Okay, so you have taken the first new style GCSE English paper and you are preparing for the second one. What should you expect?
AQA have an example on their website. Here it is, broken down for you, to knock all those fears on the head.
These first two are the first external source, like the ones of old, but instead of 3 of them, there are only 2 to read and answer questions on.
The second one is below…
So, above are the inserts you are required to read for this exam. You have 15 minutes to read through them and check the questions or tasks that need to be answered.
Once again, look at this front page. Note the times are the same as Paper 1, the marks the same, how you are assessed on reading in Section A [PEED chains etc] and on your writing in Section B [SPAG marks included]. No dictionaries allowed.
Then look at the first task. This is new.
It is simply a case of shading in the right areas. But make sure you get it right. Facts are one thing. Opinions are another.
If the first task is worth 4 marks, then 4 need to be shaded but now this is worth 8 marks so even though a summary is to be written, it has to be done clearly and properly. Could you get away with a line down the middle of the page and ideas from both men on either side?
I think not! As a marker, there is no way I would mark high if this happens.
Then comes a question that asks you to refer only to Source B.
It is another of those “how does the writer use language” exam questions but note please, the marks have gone up to 12, so 6 good points fleshed out by 6 good quotes and developed explanation and all should be well.
Then comes this… worth 16 marks. Note how the marks are going up each time.
Now, we get to something that we are used to in the past, a ‘compare’ task, where you have to show how both people do certain things in their writing. For 16 marks, I would expect 8 good, well rounded points with 8 equally good quotes, well used and well explained, in extreme detail.
This will be the question that makes the difference in this section of the exam!
With this done, section A is complete and yet again, the same [or similar] time management structure applies as in Paper 1. That would be 5 minutes for Q1, 8 minutes for Q2, 12 minutes for Q3 and 20 minutes for Q4. I would advise this slightly different time frame because of how the marks are different for each question as compared to Paper 1.
Then comes Section B.
As in Paper 1, you have a single written task to plan and execute well. Paper 1 was creative writing in Section B. This is more argumentative and therefore, more difficult. It sets the premise that homework has no value and should be banned. 24 marks are given for ideas on page, how well thought out etc. 16 marks are for spelling, punctuation, grammar, paragraphing [see 2 rules for paragraphing and stick to them] etc. You can so easily write a good set of ideas and write them poorly and score very low on this part of the exam, if you do not paragraph your work clearly, with indented paragraphs and no lines missed.
NB: Write it as you would type it and enjoy doing the resits in November or doing the entire GCSE again the following year.
The task asks you to explain your point of view about homework and its merits. Yes, of course, some students do not do it and are chased by teachers all year long. Others get older ones to do it for them and do not learn. But on the other hand, homework is something that can aide learning, if used correctly. So, plan and prepare on the first page in section B and then write the thing well.
Once again, an easier exam than in previous years, in my humble opinion and one I would relish having a go at, if only I was a student again.
Remember: Be brave. Be the best. Let the markers have all the stress!