Friday, 28 May 2010

Friday, 21 May 2010

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

AQA Paper One Section A: Secret of Success

Thursday, 29 April 2010

50000 Views of Anne Hathaway

Revison aid for Anne Hathaway

Descriptive writing

The following presentation will give you some tips about descriptive writing. Ignore the sign that says the Prezi doesn't exist. Just click sizzling sentences underneath.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Top Tips for Paper one Section B

Let’s look at some top tips for the essay section of Paper One Section B.

Here are two major things the examiner is looking for:

Does this have variety?
Is it sustained?

Let’s imagine you have been asked to advise secondary school pupils on what to do for money.

Of course you need to talk about the sorts of jobs they can do.

E.g. Saturday job in a shop, delivering papers/magazines, babysitting, washing cars. This shows some variety because you have identified a number of different ways.

If you had said work in a newsagents’, work in a hairdressers’, work in a supermarket, then really you are only offering one idea: working in a shop. The only variety is the different types of shops and that isn’t good enough.

So, you’ve got some variety. Well done. Now you need to sustain it.

Otherwise you just end up with a list of bullet points.

So, how could you sustain it? Well, you could talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each job. You could explain how to go about getting one of these jobs.

This is something you have to figure out in the exam. What you can decide is that for each idea you give you will write a paragraph ion it before going on to the next idea. Make you paragraphs between 4-10 sentences long. Don’t forget you can use some ideas from Q FOR PRAISE.

If you can LINK your paragraphs, then you will gain extra marks.

For example:

Well, if getting up at the crack of dawn on a winter’s morning isn’t your idea of fun, you could try baby-sitting. That’s always nice and cosy.

Do you see how the first sentence of this paragraph looks back at the last idea and introduces the new idea?

You could add even more variety by looking at it from another point of view. Now that you have written about how to make money you could write about how to spend less. So, you could suggest shopping in factory outlets, discount stores, making your own clothes, clubbing together and sharing, buying second hand and shopping on eBay.

This way you are adding even more variety to your answer and making it sustained.

Another fantastic way to sustain your work is to put in an anecdote: a little story that illustrates your point. So, in our example you could invent some story about a job you did.

Take for example the idea that you have to write to write a letter to the head teacher persuading them to invest in more TV’s. You could invent a story about how watching a TV version of Romeo and Juliet meant that you were able to understand the story better rand this improved your grades.

Or if you are tying to persuade your friend not to run away then you might invent a story about somebody at school who did this and describe the terrible things that happened to them.

This is a good way to generate another paragraph for your writing so that it is sustained. Don’t over do it though: one per essay is enough.

If it is appropriate, a little bit of humor can gain a few extra marks.

So can using rhetorical questions now and again.

Try to use some different types of sentence such as imperatives (command sentences e.g. ‘Phone up. Now.”)

If you are asked to write an article a great way to start it off is to describe a little incident and then introduce the main idea of the article.

Lets imagine you are asked to write about the ban on hoodies.

You could start like this:

You are walking toward the local indoor shopping center, looking forward to a good day’s retail therapy (notice the touch of humour). You’re talking quietly with two friends, not a care in the world. Suddenly a heavy hand lands on your shoulder. “Sorry, you can’t come in here dressed like that. No hoodies.” Outrageous? Unfair? Well for thousands of teenagers this is the reality of everyday life.

Do you see how creating a scene like this can draw the reader right into the main part of your story?

But don’t overdo it. You’re not writing a story!

Another good way to do this is to use the word, ‘Imagine.’

For example,

Imagine, you are minding your own business, about to do a little light shopping, when a heavy hand bars your way. ‘No Hoodies.’

Placing the reader at the centre of this anecdote is an effective what to achieve your purpose of grabbing their attention..

Monday, 18 May 2009

Inner Secrets of the Presentation Question

Let's continue exploring how to write about presentation.  

We've seen how bullet points, italics, block capitals, underlining, bolding and adding colour all help to highlight important ideas.

We've seen how it it vital that you explain how/why highlighting these particular words is designed to influence the reader so that the purpose of the text is achieved.

