Directed Writing

Understanding Different Text Types: A Guide for IGCSE 0500 First Language English students


In the vast landscape of English writing, various text types serve distinct purposes, each with its unique characteristics and structure.

In the IGCSE 0500 First Language English exams, you need to demonstrate that you can produce (as in, write!) these different text types in the last section of Paper 1, as well as in the Directed Writing question, which is the first question in P2.

You’ll need to demonstrate that you understand six fundamental text types: letter, report, journal, speech, interview, and article.

Ready? Let’s dive right in!

1. Letter

A letter is a written form of communication that can be either formal or informal. It is usually addressed to a specific person or group.

  • Formal Letters are structured with a clear greeting, introduction, body, conclusion, and sign-off. They are used for professional or official communication, such as job applications, business inquiries, or formal requests.
  • Informal Letters are more personal and relaxed in tone, often used to communicate with friends or family. They may not strictly follow the formal structure and allow for a more expressive style.

Note for students:

In the FLE exam, you typically won’t need to pay too much attention to the format as you should pay attention to the linguistic style or nuance of your piece.

What this means is that you don’t have to fret about putting in the address of the recipient and your own address as well as the title – it certainly won’t harm you and I would recommend it if you feel that it’s helpful for getting your head into the game, but it’s not a dealbreaker for your grade if you don’t write it down.

Here’s what’s actually important:

The tone and the appropriacy of your language, because that demonstrates how and whether you understand how to use language in these different contexts, which is the main focus.

If you’re writing an informal letter to a friend, you don’t want to write as if you’re addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations, and if you actually are addressing the General Assembly, you probably wouldn’t open your remarks with a “Yo, yo, what’s up?”

2. Report

Reports are structured and detailed documents that present information clearly and analytically. They are often used in academic, business, and technical contexts to convey research findings, project updates, or analysis.

  • Characteristics: Includes a title, overview, findings (preferably with subheadings that structure and organize the report). Typically written in third person and with a formal and objective voice and style.
  • Purpose: To provide a thorough analysis or account of a particular issue or situation, often followed by recommendations.

Note to students: Writing a report is as much about reading comprehension as it is about maintaining a formal and objective style. You will need to be able to read texts carefully and distinguish skillfully between facts and opinions. Make sure that everything that you write down in your report is supported by evidence that you can take from the text, preferably with a clear understanding of where the evidence occurs within the text and which lines support the It may seem challenging at the outset, but practice makes perfect. If you’d like more guidance along the way, and lots of example sample reports, make sure to join our Premium Membership Program, so you can discover tons of different samples and prepare for your journey with the best possible support that you can have.

3. Journal

Journals are personal records where individuals document their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. While traditionally kept as private diaries, journals can also be academic or professional.

  • Personal Journals are intimate spaces for self-expression and reflection.
  • Academic Journals involve critical analysis and reflection on academic work or experiences.
  • Characteristics: Regular entries, personal tone, and a focus on reflection over structure.

Note to students:

If you are asked to write a journal entry, this means you are being asked to show that you can reflect upon the contents of a text and also imagine that you had the experience which was described or otherwise understand the context of what was presented to you well enough that you can take a different perspective from your own and perform reflections on the basis of events presented to you or hypothetical in nature.

This skill is vital in many different areas of life, but as with report writing, it’s not always natural or intuitive. Reading journal entries can be valuable, but don’t go out there and steal your family members’ diaries. Also, if you haven’t tried it just yet, journaling is often a relaxing and meaningful activity that can help you personally gain clarity and a deeper mastery over your experiences. If you haven’t tried it before, I highly recommend it as a path towards self-knowledge.

4. Speech

A speech is a formal address delivered orally to an audience. It aims to inform, persuade, or entertain listeners through effective verbal communication.

  • Structure: Includes an introduction (to establish the speech’s purpose and engage the audience), body (main points and supporting details), and conclusion (summarizing the key messages and providing a strong closing).
  • Styles: Can vary from persuasive and motivational to informational or ceremonial, depending on the context and objective.

Note to students:

Speeches are the most natural and intuitive way of remembering that whatever form of communication that we perform, whether written or spoken, ultimately is communicative in nature.

As you read the prompt, think about the people who would be on the other end if you were to really write out a speech. Who are these people? What do they actually care about? Having a formal process to think about who the audience is and what they care about as a guide for you to decide your tone, style, content, and even language grading can be quite useful.

For example, if a question asks you to write a speech to a group of children, you’d obviously want to think about what children would care about as you write. Additionally, you’d also want to make sure that the contents of what you’re saying can be easily understood, which means that you’ll want to show rather than tell and also use vocabulary that is sufficiently simple that it can be understood by all. At the same time, knowing the attention span of kids, you may also want to pay attention to ways in which you can increase engagement in the audience along the way!

