"It is a really tough test," McVeity says. 

She is the author of more than 20 books for children and a veteran feature journalist with half a million words in print.  

She is also the creator of the Seven Steps to Writing Success, a well-known writing program in Australia that trains more than 6,000 teachers a year. 

The program has proven to increase student writing engagement rapidly and raise NAPLAN scores in less than six months.

Still, she’s never managed to get a perfect NAPLAN score.

"I get into the top Band 10," McVeity claims, "but some years I only just scrape in."

The main hurdles, according to McVeity, are the lack of planning time and the extremely limited time frame of 40 minutes for the test.

This goes against best practice for authors and writers in general, who typically spend one third of their time brainstorming and planning.      

"In the five minutes allocated to planning, all students can do is 'grab and go'. 

"So you get a profusion of cookie-cutter ideas as students grab the first idea that comes to mind and start writing."

Does NAPLAN Miss the Mark?

McVeity was wryly amused by the report commissioned by the New South Wales Teachers Federation, in which Les Perelman, retired professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found the test placed too much emphasis on spelling, punctuation, grammar and paragraphing at the expense of "higher order writing skills".

"Yes, last year I only scored 3 out of 5 marks for sentence structure.

"As an author, I know how to write a sentence, but according to the NAPLAN rubric, I didn’t put in enough 'complex' sentences."

There is a misconception that a sentence can be improved by putting in more adjectives and adverbs, but this can make sentences unwieldy. 

"The modern trend in writing is plain language and clear communication," McVeity says.

Spelling is tested separately

In many years, Jen McVeity also lost a mark for spelling – usually for a typo.

"There just isn’t enough time to do even a basic proof read of your work," she claims. 

She states that it is inappropriate to give more than 20 per cent of the mark's weighting to spelling and punctuation when there is actually a separate test to evaluate these secretarial parts of writing.  

"NAPLAN creators might need to sit their own tests and see how hard this 40-minute writing task can be," McVeity says.