Remember the magic words: So What?

Let's look at some more presentational devices.

Pictures: these help show the reader what is being written about. If you want people to complain about animal testing, it helps to show images of the animals. They may show them looking as if they are suffering, to create a sense if pity in the reader. They may contrast this with pictures of the animals roaming free: to suggest what life is supposed to be like for the animals. 

By the way, putting two images beside each other is called juxtaposition.It makes BOTH images stand out more.

If they are trying to make you buy a new mobile, then they will show the new mobile. Often they will try to suggest the lifestyle that accompanies an object. For example, images of young people having fun for a mobile advert; an advert for a very expensive car might show people in designer getting out of a an expensive car as they are about to step into a flash restaurant.

Diagrams can be used to help the reader understand something that is difficult to follow.

Colour can be used in all sorts of ways. If you are studying art you probably already know about colour psychology. If you're not, there's a website below and here's some ideas to start you off:

To affect the reader through colour associations e.g.


Red: Danger/Romance/Excitement/Erotic/Energy/War. Red brings words and images to the foreground so is often used for BUY NOW and CLICK HERE

Green: Nature/Health/Environment/fresh/fertile/safety. Often used to indicate safety in medical products.

Yellow Happiness/Joy/Hope. Stands out so is often used to draw attention. With a black background is often used for danger. Often used in leisure and children’s products because of its associations with happiness.

Blue: Cool/Sea/Sky/Cleaning. If red is to do with the feelings, then blue is for the intellect. Suggests calmness and serenity.

More here: 

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Paper One Presentation Exam Skills Revision

student revision AQA English Advice Paper one

One of the questions you will find in Paper One will ask you about the presentation of the texts you are studying.

In the next few posts I am going to give you some top tips for improving your skills so you can work towards a grade C or above in the presentation part of the exam.

This text is not in English. That doesn't matter. Read it and pick out the important parts.

Fiiofjoqf oaigjqoe qeoigjq. Oeigjwe, wpj gwpr, wpjkgw wo wperotgt. pwjgwp
pjg pqjg pqwjg . Jwgjio gjetg wpe. KWION. oigjtg, ion, wpikgp.
pfjqe pifflekom. Owkg.

  • gpwgpwkgpwrklflqlqel
  • [gokvw w[tk
  • fk vgkwekg[wetkg-[r
  • etgkvw[eptk
Fwetybwy. B0 perokg p ptghokbw yikryik45yk.

Well, did you spot them? How? My guess is you picked out the words in italics, bold, capital letters, colour and the bullet points.

Many students in the presentation question of the Paper One exam pick out features like these and say something like, 'The writer uses italics to make the words stand out.'

Why doesn't this gain a good grade? Well, because as we have just demonstrated that you can say that about a text even when you can't read it!

Italics, underlinings, capital letters, words in colour, bullet points are all designed to make the words stand out. That's why they are there. You could say that without even reading the text.

Do you remember our two most important words?

Yes, a little voice in your ear should be asking:

So What?

The italics make the words stand out.
So What?
To draw attention to the word.

Better...but why make these words stand out?.

You have to explain why these word are important enough that they need to be made to stand out.

Remember, link to the purpose.

How will making these words stand out help the author achieve their purpose? That's what you have to decide.

By the way, bullet points are often used to sum up the key features, facts or arguments that are being made.

Next post I will be showing you how to tackle the other elements of the presentation question.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Two Most Important Words...

This is the next of your GCSE Revision Exam Technique Tips.

Let's imagine a student has been asked to comment on a leaflet which is trying to persuade the reader to write to their MP to protest about experiments on animals.

They have read the text, using Q FOR PRAISE to help identify some of the writer's language techniques.

They notice the following sentence and underline it:

'These experiments are perverse, painful and pointless.'

They then write the following comment:

The writer uses alliteration.

They might feel pretty pleased with themselves. After all,they have done just what I suggested and identified a writer's technique.

Unfortunately, on it's own this isn't going to gain a grade C. There is a weakness in their technique.

