• It is important that you are ready for the examination in terms of your standard of written English: this is a step up from GCSE and requires a high degree of fluency and accuracy. • Ensure that you are particularly practised at using consistent tenses and subject-verb agreement.
• Try to ensure that you are familiar with different types of texts such as travel writing, autobiography, biography, humorous writing, persuasive or promotional materials, fictional genres (such as science fiction, suspense, thrillers and so on). • Try to ensure, too, that you are familiar with writing in different formats for both papers. You should practise writing the openings of different types of texts and familiarise yourself with the structures and conventions of different genres and formats.
• Ensure that you annotate passages that you read.
• Ensure that you plan your work in the examination.
• Do not try to off-load a prepared list of terminology on Paper 1 but try to select and draw from the terms which you do know which are appropriate for the passage. • Don’t write under the amount required or go excessively beyond the upper limit.
• When asked to comment on the language and style of the set passage try to be prepared inyour approach: don’t be afraid to plan, highlight or annotate the text. • Try to avoid being inflexible; try not to write a list of prepared terms or to spot features/techniques that you recognise. Examiners call this ‘feature-spotting’. Unlike some other subjects English Language is not really content driven but tends to involve the application of specific reading and writing skills. Trying to off-load revised content for the subject is, therefore, not really appropriate.
• Try to break the set passage into small sections and consider each section in turn. • As you consider each section try to select issues or techniques which are clearly in evidence in the passage; not everything you know will necessarily be there. • As a starting point, ask yourself what the mood of the passage is; highlight the key words and phrases that create this. • Ask yourself what we learn about the narrator or a character, the kinds of attitude they show to others or any issues that arise. • Ask yourself about the use of setting – which key words and phrases establish this? • If there is dialogue, what does it show us about different speakers and their attitudes to/relationships with others?
• The key words and phrases that you highlight should form the basis for the brief quotations you should blend into your answer.
• Quotations should be brief (about five words maximum for each one) and be embedded into your sentences: avoid copying huge chunks of the text out. • Try to comment on these quotations by asking yourself a range of prompt questions for each one: What mood does this create? What qualities does it bring to mind? Does it contrast with any other words or phrases in the text and, if so, what is the effect of this? What do the words suggest about the voice (the narrator perhaps or another character) using them? • Try to look for differences between each of the smaller sections you have broken the text up into. • See if there are changes in mood, attitude or characterisation. • When answering tasks based on directed writing, ensure that you read the instructions carefully so that you understand the purpose of the task, which character it might involve, the format in which it is to be written and the appropriate conventions and style of such a format. • Keep to the word limits
• If you are asked to write in the style and language of the original passage, refer to some of the material you have highlighted in commenting on the language and style and try to adapt the same techniques. • If the directed writing task is set first and followed by a task which requires you to compare your piece of writing to the original extract, then focus on the style and...