DSE English – Integrated Tasks – A Complete Guide

The purpose of this text is to familiarise you with the steps of successfully completing Integrated Skills Tasks in the DSE Listening & Integrated Skills Examination.

The basics

You should have on your desk (1) a Question-Answer Book for either Part B1 or Part B2, and (2) a Data File for either Part B1 or Part B2. In school tests and examinations, your school will have chosen the part for you already. In the real DSE, you should choose whether to attempt Part B1 or Part B2 before you sit for the exam. You may consult your English teacher if you are not sure whether to choose Part B1 or Part B2.
You can open the Question-Answer Book for Part B1 and Part B2 and the Data File as soon as the chief examiner announces the start of the listening examination (i.e. After he/she says “The examination is about to begin. Turn to Page 2 of the Question-Answer Book.”). Since most students report having insufficient time to finish reading the Data File before the start of the allotted time for completing the three written tasks, it is wise to read the Data File if you still have time left after reading all the questions in Part A.
Some people recommend using three highlight pens to indicate which task the information is for, while some people prefer drawing lines and symbols for the same purpose. This is totally up to your choice, but it is essential to organise the information before you start doing the three written tasks. Read the Data File once only; do not read the Data File three times for the three written tasks.

Before the recording is played

Read the Question-Answer Book (for Part B1 or Part B2). You’ll be able to extract the following information from the task instructions:
– Text Type
– Mark Distribution
– Whether the task requires you to use information from the note-taking page
Text Type: First, you should understand the common text types that appear in the DSE Listening & Integrated Skills Examination. The most common text types are Letter/Email, Article, Report, Speech, and Proposal. Although different text types have different structural features, each written task should contain at least three sections: (1) opening, (2) body paragraph(s) and (3) closing. You should memorise some sentence patterns that are useful for each text type. Second, you should understand that the task instructions may not explicitly tell you which text type is the text that you are asked to write. You need to identify the text type accurately by yourself.
Task Description Text Type
2014 Task 8: Information page Article
2014 Task 9: Speech Speech
2014 Task 10: Letter to the editor Letter
Mark Distribution: Before 2017 DSE, all Integrated Tasks weigh the same (18 marks per task). Since 2017 DSE, each written task has a different total mark and this usually implies the Task Completion mark (i.e. how many “content point” you should include in the written task). Ideally, you should allocate the time for each written task according to its total mark.
Whether the task requires you to use information from the note-taking page: This is a very useful piece of information that most students do not pay attention to. If the written task requires you to use information from the note-taking page, it will explicitly tells you in the task instructions. If it doesn’t require you to use information from the note-taking page but you quote information from the page and include it in your written task, you will be penalised.
Task Instructions Do you need to use information from the note-taking page?
2014 Task 8: Write your information page using information from the B2 Data File and your notes. YES
2014 Task 9: Write your speech using information from the B2 Data File. NO
2014 Task 10: Write your letter to the editor using information from the B2 Data File and your notes. YES
Read the Situation in the Data File (for Part B1 or Part B2). You’ll be able to extract your name, position and organisation. This information will be useful when you write your complimentary close in a letter. Your supervisor may ask you to write a text on his/her behalf. Therefore, you should also pay attention to your supervisor’s name, position and organisation.
Situation Complimentary close
You are Joey Wong. You are an assistant at the Kowloon Exotic Pets Hospital, which takes care of people’s unusual pets. Yours truly,
Joey Wong
Kowloon Exotic Pets Hospital
Your boss, Kerry Lam, has asked you to help with the development of the Hospital’s website and other tasks. Yours truly,
Kerry Lam
Kowloon Exotic Pets Hospital
Read the Instruction Page in the Data File. This usually comes in the form of an email from your supervisor right after the note-taking page. The Instruction Page will contain various kinds of information, and you need to take different actions according to the instructions given.
Instructions Actions to be taken
Next month, we’re going to have an open day and I’m going to give a speech and I’d like you to write it for me. Use your boss’s name in the opening of the speech.
Example: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Open Day of Kowloon Exotic Pets Hospital. I am Kerry Lam and I am honoured to be here to give a speech to you all.”
As we’re thinking about having a virtual pet page on our website, Persuade the guests to visit the virtual pet page on the website in the closing of the speech.
Example: “Our Hospital will host a virtual pet page on our website soon. Please visit it to experience the joy of keeping a virtual pet!”
I’d like to talk about virtual pets. Mention the purpose of the speech in the opening.
Example: “Today, I’ll talk about virtual pets.”
Please include a brief background on virtual pets Devote at least one body paragraph to explaining the background on virtual pets. This means you should look for the following information in the Data File:
– Definition of virtual pets
– Why virtual pets are popular
– Statistics of virtual pet users (especially elderly people)
and focus on how old people use virtual pets. Devote at least one body paragraph to explaining how old people use virtual pets. This means you should look for the following information in the Data File:
– Why elderly people keep virtual pets
– What elderly people do with virtual pets
I suggest that you start by looking at that ‘Inside the Virtual Jungle’ book. Look for this piece of information in the Data File and indicate that it is for Task 9 (e.g. by highlighting it in a specific colour or by drawing a symbol next to the information)

While the recording is played

Read the note-taking page. Since Part B1 and Part B2 have the same note-taking page, it is understood that some of the notes jotted down will be used for Part B1 and some will be used for Part B2. Look at the sub-headings and determine which parts of the note-taking page are irrelevant to the written tasks. Also, remember that the task instructions in the Question-Answer Book will tell you which written tasks require you to use information from the note-taking page. You may draw symbols to indicate which part is relevant to which written task.
A sample note-taking page with notes. Note that short forms (e.g.), symbols (T8, T10) and highlight pens are used.
If you find that your handwriting speed is too slow, consider using short forms and symbols when jotting notes.
Word Abbreviation
especially esp.
information info.
introduction intro.
conclusion conclu.
solution soln.
government gov.
people ppl.
teachers T’s
parents P’s
students S’s
without w/o

After the recording is played

Each text should contain at least three parts: (1) opening, (2) body paragraph(s) and (3) closing. Some text types require you to write a title and subheadings.


