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Festive Exam practice Question 6

"If you want to experience all of the successes and pleasure in life, you have to be willing to accept all the pain and failure that comes with it."

You have been asked to write an article for the real life section of the newspaper arguing for or against people participating in Extreme Sports.

(24 Marks) 35 Minutes - You must try to write 2 or more pages.


Festive Exam Practice Question 5

You have been asked to write a letter to your local newspaper describing a moment when you felt fearful and explaining how you overcame that fear.

(16 Marks) 25 Minutes - You should aim to write no more than two and a half sides.


Festive Question 4

You need to compare Source 3 to either Source 1 or Source 2.

Compare the way that language is used for effect in the texts. Give some examples and analyse the effects.

(16 Marks) 24 Minutes


Festive Exam Practice Question 3

Explain some of the thoughts and feelings of Felix Baumgartner on his space jump. (8 Marks) 12 Mins

Source 3

Festive Exam Practice Question 2

Explain how the headline and picture are effective and how they link to the text? (8 Marks) - 12 Mins

Source 2


Festive Exam Practice Question 1

Q1 - What do you learn about the SS Coachella? (8 Marks)

Source 1


Question 2 Exemplar

Have been asked by @jasmin_le to post a Q2 exemplar answer. We've been looking closely at the mark scheme in class which the top band is pasted below.

Band 4
7 - 8 marks

* Offers a detailed interpretation of the effects of the headline
* Presents a detailed explanation and interpretation of what the picture shows and its effect
* Links the picture and the headline to the text with perceptive comments offers appropriate quotations or references to support comments

The question is: Explain how the Headline and Picture are effective and how they link with the rest of the text. 8 Marks.

Source 2

New Words of 2012: what a shamazing year

'Shamazing’: the word coined by 'X Factor’ judge Nicole Scherzinger, above, and used by David Cameron when she helped turn on the Christmas lights in Downing Street

The headline 'New Words of 2012: what a shamazing year' is particularly effective at introducing the tone and detail of the article. The colon in the title serves to create a pause which seems to give the impression of the pause before a joke. This gives the article a light-hearted tone which is then clarified as derisive with the awful portmanteau of 'shamazing'. The headline seems to set up a bad joke from which it then goes on to explain the writer's despair at some new words (neologisms) that have appeared in 2012. 

The image shows David Cameron and Nicole Scherzinger in the background both laughing. The look on Cameron's face suggests he is uncomfortable which links with the articles tone of derision. It is clear he is not comfortable with the use of the word and it serves to back up the opinion of the writer on the new words being awful. Scherzinger again looks awkward through over-laughing but the teenager in the foreground with his eyes closed seems to suggest how poorly both speakers have judged their audience. 

The article clarifies how these new words have appeared but moves to list words that they 'hope never to hear again'. The writer is clearly against the use of these new words through the awkwardness portrayed in the image and the set up of the title as being a bad joke.

Look at how the response picks out more than one point about the headline and image and is always linking to something within the text this covers 'detailed' and the plural 'effects' 'comments' 'details'. Tone can be important here as usually the image and headline reflect the attitude that the writer is taking towards their subject. If you can begin to link parts of the image and headline to tone, you are creating 'perceptive comments'. 

There is an example of a top band answer but how do you get to that stage. Evaluate your own answers:

What do you need to do to get to this level? 
What strategies will help you get there in the exam? 
What advice would you give to someone trying to create a top band answer?

If you're reading this then leave your answers to these questions below. Remember I can track page views!  


Developing Band 4 / 5 Answers - Literature

 As the Literature assessments are drawing close, I'd thought I'd analyse the marking criteria and talk through the various indicators for top Band answers. The key for this is:

Amber = Understanding
Purple = Analysis
Blue = The bridge or development to...
Red = Evaluation

Band 5 Candidates demonstrate:

* sophisticated engagement with writers’ ideas and attitudes
in both texts. They develop sophisticated interpretations of both
texts using imaginatively selected supporting textual detail.

*sophisticated analysis of aspects of language and structure
in both texts.

*perceptive, imaginative and balanced exploration of points of

*perceptive and imaginative comment on the significance of
the contexts of both texts.

Band 4 Candidates demonstrate:

*sustained and developed appreciation of writers’ ideas and
attitudes and provide convincing interpretations using precisely
selected supporting textual detail in both texts.

*analysis of aspects of language and structure in both texts in
convincing detail.

*thoughtful and balanced consideration of links/points of
comparison between the texts.

*thoughtful consideration of the significance of the contexts
of both texts.


