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Guidance with the new English specification (9-1) [AQA] [WIP] watch

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    As I see many people posting about struggling with the new specification for English Literature and English Language, I decided to make a post with some advice, as well as some clarification on what has changed.


    Format of the exams - English Literature
    AQA
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    English Literature now comprises two exams, one of 64 marks, and one of 96 marks, making 160 marks overall. The first is 105 minutes long (1h45m), the second is 135 minutes long. (2h15m)

    Paper 1 is split into two sections:

    • Section A is a question regarding the Shakespearean play that you have studied. You are to answer one 30 mark question, the one that is relevant to the play that you have studied. This is clearly indicated. You will be given one short extract, and you will be asked a question regarding that extract, and the "text as a whole". As I've said, it's worth 30 marks, and you will receive 4 additional marks for spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
    • Section B is a question regarding the 19th century text that you have studied. Similar to before, you are given an extract, and you will be asked to answer a question in reference to it, and in reference to the play as a whole. This is also worth 30 marks, but there are no AO4 marks available.

    Paper 2 is split into three sections: Section A, Section B and Section C.
    • Section A is a 30 mark question regarding the modern text/play, that you have studied. 4 marks for spelling, punctuation, and grammar, are available. You are given a choice of 2 questions for your text, and you are to pick only one. You are not given an extract to work from.
    • Section B is the dreaded "poetry" section. There are two poetry questions to pick from, one for each part of the anthology, "Love and Relationships", and "Power and Conflict". You should, obviously (:P) pick the one relevant to the poems that you have studied. You are given one poem, and you are asked to compare this poem with another within the cluster. You are not given a copy of the anthology to work from, you must recall quotes, context, and general points about form/structure from memory. A bit harsh, I know. This is worth 30 marks.
    • Section C is the Unseen Poetry section. You are given two unseen poems, and you have two questions to answer. The first question is a 24 marker about one poem. This will likely be discussing the portrayal of a certain concept or theme within a poem. The 8 marker is comparing this poem to a, probably quite similar, poem. There are no spelling, punctuation, and grammar marks available within this section.

    This might seem quite scary, but I will try to give a more in-depth guide to each question.


    Edexcel
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    Edexcel differs slightly from AQA. There are two papers, each worth 80 marks. Paper 1 is an hour and 45 minutes long whereas paper 2 is 2 hours and a quarter.

    Paper 1
    Section A examines Shakespearean texts, whereas Section B examines the modern play/text you have studied.
    • Section A is marked out of 40. You are provided with an extract, and you are asked to respond to a question solely referring to the extract, for 20 marks. The question instructs you to refer closely to the extract so as always you should be backing up your points with textual evidence. You are then provided with a question of a similar theme. You are asked to respond to this with reference to elsewhere in the play.
    • Section B is again marked out of 40. You are given a quote from the text, and asked to write a response to a related question. You are not given a copy of the text. 32 marks are given for content, and 8 are dedicated to "spag".

    Paper 2
    Section A examines the 19th century novel you have studied, Section B seen poetry, and Section C unseen poetry.
    • Section A is marked out of 40. You are provided with an extract, and you are asked to respond to a question solely referring to the extract, for 20 marks. The question instructs you to refer closely to the extract so as always you should be backing up your points with textual evidence. You are then provided with a question of a similar theme. You are asked to respond to this with reference to elsewhere in the text.
    • Section B is marked out of 20. You are provided with a poem for your anthology, and are asked to compare the poem, and another from the anthology, with respect to a specific theme. You do not receive a copy of the anthology.
    • Section C is marked out of 20. You are asked to compare two unseen poems.


    Format of the exams - English Language
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    English Language is comprised of two exams of equal length, 80 marks and 105 minutes.

    For both papers, there are two sections. I will start with paper 1:
    • You are given a fictional text, likely from a novel or similar. The one used in the Specimen paper is around 43 lines, although the text used for the actual exam may be shorter or longer.
    • The questions asked may include: a 4 marker, which should be simple comprehension, two 8 marker discussing language and structure, and a 20 mark "how far" question.

