This year, all of you have sat a full English Language Paper 2 for your December PPE. The aim here is to have a look at key issues that cropped up on this paper so that you can do better in the summer exams than in your December ones. 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!
Section A: Reading
- You must read the questions carefully. A significant number of you lost marks in Question 2 because you didn’t answer the question. It asked you to summarise the things to see and do at the festivals. Too many people wrote about the weather and other aspects of the text. 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 it’s okay to refer to ‘the writer’ instead.
- If you are asked about a writer’s use of language, make sure you use correct technical terms and the effect the language has on the reader. Many of you lost marks on Question 3 by quoting without explaining. Remember: WHAT-HOW-WHY.
- When you are asked to compare, make sure you compare. In Question 4, you need to comment on differences between the two texts (you can also mention similarities IF there are any). Many of you lost marks by not writing about the differences between the texts.
- Use the language of the question in your answer to ensure you stay focused on what’s being asked of you.
- Try to begin each answer with a topic sentence that shows you’ve understood the question. For instance, for Q3 (How does Dickens use language to make you, the reader, feel part of the fair?) a smart way to start would be something like: Dickens’ use of the pronoun ‘you’ brings the reader straight into the fair.
Section B: Writing
Content and Organisation
- Take your time working outwhat 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.
- Plan your writing. You should spend approximately 10 minutes of the 45 minutes allowed for this task on your plan. Plan WHAT you will say and HOW you will say it.
- 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 just as important as using a range of persuasive devices.Students who’ve given their argument some thought have more to say, and say it more convincingly.
- USE PARAGRAPHS!
- If you’re writing to a newspaper, begin with To the Editor, orDear Editor, or create a name for them. You should not be writing Dear 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. Errors in laying out a text will have a real impact on your mark.
- Making up silly addresses – e.g. 10 Street St, McStreetville, Streetshire– is not going to impress an examiner.
- A number of you are still making basic errors that limit your SPaG.
- There isno excuse for failing to start sentences/proper nouns with capital letters.
- Commas should notbe used to separate sentences.
- Apostrophes should be used when necessary and avoided when not.
- To access the higher marks for Technical Accuracy, 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.
- Showing that you have a good vocabulary.
To improve your skills, use study guides (some are available from the library).
We hope this report helps a little.
You know where we are if you have any questions!
Fancy seeing Language doyen David Crystal in the flesh, A Level Language students?
Then sign up for our English Language trip!
All the details can be found on Parent Pay, where you can also sign up.
You can find the full agenda here. It’s going to be, as Mr Boulstridge would say, ‘#totesamazelols’.
You can download a copy of the issue here:
Massive thanks to all of the students involved, and to Mrs Downie for coordinating. The next issue will be out in the new year. If you’ve got any suggestions for content, please email our editor, Eleanor Pilkington: email@example.com.