Some students will feel that this is the major challenge. How can we get to perform well in exam conditions, without a dictionary and with a time limit? How will students cope with translation into the target language?
Firstly, this is not a quick fix. Here are my thoughts:
1) Make sure you are checking through all your writing compositional work from Y7 to Y11. You were meant to produce a writing paragraph at least once every two weeks since Year 7. I presume you have a lot of materials in your previous folders/ exercises’ books with very good key languages, tenses, connectives and linking words, star structures to use and apply for the exam.
2) Do not go overboard on translation - it is worth only 20% of the marks for writing. If you do too much you will neglect target language work which pays off in the listening and reading papers. If you have been doing composition for five years, you should be okay with translation. Students often like the security and analytical nature of this type of activity.
3) Your teachers must have provided model essays and spent time on modelling good practice with you, explaining how to get the best marks. Use all their advice to reach the highest grade that you can.
4) Pre-learn short paragraphs on set topics as for the oral. Weaker students will benefit from this. Remember that material learned for the oral may be reused in the writing paper and vice versa. Do not rush and stress while speaking (not that easy to control your nerves the day of the exam though.) However, if you take the time to deliver your answers while being calm and composed, pronunciation, communication and content will be clearer and accurate which means that you are likely to get a higher grade.
5) Always stress the primacy of content, communication, and range of language. These are worth far more marks than accuracy. In the past the weakest candidates struggled most because they wrote so little.