Publication details [#56914]

Heaney, Helen. 2013. Fleshing out CEFR descriptors at C1 and above for the assessment of academic writing in departments of English at Austrian universities. Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics 2 (1) : 43–56.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


Austrian education is currently undergoing long overdue standardization procedures, with nationwide school-leaving exams still not available for most subjects. A similar standardization procedure was introduced at Graz, Klagenfurt, Salzburg and Vienna universities in 2006 when linguists and language teachers started professionalizing assessment practices for exit-level English exams in their BA programmes by developing analytic rating scales for writing. This paper describes which dimensions were selected, and how the scales were developed. Anchor descriptors were extracted from the CEFR for a bare pass (C1) and the top grade (C2) in Grammar, Vocabulary, Textual competence and Pragmatic competence (later Task achievement), and exam performances on typical writing prompts were rated, including brief justifications. Subsequently, extended descriptors were formulated for C1/C2 based on the teams’ justifications, and a mid-way level (C1.2) was inserted. Finally, the scales were modified during benchmarking procedures.