18 September 2016

How to Pass GCSE English Language Grade 9-1 Course

From June 2017 the English Language GCSE exams are undergoing some major changes.  The old system of 40% controlled assessments has gone out of one window like the proverbial baby and bathwater.

In through the other, like a cold blast of winter air, comes a new system of two exams, which scrutinises the reading and writing skills of students studying towards the qualification. In my other life I am a college lecturer and one of the subjects I teach is… you guessed it.

So, as an IT person, I have started to put together a series of videos to enable two things.  First I want to answer the question “how do I pass GCSE English Language?” the answer to which is more often than not demanded by students the evening before their exam (make that plural now).  I guess the first thing is to allow those doing it an opportunity to understand the new system of grading – hence the first video in this series.  Next it’s on to the exams and the Assessment Objectives (handily known as AOs) which they cover.  Know thine enemy is vital and although I wouldn’t advise rote-learning here it’s hugely important that learners know what’s coming at them in the examinations.

Once students are made aware of the assessment objectives then it’s a good idea to let them know just when in the exams these AOs will raise their heads, ugly or otherwise.

As a first foray in to a specific AO (on its own it sounds like something one of the teletubbies might splutter) I have focused on the last question of the first exam developed by the AQA board.  This covers AO5 and AO6 – the writing assessment objectives.  I guess the reason I didn’t start with AO1, which is all about reading, is because the one I would enjoy most myself is the creative writing task.  It may also be the one most overlooked by students and teachers in preparation for the exam as it could be seen as one that would ‘fall in to place’ most naturally.  Over the two exams, these assessment objectives represent half the available marks so they should be avoided at our individual and mutual peril!

AO5 and AO6 represent a huge amount of marks and there are very specific things the examiners will look for and which therefore need to be included in any creative piece written during the exam.  An awareness of these is vital for students to pick up the marks in this section of both of the papers. So, that’s my starting point (but don't ask about Paper 2 just yet please).

I have also created a number of videos with visual resources aimed at teachers.  These could also be used by students as writing pieces which are based on previously unseen visual stimulus could be important if this is the creative writing option they choose in the exam.

The videos are all included on my YouTube channel, Teaching and Learning Resources for Me (yes, I know – a mouthful – but I wanted to emphasise the fact that these resources should be useful to both those studying towards exams and those teaching them).  Updates will be regular, so please subscribe to the channel so they will appear on your recommended watch thingummy straight away.