This is the fifth in a series of blog posts I’m doing in response to the number of Delta-related searches that bring visitors to my blog. Each post in this Delta Tips series will deal with a different element of the Delta, based on my experience of doing it (and surviving to tell the tale! )
The assessment for Module 1, as every Delta trainee is all too aware, is a 3hr exam. This consists of two papers, each one of which you are given 1.5hrs to complete, making 3hrs of hell in total. This post will focus on Paper 2. (For Paper 1, click here. For a collection of links to resources that might help you with your revision, click here.)
Paper 2 includes 4 tasks:
Task 1 requires you to critique a test, by identifying 6 points, which should be a mixture of positives and negatives, and their applicability to the learner referred to in the rubric.
Task 2 is based on an extract of course book material. In part a, the rubric directs you to focus on certain of the activities in the extract, for which you must identify 8 purposes in relation to the extract as a whole. For part b, you must identify six key assumptions about language learning that can be identified in the same activities that you looked at for part 1 and give two reasons per assumption.
Task 3 maintains the focus on the same piece of course book material as Task 2, but brings extra activities into the mix. You have to identify 10 ways in which these extra activities combine with the activities you looked at in Task 2.
Task 4 is the pot-luck question. It may involve a procedure, a technique or a method, for which you have to list advantages and disadvantages and/or consider the principles behind them. Whatever it is, 20 separate, correct points are required to gain full marks on this question.
Here are my top tips for completing Paper 2 successfully:
- Read the entry on Testing in Thornbury’s A-Z of ELT – it gives a nice overview of different test types and testing issues.
- Read the rubric very carefully: It provides a brief description of the situation that the given text is being used for and this will, or at least should (if you want the marks…), influence your answers. You’ll be told about the learner’s needs, their level, the purpose of the course and purpose of the test. You are critiquing the test for use in this particular situation.
- Use a page for “positives” and a page for “negatives” and label them as such (don’t use “advantages”/”disadvantages” or “strengths”/”weaknesses” or any other variation). Using a separate page allows you to come back and add/change things without the page getting too cramped.
- You must make at least six points. To gain the marks, these six points must be in the guideline answers. If you have time, you may want to include an extra one or two for luck.
- For each point, you need to indicate the applicability for the learner described in the rubric.
Point: Discrete point testing task type. This allows candidates plenty of fresh starts, increasing the reliability of the test.
Applicability to learner: If X is unable to answer one question, she can still demonstrate her knowledge/ability on the others.
- You need a mixture of positive and negative points, but this time, unlike with the “strengths and weaknesses” question in paper 1, there is no requirement for the balance to be 3-3 – as long as you include something of each, the balance is up to you.
- There are a couple of extra marks to be had for using testing terminology – your face validity, content validity, reliability, practicality etc
- Don’t write too much per point – if you feel the urge to, at least wait until you’ve gone through the rest of the test, have had a stab at answering all the questions and are on the “going back and filling in the gaps” phase.
- Practice using past papers and checking your answers against examiners reports/guideline answers.
For Part a (identifying the purpose of the activities in relation to the extract as a whole):
- Make sure you indicate which exercise you are referring to and ONLY refer to the exercises that the rubric instructs you to refer to. (It might be worth highlighting/asterisking said exercises, so you don’t get sucked in to writing about others.
- Use infinitives of purpose, to avoid falling into the trap of describing what the learners do with the exercise.
x To expose learners to the target language in context prior to focussing them on form
- Look at some guideline answers and build up a bank of useful infinitives of purpose that you can use.
- Make sure your purposes are related to the extract as a whole.
- There are 16 marks to be had, and you get 2 marks per correct purpose. “Correct”, of course, means “appears in the guidelines answers” – so if you can, throw in some extra purposes for good luck.
- Practice on any course book material at your disposal.
- Practice using past papers and checking your answers against the guideline answers/examiner’s report.
For Part b (identifying the rationales inherent in the activities focussed on in part a):
- Make sure you clearly indicate which exercise your assumption is referring to – if you don’t, you won’t get any marks.
- There are three marks available per assumption/rationale – so you need your assumption and two reasons in order to score full marks for each. (An extra reason per assumption if you can quickly/easily think of one to put may not go amiss – you give yourself more chance of hitting what’s on the mark scheme then)
- Don’t forget you are only referring to the activities specified in the rubric – this is where having highlighted/asterisked them to start with is helpful: your mind remains focussed!
- Lay your answer out clearly so that it is easy for the examiner to identify an assumption and two reasons.
Assumption: Learners need to see the language in context (Ex. x)
R1: So that they can see how it is used.
R2: This mirrors how the L1 is learnt.
(I actually prefer to make a table for this – one column for assumptions, one for exercise, one for rationale, but don’t know how on WordPress! However you approach it, just make sure you have a framework that focuses your mind on what is required)
- Use past papers and guideline answers to practice answering and check your answers.
- Don’t forget to do it. (I nearly did in my mock in December, and I wasn’t alone in that!)
- Highlight the additional exercises that the rubric requires you to focus on (maybe even in a different colour, if your brain works that way!)
- You need ten correct points for ten marks – as ever, a few extra increases your chances of hitting the guideline answers.
- Use bullet points so that your points are clearly separated
- Make sure you mention what exercises from Task 2 the additional exercises combine with. Underline them for good measure.
(I use a table for this one too: One column for exercise, i.e. additional exercise, one column for how exercises combine with the exercises in task 2. Why? Those column headings remind me to mention the exercises from task two!)
- Think about interaction patterns, skill development, language development, skill balance, degree of scaffolding provided etc
- Don’t panic
- Use bullet points – make sure each bullet point is only making one point. Keep them as short as possible. You get 2 marks per point, so you need to make 20 correct points in order to gain full marks in this question. The more bullet points you make, the better the odds are that 20 of them will be in the guideline answers!
- Don’t say the same thing in 3 different ways – you’ll only score for it once! (Ahem…!)
- Don’t go off on a tangent – keep checking that you are actually answering the given question rather than fabricating your own questions to answer!
- Write down anything that might be remotely possibly correct, however simple it may seem – you don’t lose points for incorrect answers.
- Think about different learner levels, contexts, backgrounds, types etc to give you extra ideas for what to write about.
- Don’t forget, Task 4 has the biggest number of points and time allocation, in terms of your time management: It may come last in the paper but it packs a pretty big punch!
- Use bullet points where possible.
- Don’t forget to give examples where required.
- Don’t get bogged down by any of the questions at the expense of others.
- Task 3 is only worth 10 points – handy to grab if you can, not worth stressing over at the expense of other tasks if you are struggling.
- Read the rubrics super carefully.
- Stay calm – move onto another task if you start getting flustered. You can always come back to the one you were struggling on and you may find it easier when you’ve done something else and had a break from stressing over it!
If you think I have left out anything essential, or simply have any helpful tips to add, please do so by commenting on this post. If you are embarking on Delta module 1, good luck – it is an interesting experience!!