Monday, 9 January 2012

English Exam Tips!

Ok, so, anyone taking a GCSE in English Language has a 2 hour 15 minute exam tomorrow; in Britain. It's at 8:25am if you dind't already know...

Well, I have it too and i'm sharing some notes I have on how to get a grade A/A*/B. So here I go.

Reading section:

Take an HOUR on the reading section, if you start to get close to the hour mark and your not done start the writing side because it's worth more. With your time left over, go
back to the reading section.

You don't have to read through each source before you start; you can read the first question and then read through the related source to save time. Skim through the texts

Ask yourself these questions-

What is the question asking you to do?
Have you got the right text in front of you?

Now, make sure you take note of any bullet points included in the text you're reading; they may come in handy.

With a pen or highlighter go through the text annotating and underlining (highlighting) things that are relevant to the question.

In most of the reading questions you'll need to back-up what you've said. To do this use the term
P- Point (What point are you trying to make? That the text makes it sound really bad?)
E- Evidence (Back up your point. Is there a word- or a small quote- that made you think this?)
E- Explain (This is the hardest part. You need to explain how the quote backs it up. EG,, do the words imply that the action is forcefull? etc...)

To save time during the exam just highlight useful words and quotes that give facts or imply a hidden meaning. Whatever you do, don't use whole sentences or paragraphs.
Even if you really have to use a sentence to back it up, make sure you do; explaining your point is the most important thing in the reading section. They don't care about how
well you write.

Q1 is usually 'Retrieval & Inference' which means you need to rely on P.E.E to get full marks. It's usually and 8 mark question but guess what?
To achieve 8 marks on the first question you need to do the P.E.E thing 4 times. That means pick out 4 facts and explain them with quotes. Simples!
Oh, if you know a little about what the article is talking about don't be afraid to add something in there; it might boost your grades.

Q2 is usually 'Presentation Techniques'. As well as the layout, font (size, style & colour), pictures, heading and sub-heading you need to say if they relate to eachother. (EG,, the
headline and the picture are on about the same thing.)
You also might want to mention if if it is relevant the genre (does it argue? does it inform?), audience and purpose but this might be difficult with this type of question.

Q3 is usually what they call 'Inference'. Sometimes you have to search through a text and pick out words that set a certain mood for ther reader. It's always a non fiction piece.
I tend to find that they are usually from a non-fiction story. Make sure you mention the feelings it try's to create (even if you didn't feel that way) and the thoughts the writer has.

Q4 is usually 'Comparison & Language' and you always have to use source 3 (or C) for this one. Whatever it's named it's the non-fiction one; this will get you higher marks.
The other source you can use is up to you. You have to compare the language devices in both of the texts and usually the effect vocabulary has on the reader; devices to watch
Rule of three (three adjectives describing something for example)
Repetition (closely linked to rule of three)
Rhetorical questions

There is a method you can use to ensure you actually compare the two texts and get higher marks:

The zig-zag method - Start your answer by talking about how one text does something well/badly and then in the next paragraph talk about if the second text does that particular
thing well/badly (if at all) compared to the first text.
It's important to use words like, "However," and phrases such as "On the other hand," "Unlike source 1/2/3,". Always refer back to the other source.
Continue to swap what you are comparing and which source you are talking about in each paragraph like you are 'zig-zag'ing between the sources.

Writing section:
Take an HOUR and FIFTEEN minutes on this section. It's worth the most marks.

These are the ten points that are useful in most of the possible writing questions:
1. Use varied sentence structure
2. Be aware of your audience- adjust your tone & vocab to match
3. Use a range of punctuation- they look for at least seven types
4. Be accurate at spelling- you don't have to spell every word perfectly, but try
5. Use repetition or even the rule of three
6. Try to use humour, irony, satire or sarcasm
7. Use a rhetorical question or two- not too many or it won't look good
8. Use a anecdote (EG,, "I remember when...") or a few facts/statistics
9. Make sure you refer to something you said at the beginning in your conclusion
10. Try to be original with your view point/idea (This is something you either have or haven't got- it comes naturally to some people)

You don't have to use all ten points but the more you can fit in the more chance you have of getting a really high grade. Try to vary your vocab a little; don't use the same word
two sentences in a row.

Q5 (the first writing question) will ask you to either 'Explain', 'Describe' or 'Inform' your audience. Sometimes you might have to do more than one. Sometimes you'll be asked to
recount something like your favourite holiday memory.
You should aim for 25 minutes on this question.

Q6 (the second, and last, writing question)will ask you to 'Argue', 'Persuade' or 'Advise' your audience. Again, sometimes you'll have to do more than one.
Spend 35 minutes on this one.

Ask for some spare paper, if you don't get any and do a quick plan if you need to. It may take some stress away if you have some ideas down visually. If you don't get any paper
then plan in the booklet and put one line through it after you've finished writing (examiner like to read your plans.)

Was this helpful? Feel free to let me know, below in the comments. Good Luck! :-)

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