On Tuesday 7th June, you’ll be taking your two English Language exams back-to-back. Together, they account for 60% of the overall GCSE grade. Here are our top tips for preparing for the papers. With a little luck, you’ll know most of this already!
1. Know what to expect! We cannot stress this enough. You should know exactly what your papers will look like, what kinds of question you’ll be asked, and how long you should be spending on each task. You can find all of the past papers here, and our 8-page revision guide gives you everything you need to know about timing and approaches to each question.
2. Make use of ActiveTeach. It’s packed with guidance on both the Unit 1 (Reading) and Unit 2 (Writing) papers. You can access it here, where you’ll also find a guide as to how to find what you need.
3. Have a look at the exemplar student work we’ve uploaded to the blog. You’ll find A* examples of all seven different types of writing you could be asked to produce for the Unit 2 paper – as well as some top grade mock exam responses.
4. Read the examiners’ reports we put together for you after each mock exam. We’ve pointed out the most common mistakes students made so that you can avoid making them yourselves!
5. Have a go at some of our tests designed to improve the accuracy of your writing. You’ll be emailed your scores a few minutes after you submit your answers.
6. Read, read, read! We’ve put together a list of ‘Quick Reads’ for you – texts that can all be read in around 5 minutes – that’ll help you to practise your reading skills, and they might give you ideas for your writing tasks too. The best writers are the ones who’ve read widely. Be one of them!
And that’s it, Year 11.
Good luck. We have total confidence in you!
Right then, Year 10!
In your English lessons after half term, you’ll be completing a 45-minute exam-style assessment in which you give your point of view on a contentious statement.
The statement will be provocative – something designed to get you thinking – and you’ll be asked to write one of the following types of text:
– A formal letter
– A speech
– An article
While we can’t tell you the specific task you’ll be completing – as that would be cheating, of course – we will tell you that the topic will be social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
Over half term, we recommend completing the following tasks to ensure you are fully prepared for the assessment:
– Read the section on Writing with a viewpoint in your My Revision Notes study guides. (You can buy these from the library; details here.)
– Read and make notes on this presentation.
– Watch this TED talk in which Sherry Turkle looks at the downsides of social media.
– Read this article from the BBC which explores the positives and negatives of social networking.
Have a think about your own views on social networks. Do you you think they bring us together, or push us apart?
Remember: your piece of writing will be marked out of 40, with 24 marks for AO5 (content) and 16 marks for AO6 (accuracy). To that end, you might find it useful to complete some of the sections on Using effective punctuation and Improving sentences and grammar in your My Revision Notes books.
Any questions? See your English teacher.
You’ve come to the right place, as usual!
Earlier this month, our Year 11 students completed a mock Unit 2 (Writing) exam. The tasks set were as follows:
Below, you’ll find some of our own students’ responses to these tasks.
All of the exemplars achieved A*s – so they’re well worth a read to see the kind of writing that secures the highest marks.
You asked for it* and here it is at last: The Ultimate Homophone Megatest!
Score 20/20 to be in with a chance at an exciting** prize.
* You probably didn’t.
** It’s probably not.
The task we set our Year 11 students was a tricky one:
Experts have predicted that by the year 2020 one third of the United Kingdom population could be obese. The principal at your school is looking at ways to address the problem, and has asked you – as head of the student council – to offer a student view.
Write a report for the principal in which you look at the ways in which the obesity epidemic could be tackled in your school.
Here’s a superb exemplar from one of our students. It’s on its way to full marks – and a certain A*.
What do you think?
Bingo! You’ve come to the right place.
We asked students in Year 11 to complete the following task:
The principal at your school has asked you to help organise a series of fundraising events for the charity Sport Relief. You have been given a slot in a forthcoming school assembly to encourage students at your school to get involved.
Write the speech that you will deliver in the assembly.
Click on the link below to see 2 A* exemplars produced by students at the college.
Excited about your forthcoming English mock exams, Year 11?
If the answer is no, we understand. But practice will make perfect – and we want you to have had as much of that as possible in advance of the real examinations in May/June.
The top tips you’ll find below are designed to help you to prepare for the Language mock exams on Wednesday 23rd March, and the Literature mock exam on Monday 11th April. We hope they’re useful!
You should be old hands at the Language exams by now, as you sat mocks in both in November last year. You’ve also been doing regular Unit 2 (Writing) tasks in class over the past couple of months.
You may be less familiar with the Literature paper you’re sitting. This is where this very blog comes in handy!
At the top of this page, you’ll see a link to Past Papers.
Here, you’ll find a load of past papers for both Language and Literature. Have a look at them. Get a feel for the types of question that tend to come up. (Remember that you’ll be doing the Unit 1 Literature paper for your mock on the 11th April.)
You’ll also notice a link to our revision guides:
Each of these is just a few pages long, but they contain all the key info you need: advice on timings, examiners’ hints, dos and don’ts and lots more. Use them!
Preparation is critical to doing your best. That’s the reason this quote is popular in schools!
So what can you do to prepare?
Quite a lot, actually!
Many people think it’s impossible to revise for the English Language exams. They’re wrong.
Here are just a few of the things you could be doing to revise for them:
- Use ActiveTeach to revise (a) how to approach the different types of Unit 1 (Reading) paper question and (b) how to write the various different types of text you could be given for Unit 2 (Writing).
- Use your WJEC GCSE English Language Revision Workbook. (If you haven’t got one, you can pick one up from the library at the discounted price of £5.50.)
- Have a go at a past paper and get your English teacher to have a look at it.
- Complete some of the tests you’ll find here to practise your spelling, punctuation and grammar.
- Read some of the exemplar pieces of writing we’ve posted on the blog. (Search for ‘exemplar’ and you’ll find plenty of student work.)
- Re-read the examiners’ report we put together after your last mock exams – and avoid the common mistakes it mentions.
- Get reading. The best writers are the ones that read voraciously. You can find a selection of great ‘quick reads’ on our blog here.
Revising for the Literature exam is, perhaps, a little easier. Here are our recommendations:
- Re-read Of Mice and Men. If you’re short on time, there’s a 20-minute version in our Of Mice and Men Revision Folder – where you’ll also find a ton of useful revision material.
- Download some of our revision audio files for use on-the-go. (For the password, ask your English teacher or email Mr Shovlin – firstname.lastname@example.org – who’ll send it to you.)
- Use your CGP revision guide. (If you don’t yet have one, they’re on sale in the library for £3 – half price!)
- Learn the key quotes from the novel, as you won’t be allowed a copy of the text in the exam. (You can play games with this set, and even import them into the free Quizlet app on your phone.)
- Familiarise yourself with the unseen poetry section of the exam by looking at the past Unit 1 Literature papers, and by having a go at the pairings in the revision guide.
- Sign up for our Easter Exam Masterclass on the Literature papers if you haven’t already done so.
The mock exams are designed to help you to get your head around the exams. We’re not trying to catch you out.
If you do mess up a mock exam, it’s not the end of the world. It’s far better to make mistakes in a mock exam than in the real thing!