Level Four Essay Writing - Dos and don'ts
For many years the Polish Military's Level Four Writing exam took the form of a somewhat guided piece of writing with a large amount of imput from the rubics of the task instructions. This all changed in 2020 with the publication of the updated and revised Level Four Model Exam, with Specifications and sample material (see here).
The new specifications changed several things, but in terms of writing it removed the examiner input and reduced the writing task to a simple essay title which can be interpreted as the candidate sees fit. This change brings it more inline with the academic and C2 nature of Level Four (see my post on CEFR).
So after these changes you may very well ask "What does the examiner want from me?"or "What does a Level Four piece of writing actually look like?" Well, I will now try and answer these questions and give you an example of a possible answer to the essay title form the model exam.
In terms of level, the specifications call for candidates to be able to:
analyse draw conclusions
These features in themselves may not look very different from what is expected at Level Three but it is in the next paragraph where perhaps we are able to gleam more of what is wanted.
Candidates are required to write in an appropriate style. A high degree of accuracy and appropriacy and good organisation skills within paragraphs and across the text are expected. The text should be both coherent and cohesive. Candidates should demonstrate a wide range of lexis and structures, including a high number of multi-clause sentences which are effectively used. (Page 12 Model Exam)
As can be seen from the above paragraph taken from the specifications, a Level Four piece of writing needs to not only be highly accurate but have a large variety of lexis and sophisticated sentence structures. Once again, for reference it is worth reminding ourselves that this is a C2 Proficiency piece of writing which should represent the peak of a non-native's writing ability after many years of study. Only truly bilingual or native writers would be able to surpass it and thus achieve Level Five (not tested within the military).
The candidate thus must be able to apply precise vocabulary with complicated nouns structures and multi-clausal sentences in such a manner that the essay not only maintains its logic and flow but that through it the candidate is able to well argue their point of view.
Now please look at the sample essay below and see how the above features have been incorporated into the answer:
Migration is destroying National Identities
The early twenty first century has witnessed an exponential rise in human migration whilst simultaneously seeing a return to both nationalism and identity politics following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the bi-polar structure which, to some extend, limited both of these trends. The aim of this essay is thus to discuss whether, firstly, there is a causal relationship between migration and national identity and secondly, whether if so, migration is having a detrimental effect on the latter.
In order to analyse the first point mentioned, that is the existence of a causal relationship between migration and national identities, it is necessary to clarify what is meant by national identities. A national identity is something of a recent construct born out of the enlightenment period and the inter-state wars of the late 18th and early 19th century. In medieval Europe people’s allegiance was to their feudal lord or king and little was thought of what it meant to be English or German. The Industrial Revolution broke the traditional bonds of families and communities as well as brought a need for professional armies and bureaucratic state structures. In order to maintain ever greater territories and infrastructure a feeling of nationality was fostered and the nation state was created as we know it today. This sense of statehood was therefore closely intertwined with, if not indisputable from, a sense of national identity.
Taking the above into consideration, it is therefore easy to argue that migration, i.e. a large influx of people identifying with a different national construct, would indeed have an effect on national identity. Even if it was assumed that a process of assimilation was to occur, this would no doubt not be totally successful and the immigrant population would retain some of their own culture. This would in turn lead to the receiving population experiencing a different culture and most likely adopting parts of it as they saw fit. Examples of this are most often evident in culinary aspects of culture. The national identity would then, even if to a small degree, have been changed due to migration.
Now that we can clearly see that in fact there is a causal relationship between migration and national identity let us move on to the second point under discussion. That is, whether migration is having a detrimental effect on national identity. Unfortunately this is a very value based question as it involves assessing the positive or negative attributes of a given identity before and after migration. That a change occurs is perhaps the easiest to ascertain, however, judging the value of such as change is more difficult. Undoubtedly the change could be seen as destruction yet it could also be seen as a form of evolution, just as previous identities evolved into national identities in the 19th century, as mentioned perviously.
Therefore it is the conclusion of this essay that it is as yet too early to truly appreciate the evolving nature of national identity under the pressures of migration. This will be left for future historians. That said, it is felt that as a species, any process that brings us closer together must, in the long run, be a positive thing.
Please click on the link below for a downloadable PDF.