We've looked at Higher Order thinking skills and looked to develop our analytical and evaluative skills. Essentially you analyse everyday, but it is the applying of this skill to English that people struggle with.

'Sir glared at me. He's not happy. I think he's trying to tell me something. It might be that I'm talking. Shall I carry on? Judging by the disappointment in his eyes, I better be quiet.'

Analysing is breaking something to its basic parts and working out what they could mean.

Evaluating is then being able to look at the parts and the message and judge its impact.

'Sir glared at me. He's not happy. I think he's trying to tell me something. It might be that I'm talking. Shall I carry on? Judging by the disappointment in his eyes, I better be quiet. That was quite frightening. I wouldn't like to be in his bad books. I certainly know what he expects.

So how does that tie into the mark scheme?

Take Band 4 - key words are 'convincing detail', 'precisely selected supporting textual detail', and 'thoughtful consideration'.

To show this I need to see you independently tackling the task looking at a wide range of detail from the play, considering the way that the writer's have crafted the texts and the impressions they develop overall.

In short, I need you not to be scared to give your own opinions of why Shakespeare and Browning use the language they've used. It is difficult - you are taught that this is hugely important and everything hinges on each Controlled Assessment. However, to hit the top of Band 4 and push into Band 5 you need to take risks. You need to believe in your own thoughts and opinions because that is what makes me marking these works smile and enjoy.

I don't want 60 essays that have been created to a formula.

Most of your school day you trust your opinions and will believe they are the right thing until you enter a classroom and are asked to apply them to a situation you are unfamiliar with. Trust your own thoughts - test them in your mind - do they make sense from what you know about the character?

Knowing that Lady Macbeth has been overbearing / controlling / manipulative is she really commenting on Macbeth's clothing in:

'Was the hope drunk wherein you dress'd yourself?'

Would Macbeth's dress sense worry her? What else does dress suggest? Appearance? Does Macbeth appear different in this scene to when we last saw him at the end of Act 1 Scene 5? Is that what she is more angry about?

Your 'thoughtful' consideration is what gains you the higher marks. Your thoughts (closely linked to the text as a whole) = better marks.

Moving into Band 5 is about having those original thoughts where you don't just develop one idea but you offer many and think about the impact the writer intends to have:

'Was the hope drunk wherein you dress'd yourself?' suggests the disappointment that Lady Macbeth has of Macbeth's metaphorical change in appearance since he agreed to the plot. Her use of 'dress'd seems to accuse Macbeth of only looking like or pretending to be strong enough to kill Duncan although this though the idea of 'drunk' seems to suggest where he was uninhibited before his inhibitions no control him. This may also develop the idea of Macbeth as a coward highlighting her control in the relationship, especially as she assaults Macbeth with a barrage of demeaning Rhetorical Questions and paints him as almost a fool: he is only able to act the part with support of alcohol (or this could potentially be her support). Shakespeare crafts this scene highlighting Lady Macbeth at the peak of her power strengthening the impact of her demise as the plot unravels.

The highlighted section shows understanding of the play in picking out a relevant quotation. The purple then analyses. The blue develops 'thoughtful consideration' and 'perceptive' detail and the red evaluates the impact of the scene / line.

Where a Band 4 answer will stop at the purple, a Band 5 answer would develop the blue and red.

Festive Question 6

All forms are getting in the Christmas spirit. The Zebra is taking shape and looks like it will take out any Lion that attacks and my beard is becoming bushy like ole' St Nick.

So here is a Festive Question 6 for you:

Remember - Writing to Argue should be balanced and Writing to Persuade - Biased 

It is worth 24 marks with 8 of those being for Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar. You have 35 Minutes to write it in and you must aim to write 1 1/2 pages - 2 Pages.

Write a blog persuading people for or against the idea of giving to charity at Christmas time.

You know the drill - be daring, engaging, satirical and eloquent.

Show off your grasp of the English language and your wide and varied vocabulary. Try and switch between the humorous and serious / formal and informal.

Revision on Thursday night helped people come up with a formula to ensure at least C+ writing.

It goes to the tune of the Macarena:

1 word, 2 word 3 word sentence,
Direct Address, Hyberbole, Rhetorical Question
Alliteration, Oxymoron, Triadic Structure
Complex Vocabulary - Hey!

Macarena - for those who don't know the tune!

Enjoy your weekend.

Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair

Year 10 have there Macbeth assessment coming up and a number of students are experiencing the last minute panic that hits everyone before an assessment.

Here, I'll go through a range of things that may help you.

