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Guide for Achieving 9 in GCSE English Language

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

In year 9, you will likely hear about GCSEs from your teachers. But the question is, what are GCSEs, and why do they matter? GCSE stands for “General Certificate of Secondary Education”. It is an important thing to have if you want a job or go to college later.

Some colleges and jobs want you to have at least five GCSEs. It looks like they can open more doors for you in the future. In this blog, you will learn about GCSE papers and tips on getting the highest score.

GCSE English Language

In GCSE English, you will learn about two main things: language and literature. Language lessons help you get better at reading, writing and talking effectively. English Literature focuses on making you better at reading and understanding written stuff. Over the years, they have changed how they test GCSE English. What you learn and how they test and grade you are all part of this.

We made a list of some good tips on the best grade in the English language GCSE. These tips are valid for all board exams, they can help you to do better and perform well in the examination.

10 Useful Tips to Revise Your GCSE Syllabus

Tips for English Language GCSE Exam

Take Help from the Exam

In every paper, there are two parts: where you read and where you write. When you read the first part, you can take ideas and inspiration from the text. In the paper, you will see how skilled the writer is and suggest using its techniques to improve your writing. In the stories, pay attention to how the writer uses fancy writing methods to create a certain feeling in the text. Try to utilise a similar method in your writing in the best way you can, but never copy it.

Give Proper Time to Writing Part

For most GCSE boards, writing makes up half of your total grade. Ensure you give yourself the same time for the writing as you did for all the reading questions, try to spend at least 45 minutes on writing. Plan what you want to write, then write it and check it carefully. Spelling, grammar and punctuation are essential, and small mistakes can make you lose marks. Spending five minutes at the end to double-check could make a huge difference.

Know Different Kinds of Writing

It is important to read different kinds of writings to feel prepared for what might show up in the exam. You can find a lot of these online, reading parts of these regularly will help you get to the familiar words and how sentences are made. This will also give you a sense of the organisation and different styles of these writings.

Extract the Essence of a Quote

When studying language, don’t only see quotes as a single picture. Look closely at each word in them, after you have looked at the whole quote, focus on specific important words to understand more. For instance, if you are talking about the sky like “the sky is glowing like gold”, just saying it’s about the sky being beautiful is one way to see it.

But paying attention to words like” gold” and “glowing” gives more meaning. The word “glowing” gives the sense of something soft and warm, adding to how we see the sky as magical and unique. Considering each word can make your answer much better and more detailed.

Be Perceptive

Good answers often use words like ‘perceptive’ or ‘insightful’ in the top bands of the reading exam. But how can you be perceptive or insightful? There is a simple trick to make your answer more perceptive- consider other ways to understand things.

When analysing a writing technique with different meanings, add a sentence like: ‘This could also mean…’ and share another way to understand it. By showing a different view of what the writer might be saying, you explore the text thoroughly and increase your chances of getting a high score.

Research the Marks Scheme

All GCSE exam boards, such as Edexcel, AQA, OCR, and others, share the mark scheme of previous exams on their websites. Reviewing the highest levels of these mark schemes and identifying the primary skills and descriptions for each question is helpful.

The points listed in each mark band show the various skills tested for that question. Paying close attention to these will help you ensure you have included everything the examiner wants to see.

Use Advanced Language & Deep Thinking When Analysing Text

Most top-level mark schemes use words like ‘confident’ or ‘assured’ to describe excellent answers. Understanding and using correct terminology and techniques is crucial to achieve this.

Online resources offer various glossaries of literary terms, and learning and practising identifying them is beneficial. Additionally, being familiar with fundamental word categories and utilising them in your answer can enhance its academic tone.

Practice Analysis

Many students believe you can’t prepare for the English language since the texts are new to you, which is inaccurate. Like any exam, the more you revise and practice, the higher your chance of getting a top grade. Take any extract from a text and practice finding different writing techniques. Consider how they affect the writing and why the writer chose to use them.

Whenever you read something, try to think like the writer. Why did they choose that word or metaphor? What could they be trying to say with that specific image? What emotions are they aiming to evoke in the reader at this point? Understanding the writer’s thought process helps you indulge in the text, providing insightful and perceptive insights.

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