What will I be required to do?

There are two sections:

  • Section A: Reading and Understanding
  • Section B: Writing (to Argue, Persuade or Advise).

You should spend one hour on Section A and 45 minutes on Section B.

Reading and Understanding: Section A

  • Answer all the questions in this section.

  • Read the questions first, then the extracts. By doing this you will be reading with a purpose.

  • Usually you will be given two or three passages to read and then you will have to answer questions on them.

  • You will have to demonstrate that you understand what the extracts say and that you can identify how they say it.

  • Look carefully at the number of marks available. Earlier questions could be worth fewer marks, so spend less time on them and write less. For example, if asked for four facts you only need to write four sentences.

  • Longer questions towards the end of Section A tend to be worth a higher proportion of the marks, so obviously you should make sure you spend an appropriate amount of time on them.

  • The longer questions are also divided up by bullet points. As a rough guide, if there are 24 marks available and four bullet points, you will get six marks per bullet point. You should write a paragraph for each with three points and three short quotations or examples from the extract to support your points.

Writing about language in Section A

You will be asked to comment on the language used in a particular extract or extracts. In order to do this you should consider:

  • Words
    • adjectives and adverbs (descriptive words)
    • are they simple or complex?
  • Sentences - length, complexity
  • Tone - is it angry, sarcastic, cheerful? Give examples.
When you do this remember you should try to provide short quotations to demonstrate that your thinking is based on evidence from the text.

Comparing extracts in Section A

The following phrases will be useful:

  • Extract A is ... ... whereas extract B is ... ...
  • Unlike extract A, extract B ... ...
  • In extract A [the material is presented as a leaflet] but in extract B [it is presented as a newspaper].

When comparing the extracts, make sure you consider the following:

  • Layout - the use of columns, pictures, headings, subheadings, italics, bold, etc

  • Purpose - is the extract a leaflet or a newspaper article? If a leaflet, it might be trying to persuade you of something, whereas a newspaper article might be informing you.

  • Language - has one extract got more complex language than the other? Are the sentences longer in one than another? If so, why?

Writing to Argue, Persuade or Advise: Section B

  • Respond to just one of the questions in this section.

  • Spend about five minutes planning and five minutes checking through your work. It may seem like a waste of time, but a well planned piece of writing will be more effective and checking will ensure that you avoid sloppy mistakes.

  • You will be asked to write no more than two sides; this is not permission to write very little! The examiner will want to read considered work that has been carefully crafted.

  • Think about the audience - the examination paper will tell you whom you should be writing for.

  • Think about purpose - why are you writing? What form should it take?

  • Try to use facts from the material you are given for Section A. Doing so will make your writing more effective.

  • Offer your own opinion to add weight to your writing.

  • Features such as questions asked only for effect (rhetorical questions), carefully selected descriptive words (adjectives) and language that encourages a particular emotional response, like pity (emotive language) are useful when attempting to persuade.

  • If writing a newspaper article, use appropriate headings and subheadings. You shouldn't waste time writing in columns, but saying you would is a good idea.

  • If writing a letter, make sure you know how to lay it out - if you don't know find out! Having said that, the way you address your audience in the letter itself is far more important than layout features. Getting it right can't hurt, though. One tip: remember that with a formal letter if you use the person's name end with 'Yours sincerely' otherwise use 'Yours faithfully'.

Good luck!