Presentation is key in Literature - in fact you will see the word 'present' in most GCSE literature questions.

How does the writer present growing up?

Explore the ways writers present love in....

Addressing the 'present' in the question is as key to your success as developing an answer about love or growing up. Present really translates as 'use devices to highlight'.

How does the writer present (use devices to highlight) growing up?

The writer highlights the character growing up through the use of metaphor. This is conveyed in 'suddenly before her eyes, her young boy was a man' which develops the idea of the speed of growing up through the use of the words 'suddenly' and the metaphoric transformation of boy to man 'before here eyes.

Here is an analytical answer covering the 'presents' in picking out devices engaging with language as well as answering the question about growing up.

So Browning and Shakespeare - what devices do they use?

Shakespeare is the master of imagery, rhythm and structure. The man was a genius in painting pictures with words:

'Plucked my nipples from it's boneless gums and dashed the brains out had I so sworn as you'

Here the image of a mother in the most tender and intimate moment with an infant is destroyed by the violence of the word 'dashed' effectively crushing any of the femininity Lady Macbeth wanted to remove from herself in Act 1 Scene 5.

As you track Lady Macbeth throughout the play you notice the images that she conjures surround Gender, Violence, Guilt and the Supernatural. This imagery is key to her presentation.

In the structure of the play Shakespeare crafts Dramatic Irony to shock the audience by the power, deceit and cruelty Lady Macbeth embodies in the early Acts of the play. Her 'playing' of the hostess in Act 1 Scene 6 and pretence of her weak feminine side in Act 2 Scene 3 develop her as manipulative and cunning. Then there is the scene in between with stichomythia highlighting the first signs of weakness within her in Act 2 Scene 2.

As with his use of structure, Shakespeare's use of Soliloquy highlights Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's vulnerability and give the audience the first hints of suspicion from the rest of the cast. Soliloquy is vital in clarifying the motivation and the opinions of the characters. With all the deceit in the scene's with Dramatic Irony without Soliloquy the audience would struggle to keep up with who wants to stab whom and who really thinks what.

Finally, the subtle changes in verse in the scenes: Lady Macbeth's use of Blank Verse as she grows in power to Rhymed Verse in her beautiful four line Soliloquy in Act 3 Scene 2 to her descent into guilt ridden madness through the use of Prose in Act 5 Scene 1. Shakespeare is using all his craft to convey the characters feelings and developments throughout the play.

In the Assessment, it is your job to pick out quotations relevant to the task and analyse these picking out the devices / language used and how they relate to the question.

So what does Browning do?

Well first is the form of the poems - Dramatic Monologues.

Browning was a pioneer of the Dramatic Monologues appealing to the darker side of Victorian Life. The Dramatic Monologue, simply put, is one character speaking their thoughts to an implied listener with the reader almost listening in. In Porphyria's Lover and The Laboratory this takes on an almost manic confessional tone whereas My Last Duchess is controlled and almost more sinister in the manipulation.

Like Shakespeare, Browning is a master of structure. You have the long single stanza of Porphyria and My Last Duchess and then the manic episodic quatrains of The Laboratory. What do these symbolise? Well that is up to you?

Again rhythm is important here especially with the use of Iambic Pentameter in My Last Duchess and the Caesura in each of the poems. The rhythm and the stopping and starting of lines tells us a lot about the characters.

Again you've got lots of imagery in the poems, pathetic fallacy, power, deceit, death and love. The perfect companion to Macbeth.

Once you have all your points, the structuring of your answers is key.

You have to cover A01 (Essentially answer the question using appropriate vocabulary / terminology) AO2 (Analysing Language / Structure) AO3 (Comparison) and AO4 (The Historical and Social Context).

AO1 and AO2 should be covered above but it is still important to cover context in the points you're making.

AO3 are the links you can make between the texts. These might be links in feelings, themes, or language/devices.

Contextual points can include something as simple as the audience being aware that a Soliloquy conveys the characters true thoughts but we can delve deeper.

Consider these questions:

How would a patriarchal society that Shakespeare was writing for react to the power of Lady Macbeth and the seemingly week Macbeth?

How would they have reacted to the Supernatural elements and the betrayal of a King?

What would the outwardly conservative Victorians feel about Browning's Poems?

Put it altogether and you have the perfect paragraph. Cover all your key scenes and you are laughing!

If in doubt follow the wheel -

Year 11 have done this task - if you're lucky they'll post some helpful hints here. You could always ask them how they managed!

Good luck - tweet or post any questions here.

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