Achieve your English GCSE the Easier Way

Since posting, ‘Can you really revise GCSE English?’ it’s interesting to note that this remains a core subject which many students continue to struggle with.

But why? Many of our local students across Manchester and Cheshire tell us that the combination of Language and Literature swallows up so much time.

It can take weeks to go through one of the set texts, or half a term to study the poetry anthology. And then when teachers switch to the language course, those literature texts seem to disappear into the mists of time.

Then in year 11, mock exams are sprung upon unsuspecting students who struggle to recall themes, characters, context – plus a mountain of language and structural features.

Often students’ results take a dive in year 11 mock exams as there is so much to recall in such a short space of time. True of most subjects, of course – but especially in English.

Our top tutor team have collated some helpful revision tips and practical suggestions on how to get on top of all your English revision.

English Language papers 1 and 2

Depending on which exam board you are studying – such as AQA or Edexcel, perhaps – you will need to  analyse fiction and non-fiction texts really.

  • If you look across both papers, look out for similar questions on each – such as ‘how do writers use language and structure to interest readers/create tension’ etc.. Most papers also ask you to compare one text to another.
  • Our advice is to focus on the skills needed first. Learn to not only spot key language and structure features, but also consider what effects they create.
  • Remember, most writers are on a mission: to share their experience, to express their attitude on a subject, to entice us into their characters’ world, or take us on a dramatic journey. Work this out first. What is the writer’s intention? Once you know that, you will be able to tailor your response to the question.
  • It helps to know what language techniques are often used for a specific genre. For example, if you have to analyse a non-fiction article or speech, it’s bound to be stuffed with rhetorical questions, repetition, hyperbole, strong emotive language etc. Structurally, it might open with a controversial statement or perhaps challenge the reader in a direct address.
  • A fiction extract, on the other hand, might thrust the reader into the action from the off, using plenty of figurative language such as personification and metaphors to reflect the character’s emotions. There might be some dynamic verbs to capture the tension and drama.
  • A writer might use a flashback device, or end the extract on a cliff-hanger. There might be a complex sentence to mirror high emotion or tension, and then an abrupt short sentence to convey shock, or a sudden realisation.

Get into the habit of doing a Google search for classic fiction text extracts to practise this weekly. Or ask your English teacher where you can get hold of some suitable extracts.

Likewise, the Internet offers a wealth of reading practice. Head for the Guardian online newspaper and read different articles. Or again do a Google search for non-fiction texts on a specific theme: transport, travel, prisons, parenting etc.

Don’t miss our tutor team’s Literature tips:

Keep an eye out for our next blog where we’ll share some nifty advice on how to get to grips with all those Literature texts too.

In the meantime, if it’s all getting on top of you, a spot of revision-focused tuition might be just what you need to get you back on track. Get in touch with our tutor team here at 121 Home Tutors.

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