However, the specifications we teach now, and the exams for which we must prepare our students, make pretty stiff demands on students’ capacity to write critically in response to questions that are increasingly difficult to predict. The new Edexcel specification (I can’t speak for the others) has upped the ante on this even further as their rules for the phrasing of questions limit their essay questions to a single command term (. ‘Evaluate…’) even when students are expected to address several different assessment objectives in their responses. In contrast to the questions they used to face (. ‘Describe and evaluate…’), where it would always be possible for students to score marks by addressing the ‘knowledge and understanding’ element even if the critical thinking aspect was ropey, the new arrangements mean that students must address the main assessment objective all the way through their response at the same time as addressing a subsidiary assessment objective that is only implied by the question. Consequently, it is more important than ever to teach evaluative writing early in the course, and as quickly and thoroughly as we can.