New Exams Are Here – Paper 1

Have you been fretting recently? Have you been concerned about the style of the new exams? If so, read on, for this is the first sighting of the new 2 paper style of GCSE English, taken from the AQA website. Below appears a series of photos and then a short explanation, for anyone to understand. I hope they make sense.

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This first one is the new formatted front sheet to Paper 1. Note the 1 hour 45 minutes. Note also that the inserts we are used to are included inside the exam paper. Only when we get to Paper 2 do we see external inserts to quote from. Note also how the marks are split and the 15 minutes reading requirement. That is not 1 hour plus 15 minutes. It is 15 minutes to read the inserts and 45 minutes for each section. Less writing, fewer pages but a greater need for accuracy.

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The two pictures above are one insert, from a story by Daphne Du Maurier and are to be read and then, students are to answer questions. Below is Q1.


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Can you remember the first task on the F paper from last year and the years before? That was a simple list of four things. This is the first question, an easy one to get you into the paper. 4 things means 4 points. Only write two and you only score two. Simple!

Then come the harder questions.


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This is one of those “how does the writer use language” ones, where you have to mention any stylistic devices used, any alliteration, similes, metaphor etc. This is where the PEED chains begin. Note the amount of marks has just doubled, so 4 points made, 4 bits of evidence and lots of explanation and development and you get the full 8 marks. A half hearted effort here can mean the difference between one mark and the next, a 4 and a 5, or even higher.


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Then you get Q3, which is again worth 8 marks. This one asks about writing structure, how attention is focused by the writer to the reader, about how and why things change at some point and any other features you see and can make mention of. So far, in 3 questions, you have the chance to score 20 marks.

Then this happens.


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This question is now worth 20 points so here is where you will lose some marks if you mess it up and do not write what you should.

It is based on an opinion of how the writer brings the characters to life. Now, it does not matter whether you agree with it or not, what you have to do is write about it, so do not get hooked up on agree or disagree. It asks how far you agree, so you have to think where you stand on the matter and then write a balanced argument for what you think to be the case. It says you have to support your ideas with reference to the text, so PEED chains still in operation.

With the first 15 minutes of reading time and these 4 questions to answer, you are forced into a time frame as follows:


5 MINS – Q1

10 MINS – Q2

10 MINS – Q3

20 MINS – Q4

And when that is done, you have done the new Section A of the new first exam!

Now, in the past, Section B has been 2 tasks; one worth 16 marks and the other worth 24, with 25 minutes and 35 minutes being advised for each one respectively. Here, your Section B is a single task of 45 minutes [and that includes planning].

Power of Y planning takes 5 minutes, so you have 40 minutes maximum, to write the thing, but what is it to be?

See below….


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You have a choice of 2 tasks, not the other thing that I am sure will happen [where some berk will try to answer both tasks in 45 minutes – it has been tried before now so please just do one task].

Your either/or in this instance is really a brilliant one when it comes down to it. If you chose the description based on the picture, then you have all the imagery there in the picture to be able to plan and write a lovely descriptive piece. If you chose to do the second one instead, where you have to write the opening part of a story about a place that is severely affected by the weather, then the options are limitless and this is why the new exam is trying to do that for you as student.

Think for a second!

Pathetic Fallacy and Foreshadowing allow you to begin with bad weather, rain, gusts of wind, leading into a possible ghost story like The Woman In Black. If you are a Doctor Who fan, then episodes like Knock Knock come to mind, or Blink, where there is rain. Or perhaps, you choose something that you know. I went potholing once down something called Jack Pot [yes, it was called that] in Derbyshire. It is literally a 5 foot hole in the ground that you climb down, but if it rains, it fills up, so my story could be about a potholing disaster where the hole fills with unexpected rain and how the adventurers try to survive against all odds.

With all this done, you have completed your first new style exam. In essence, it is a lot easier than the previous ones of years gone by, so I foresee raised levels of success. If teachers, like me, do their job right as they prepare their students for this, then percentage rates of 5 and above [4 = C of old] will forever increase, so long as the government do not have heart failure and knee jerk their way into something else.

So do not panic. Be brave and prepare for Paper 2 [see next piece on this site].