Government advisers have sent guidance on punctuation, grammar and spelling to examining boards and teachers this week, writes Linda Blackburne.
The two booklets, which have been welcomed by Tim Boswell, the further and higher education minister, give examples of good and poor writing at A and AS-level.
New assessment requirements to be introduced this September will for the first time explicitly take into account the quality of candidates' written English and Welsh in all A and AS-level subjects.
The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, which has published the booklets, stresses that minor slips made under exam pressures will not have a detrimental effect on the final grade of candidates whose language skills are generally good.
The good example given in the booklet is a candidate's answer to a question on the computer revolution in commerce: "Over the last decade, computer technology advanced at a phenomenal rate. In 1980 computers were large, slow, very expensive machines used only by the largest firms for the most complex tasks. By 1990 computers were very fast, relatively cheap and small enough to put on a desk. This technology explosion has made computers available to all firms, right down to the one-man enterprise. Along with the technology has come the software - computer programs are now easily available to perform many commercial functions; from running the accounts to running a factory."
SCAA comments that the piece of work is of high quality because the student has clearly expressed the timescale; made a clear and succinct contrast between computers in 1980 and 1990; and linked sentences fluently.
Quality of Language in GCE AS and A-Level: SCAA Guidance to Teachers and Assessing Quality of Language: SCAA Guidance to Examining Boards are published by the School Curriculum and Assessment Council, Newcombe House, 45 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3JB, from May 9, priced Pounds 2 each.