    The second section may be easier for some. It's creative writing. There are 24 content marks, and 16 accuracy marks, which includes spelling, punctuation, and grammar. You are given a picture, and you are asked to either write a descriptive piece, or the start of a story based around it.

    In the second paper, you are presented with 2 non-fiction texts. The questions asked may include:
    • A 4 mark comprehension question.
    • An 8 mark question discussing differences
    • A 12 mark question discussing language
    • A 16 mark comparison question.

    For the second section, you are presented with a statement, and you are to write an argumentative piece regarding your viewpoint.

    The questions specified within this section are based off the exam materials that we have at present. They may vary from the actual exam.

    Structure of answers
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    A problem that I have seen in the answers of others, and the problem which I once had with my own answers, is structure. Frequently, people have the right ideas, but they don't communicate it in a way which would pick them up marks. Generally speaking, you should be aiming to cover three core areas:
    • Context - This is discussion of the circumstances under which the text was written, and relating that to the question. This could be, for example, the portrayal of Lady Macbeth in Macbeth is representative of the way that women were, traditionally, viewed within Shakespeare's time. Of course, you should develop the point more than that, with quotations etc., and relate it to the question
    • Form and structure - This is equally as important as language. If one calls language, what has been written, you can call form/structure, how it has been written. This may include, for example, line length, stanza length, meter, rhyme scheme, caesuras, perspective shifts, narrative shifts, etc.
    • Language - This should go without saying, analysis of the language that is used within the text!

    Context may not be relevant, always. For example, in Unseen Poetry, you are not expected to know any context to the poem, and you wouldn't get much credit for attempting to do so. In English Language, you are often given context, and you can use that.

    Structuring your points
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    Within an answer, you shouldn't go "over the top" with points. You may wish to do 2 languages points, a structure point, and a context point, or similar. It depends on the detail that you want to go in to. The advice that I can give regarding this, is that: one fully developed point will receive more credit than five vague, undeveloped, single-sentence points. I would recommend structuring your points, like this:
    • Point - Make your point clearly.
    • Evidence - Give evidence to support the point. This should be in the form of quotations.
    • Explain - Develop your point in relation to the question. You should mention named literary techniques, and link them to your point.
    • Impact - Explain the effect on the reader or viewer. This could something like, "helping the reader to visualise ...", for metaphors, similes, and personification. I absolutely cannot stress how important this is. Even if it's only one or two lines, it will still matter. It will make an impact -- no pun intended.
    • Context - If relevant, support the point with context.
    • Link - Evaluate the point, and link it to the question.

    With this, you're hitting the assessment objectives consistently, and you're giving the examiners what they're looking for.

    Don't go over the board, don't repeat yourself, and whatever you do, don't go line by line. You will undoubtedly run out of time, missing more important points.

    General advice
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    • Use a regular structure, as I detailed earlier.
    • Read the questions extremely carefully. Pick out key points, ie. "describe", "explain", "how?". Read the question entirely, a few times, before you attempt to answer the question. If you miss out a word or two, you may find yourself getting the whole question wrong, and potentially losing all, or most, of the marks offered for the question. This might seem scary, but it's better to be safe than sorry. I have done this before, and I ended up losing around 20 marks over it. If it helps, rewrite the question in your own words.
    • Do a plan before you attempt to answer the questions. Don't spend too long on it, just jot down a few key points that you aim to hit. If you want, scribble down some relevant quotes to include for each point. This will ensure that your response is focused, and isn't "all over the place".
    • Practice picking out quotes and key points from texts. Most importantly, practicse and get your teacher to mark your work. Don't get upset if it doesn't go as planned. Note your teachers advice, at all times. While the grade they give you might not be correct, I will talk about that later, the feedback they give you wil be extremely valuable. Far, far, far, far, far, far more valuable than the mark they give you, in fact.
    • Don't repeat yourself. Only introduce a new point if it's unique. If not, simply add the quotation you were going to use into your previous point.
    • Provide different viewpoints.
    • An answer cannot be wrong if it is properly developed and substantiated, and is relevant to the question.


    Specific Guidance for English Literature
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    Paper 1:
    Question 1-13
    • You will be given an extract of variable length.
    • You will be presented with a question, regarding a theme or a character.
    • You are to both use the extract provided, and details from the text as a whole.
    • You should start with the extract.

