Right then Year 11: that’s your second set of Language mock exams done – so congratulations!
The good news is that the average mark for each paper went up by the equivalent of half a grade – so you’re making fantastic progress, and we are very proud of you all.
If you didn’t manage to improve, don’t panic – your teachers will be able to work with you to help you identify the things you need to work on.
Right then: let’s have a look at key issues that cropped up on both papers. You’d be wise to make notes on the advice given below – it’ll help you prepare for the real exams which are not that far away now!
Unit 1: Reading
- You must read the questions carefully. A significant number of you lost marks for silly errors like answering about the wrong text for Q1, or not dividing your answer into sections for Q4. The examiner wants to give you marks. Don’t put obstacles in the way of them doing that!
- Refer to writers by their last names and, if you’re not given a name, it’s okay to refer to ‘the writer’ instead.
- Start each question on a new side in the answer booklet. This makes it easier for an examiner to mark, and easier for you add extra content to in the event that you have some spare time.
- Try to begin each answer with a topic sentence that shows you’ve understood the question. For instance, for Q1 (What impressions does Orwell give of Sheffield?), a smart way to start would be something like: Orwell gives a series of negative impressions of Sheffield in these lines…
- Back up all of your points with quotations from the texts. Short, integrated quotations are the most effective.
- Use the language of the question in your answer to ensure you stay focused on what’s being asked of you.
Unit 2: Writing
- Take your time working out what you are being asked to do and make sure you’re doing it! Students who misjudged the audience, purpose or format of a task invariably lost a lot of marks.
- The letter, for example, ought to have been addressed to a national newspaper, and yet around 20% of you ignored this and aimed it at a local newspaper, the government or David Cameron himself!
- If you’re writing to a newspaper, begin with To the Editor, or Dear Editor, or create a name for them. You should not be writing Dear National Newspaper or To whom it may concern – or, worse – Dear to whom it may concern!
- You need to know how to lay out a formal letter – and how it’s different from an informal letter. You can find guidance on this on ActiveTeach. Errors in laying out a text will have a real impact on your mark. Equally, making up silly addresses – e.g. 10 Street St, McStreetville, Streetshire – is not going to impress an examiner.
- A ‘lively’ article should be entertaining, and not dull. You need a headline and, ideally, a byline.
- If your audience is a young one, make sure you’re writing in a way that will engage them.
- Plan your pieces of writing and include these plans in your answer booklet so that the examiner can see you’ve given your work some thought. Well-planned pieces almost always achieve higher marks, and examiners are disheartened when they don’t see a plan at the start of a piece of writing.
- A strong set of arguments is always preferable to simply crowbarring in the persuasive devices. Students who’ve given their argument some thought have more to say, and say it more convincingly.
Sentence structure, punctuation and spelling
- A number of you are still making basic errors that limit your SSPS mark to 3 or even less.
- There is no excuse for failing to start sentences/proper nouns with capital letters.
- Commas should not be used to separate sentences. Comma splicing will limit your SSPS mark to 3, so you should take the time to learn about how to avoid it.
- Apostrophes should be used when necessary and avoided when not.
- To access the higher marks for SSPS, you should be:
- Using a range of punctuation (beyond full stops, commas and apostrophes) accurately and for effect – e.g. semicolons, colons, brackets, ellipses.
- Varying your sentence functions and types for impact on the reader. This post on fronting and embedding might help.
- To improve your SSPS skills, use your CGP study guides, and take some of the revision tests you’ll find here.
We hope this report helps a little.
You know where we are if you have any questions!