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    Could someone please explain, in layman's terms, exactly how to get an A* in questions 1 through 6 in the AQA English Language Exam? It seems like every we page I visit is telling me different things and I now have a whirlpool of strands of ideas but none collate at all. In a word: help?!

    Is this GCSE? The main thing is to be analytical, and pull out all the things that the question is asking you about the text etc.

    This channel helped me loads during GCSE: http://www.youtube.com/user/mrbruff

    Good luck

    (Original post by GeorgiaGoose)
    Could someone please explain, in layman's terms, exactly how to get an A* in questions 1 through 6 in the AQA English Language Exam? It seems like every we page I visit is telling me different things and I now have a whirlpool of strands of ideas but none collate at all. In a word: help?!
    Hello there,

    I've posted about the reading section of the exam recently, so, to save time, I'm going to cut-and-paste what I wrote and just add to it. I hope it helps.

    "With this exam, you should have been told that there is always three eight mark questions, two sixteen mark questions and one twenty-four mark question. The exam is spilt up into two sections: section A and section B - section A assess your ability to read non-fiction texts, retrieve information from them, interpret them and analyse how the writers' use language, presentational, structural and grammatical features in the texts, whereas section B tests your ability to craft non-fictions texts of your own.

    Questions one, two and three:

    These three questions aren't too difficult and are really there to get your brain lubricated for the other questions.

    They are all worth eight marks, but they do test different skills. Question one is a question designed to test your ability to retrieve information from a source - it's phrased as "what do you learn/understand from source..." For this question you would want to create a detailed, thorough and perceptive response to the question to gain the top marks. By this I mean that you need to show that you understand the text well - this doesn't mean that you write about everything that's in text, instead this means that you carefully select specific aspects in the text to write about, and you interpret what the text is saying to show that you have a perceptive engagement. Unfortunately, PEE, or other styles, will not generally get you the top marks, since you are only giving one source of evidence, and that has a tendency to not be embedded. If you embed your quotes, you will definitely get very high marks.

    Question three is very similar to this question, as you have to interpret the text, but this question will ask you to write about how thoughts and feelings are presented within a text, or how one particular thought or feeling is presented in the text. Again, you'll need to be detailed and perceptive. Instead of saying the character is curious, for example, why not say what type of curiosity is it and why the character has it - is he curious because he's on an adventure, or is it more of a morbid curiosity because he's stranded on an island?

    Question two is quite different to these two questions, as it assess your ability to comment on presentational devices - headlines, picture, sub-headlines, captions etc.. When writing about the headline, you'd want to look for techniques used in the headline; has the writer used a pun, alliteration, certain punctuation to create effect maybe, and why is this effective in the context? With the picture, you'd want to talk about certain colours used in the picture and what they represent - are there light-primary colours, if so, what does that represent?

    Question four:

    This is a sixteen mark question that many students don't do very well in - candidates that are awarded Band 3 and Band 4 in the eight mark questions really struggle to get out of the clutches of Band 2. Mr Bruff has a very good video on this, so I'd suggest that you use that, but I have a few general tips for this question:

    - Don't write too much about purpose, form and audience. This isn't really analysing the language! If you can write about it, and link it in with the language, then do so, but avoid it, as examiners are advised to award no more than low Band 2 for answers that are just about purpose, form and audience.

    - Talk about techniques such as similes, metaphors, rule of three, plosives, fricatives and other language techniques,but explain the effects, in that context. Many candidates fall into Band 2 because they make generalised comments about the techniques, so try to avoid doing this. If you want to get the top marks, then to try think why has the writer may have chosen certain words and analyse their effects on you, but also consider the effects on another reader.

    - Try not to make general links, but try to make perceptive links. So instead of saying how both writers do something different, and then something that they do similarly, why not write about something that both of the writers do similarly, but has a different effect, for example. Another way would be to say how both of the writers create a similar effect, but use different techniques."

    Section B

    Some students find this section really enjoyable, while others absolutely hate it. What you have to remember in this exam is that you'd want to try and be a little bit imaginative, unique and be able to use techniques appropriately to heighten the effect of your writing.

    Question five is the shorter writing task that assess your ability to write to explain, describe and/or inform, so don't prepare for just one - it can be any of them, or a mixture. When you're writing your response to this question, you need to make sure that you're writing in the correct form, by adopting a tone that is appropriate to the form, while also making sure that your tone suits your target audience: there is no point in writing 'cannot,' 'have not' and 'should not,' if you're writing to teenagers.

    Another feature to remember is your content. Examiners receive around 300 scripts, and if they read a response that's innovative, then they are more likely to find your answer 'convincing,' and therefore award you a mark in the top band. An additional way to make your writing convincing is to use an ambitious vocabulary and linguistic and structural devices, when appropriate. Many candidates try to learn 'big' words and just use them in either irrelevant contexts or places that result in their writing become a nightmare to read - just remember, ambitious means creative, not necessarily placing a 'big' word in every other line. Devices are also problematic, since there are so many candidates that overuse them - especially the rhetorical question. What's more is that a device shouldn't feature more than once in a piece, or else it takes the effect away, nor should you be placing more than two devices in one standard paragraph, of around five lines of standard handwriting.

    Finally, with the writing section, be aware that a very large percentage of the marks for section B are awarded for how well you write - this includes punctuation, spelling and grammar, but don't forget that if you're not writing in Standard English, your piece won't be able to access the top bands, so make sure you're taking care when you're writing.

    The tips for question six are the same as above but just make sure you can write to persuade and argue very well, as this question carries the most marks and assess your ability to write to argue or persuade.

    Good luck - I hope my advice helped!

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    • Thread Starter

    Thank you guys, you've saved my life... It's the mock tomorrow, wish me luck,
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Updated: October 14, 2013

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