    You should:
    • Refer to the text as a whole [AO1]
    • Use precise quotations to support your points, as per my suggested structure earlier. [AO1]
    • Use subject terminology [AO2]
    • Explore the impact upon the reader. [AO2]
    • Present different perspectives, as well as refer to context in your answer. [AO3]

    There are 12 AO1 marks available, 12 AO2 marks available, and 6 AO3 marks available.

    Paper 2:
    Question 1-24
    • You have an option of two questions for the text you have studied.
    • One question will be regarding the development, involvement or characteristics of character(s) within the text.
    • The other question will be regarding the exploration of a theme.
    • You are not provided with an extract.

    You should:
    • Refer to the text as a whole [AO1] -- this is important. You may be essentially restricting yourself to mark band 3, which is said to be around a grade 4/5, if you forget to do this. Even if it's only one point mentioning the whole text, it's definitely better than nothing.
    • Use precise quotations to support your points, as per my suggested structure earlier. [AO1]
    • Use subject terminology [AO2]
    • Explore the impact upon the reader or viewer. [AO2]
    • Present different perspectives, as well as refer to context in your answer. [AO3]

    There are 12 AO1 marks available, 12 AO2 marks available, and 6 AO3 marks available.


    Question 25-26
    • You are presented with one poem from the anthology cluster.
    • You are given a theme.
    • You should compare this poem, with another in the cluster, within the bounds of the theme.

    You should:
    • Compare two poems (goes without saying) - you will be very restricted in terms of credit if you don't do this. [AO1]
    • Use quotations to support points [AO1]
    • Analyse the writer's techniques, utilising subject terminology [AO2]
    • Explore effects on the reader [AO2]
    • Make links within your response to context and the task [AO3]

    Question 27.1
    • For Part 1, you are provided with one poem.
    • This poem will be completely new to you.
    • You are to answer a question regarding this poem.
    • This question is worth 24 marks.
    • Unfamiliar words will be defined, ie. slang.

    You should:
    • Use quotations to support points [AO1]
    • Analyse the writer's techniques with the use of subject terminology [AO2]
    • Explore effects on the reader [AO2]
    • Context is not required.

    Question 27.2
    • You are provided with another poem.
    • This poem should be relate to the first, in some form.
    • You will be asked to compare how the writers present a common theme.
    • Only 8 marks are available, and thus I recommend that it should be treated as low-priority.
    • Unfamiliar words will be defined, ie. slang.

    You should:
    • Explore the writers use of language, structure and form using subject terminology.
    • Make comparisons on the effects of the techniques used by the two writers.

    Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
    • 4 marks: Consistently accurate, uses vocabulary and sentences structures to effectively control the meaning of their (the candidate's) writing.
    • 2-3 marks: Considerably accurate, uses vocabulary and sentences structures to control the meaning of their (the candidate's) writing.
    • 1 mark: Reasonably accurate, uses a reasonable range of vocabulary and sentences.
    • 0 marks: Mostly incoherent, or nothing has been written.



    Specific Guidance for English Language

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    Paper 1:
    • You are presented with a fictitious text.

    Question 1
    • You are asked to pick out 4 points from the text, regarding a quite basic topic, for example, the weather in the extract.
    • You are not required to explain the points in any detail
    • You will receive a mark for every correct observation, to a maximum of 4.

    Question 2
    • You are presented with an extract from the text.
    • You should only reference to this extract.
    • You should talk about: words and phrases, form and structure and language techniques
    • You are required to discuss the readers choice of language in relation to a theme. This could be the way in which the author presents the weather.
    • There are 8 marks available.

    You should: [AO2]
    • Analyse the effects of the writer's choices of language, including sentence forms, techniques etc.
    • Select a relevant range of quotations/evidence from the text.
    • Reference to named literary techniques.

    Question 3
    • You are to refer to the whole source.
    • You are given a question regarding the structure of the extract.
    • The advice given below the question may vary depending on the text.
    • 8 marks are available.

    You should:
    • Analyse the writer's choice of structural features.
    • Select appropriate examples to evidence your point.
    • Use subject terminology.

