, and may therefore have formed an incorrect impression of it, believing it is fiendishly difficult or a piece of cake. For this reason it makes sense to put the facts on the table quite early.

I sometimes let them work with a couple of Task 1 questions from past exams. Then when they see them on the exam paper, they seem less off-putting than they might have done otherwise.

Vocational Tasks or Not?

As the written examination is expected to cater for pupils taking vocational courses as well as those taking “General Studies”, Both Task 1 and Task 2 have questions that lean in one direction or the other. The intention is, however, that all pupils should be able to answer all the questions.

In practice, though, the Task 1 question with a vocational slant may elicit more superficial responses from students who do not have any work experience or work training. For example, the “vocational” question will often refer to a “workplace of your choice”. For many teenagers taking General Studies, this may be limited to a Saturday job. In this case these students might be better off choosing the other option in Task 1.

Bullet Points

The essay questions in Task 2 have for the last few years had bullet points to help students structure their response and stay on track. These bullet points have met with a mixed response from teachers. Some think they are a good idea, and help weaker pupils to write and structure a better text than they would have been able to do otherwise. Other teachers say that bullet points are a straitjacket that robs the ablest pupils of the chance to show that they can organise an answer without help.

We may therefore see that bullet points are phased out, altered or removed completely. In any case it makes sense to prepare our pupils for the examination by getting them used to using given bullet points, and to formulate their own bullet points if they are not provided.

Link to Utdanningsdirektoratet “Eksamensoppgaver”

Some reminders for the written examination

Before you start writing

  • Skim through the whole exam to get an overview.
  • Check how many questions and parts of questions you must answer: does it say “a and b” or “a or b”?
  • Read the question carefully so that you are sure you have understood it correctly.
  • Make short notes of your ideas so that you do not forget them.
  • Use the bullet points in Task 2. They are there to help you.
  • Spend some time writing a good introduction (first bullet point). This will help you to understand the question and plan your answer to it.

When you are writing


  • answer all the questions you have to do
  • if it says “write a short text”, keep it short!
  • use quotation marks if you quote
  • use your dictionary to check the spelling of words you are unsure about
  • list any sources you have used at the end


  • use slang such as “gonna”, “wanna”, “kinda”, “ain’t”, etc.
  • copy and paste from your sources
  • recycle texts or parts of texts you have written unless you are 100% sure it is relevant

Before you hand it in, have a short rest (if you have time), then

  • read what you have written to see if you have made any language mistakes
  • see if you repeated any words a lot (e.g. “very”). If so, can you find other words?
  • check that your paragraphs are clearly marked (empty line)
  • ask yourself if your sentences are linked clearly enough
  • make sure that there are no sentences that are too long
  • see if there are any short sentences that could be joined together
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