Why? Because all it does is identify the technique. To move to the higher levels you need to comment on the writer's choice of language.

Now for the TOP Tip: I want you to hear the following two most important words in your head:

So What?

The writer uses alliteration: SO WHAT?

Now, what you need to do is think about how this alliteration is going to help the writer achieve their purpose.

The writer uses alliteration. (So What?)
So the reader's attention is drawn to these words.

Better but still not going to achieve a grade C.

Why Not? Because 'drawing your eyes' to something, making words 'stand out' is the point of alliteration. You need to explain why these particular words are singled out for attention.
What's special about these words. Why these words and not some other words?

Look at this:

The writer uses alliteration to emphasize the words 'perverse', 'painful' and 'pointless'. By highlighting the idea that experiments on animals are 'perverse' the writer is suggesting to the reader that there is actually something morally wrong with what the experimenters are doing. 'Painful' underlines the fact that these experiments cause suffering to the animal. Suggesting they are 'pointless' indicates that not only are people doing something morally wrong and causing suffering to an animal it is unnecessary because they don't serve any purpose. These are strong arguments and are designed to encourage the reader to act and do something about the situation: write to their MP.

Do you see how the technique and the purpose are linked?

Let's look over the Top Tips again:

Identify what the author is trying to achieve (goal/purpose).
Identify the key techniques used (Q FOR PRAISE will help).
Explain how the technique influences the readers so they will do what the writer wants.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Secrets of GCSE Language Paper

girl celebrating GCSE exam success
When you go into the exam it is important that you have a strategy.

That way you know exactly what you are going to do. You get straight down to it.

Not a minute is wasted.

Everything you do is earning you marks.

Today I am going to show you how to tackle the language question. Lots of students become frightened by this. They think it will be about grammar. It isn't.

It's easy once you have a strategy.

I'm going to teach you that now.

You get this in Paper One section A. Normally it comes towards the end of the section. Sometimes it is joined with a question about presentation. I will post about that another day.

You are asked to write about the use of language in the text.

Here’s what to do.

1. Decide on the purpose of this writing from the minute you begin to read it. WHAT does the writer want you to do, think, feel? In other words, WHY was it written?

2. How has the writer used words/phrase to do this? Use the following handy mnemonic so you know what to look for. Mark your paper as you go along.

Now you are going to use the mnemonic


You can see a PowerPoint to help you learn it here: Slideshare

It stands for

Quotes: Writers use quotes, often from authorities or celebrities to make the reader feel that they are reading something that can be trusted, that is true. If a doctor says that taking more exercise is good for you it is more believable than just a nagging PE teacher!.
If David Beckham says these are the best football boots on the market then they 'must' be good.

Facts: You can’t argue with these. They back up what the text says. This makes it more convincing.

Opinions: Matter if the person who is giving the opinion is an authority. Watch out for opinions that are disguised as facts. E.g. ‘Everybody knows that teenagers just want to laze around all day,’ is an opinion made to sound like a fact because of the words ‘Everybody knows’.

Repetition: Used to emphasize words, But the important thing is that you tell the examiner WHY these words are repeated. How do they help achieve the purpose of the article?

Pronouns: Usually I and You. ‘You’ talks directly to the reader, involving them. If they are trying to raise money for a charity it is better to say how YOU could help the poor rather than just saying that if they had money the poor could be helped. If the author uses I it often shows that they can be trusted because they know what they are talking about. E.g. 'I have seen the poverty and suffering with my own eyes.'

Rhetorical Questions: Create questions that a talk directly to the reader and create some curiosity in their mind that they can only satisfy by reading the rest if the article.

Alliteration: Like repetition, draws attention to the important words.

Imagery: Helps the reader to see in their imagination what is being described. In the slide show, his skin is like rubber.

Statistics: Like facts, give authority to what is being said. In the slide show 24% of Americans believe in alien abduction.

Emotive Language: Words and phrases designed to affect the emotions of the reader. E.g. In a leaflet campaigning against animal experiments, compare 'the animals experience pain' to'the animals are tortured.'

Next Post:

Two Most Important words for answering a language question…