NAPLAN Writing Test: What is it and How to Prepare Your Child

The National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) are the standardised tests given to all students in Year 3, 5, 7 & 9 across the country. These exams unlike what your child may be used to, are very broad and are designed to test skill itself rather than knowledge recollection. NAPLAN writing exams, mainly test your child’s ability to think of and articulate their ideas, engage their reader, and have an overall cohesive and well-structured text. 

By nurturing these abilities in your child through consistent practice, expanding on their continually developing skills, and emotional support, these exams can become a lot less intimidating. 

What is NAPLAN Writing? 

The NAPLAN writing exams are fairly straightforward; students are given a stimulus or prompt and asked to write a response in a particular genre, which is then assessed using several criteria. These exams value creative thinking, which is an overarching skill that is prevalent through a child’s academic development.

The overall purpose of these exams is to see how well your child can generate ideas and effectively communicate them on paper. However, some schools do not always effectively communicate NAPLAN marking criteria to parents and students, which has led to some cases of misinformation. 

As misinformation often travels faster than truth, it is not uncommon for your child to have heard of some NAPLAN myths in the lead up to these exams. For example, some students enter these exams under the impression that all spelling and punctuation must be perfect to do well. In actuality, these count for relatively few marks in comparison to the other criteria. 

NAPLAN Writing Test Sections: Persuasive vs Narrative Writing 

For the NAPLAN writing exams, your child will have to sit either a persuasive or narrative writing task. Both tasks will have a variety of stimuli, prompts, as well as choice in genre. 

The persuasive exam will assess your child’s ability to express, discuss, analyse, and evaluate an opinion. Your child will likely have to play the role of an authority on the subject-matter and can draw from personal knowledge and experience in order to make their case. Familiarising your child with the components and layout of a persuasive essay along with fostering topics of interest will help prepare for this exam. 

The narrative exam will assess your child’s ability to create and narrate events, while also being able to entertain and emotionally move an audience. Whichever story your child can think of it will need to follow the orientation, complication, and resolution structure for a relatively short text. 

For more in depth information about NAPLAN testing, read our article: What Is NAPLAN? The Ultimate NAPLAN Guide for Parents 

6 Ways to Help Your Child Prepare for the NAPLAN Writing Test 

These 6 steps help ensure your child is as prepared as possible for their upcoming NAPLAN writing exams. 

1. Make Sure They Understand the Importance of the Text Structure 

Layout and structure for persuasive and narrative writing exams are incredibly important. Persuasive writing typically involves a rigid structure where your child will need to make introduce, argue, and summarise their point within 3-5 paragraphs. Narrative writing has a looser structure; however, students may find it difficult to effectively build their imaginative story in a page or two. 

2. Encourage Your Child to Read as to Expand Their Vocabulary 

While spelling and punctuation don’t offer the largest capacity for marks, having a wide range of vocabulary in your child’s arsenal will help them either articulate their point, or paint a more vivid image to their audience. This skill can be easily fostered by encouraging your child to read a variety of texts. Encouraging your child to keep building their vocabulary through their schooling will help them get an A in English when used in tandem with other key skills. 

3. Practice Grammar and Spelling With Your Child 

Grammar and spelling skills can easily be developed through simple consistent revision. Perhaps on the way to or from school, think of a handful of words and get your child to write them out on a notepad. You and your child will be amazed with how rapidly their spelling skills develop. 

4. Encourage Your Child to Practice Writing Long Form

Long from writing is especially intimidating for younger students who may be used to writing a paragraph or a few sentences.  With some practice, it needn’t be as stressful. Familiarise your child with the overall structure for persuasive and narrative writing, then encourage them to recount an experience they’ve had or write about a topic they feel passionately about. Once they’re done, discuss their writing with them and encourage them to do another. 

5. Get a Tutor

By having the resources of a tutor at your disposal, they will be able to walk your child through anything they may be unsure about when it comes to writing in different genres, getting feedback, or even asking what these exams are like. We can assist you to find a tutor that your child can build a relationship with, this will help ensure your child skill develop both in NAPLAN and other assessment. 

6. Provide Emotional Support – NAPLANs Can Be Stressful

NAPLANs can be extremely stressful; younger students may find themselves anxious at the thought of more exams, while older students may find it hard to revise for on top of their normal workload. In either case, by talking through your child’s feeling and ensuring good nutrition and sleep, your child should have the mental energy to get through these exams. 

NAPLAN Writing Example Questions 

NAPLAN writing exam try to provide prompts or writing instructions in areas where students are likely to have interest.

For example, the 2015 Year 7 persuasive exam instructions, asked students to:

  • Choose the best TV, movie, or performance that you have seen or book that you have read. Persuade the reader to watch or read what you have chosen.

In 2016 the NAPLAN narrative exam had a handful of images that the students could use as a prompt, or they could imagine their own. The prompt asked students to: 

  • Construct a story about what has happened to your characters after reading a sign.

As you can see, in either scenario, NAPLAN has tried to make the exam relevant to students’ interests or provide some ideas for generating a story. 

Need a Helping Hand Preparing for the NAPLAN Writing Test? 

NAPLAN is an experience that universally shared with all Australian students. In order to ensure your child can perform to the best of their ability, consistent practise and resilience is needed. The skills your child will be examined on take years to develop, overnight results or cramming are definitely not options. instead encourage your child to ask questions about writing in class, find some friends that they can study with or work with a private tutor.

If you are looking to help your child with their NAPLAN writing test? A Team Tuition is here to help. With our tried and true tutoring methods, we can help your child succeed in their NAPLAN tests with our at-home and online tutoring. Find a tutor near you today!     


NAP National Assessment Program

Sources Used for Example Questions:—sign-said-(years-7-and-9-only).pdf?sfvrsn=2—the-best-(years-7-and-9-only).pdf?sfvrsn=2