English Language

GCSE English Language Paper 1: Explorations in creative reading and writing

Question by Question Revision

Section A

Question 1 [4 marks]
The bread and butter: Show the examiner that you can select relevant information even based on the smallest of details.


  • Identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas
  • Select and synthesise evidence from different texts

-Draw a box around the part of the text you need to focus on
-Use a ruler to guide your reading
-Select ‘hinge’ words from the question so you know what to look for as you read
-Read through the source once before you highlight anything

Question 2 [8 marks]
The bread and butter: Show the examiner that you can explain why a writer has chosen certain words and phrases and the impact that these have on the reader.

How does the writer use language here to describe the effects of [given theme]?
You could include the writer’s choice of:

  • words and phrases
  • language features and techniques
  • sentence forms.

Explain, comment on and analyse how writers use language and structure to achieve effects and influence readers, using relevant subject terminology to support their views

-Draw a box around the part of the text you need to focus on
-Use statements at the start of your paragraphs to focus your points on the question
-Use mini quotations and weave them throughout your answer
-Specifically write that a simile or alliteration or whatever technique is used
-Explore the effects of the words used, not the technique in isolation
-Think about how the words make you FEEL and was you ASSOCIATE with them

 Answer Excerpt:
The opening paragraph consists of a single, complex sentence perhaps reflecting the onward movement of the coach. The adjective ‘exposed’ and the noun ‘force’, evoke the idea of vulnerability, danger, and how little control man has over the power of nature. The verb ‘rocking’, progresses the cumulative effect of the list of verbs, ‘shaking’, ‘trembled’, ‘swayed’ leading to the simile, ‘rocking between the high wheels like a drunken man’ suggesting the coach is lurching haphazardly, its movement out of control.

Question 3 [8 marks]
The bread and butter: Show the examiner you can recognise how the writer has organised the text and what they make you focus on as you read.

How has the writer structured the text to interest you as a reader? You could write about:

  • what the writer focuses your attention on at the beginning
  • how and why the writer changes this focus as the Source develops
  • any other structural features that interest you.

Explain, comment on and analyse how writers use language and structure to achieve effects and influence readers, using relevant subject terminology to support their views

  • This question assesses how the writer has structured a text. Structural features can be: at a whole text level e.g. beginnings / endings / perspective shifts; at a paragraph level e.g. topic change / aspects of cohesion; and at a sentence level when judged to contribute to whole structure.

-Explain what the focus is at the beginning and how it changes as the text develops
-Think about where the writer zooms in and out of particular details
-Consider how the pace and tone is reflected in the paragraph lengths
-Are there any climactic moments and explain what impact they have
-Are there any flashbacks or flash-forwards – explain how these shape meaning
-Think about WHO is speaking – does the perspective change at all?

Answer Excerpt:
The text, about a journey, is structured to also take the reader on a journey: from the general to the specific; from the outside to the inside; from the weather, through the coach, the driver and horses, to the passengers. There is also a constant reminder of the weather which permeates each part – the ‘little drips of rain’ that came through the roof and, later, ‘the rain oozed through the crack in the roof’ onto Mary’s shoulder – so the reader is constantly made wet and uncomfortable, just like the passengers. Around the middle of the extract, the outside and the inside are made to coincide when the old man opens the window – this also moves the focus of the reader to the inside of the coach…

Question 4 [20 marks]
The bread and butter: You will be given an opinion about the text. Show the examiner that you can prove that the opinion is true (to what extent is your choice) using evidence from the text.

 (Example question)
A student, having read this section of the text said: “The writer brings the very different characters to life for the reader. It is as if you are inside the coach with them.”

To what extent do you agree? In your response, you could:

  • write about your own impressions of the characters
  • evaluate how the writer has created these impressions
  • support your opinions with references to the text.

Evaluate texts critically and support this with appropriate textual references

-Use statements to signpost your point of view
-Ensure you use key words from the statement throughout your answer
-Weave mini quotations throughout your answer
-Explore how the writer’s word choices link to the ideas in the question
-Use connectives like ‘furthermore’ and phrases like ‘as the text develops’
-Always have the WRITER in mind; you are exploring what they have achieved through their word choices

Answer Excerpt:
We might think that the passengers are a unified group because the writer refers to them collectively: ‘The few passengers huddled together for warmth’, but their actions suggest how different they are. The ‘old fellow’ is short tempered and pompous with a sense of his own importance, but also ridiculous in his actions. The writer’s choice of the word ‘petulant’ shows how his behaviour was childish. He also makes rash statements – that he would ‘never travel by coach again’ which the reader knows is of no interest to the driver he is swearing at. In the end, he is reduced to muttering. These complexities help the reader understand the stresses of the journey and the different sides to the man.

Section B

 Question 5 (24 marks for content and organisation and 16 marks for technical accuracy) [40 marks]
The bread and butter: Show the examiner that YOU can make effective word choices and can write clearly. You could be asked to do either a:

Narrative: a story or account of events or experiences
Or a
Description: a statement or picture in words

 (Example question)
You are going to enter a creative writing competition. Your entry will be judged by a panel of people of your own age.

Either: Write a description suggested by this picture: (picture of a coastline in a tumultuous storm)
Or: Write the opening part of a story about a place that is severely affected by the weather.

AO5 Content and Organisation
Communicate clearly, effectively and imaginatively, selecting and adapting tone, style and register for different forms, purposes and audiences. Organise information and ideas, using structural and grammatical features to support coherence and cohesion of texts.

 AO6 Technical Accuracy
Candidates must use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation.

Hacks! (not rules, suggestions only)
-If you are writing a narrative, you need to have a clear plot, whereas a description may just be ‘zooming in’ on a detail or moment
-If you use the picture, circle the key elements and number them in the order you’d like to write about them (the most significant part of the picture should be the focus or your writing)
-The question says ‘as suggested’ so it’s about being inspired, not tied down by the theme
-Always have the FORM in mind – is it for a magazine? A blog? Don’t neglect this!
-Remember, the theme for Q5 will link to the texts for section A, so you can pinch words and take inspiration from the articles
-Try to include techniques like similes and metaphors to interest the examiner
-Leave time to proofread your work carefully – use a ruler to guide your focus back over your work

 Answer Excerpt:
Sea spray and foam rained down upon us like furious bullets. Our umbrella wrestled with the wind in its attempts to keep us from being soaked through, but to no avail. A great gust of thundering wind wrenched it free from my clutches, hoisting it up into the dark skies like a lost shadow…

The day began in a darkness that seem to refuse to lift despite the ticking of time. I set off towards to station, wrapped up in layers and layers of clothing in an attempt to keep out the bitter cold. Walking along the shining wet pavements, I watched as hunched figures scurried here and there, desperate to avoid the deathly weather and its creeping icy fingers…

 Find how to approach Question 5 in detail here: https://myenglisheffects.com/2017/04/24/narrate-or-describe-aqas-question-5/


Categories: English Language

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