This article addresses the challenges of designing the assessment of students’ collaborative writing. It explores the shift in focus from individualistic notions of authorship and ownership to shared practices, values and goals, which are developed through dialogue and discussion. Existing notions of connoisseurship refer to the capacity to evaluate and enhance one’s writing. Drawing on our research (O’Shea and Fawns, 2014), we extend this to include an understanding of academic quality that is co-constructed and interdependent across the members of a group – a concept we term ‘group connoisseurship’. This is challenging and it requires the development of a range of complex knowledge and skills within a supportive environment to reach a standard that is shared between students as well as tutors. In this article, we explore how this concept can inform course design to improve groups’ academic alignment, functional roles and writing practices in collaborative assessment.