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Welcome to the complete revision guide for AQA GCSE English Language paper 2. Keep reading for our top tips and advice on each question, as we break down the English Language paper 2. Find out what to expect from each question, how to revise effectively and how to get top marks. 

To revise effectively for GCSE English Language you do need to set aside plenty of revision time. Our tutors always hear students say that they don’t need to – or even can’t – revise for English Language. That’s all wrong. You must revise for the subject, you just need to know how. 

You should focus on:

  • understanding how each of the papers is structured; 
  • knowing what the examiner is looking for on each question; and
  • doing lots of practice questions and marking your own work to improve quickly. 

You can also find our guide to AQA GCSE English Language Paper 1 here.

Alongside our revision guides, our team of top English tutors provide one-to-one lessons designed specifically to help you succeed in the exams. Contact us directly to book your first lesson. 

AQA GCSE English Language Paper 2

Overview of the paper

AQA GCSE English Language paper 2 explores non-fiction writers’ viewpoints and perspectives. Section A consists of 4 questions, in which you’ll analyse two linked sources across different time periods and genres. Section B consists of a single big question where you will write your own text for a specified audience, purpose and form. Here you’ll provide your own perspective on a task related to the theme that was introduced in section A. 

There is 1 hour 45 minutes to complete the paper. There are 80 marks at stake, making up 50% of your GCSE English Language qualification. 

AQA English Language Paper 2 Section A

Read the sources carefully – spend 15 mins here

Make sure you spend the first 10-15 minutes of the exam carefully reading the sources. You should: 

  • read the texts carefully and thoroughly;
  • read the questions; and
  • highlight important parts of the sources for use later. 

Question 1 – select 4 true statements – spend 5 mins here

The first question should be fairly straightforward but do ensure you take a few minutes to think it through carefully. You’ll be asked to focus on a small part of source A and select four true statements from a selection of eight. Be a little careful here because there will be some statements that you think could possibly be true, but you should be able to point to where you’re told this in the text for it to be true. That will confirm your choice. 

Things to remember on this question: 

  1. focus only on the specific section of source A; 
  2. pinpoint where in the text the writer tells you each of your choices; and
  3. don’t spend more than 5 minutes here. 

Question 2 – summary of differences or similarities – spend 10 mins here

For question 2 you need to refer to both source A and B. The question is out of 8 marks. You’ll be asked to write a summary of the differences or similarities between something/ someone in source A and something/ someone in source B. You don’t need to worry about analysing language or structure here, simply identify 3-4 differences or similarities (focused on what is in your specific question). Summarise each of the differences in turn, with quotations, and explore perceptive inferences from both texts. Inferences are not explicitly said, they are the extra layers of understanding that are suggested by the writer and which you pick up  from “reading between the lines”. To get top marks you need to examine what the writers imply about the issue.  

Things to remember for this question: 

  • you do not need to analyse any language or structure here;
  • focus on explaining perceptive inferences from both texts to explain the key differences or similarities; and
  • cover three or four points with quotations. 

Question 3 – the writer’s use of language to describe something – spend 12 mins here

There are 12 marks up for grabs here. You will always be asked, ‘how does the writer use language to describe…’ followed by something specific from part of one source. You need to analyse the effects of the writer’s choice of language. Make around four points and explore them using good quotations and sophisticated use of subject terminology. The language features you pick out could include things like: metaphors, similes, alliteration, onomatopoeia, personification, sentence forms and the use of specific types of words or phrases. 

Things to remember for this question: 

  • focus on analysing the effects of the writer’s choice of language; 
  • use accurate subject terminology by identifying specific language techniques; and
  • cover four points with excellent quotations. 

Question 4 – comparing different perspectives – spend 18 mins here

Question 4 is a bigger, extended question with 16 marks at stake. As such, the examiner is expecting more from you. The question will always ask you to “compare how the writers convey their different perspectives/attitudes about…” something specific to the sources. You need to perceptively compare their different perspectives or attitudes, and most importantly, compare the methods the writers use to convey their different perspectives or attitudes. Everything is in scope here, so you can analyse any methods, including both language and structure. Aim to write about four good comparison points. These four paragraphs will cover both sources (in order to compare them properly) and they’ll be more developed than in the earlier questions. 

Things to remember for this question: 

  • keep focused on the specific task in the question;
  • analyse the methods used by the writers to convey their attitudes to the topic; and
  • consider both language and structure. 
Revision for English language GCSE

AQA GCSE English Language Paper 2 Section B

Question 5 – writing to present a viewpoint – spend 45 mins here

Question 5 provides your opportunity to show the examiner how you can write effectively to explain your point of view on a specific issue. There are a whopping 40 marks up for grabs here, so make sure you spend the full 45 mins doing this question. You’ll be given a statement on an issue related to those discussed in section A. Your task will be to write in a specific form, for a specific audience, to present your point of view on the issue. You might be asked to write a newspaper article, letter or speech, amongst other forms. The marks are allocated specifically, with 24 marks available for content and organisation and 16 marks for technical accuracy (spelling, punctuation and grammar). 

To do well in this question we recommend spending the first 5 minutes thinking deeply about the task and planning your answer. This plan will ensure your answer has a good, consistent argument and structure. When writing, make sure your style and use of language reflects the form and audience of the task. Use ambitious vocabulary, language techniques and structural features to really demonstrate what you can do. You should, of course, always ensure your spelling, punctuation and grammar are spot on. Leave a couple of minutes at the end to double check your technical accuracy. 

Things to remember for this question: 

  • match your style of writing to the purpose and audience of the task; 
  • plan your answer first;
  • leave the full 45 minutes to complete the task fully; and
  • use ambitious vocabulary, language and structural features to present your viewpoint and really show the examiner what you can do. 

Now Keep revising for your AQA GCSE English Language Paper 2

The key thing after reading this guide is to practise. Do as many past papers and practice questions as you can. Mark your own work and try answering the questions again focusing on areas to develop. You can find all of the past AQA papers here. For fully personalised advice and support, why not try a lesson with one of our online GCSE English experts? Simply drop us a quick message and we’ll arrange your free tutoring consultation. 

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