Paper 1, Question 1: AQA English Language (8700)

I am going to write a series of posts, each one based on a different question in this exam. Each post will start with this introduction (you’re not going mad and reading the same thing twice). I’ll try to get them all out on this site before the end of the Christmas break.

I need to stress at this point that I am not writing this on behalf of AQA, nor are my posts endorsed by them. I am not writing anything that is not already available in the public domain; I’m simply condensing what you can find on their website and in training materials into manageable chunks. I also include some details of what I am doing with this information – but it’s just that; advice from my own professional practice.

Paper 1, Question 1

This question is NOT marked by ‘expert examiners’. It is marked by a team of people who have a list of answers to work from. If they are unsure of whether a response should be credited, they escalate it to an expert examiner. UPDATE! A decision was made to put expert examiners onto this question. There are too many ambiguities about how it could be rewarded. This was made abundantly clear to me last week when one of my students went from a 4 to a 5 in a marking review and (true story!) he gained the additional mark on Q1.

Points to remember:

This is 4 easy marks but it’s also easy to get wrong.

When considering the common mistakes made in this first question, you might want to teach around these areas:

  • The points must be taken from the lines specified in the question.
  • The points must refer to the item in the question (e.g. if the question asks about the car in lines 1 – 5, they mustn’t comment on, for example, the weather/the dog/the woman).
  • The response can be paraphrased or quoted but they must not just copy out the lines. No marks for doing this.

A positive:

  • Marks will be awarded if they include 2 points in one response. This is brilliant news for our lower ability students.

If you want my advice…

  • Don’t advise weaker students to do this question last. In my experience, they either forget to come back to it OR run out of time and can’t get back to it. This is terrible news for students who could easily pick up 4 marks that they might not get on a harder part of the exam.

Short and sweet but useful, I hope. More to follow this week, starting with Q2. Comments and questions always welcome.

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