Answering The Question: GCSE English Language

examsI have covered aspects of the importance of answering the question earlier in my blogs. This time I would like to look at examination questions. In many ways this is the most vital time for your child because so many marks can be lost at this level.

Here is part of a question from a specimen OCR GCSE Examination Paper for English which may help to show what I mean. The candidates had to read eye-witness accounts of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. This excerpt relates to one of them.

Using details from this eye-witness account, outline concisely:

the effects of the earthquake on the city of San Francisco

There are seven or so marks available for this answer. Your child will not gain these marks from a long description. They have to identify and write down points from the section concisely. (In fact in the marking instructions the marker is told to look for signs of excess material which would lose marks.)

The following may seem complicated but you just find the highlighted bits on the text and see how they come under one heading. It is an exercise in answering the question successfully.

I have emphasized the words that give the areas to concentrate on: The examiners are not looking for opinions or ideas – just information.

1 Buildings collapsed – underlined
2 Fires broke out/spread – italics
3 Streets/street car tracks warped/distorted – bold
4 Electricity supply failed/cables torn down – underlined
5 People/animals killed by falling masonry – italics
6 Debris blocked survivors’ escape routes – bold

In every direction from the ferry building, flames were seething, and as I stood there, a five-storey building half a block away fell with a crash, and the flames swept clear across Market Street and caught a new fire-proof building recently erected. The streets in places had sunk three or four feet, in others great humps had appeared four or five feet high. The street car tracks were bent and twisted out of shape. Electric wires lay in every direction. Streets on all sides were filled with brick and mortar, buildings either completely collapsed or brick fronts had just dropped completely off. Wagons with horses hitched to them, drivers and all, lying on the streets, all dead, struck and killed by the falling bricks. Warehouses and large wholesale houses of all descriptions were either down, or with walls bulging, or twisted other buildings had been moved two or three feet out of line and were still standing with walls all cracked.”

I hope this has been helpful! You can see perhaps how to look through a text and very quickly identify the important points.

English GCSE quizzes can also help your child tackle the questions they will be faced with in exams.

Is there anything you’d like to know about education? If so, then EQ’s Knowledge Bank is the place to go! It’s a valuable resource for parents, aimed at finding the answers to the questions you want to ask about education and schooling. Not only that, it’s also crammed full of advice and guidance on issues such as bullying, children’s self-confidence and raising happy children. It’s a veritable mine of information waiting to be discovered, just one mouse-click away!

exam-revisionGuest Blog by Cathy Bird

Since retiring from full-time teaching Art and English and her post as Assistant Head and Sixth Form Tutor, Cathy Bird has concentrated on her painting and now runs art courses and sessions at her own studios in Kent. She also tutors students at all levels in Literacy, Comprehension and Essay-writing.

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