    Question 4
    • You should focus on the part of the extract specified in the question. You will, however, not be penalised for discussing outside this scope.
    • You will be presented with a statement, and you will be asked how far you agree.
    • You will be given several question-dependant hints.

    You should:
    • Evaluate effects on the reader
    • I would recommend presenting arguments both for and against, although this isn't made clear in the markscheme.
    • Show an understanding of the writer's techniques.
    • Use subject terminology.
    • Select appropriate examples to evidence your point
    • Maintain a focus on the question. This is important for a large essay question such as this.

    Question 5
    • You will be given a picture or, potentially, a source. It's hard to say, given only one question paper.
    • You will be asked to either write a description of the picture, or the start of a story based around it.
    • You will be awarded 16 marks for accuracy, and 24 for content.

    You should:
    • Your form and tone should be suitable to the audience targeted.
    • Use ambitious vocabulary and structures.
    • Should match your writing to the purpose required of the question.
    • Use varied and "inventive" vocabulary.
    • Structure your piece in a way that is clear.
    • Ensure your piece flows as intended.
    • Incorporate a range of "inventive" ideas.
    • Maintain a consistently accurate sentence structure.
    • Use a wide range of punctuation where appropriate.
    • Use standard English unless instructed otherwise.
    • Ensure that spelling is accurate.
    • Use an extensive range of vocabulary.

    Paper 2:
    • You are given two pieces of non-fiction text.

    Question 1
    • You may be given a part of the text to focus on.
    • You will be required to answer a basic comprehension question, possibly a true/false question.
    • One mark will be awarded for each correct observation, up to a maximum of 4.

    Question 2
    • You will be asked to use two sources.
    • You are asked to write a summary of the differences between an element of the two texts.
    • You can receive a maximum of 8 marks.

    You should:
    • Make clear inferences based on both texts.
    • Use quotes to evidence your point.
    • Make clear statements discussing the differences (not similarities) of the text.

    Question 3
    • You are asked to refer to one source.
    • Carefully note which source this is, and I cannot stress that enough. You risk losing all 12 marks available if you talk about the wrong source.
    • You will be asked a question about the use of language within that source.
    • You do not need to talk about structure, but you could/should talk about sentence forms.

    You should:
    • Analyse the effects of the writer's choice of language.
    • Use quotations to evidence/support your points.
    • Refer to named linguistic features/techniques, and relate these to the question.

    Question 4
    • You are asked to refer to all of both sources.
    • You will compare how the writers convey ideas about something. This might be a theme or a concept, or similar.

    You should:
    • Compare the ideas of the two authors, as well as *how* these are portrayed.
    • Analyse how named methods are used.
    • Select quotations to support your points from the text.
    • Show an understanding of the different ideas conveyed in the text.
    • Ensure that you are referring to both texts, otherwise you may risk losing up to 24 marks, which could severely impact your final grade.

    Question 5
    • You will be given a controversial argument.
    • You will be asked to write to a specific target audience.
    • 24 marks are available for content, and 16 for accuracy.

    You should:
    • Ensure your register is suitable to the target audience.
    • Ensure your writing is matched to to the purpose specified.
    • Ensure your vocabulary is extensive and complex.
    • Use a variety of literary devices.
    • Use a variety of structural features.
    • Ensure your piece flows as intended.
    • Ensure that your sentences are formed coherently.
    • Use a wide range of punctuation to a high accuracy.
    • Use standard English.
    • Maintain a high level of accuracy in spelling, and grammar, throughout.



    FAQ
    expand

    • How much does speaking contribute to my grade? - It doesn't. For those who don't know, your speaking does not receive a mark, as such. Rather, it receives a grade from Distinction, Merit, Pass or Fail. In the end, it doesn't really matter and will essentially only contribute as a "speaking" endorsement. Don't be too worried if you "only" get a Pass, or if you don't get a distinction. In the end, it doesn't matter that much.
    • Do I have to retake if I have passed literature but failed language? - If you secure a standard pass (4) in literature, you will fulfil the funding requirements and hence not subject to mandatory retakes. However, the majority of universities, and many schools, will still require a standard pass, or even a strong pass in language, so you will probably have to resit. If you are unsure, check your college's website or your prospective university.
    • Is a grade 4 considered a pass? - The grade 4 has been aligned at an old grade C, so in theory is equivalent. This is not the case, however. Most schools are treating a 5 as a good pass.


