Mastering Paper 2 in English Language: Your Ultimate Guide

Today, we’re diving into the realm of Paper 2 in GCSE English Language. This exam section might seem a bit daunting at first, but fear not! I’ve got your back. Whether you’re a student or an educator, these fantastic tips will equip you with the necessary skills to conquer this paper like a true language maestro.

2023 GCSE English Language Paper 2 date: June 12th

In Paper 2, you’ll encounter two captivating extracts of non-fiction. Brace yourself for a time-traveling experience, as one extract will be from the 19th century while the other will be a contemporary piece from either the 20th or 21st century. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect: four reading questions and one writing question. Let’s explore each question type and unleash your full potential!

Here’s the English Language Paper 2 breakdown:
Q1 – true/false – 4 marks
Q2 –WHAT are the differences OR similarities between two sources (whole text) – 8 marks
Q3 – language analysis of a section of the text– 12 marks
Q4 – COMPARE VIEWPOINTS in the two sources (whole text) – 16 marks
Q5 – writing to express a viewpoint – 40 marks

Question 1: Unveiling True or False (4 marks)

To start off, put on your detective hat and read the statements with a keen eye.
Use a highlighter to mark the lines that relate to the questions. When you read through the statements initially, place a tiny dot next to the letters of the statements you believe are true. Delve deep into the text, cross-referencing and analyzing before shading the circles in the boxes.
Top tip: spend no more than 5 minutes on this question before moving forward.

Question 2: Spotlight on Differences or Similarities (8 marks)

In this question, you’ll analyze the disparities or commonalities between the two given sources. Identify the focus provided and showcase your skills by pinpointing three compelling aspects from each source. Use the SQI approach (Statement, Quotation, Inference) to structure your response. Linking words like “however” or “similarly” and phrases such as “source B is different because” will add finesse to your answer. Let’s take a look at an example:

Differences and Similarities in Henry Mayhew’s visit to a prison (19th century) and Alex Cavendish’s visit to a prison (contemporary):

Both sources revolve around different institutions and the people within them. Source A depicts a prison with “long corridors” and “long tunnels,” creating an intimidating and maze-like atmosphere. Additionally, “narrow galleries” and “little mid-air bridges” reinforce the sense of confinement and the prisoners’ inability to escape. Meanwhile, source B portrays a prison where rooms “steadily get more and more enclosed,” inducing a feeling of claustrophobia similar to source A. However, source B intensifies the threat with its depiction of a “high fence topped with razor wire,” evoking a more brutal and prison-like ambiance. Although both texts highlight discipline within the prisons, source B portrays a more menacing environment.”

Thank you to the learning profession blog for this example

Pro Tip: stick to the topic focused on in the question, make inferences from language choice, do not analyse language devices

Question 3: Decoding Language Techniques (12 marks)

Time to appreciate the writer’s craft! Highlight the lines you’re required to analyze and focus on words, phrases, language features, and sentence forms.
Remember the power of three! Select three attention-grabbing words or phrases that intrigue you and explore their effects.
Look for the writer’s techniques within your chosen selections. Avoid the trap of feature spotting and instead, opt for elements that truly captivate your attention.
Dive deep into the impact of the writer’s language, uncovering the thoughts, emotions, and imagery it evokes. Craft three insightful paragraphs (PEEZL format) and allocate around 10 minutes to tackle this question before moving on.

Top tip: BANNED: “Makes the reader want to read on” “Puts an image in the reader’s mind (does it?)” “Makes it interesting/engaging” “Makes it flow”

PEEZL paragraph: Point, Evidence, Explaination,. Zoom,. Link.

Stop using: “Makes the reader want to keep reading”

Question 4: Comparing Viewpoints (16 marks)

Here’s where we delve into the writer’s perspective! A viewpoint reflects what the writer feels, focuses on, or their attitude towards a topic. To conquer this question, follow this structured approach:

Viewpoint of Source A: What does the writer feel? How is it conveyed? Where’s the evidence? Zoom in on a specific paragraph or section that embodies the viewpoint. Extract key phrases, analyze their connotations, and explore how they shape the writer’s attitude.

Viewpoint of Source B: Now, let’s switch gears and analyze the perspective of Source B. Repeat the process mentioned above, examining the writer’s emotions, conveyed through carefully chosen words, and backed up by concrete evidence within the text.

Comparing Viewpoints: Now comes the exciting part! Compare the viewpoints of both sources, highlighting similarities and differences in the writers’ attitudes, beliefs, and approaches. Utilize comparative language to express connections or contrasts, such as “while Source A adopts a somber tone, Source B takes a more optimistic stance.” Provide evidence from the texts to support your analysis and demonstrate a clear understanding of the writers’ intentions.

Question 5: Creative Writing (20 marks)

Last but certainly not least, it’s time to unleash your creativity!

This question allows you to put your imagination into action by crafting an engaging piece of writing. Whether it’s a descriptive narrative, a persuasive argument, or an emotive letter, make sure to plan your response effectively. Structure your piece with a captivating introduction, a well-developed main body, and a powerful conclusion. Incorporate literary devices, vivid language, and a range of sentence structures to make your writing shine. Remember to stay focused on the given topic and aim for coherence, originality, and flair.

  • Use writing techniques like DAFOREST
  • Pay attention to sentence structures and varied punctuation.
  • Use topic sentences to structure your paragraphs
  • Proofread your writing for spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors.

Top Tips:

  • Spend 5-10 minutes planning your response.
  • Aim to write about two and a half sides.
direct address,
alliteration, fact, opinion, rhetorical questions,
emotive language & ‘three.’

English Language Paper 2 Concluding thoughts:

And voila!

You’ve explored the five question types in English Language Paper 2; you’re now armed with the tools you need to excel. Remember, practice makes perfect. Engage in regular revision, work on timed mock exams, and seek feedback from your teachers and tutors. Embrace the journey of improving your English language skills and watch your confidence soar.

Go forth and conquer! Embrace the challenge of Paper 2 with open arms, knowing that you have the knowledge and strategies to excel. Believe in yourself, stay motivated, and remember that each step forward is a step closer to unlocking your true potential. Wishing you all the best on your English language adventure!

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Vic C-S English Language Tutor

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