GCSE AQA English Language Paper 1 Question 4 Revision

It’s vital that you understand what you’re being asked to do in Language Paper 1 Question 4. Read on for ideas, hints and tips on how you might approach it.

(These tips come from our paper 1 question 4 lesson pack which can be found on this link and features additional ideas and a range of tasks.)

Identify Keywords in the Question


Example question:

Focus this part of your answer on the second half of the source, from paragraph 4 to the end.

A student, having read this section of the text said: “The writer shows us two characters who are clearly very different. That they are wearing the same clothes only emphasises this.”

To what extent do you agree?

In your response, you could:

  • write about your own impressions of
    the characters;
  • evaluate how the writer has created these impressions;
  • support your opinions with quotations from the text.

[20 marks]


Make sure your answer addresses the correct section of the text (already in bold) and the correct topic (in this case, characters).

It is important that you give a personal response.

“Evaluate” – form a summative opinion based on analysis of what the writer has done / intended to do

Support your opinions, use quotations / textual references as evidence for your response.

Showcase your Skills


Being a Critic

The examiner does not want you to criticise the writer and to give them an inferiority complex! Their work has been selected for analysis in an exam paper – it is therefore safe to assume that the examiner feels it is at least interesting, engaging or admirable enough to invite comments from students.

Do not go off on a rant about how rubbish you think it is!

That is not to say you should go the other way and praise its brilliance. Forming a critical response is subtly different to forming a subjective critical opinion.

You are not being asked to write a review, even if it might initially seem as if you are!

What the examiner doesn’t want: What the examiner does want:
A blank page. Don’t be afraid to give a response – something is always better than nothing, even when in doubt.


A personal response – the good news is that you can’t communicate with the person next to you so giving a personal response is almost unavoidable!

Frame it as, how did I respond to [focus of question] and why?

A simple opinion and no more. A developed opinion with detailed reference to and analysis of the text.
An emotional response. A critical response that demonstrates considered reasoning and detachment.
‘I think…’ ‘The writer creates/achieves/exhibits…’
Judgements about what is good/bad.

Developing a Viewpoint

The question asks ‘to what extent do you agree?’

What is implied by those words is to not just agree or disagree, but to show your development of thought.

It is the equivalent of a maths exam question in which you get one mark for the right answer, and nine marks for showing how you arrived at it.

Remember that this is worth the same amount of marks as Questions 1, 2 and 3 combined, so the examiner wants to see an extended answer.

Find our collection of AQA specimen papers and associated resources here.

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