Part Sentence patterns
Opening – I am writing in response to the letter dated ... regarding ...
– I am writing to provide you with information about ...
Body – Regarding ...
Closing – Thank you for your attention.
– If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact (person).
– I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Part Sentence patterns
Title – Organic food
– Healthy and delicious
All about organic farming
The joy of organic farming
Opening – Have you ever heard of / wondered why ... ?
– The webpage / article / blog post will provide information about (topic) so as to help you gain a better understanding of (topic).
– Read on to find out more!
Body – It is found / revealed that ...
– ... shows / indicates / suggests / illustrates that ...
In fact, / Actually, ...
– ... is also worth mentioning.
Closing Hesitate / Wait no more. Come and join us!
– Don’t miss this valuable opportunity!
– If you would like to know more about ..., please visit our website at (website) / contact (person).
– There is no doubt that (topic) is (adjective). Let’s (action to be taken)!


Part Sentence patterns
Title Report on Hong Kong’s NEETs
Report on the Decline in the Number of Moviegoers
Subheadings 1. Introduction
2. Reasons for the Fall in the Number of Moviegoers
3. Possible Solutions to the Problem
4. Conclusion
Opening – The purpose of this report is to ...
– This report will introduce / explain / suggest ...
Body – It is found / revealed that ...
– ... shows / indicates / suggests / illustrates that ...
Closing – It is hoped that the report has shed light on (problem).
– With the above suggestions, it is hoped that the problems will be solved.


Part Sentence patterns
Opening – Thank you very much for inviting me to be your guest speaker at (event).
– My name is ... and I am honoured / pleased to be here today ...
Body – I would like to share with you ...
– An example from my own experience is ...
– Try to remember that ...
– My advice would be to ...
Closing – I hope that you can take something away from my speech today ...
– It is important to remember that ...
– Thank you for your attention, and I hope that ...


Part Sentence patterns
Title Proposal for the ‘Better Sex Education’ Campaign
Proposal for activities to be held in the Sports Week
Subheadings 1. Introduction
2. Organising a debating competition
3. Holding a video clip making competition
4. Conclusion
Opening – The purpose of this proposal is to ...
– The details of the suggestions are as follows.
– The details of the activities will be elaborated in the following paragraphs.
Body – It is proposed / suggested that ...
Closing – It is believed that the suggestions above are feasible and practical.
– It is sincerely hoped that our suggestions will be considered favourably.
– It is hoped that the proposal will be approved.
Interpreting charts and tables: When you are summarising charts and tables, do not quote raw numbers in your written tasks.
Percentage Formulae expression Percentage Formulae expression
100% all 90% nearly all
80% the vast majority of 70% the majority of
60% more than half of the 50% half of the
40% almost half of the 30% a minority of
20% a small minority of 10% few
0% none
A photo showing how to summarise trends in a chart
A sample pie chart. Besides reporting the biggest group (under 18), candidates should also report the size of the “over 65” group as it is related to the topic of the written task.
A sample bar chart. Instead of reporting the raw numbers by year, candidates should summarise the trend (e.g. “The number of cases has increased steadily over the last five years”)
Paraphrasing words to match the style and tone of the written task: There are two situations where you must paraphrase words taken from the Data File: (1) the words are too informal for the text you’re writing, and (2) the words are overly formal for the text you’re writing.
Words that are too informal for a formal text Words that are overly formal for a semi-formal text
Well, ...
most obviously
lots of
I’ve got ...
imagine that!
(e.g. Alessi 2005; Cheng and Lewis 2015)
Kohonen et al. (2010: xix)
(see press release in Appendix 6)
Interpreting pictures: Sometimes, you may need to summarise in words the meaning of a picture.
A sample picture. Candidates should summarise the picture in words, such as “I felt like there was a wall between the two of us.”

How to improve your ability of completing Integrated Skills Tasks?

First, it is recommended that you complete both Part B1 and Part B2 of all DSE Listening past papers. While your school may have chosen the part for you, it is still worthwhile to attempt the other part on your own as this is valuable practice for you.
If you have completed all DSE Listening past papers and are confident that you have already made good use of the materials (i.e. you have done each paper a few times, studied all the sample writing and figured out where to find all the content points), you may consider attempting Integrated Tasks in CE Listening past papers and UE Practical Skills for work and study past papers.
General reading can improve your understanding of the tones and styles of common text types.
Time management is very important in the Listening & Integrated Skills Examination. You have one hour and 15 minutes to complete three written tasks, which means you only have around 25 minutes for each written task, given that you have already finished reading the whole Data File and organising the information for each written task. Memorising sentence patterns for the common text types helps reduce the time needed to construct a text and gives you more time to focus on organising the content points.

Explanation Video – 2014 HKDSE English Paper 3 Part B2

The video goes through the steps of completing the three written tasks in Part B2 of Paper 3 in 2014 DSE. Note that the video is a recording of an after-school supplementary lesson and therefore it is not as as structured as a regular English lesson. Also, Cantonese is used.