buzzyambee
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Hello

I'll be sitting my AS level French (AQA) exams in June and I'm aiming to get a solid A. I'm pretty confident about the listening, reading and writing paper but I'm freaking out about the 40 mark essay question on the writing paper...

The film we're studying is La Haine and I recently bought a study guide which has a few example essays and questions, and there's a page in the AQA textbook which has a rough guide to writing essays, but other than that we've had very little support. Our teacher has basically left us to teach ourselves how to write them :/

Does anyone know where I can find any practice questions for the new spec, any more example essays and commentaries or just any advice in essay writing? Thanks
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Anna Schoon
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(Original post by buzzyambee)
Hello

I'll be sitting my AS level French (AQA) exams in June and I'm aiming to get a solid A. I'm pretty confident about the listening, reading and writing paper but I'm freaking out about the 40 mark essay question on the writing paper...

The film we're studying is La Haine and I recently bought a study guide which has a few example essays and questions, and there's a page in the AQA textbook which has a rough guide to writing essays, but other than that we've had very little support. Our teacher has basically left us to teach ourselves how to write them :/

Does anyone know where I can find any practice questions for the new spec, any more example essays and commentaries or just any advice in essay writing? Thanks
I think the main advice for essay writing, particularly when it is based on literature or film, is that you must not re-tell the story. You have to be analytical and you can presume that your reader knows the text or film as well as you do.

In practice, this means that you need to plan your essay very carefully. I always advise starting with the end - i.e. your conclusion. Look at the question and answer it in a sentence - jot this down. Everything you write from now on has to work towards that. This ensures that a) you give your work a direction, and b) you don't go off-topic or end up just telling the story. Basically, it prevents waffle.

Every point that you make has to be backed up with evidence - a quote or a reference to the work you are discussing. It can be a good idea to make a list of the points you are going to use to work towards your conclusion, and then, alongside each point, make a note of which part of the film you are going to refer to to back it up. When you've done this, look through everything you've written down and decide in which order you are going to write all this down.

Your essay will need to be structured classically: introduction, development, conclusion. The introduction can be tricky but, as it is the first thing the examiner will read, it has to be good: first impressions are important. It helps if you start off your essay by pretending that your reader does not know which question you are answering - you need to tell your reader what you are going to discuss. You can then continue with why you are going to discuss this - i.e. show that the question is an interesting one within the work, followed by a brief outline of how you are going to tackle the question. In summary, your introduction needs to be in three parts: what, why and how.

That's for content. You'll be writing this in French, and the language aspect is just as important.

The main criticism examiners have of students is accuracy: this comes up time and time again in examiners' reports. So make sure that what you have written is, at least, correct: check your verb conjugations, agreement of adjectives, agreement of past participles, use of pronouns. Obviously you'll score higher marks if you use a wide range of vocabulary, idiomatic expressions and grammatical structures, but if your basic accuracy is not there, you will lose a lot more marks than you will have gained.

I hope these basic pointers help - re-post below if you have any questions!
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buzzyambee
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(Original post by Anna Schoon)
I think the main advice for essay writing, particularly when it is based on literature or film, is that you must not re-tell the story. You have to be analytical and you can presume that your reader knows the text or film as well as you do.

In practice, this means that you need to plan your essay very carefully. I always advise starting with the end - i.e. your conclusion. Look at the question and answer it in a sentence - jot this down. Everything you write from now on has to work towards that. This ensures that a) you give your work a direction, and b) you don't go off-topic or end up just telling the story. Basically, it prevents waffle.

Every point that you make has to be backed up with evidence - a quote or a reference to the work you are discussing. It can be a good idea to make a list of the points you are going to use to work towards your conclusion, and then, alongside each point, make a note of which part of the film you are going to refer to to back it up. When you've done this, look through everything you've written down and decide in which order you are going to write all this down.

Your essay will need to be structured classically: introduction, development, conclusion. The introduction can be tricky but, as it is the first thing the examiner will read, it has to be good: first impressions are important. It helps if you start off your essay by pretending that your reader does not know which question you are answering - you need to tell your reader what you are going to discuss. You can then continue with why you are going to discuss this - i.e. show that the question is an interesting one within the work, followed by a brief outline of how you are going to tackle the question. In summary, your introduction needs to be in three parts: what, why and how.

That's for content. You'll be writing this in French, and the language aspect is just as important.

The main criticism examiners have of students is accuracy: this comes up time and time again in examiners' reports. So make sure that what you have written is, at least, correct: check your verb conjugations, agreement of adjectives, agreement of past participles, use of pronouns. Obviously you'll score higher marks if you use a wide range of vocabulary, idiomatic expressions and grammatical structures, but if your basic accuracy is not there, you will lose a lot more marks than you will have gained.

I hope these basic pointers help - re-post below if you have any questions!
Thank you - this is really helpful! (And apologies for not replying sooner)
Do you know if there is anywhere I can find exemplar answers/practice essay questions for the new spec (specifically for La Haine)?
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Anna Schoon
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(Original post by buzzyambee)
Thank you - this is really helpful! (And apologies for not replying sooner)
Do you know if there is anywhere I can find exemplar answers/practice essay questions for the new spec (specifically for La Haine)?
For the literature paper, the exam board / specifications are not really all that significant. So any essay questions on La Haine will give you the essay writing practice you need, and you can happily use past exemplar answers.

There are also plenty of sample essays available on the internet but you may have to pay for them;
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