DipTESOL exam: model answer

Someone asked on the ELT Planning Facebook page about model answers for Section 1 of the DipTESOL exam. I found one model answer here on this informative tesoldip blog. It doesn’t state the exact question asked, but you can infer that.

I like the structure that this blogger suggests for answering Section 1 questions:

  • define the language point
  • mention possible learner problems
  • discuss activities you would use to teach this point

Sounds good to me, though I guess the wording of the question might give you further clues for what to include. The blogger’s list of potential language points to revise is useful too.

Anyway, you were after model answers. I’m not a DipTESOL tutor so I don’t want to mislead you – asking a tutor for model answers would be your best bet! However, here are notes from a self-timed practice question I undertook before the exam. You could always show it to a tutor and see what they think, or ask your tutor to comment on this post with some feedback for me! This is totally honest – I haven’t changed the wording at all so feel free to laugh if something is funny or wrong!

Remember: you get 5 marks for accuracy and 5 marks for completeness.


Explain how comparatives and superlatives are formed in English. 

Give three examples of each. At what level would you introduce them and what learning problems would you anticipate? 


My answer

Basic examples of comparatives and superlatives: 


Verb                 Comparative    Superlative 

big                   bigger              biggest 

wet                   wetter               wettest 

beautiful           more beautiful   (the) most beautiful 

happy               happier             happiest


The comparative is formed in the following way: 

1 syllable adjectives = add –er 

1 syllable adjectives with the pattern CVC = double the last consonant and add –er 

2 syllable adjectives ending in –y = drop the –y and replace with –ier (see ‘happy’ above) 

Other 2 syllable or 3 syllable adjectives (generally) = add ‘more’ before unchanged form of adjective (see ‘beautiful’ above) 


The superlative is formed in the following way 

1 syllable adjectives = add –est 

1 syllable adjectives with the pattern CVC = double the final consonant and add –est 

2 syllable adjectives ending in –y = drop the –y and add –iest 

Other 2 or 3 syllable adjectives (generally) = add ‘(the) most’ before the unchanged adjective 


The ‘generally’ above refers to the fact that some 2/3 syllable adjectives may be deemed acceptable in both inflectional and periphrastic forms (maybe ‘lovelier’, ‘more lovely’?). When there are ambiguities, it is often good to discuss these with other teachers / other English speakers to work out which form seems most acceptable (or consult Google!). 

Other forms of the comparative and superlative relate to use as similes.. 

As + adj/adv + as… 

As quickly as, as big as, etc… 


Comparative patterns commonly appear with ‘than’ in a sentence structure – such as ‘elephants are bigger than ants’ 



The comparative and superlative patterns can be taught effectively from Beginner level upwards. There are plenty of effect ways to introduce them as comparing things is a fairly natural process. Topics I’ve used in the past have included animals and physical appearance. Substitution activities are a good way to practise the patterns, and this topic lends itself to visual approaches using objects, classmates, etc. 


Anticipated problems: 

Neglecting the CVC double consonant spelling rules 

Inappropriate use of periphrastic form (could be caused due to the ambiguity of English anyway!) 

Omission of definite article before ‘most’. 


Time taken: 16 mins  


My reflection

OK, this is like 5 years on now! However, I think this is a good example of taking too long on one aspect of the question – the definition. Given the timescale I’d say that section seems fairly complete/accurate, but the ‘activities’ section I’ve added next is pretty vague to be honest. Clearer examples would definitely help. Regarding the anticipated problems… If I wrote this again I’d probably state how I’ve dealt with some of these in class. Mind you, 15 minutes flies by when you’re under pressure. I reckon this would get about 6 marks overall (a guess as I said!!!). DipTESOL tutors, what do you think? I might give myself a bonus mark just for including the word ‘periphrastic’ – I must have erased that one from my memory straight after the exam.


If this post proves useful/productive then I’ll share another example – let’s see if we get some feedback first!

Featured image: canacopegdl.com

Categories: DipTESOL tips

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