Exam Feedback

15 minutes
reading time
1 Hour
Section A
6 marks = 10 min
8 marks = 12 min
1 Hour
Section B
Q.5 = 25 min
Q.6 = 35 min
What does the examiner
want for full marks?
•Evidence that the article is fully
•A detailed engagement with the
•Be detailed in giving exact
locations, names and statistics.
•Embed short factual quotations in
your sentences.
•Write in full, complex sentences.
•Perceptive connections and
comments about people, places and
•Eight marks? Try to make eight
points ...
•Appropriate quotations or
references to support understanding.
•Eight marks = 12 minutes.
•Elizabeth Hyde went rafting on the Grand Canyon with her husband and three daughters.
•It was a 13 day, 225 mile trip down the Colorado River to the Grand Canyon.
•She went with ‘about two dozen strangers’ and seemed surprised at the ‘masses of gear’ and the rafts that
‘would be our world’ for two weeks. The closeness of the others meant that there was little privacy.
•They spent 5 to 8 hours a day on the river and were ‘eating, sleeping and bathing together’.
•She had a ‘Disney-like’ experience on the water which was exciting and hard work: it was a ‘white
knuckle, roller coaster ride’
•She ‘strained her neck’ so that she could see the steep walls and coloured rocks and ‘great views’ having
a wonderful experience in a ‘spectacular environment’.
•She broke the party leader Ed’s rule by falling out of her boat and was in the water for 45 seconds, scared
but exhilarated.
•At the end, nearing Diamond Creek, she was filthy dirty: ‘our clothes and hair held about a pound of silt
•She had a great time and it made her want to be a river guide.
What did the Senior Examiners say?
Question 1
A summary of what they learned from the text source secured a Band 3.
But …
Go beyond simple retrieval and make interpretations – e.g.
‘explaining, in the candidate’s own words, some of the writer’s
feelings, or making connections between events’. These are as
much a part of what is learned as are the ‘facts’.
You should be aware of suggestions and connections – these
allow you to show a detailed understanding (Band 4).
The question did not require an analysis of the language
Now let’s move on to Question 2 ...
How many
What does the examiner
want for full marks?
•Offers a detailed interpretation of
the effect on the headline and subheadline.
•Presents a detailed explanation and
interpretation of what the picture
shows and its effect.
If asked to EXPLAIN...
-interpret the effect of specific (key)
-Make explanations into detailed
interpretations (try using a dash – it
really helps to add that extra
•Links the picture and the headlines
to the text with perceptive
The name ‘Sue’ is effective because it is
amusing and unexpected.
•Offers appropriate quotations or
references to support comments.
The name ‘Sue’ is effective because it is
amusing and unexpected – we would
probably not think of such a violent and
threatening dinosaur having such a friendly
The headline and sub-headline are effective because:
•They tell the reader that the Tyrannosaurus may have died of a ‘sore throat’ – the reader’s disbelief will
attract them to read the article.
•The fact that the headline names her ‘Sue’ is effective because it’s amusing and unexpected, we would
probably not think of such a violent and threatening dinosaur as being called by the friendly name of
•The word ‘fearsome’ connects with the picture which shows T Rex as very big, aggressive and
frightening; the text also describes the ‘violent skirmishes’ she had, that she weighed ‘seven tonne’ and
was 13 metres long.
•The sub-headline is effective for readers because they will want to know more about the sore throat
theory and the link with harmless, everyday pigeons seems strange and unlikely. There is a hint of
alliteration in the ‘s’ sound which is also engaging.
The picture is effective because:
•The picture shows a very large, awesome skeleton which is almost like a monster – this will have an
immediate impact on the reader.
•The picture almost dominates the article and its head seems to leap out towards the reader.
•The picture is very dramatic; the fossil is massive compared to the people – its head is huge which
makes the ‘pigeon-parasite theory even more intriguing.
•Linking the beast with something that ‘causes mild infections in pigeons’ seems ironic and ridiculous
so the reader would be drawn to the text where the explanation is found.
What did the Senior Examiners say?
Question 2
Avoid making general or generic points about the function of headlines,
subheadings and presentation …
Instead … ‘score points by being specific about interesting words and ideas’.
Be original in describing the effects – e.g. ‘The picture gave me the chills’, if
you also explain why.
The best responses focused on contradiction and irony – i.e. the words vs.
the imagery.
Candidates would benefit from focusing on individual words, their meaning
and effect.
They would also benefit from focusing on specific details within the picture.
Time for Question 3 ...
What does the examiner
want for full marks?
•Engages, in detail, with the
tension and excitement
created in the text.
•Pick out short key words and phrases.
Explain their effect – and interpret them.
•Point out specific sections of the text
and refer to their specific effect – e.g.
The opening, ending, a crisis point.
•Offer perceptive
explanations and
interpretations of the text.
•Use adjectives (thrilling) and adverbs
(slowly building tension) to describe the
feel of the language at different points.
•Use appropriate quotations
or references to support
•Need detail? Make every quotation
count – ‘unpack’ every word and
• The fact that a ‘decision’ had to be made and there was a time limit of ‘ten more minutes’
suggests that they were in a precarious position and builds tension and excitement, ending in
the statement that ‘time was up’.
• The part where they are going the wrong way, that there was a blizzard, that night was coming
on and they had to consider their own lives shows that they were up against nature and the
elements and in an extreme situation. That ‘there was no sign of Mick’ suggests that
something terrible had happened.
