Notes for AQA GCSE Exam in English/English Language higher tier (1)

I hope that my short notes will help you, the reader, and me to keep this in mind during the exam.
Questions one and two in this post. The examples of candidate responses and commentaries here.

Key words for all questions: to have connotations of, to be evocative of, to attract the reader's attention, try to grab initial attention, intensifies the idea of, this mirroring of words is suggestive of, adds further details, has sudden impact on the reader, creates strong contrast, the juxtaposition of, directly involves the reader, is thought provoking, lodges the idea in the reader's mind, creates sympathy, adds informality, makes it seem authentic, gives validity, is persuasive because, makes it believable, the reader feels obliged to participate, the reader feels important etc

Emotive language
Dramatic language
Verbal imagery helps the reader to hear the sounds
Dramatic imagery
Visual imagery helps the reader to imagine, to see the scene depicted in more detail
Giving the visual effects / details of....
This adds / enhances the meaning 
The use of ... shows
This show / intensifies the idea of 
This carries the idea of 
This engages the reader's interest in
This has the impact on the reader's point of view about 
Puts the reader in the world of the story

Using senses verbs involves the reader's senses, and therefore, engages the reader who can change the reading the story into re-enacting it by himself.

Some words are neutral, some have strong emotional connotations. Something that is 'horrible' has connotations of being absolutely negative, dreadful. 

Some words (most of them, in fact) have more than one meaning, the writer will use them for creating a pun or hinting another interpretation. 

Remember about the weather when interpreting the text - as a pathetic fallacy (mood of the character) or foreshadowing the future events or even both, be smart :) 

You do not lose marks because of your own interpretation, even unusual (if backed with the quotes), but for the lack of it. Be brave and show off. 

Strong verbs and verbs appealing to our senses add details and create imagery language which helps the reader identify with the character. Persuasive and emotional language is used to persuade us into the writer's point of view. 

At the beginning of the exam read all the questions first, then read the insert. It is advisable to start from the end - from the questions which give the most marks. But it is alos helpful to start with something you feel confident, and during answering that question your confidence will grow, so you will be able to tackle the other questions. 


Question 1 (8 marks, 15 mins)

  1. Summarise the article in one sentence to show your understanding. It will also help you with the subject matter of the question.
  2. Choose 4-5 pieces of information based on the question.
  3. Write what you learn:
  • Give the POINT 
  • Support it with the EVIDENCE from the text
  • DEVELOP your comments on the meaning of the points from the reader's perspective (understanding the text, do NOT analyse the language)
  • If possible add the alternative interpretation starting with words like 'perhaps, probably, might, it may also'. 
Do not discuss the language devices. 
Useful vocabulary: this suggests / indicates / implies / means / shows / feels as if / as though

Question 2 (Keep in mind three questions: what, how and why) (8 marks, 15 mins)

  1. Summarise the article in one sentence to show your understanding. It will also help you with the subject matter of the question.
  2. Write about how the title is effective in terms of the reader's attention (why this makes the reader want to read it) and how it is linked to the text. Find a suitable quotation from the text to show it. Look for the language techniques, also its social, cultural or any other connotations.
  3. Do the same with the picture and the captions. 
  4. If possible add the alternative interpretation starting with words like 'perhaps, probably, might, it may also'. 
Do not discuss the text and the language devices apart from those used in the title or captions. 

Do discuss punctuation marks used in the title, but give the reason of their usage. Remember about ellipses, they are used in titles, too. 

Useful vocabulary: this highlights / underscores / accentuates / emphasise / reinforces / draws / grasps the reader's attention, provokes, makes the reader question about, invite the reader to learn more about.

Text: large / bold / contrasting colours / pun (fun / hinting another meaning), font modern / elegant / sans / serif, alliteration, repetition, smart and punchy, rhyme and rhythm, eye-catching, encapsulates, memorable.

The alliteration of the harsh plosive 't' and 'b' in the metaphor of a 'ticking time bomb' creates an urgent, insistent effect. The danger is hidden, and will come in time, but when it does it will explode with devastating results.  

Picture: in the background /  foreground, primary / muted colours, low / high angle camera shot, shallow / deep focus, contrast in size, this signifies, eye contact, inset, captions anchor the meaning, shock / cute factor, factual / provocative / draw the eye, captions used to inflict additional meaning on to the topic, this is the signifier of (like pink colour is associated with teenage girls), striking colours, blacked out person, a person adheres to the stereotypical image of, is used to appeal to (female / teenage) readers, focal point, the picture of the ... adds a personal touch, 

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