If you’re revising for AQA GCSE English Language, you’re probably not spending much time on Question 1, although it’s definitely worth a quick look and a bit of revision.
You can find guidance on Paper 1 Question 1 here. They are different in some ways although they are assessing the same skill. If you ask me, Paper 1 Q1 is harder. Most people get three or four marks on both questions, though. They’re both designed to ease you into the paper and so they shouldn’t be too terrifying. Paper 1 Q1 can be a little bit harder because you’re not given the phrases, so there’s more potential to go wrong – to pick quotes or details from the wrong part of the passage or to make a poor inference – but Q1 on paper 2 presents challenges of its own.
Let’s look at a sample question, from June 2017.
First, you’re asked to look at a bigger section than Paper 1, so there is more reading to do. That means it can take you a little longer than you might expect.
Second, most of the problems on this question come from not following the guidance given you. It tells you to shade the circle if you think it’s true. If you make a mistake there are things you need to do, but shading a circle for the true statements is your first thing.
That looks like this:
It doesn’t really matter if you colour in the lines. It matters if you use black (you should) and that’s all you need to do.
But over 10% of June 2017 students did other things instead…
Now AQA aren’t going to fail you for doing this (although SHADE THE CIRCLE is simple advice) but you can see the problem of this script – and I’ve chosen a font that is a bit indecipherable. For most people T or F are quite distinguishable, but if that horizontal line though the F is not very long or clear, then it could be a T. And this is an examiner headache. Examiners aren’t paid to peer at your scruffy handwriting and try to work out if you’ve done an F or a T. That’s why it says SHADE THE CIRCLE. That way, we don’t need courses in Advanced Graphology to decipher your hieroglyphics.
So shade the circle. Don’t. Do. Anything. Else. Just shade the circle.
That said, it looks like far fewer students made that mistake from June to November if you read the examiners’ reports (available online) but it’s worth remembering.
Now if you are anything like me, you are fraught with uncertainty and doubt. Does the statement mean exactly this? Is it a trick? Will I fail the whole paper if I get this wrong?
To help you more, there’s a rough sequence to the statements
It’s not like you have go hunting back and forward around the text. So if you are of an anxious disposition, you can always highlight the text as I have done.
You may also then want to write T or F IN PENCIL down next to the letters before you shade the circle in pen and rub out the T or F so as not to leave any doubt. If you’re not sure, you can always use a question mark.
So do this:
Before you do this:
Although that may take you a ridiculous amount of time for what is just a 4 mark question. 5 minutes max.
This is an easy question, but don’t be hasty. There are some inferences you’ll need to make. Some are straight deductions. Sometimes they swap a ‘has’ in the text for a ‘has not’ in the answer, or use loose antonyms like ‘quite hard’ and ‘easy’ in the text and answer booklet. Sometimes they’re just rephrased. But don’t overthink it. It’s not that tough, honest!
Next up, a look at Question 2 on Paper 2