    Grades
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    Grades are calculated, on all exam boards, by summing your raw marks over both papers. Grade boundaries are then applied to your raw mark. No UMS-like weighting is applied. You will receive two separate grades. Your speaking grade will appear on your certificate, but will not contribute to your overall grade.
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    Thank you so much for this information

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    Thanks

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
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    You are a legend.
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    Great detailed overview with great advice! We've done a language paper 1 mock and (currently waiting for result) and our December English mock is on language paper 2. Personally, Language is the side of English I struggle with more so thanks for the advice on that paper!
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    (Original post by Naomeyz_01)
    Thank you so much for this information

    Posted from TSR Mobile
    (Original post by RaptorStar)
    Thanks

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
    (Original post by Eman Khurram)
    You are a legend.
    I'm glad you all found it useful!

    (Original post by brownanya122)
    Great detailed overview with great advice! We've done a language paper 1 mock and (currently waiting for result) and our December English mock is on language paper 2. Personally, Language is the side of English I struggle with more so thanks for the advice on that paper!
    I may go into more detail with English Language, but I'm unsure how much the questions will vary from year to year, since it's not like EngLit, where the texts remain the same.
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    Great post. I would like to emphasise how important it is to make reference to the rest of the text in both questions in Paper 1. AQA said that if they if a candidate doesn't reference the rest of the text and solely talks about the extract, they cannot get above a band 3 (11-15 marks). It's very easy under exam conditions to completely forget to mention the rest of the text. Make sure that you either make a completely new point focused on the rest of the text or you integrate details from the rest of the text into your points.
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    Good job. :yep:

    Best of luck! :goodluck:
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    Er mah gerd, it's amazing. Wish I could rep you.
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    (Original post by BobBobson)
    Great post. I would like to emphasise how important it is to make reference to the rest of the text in both questions in Paper 1. AQA said that if they if a candidate doesn't reference the rest of the text and solely talks about the extract, they cannot get above a band 3 (11-15 marks). It's very easy under exam conditions to completely forget to mention the rest of the text. Make sure that you either make a completely new point focused on the rest of the text or you integrate details from the rest of the text into your points.
    I agree, I'll emphasise it in the OP.

    This is why I recommend people to include a plan, so they stay focused in this regard.
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    I have updated the OP with specific guidance regarding English Language
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    (Original post by _gcx)
    I have updated the OP with specific guidance regarding English Language
    Thankyou! really helpful stuff
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    This is so helpful, thank you and are you in year 10 as well? Just wondering as this is well written and structured.
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    (Original post by Stephaniex)
    This is so helpful, thank you and are you in year 10 as well? Just wondering as this is well written and structured.
    no, _gcx is in year 11 A great member of our year 11 Skype Group
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    (Original post by Lemur14)
    no, _gcx is in year 11 A great member of our year 11 Skype Group
    Oh okay, thats cool! What grades have you guys been predicted?
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    (Original post by Stephaniex)
    Oh okay, thats cool! What grades have you guys been predicted?
    I don't have predictions yet, and I doubt I'll have any until later this month.
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    This was really helpful😅😂
    Anyway on question 5 in the first paper i always struggle.i really dont know how to describe something in details.
    Have you got some more tips on how to get started.
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    (Original post by _gcx)
    I don't have predictions yet, and I doubt I'll have any until later this month.
    Oh okay, good luck in advance!
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    (Original post by Stephaniex)
    Oh okay, thats cool! What grades have you guys been predicted?
    1x 8, 2x7, 5x A, 2x B and a B in level 3 FMSQ. I've also already got 2x A*, 2x A and 1x B How about you?
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    (Original post by Lemur14)
    1x 8, 2x7, 5x A, 2x B and a B in level 3 FMSQ. I've also already got 2x A*, 2x A and 1x B How about you?
    4x8s, 2x7s, 1x9 and I cant even remember the rest:^_^:.
 
 
 
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