GCSE English Home Ed, the Papers

My first challenge was to find out what the syllabus includes. I found out that for AQA Exams the most up-to-date version of the specification is always displayed on this page. To the right of the page (as it is laid out today) you will see the latest booklet download. At the moment this is the current document: GCSE English Language (8700). Oh my goodness this is a daunting booklet, full of teacher-speak and overflowing with the sort of terminology which has been causing me so much heartache this year. With a bit of effort I managed to condense it down to this basic summary:

Paper 1: Creative / Fiction

This is a written exam which takes 1 hour 45 minutes.

  • Read a fiction text and answer 1 short question, 2 long questions, and 1 extra long question.
  • Write a descriptive or narrative passage.

Paper 2: Non-Fiction

This is a written exam which takes 1 hour 45 minutes.

  • Read two non-fiction texts (they are related to each other), and answer 1 short question, 2 long questions, and 1 extra long question.
  • Write a passage to present a viewpoint on the same theme as the texts.

In the writing tasks, marks are awarded for content and technical accuracy.

Spoken Language

There is also a Spoken Language element to the course which is entirely assessed by the teacher. This leads to an endorsement which does not contribute to the GCSE marks. That’s a relief, I can delete this bit.

So where do I begin?

I’ll be looking at the content of the above tasks in detail later. In the meantime here are some observations on what my son may need to work on in order to pass GCSE English Language.

Basic Skills

My son will need basic skills which will allow him to sail through the exams by using those skills he does have and play down his issues with interpretation, analysis, and inference. I still have to work out what those skills are, but I think what I’m looking for is to:

  • develop his searching strategies and ability to identify key elements of a passage.
  • build up a bank of phrases and facts which he can absorb and regurgitate to demonstrate literacy.
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