• Getting down the mountain when Pertumba was ‘not use to moving without fixed ropes’ and
is slow, and the fact that Boardman thought he was lost, is exciting and adds to the sense of
risk and danger.
• The avalanche, the dependency on the rope and the ice axe shows the life or death hazards the
endured and is exciting.
• The ‘miracle’ of finding the rope in the dark and the fact that Pertemba seemed to be
struggling, and Boardman’s ‘tumble’ adds excitement to the end of the journey.
• The fact that Boardman, the strong, experienced conqueror of Everest ‘burst into tears’ shows
just how tense the experience had been and that he knows Mick is not coming back.
What did the Senior Examiners say?
Question 3
Make sure you read the question properly.
Choose the parts of the text they found tense.
Give original reasons with explanations.
A good explanation for choosing the part where the climbers thought they
were going the wrong way because it made the reader realize the vastness of
the mountain and the possibility of confusion and panic in their desperate
A less good explanation would be that it made the reader want to read on to
find out what happened.
You should practice explaining why writing is effective for the reader by
making original and perceptive comments related, perhaps, to their own
experience or related to the context of the text itself.
You guessed it … Question 4 ...
How many
What does the examiner want
for full marks?
•Offers a full and detailed
understanding of the texts in relation
to language.
•Analyses how the writers have used
language differently to achieve effects.
•More marks = more points and more time spent
on the answer.
•Choose wisely – Source 1 or 2?
•Don’t worry ... Analyse means explain and
•Read questions really carefully and pick out the
key skills – compare and analyse.
•Offers appropriate quotations or
references in support of ideas with
perceptive comments.
•Before you start – work out what effects the
authors were trying to achieve – what were their
purposes (and where) ... Use verbs to help you ...
•Focuses on comparison and crossreferencing.
“The author’s main purpose appears to be to shock the
reader, however, the language of the final paragraph
also seeks to amuse us “.
What could you say about the effect of language in ‘Everest the hard way’?
‘A decision was needed’ – a short, dramatic sentence evokes a sense of determination; so does ‘The
time was up’.
The various references to time, ‘half past four’ and the idea that as the light decreased ‘afternoon
drifted into approaching night’ so ‘success was turning into tragedy’ links darkness with tragedy to
give a sense of impending doom or disaster.
‘I fumbled in my sack’ suggests panic, rush.
‘we had to fight for our lives and think downwards’ evokes desperation and tension.
‘our success was turning into tragedy’ makes the reader apprehensive; so does ‘I felt panic surge
‘powder-snow avalanche’, ‘threaded our way blindly’, ‘another big avalanche coming, channelled
straight at me’ provide a sense of danger and peril which will engage / concern the reader.
‘I smashed my axe into the ice’ sounds violent and desperate; ‘miracle’ and ‘mercilessly’ have an
almost religious connotation.
‘burst into tears’ evokes the relief and the tragedy at once; Boardman crying provides a stark
The use of short sentences reflects; the punctuation of time; drama; shortness of breath; difficulty of
What could you say about the effect of language in ‘Rafting on the Grand Canyon’?
Ed’s speech – joke – is both serious but humorous and sets the tone for travel/ holiday writing.
There is factual detail for the purpose of information with some evocative description ‘..you can’t
be shy’, ‘perched on the side tubes – prime seats with great views’, ‘eating, sleeping, bathing
A sense of awe and beauty and thrill is given with ‘rocks, rocks everywhere’, ‘massive maroon
cliffs streaked with black’; the description of the rapids – ‘Disneyland-like’, ‘plunging’, ‘shoots’,
‘drenched’ and ‘it’s a white knuckle rollercoaster ride that has people screaming with the thrill of
it’, ‘foaming madness’.
The use of active verbs is effective ‘sucked down … spun around … spat up’, ‘scared’,
‘exhilarated’ with the punchy short sentences as if short of breath.
The description of ‘a pound of silt’ is unpleasant but the idea of wanting to ‘become a river guide’
brings the sense back to the beginning with Ed.
What could you say about the effect of language in ‘Fearsome Tyrannosaurus’?
A sense of battle, war, fighting and combat in the life of Sue is captured with, ‘the mighty
Tyrannosaurus’, ‘felled not by mortal combat’, ‘prehistoric predator’ , ‘violent skirmishes which
left her with three broken ribs’ ‘combat-scarred remains’, ‘gouge marks’, ‘one-to-one battles’.
Devices used include alliteration, personification, the views of an expert and scientific facts.
The text is more different to ‘Everest’ than is ‘Rafting’, so contrasts may be made – but the sense of
drama is comparable.
What did the Senior Examiners say?
Question 4
This was the question which needed the greatest skill – it was worth 16 marks.
This was the ‘language’ question. Question 4 is designated the ‘language’
question for Higher Tier.
Avoid general comments about genre, purpose audience and voice without
producing evidence from the texts.
Avoid weak comparisons – e.g. both being ‘in the first person’, ‘an article’,
‘happening in the present tense’ or ‘they both use rhetorical questions’ – these
NEED interpretation.
The BEST candidates selected interesting, vivid, colourful or exciting phrases
from the named text and unwrapping their meaning and effect. They then
found similar (or very different examples) from their chosen text.
The BEST candidates explained where similarities or differences in language
use resided, perhaps, in purpose and audience.
• “Careful training of examination technique is
• “Read the entire question paper in the 15 min
• “Candidates should ensure that they spend the
correct amount of time on each question”.

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