As you practice, consider writing the way you speak. If that sounds simpler than it actually is, that’s because it is. You’ll probably want to practice by reading out what you’ve written on a page and asking yourself whether what you’ve said would actually be something that someone would say in a speech.

Here, in all likelihood, you can trust your intuition. If you need further guidance, consider also asking a friend or a relative to listen to what you’re saying and asking them if it sounds like it would captivate their attention or if it sounds like what someone would say during the course of a speech. Refine, reiterate, and practice again and again. This will give you a clearer idea of how to create an effective speech, which is not only going to be beneficial for you during the exam but also in other areas in life.

5. Interview

An interview is a conversation where questions are asked to elicit information from a participant. It can be conducted for various purposes, including journalistic, research, or employment.

  • Types: Can range from structured (with a set list of questions) to semi-structured or unstructured (more open-ended and flexible).
  • Characteristics: Involves an interviewer and an interviewee, with the goal of obtaining detailed information, insights, or personal stories.

Note to students:

Interviews typically take the form of a question-and-answer format, and in the IGCSE, it’s usually pretty clear what the context is, and you’ll have to demonstrate not only that you understand the question-and-answer format, but also that you understand how to take in the written content, and then convert that into those questions and answers which you will eventually create.

This is as much as a form of writing as an act of meeting comprehension that takes in all of your skills.

As it is with every single one of the text types here, getting exposure to actual examples is going to be extremely helpful. Lots of sources out there will provide you with interesting interviews. With people across the world, and a potential lifetime of stories to go through. So read widely, and familiarize yourself. For many interview samples, consider signing up for a premium membership of the site. To gain access to this wonderful knowledge.

It can help to watch interviews with actual news anchors. Or to read interviews.

PS: A small plug – If you want to watch a collection of interviews done by me, consider watching my YouTube series, Pathways to Excellence, in which I interview some of the very best students from Malaysia, as well as leaders across the nation, which will give you an idea of what that question-and-answer format might actually be like. Subscriptions are most appreciated!

6. Article

Articles are written works published in newspapers, magazines, journals, or online platforms. They are intended to inform, discuss, or argue on a specific topic.

  • News Articles provide factual information about current events in a straightforward, objective manner.
  • Feature Articles explore topics in depth, offering background, analysis, and personal opinions.
  • Structure: Generally includes a headline, introduction, body (with supporting details and evidence), and conclusion.

Note to students:

As with pretty much any form of communication, context matters in article writing, and as with pretty much any form of communication you’re asked to produce in the exam, the prompt is your Bible, your guide, your true north. If nothing else, ensure that you follow the prompt. Understand it, comprehend it, drill it into your mind as you read during these few crucial moments. Once you get past that though, you will start realizing that there is a higher plane and there is more that you can do along the way.

Yes, it’s true that you can indeed write an article about your experiences in going for an extreme endurance event.

But ask yourself, what more can you do? Do you simply leave a factual record? Or do you include humorous and interesting anecdotes that you manage to understand from the context?

In a directed writing or ERTR piece, demonstrating that type of comprehension is tremendously important, and being able to play with that comprehension in order to create something that blends it together with your unique and distinct style is the mark of mastery.


Understanding the distinct characteristics of these text types is fundamental for English students to navigate various writing and reading contexts effectively.

Whether it’s crafting a compelling speech, documenting personal experiences in a journal, or writing a report, recognizing the purpose and structure of these text types enhances both writing skills and comprehension.

However, reading all of this will only give you a small portion of what you need to succeed. In reality, understanding how these texts are structured is only the beginning – One that will help you understand the characteristics of everything that you read at a later point, but only that.

To obtain a true mastery, you will have to find good examples of actual texts to reference, comprehend, and understand.

As you do that, try creating some of these texts for yourself.

Your first attempts aren’t likely to be well-organized or beautiful, but what matters is that you begin, and even if you are terrible, you can improve along the way – Something that certainly will never happen if you never even start in the first place.

In the Premium section, you’ll find examples of each of these text types, carefully curated for your reading purposes. There, you’ll also receive access to a variety of helpful formats and structures that you can use to create these texts.

So do stay tuned, look forward to more posts ahead, and thank you for reading!

Directed Writing Sample Responses –


Hello everyone!

Coming up to you with a brand new resource for our Premium membership holders – a Directed Writing resource!

The May/June 2022 response is made freely available to you, and you may access it with a free membership.

The responses are tailored directly to the rubric for P2 and all Cambridge requirements, and they will help you to learn how to write your responses in a way that will meet the criteria and also accomplish the goal of getting yourself the best possible grade.

If you’re struggling with the Directed Writing section, join Premium today to access this exciting resource and conquer Directed Writing in 2024!

As always, hoping for the very best for your success!





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