Revision Ideas for AQA English Language Paper 2

Read through our stage-by-stage guidance for paper 2, picking up hints and tips along the way.

Girl revising

All of the suggestions on this page are taken from the revision booklet at this link which includes additional tasks and exercises and can be downloaded in full with a subscription.

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Practice the exam with one of our specimen papers.

Print out a Section A support guide.

Breakdown of marks and suggested timings:

Task Marks Suggested timing
Reading Text 1 N/A 8 minutes
Reading Text 2 N/A 8 minutes
Question 1 4 marks 5 minutes
Question 2 8 marks 10 minutes
Question 3 12 marks 12 minutes
Question 4 16 mark 16 minutes
Question 5 40 marks 40 minutes
Checking your work N/A 6 minutes
Total 80 marks 1 hour 45 minutes

Reading Source A

Reading

What will I need to do?

Read the given non-fiction text (an extract from a biography / autobiography, a newspaper article, a speech, a series of letters). It is one of two texts you will need to read, analyse and compare in this exam. This text will be a 20th or 21st century piece of non-fiction writing.

Suggested time spent: 8 minutes

Top tips:

  • Don’t skim through the text first time round – make sure you read it carefully.
  • If there are any words or phrases you don’t understand, try to use their context in the writing to work out their meaning.

Remember that you can write on the text as you go through the questions. This is your exam paper!

Reading Source B

What will I need to do?

Read the given non-fiction text (an extract from a biography / autobiography, a newspaper article, a speech). It is the second of the two texts you will need to read, analyse and compare in this exam and will be linked to the first by themes or ideas. This text will come from an 18th or 19th century source. This text will be referred to throughout the exam as Source B.

Suggested time spent: 8 minutes

Top tips:

  • Don’t skim through the text first time round – make sure you read it carefully.
  • If there are any words or phrases you don’t understand, try to use their context in the writing to work out their meaning.

Remember that you can write on the text as you go through the questions. This is your exam paper!

Answering Question 1

The Facts

Worth: 4 marks

You will be tested on AO1:

  • identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas;
  • select and synthesise evidence from different texts.

Suggested time spent: 5 minutes

What will I need to do?

Look at Source A only. Choose four statements that are true from a list of eight. The information you are given may be surface meaning (such as a fact) or implied meaning (such as a suggestion or hint). You must choose a maximum of four statements

Top tips:

  • Read through the statements carefully and tick off any you are certain of straightaway.
  • This is a four-mark question, so don’t spend a long time on it.
  • Look carefully at the choices of statement. Which can you rule out straight away? Read the text carefully for implied meaning.
  • Use the line references to get to the appropriate piece of text quickly.

Make sure you take your information from the text – don’t attempt to answer from memory!

Answering Question 2

Writing

The Facts

Worth: 8 marks

You will be tested on AO1:

  • identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas;
  • select and synthesise evidence from different texts.

Suggested time spent: 10 minutes

What will I need to do?

Look at both Source A and Source B. Using details from each, write a summary about the similarities or differences in the text.

Top tips:

  • Read the question carefully – you will be asked to summarise one thing in particular.
  • This is a summary and so should be in your own words.

Make sure you talk about both texts.

See some sample question 2 answers.

Answering Question 3

The Facts

Worth: 12 marks

You will be tested on AO2:

  • Explain, comment on and analyse how writers use language and structure to achieve effects and influence readers, using relevant subject terminology to support their views.

Suggested time spent: 12 minutes

What will I need to do?

Analyse how the writer uses words, phrases, language features and sentence forms to create particular effects, within the whole text. You will need to quote from the text directly and you will need to explain how the quotations you have chosen make your points.

Top tips:

  • Make sure you refer to language in your answer – you can’t get high marks if you don’t reference this carefully.
  • Highlight on the text words or phrases you think you may use in your answer.
  • Remember to use short, precise quotations from the text.

It’s not enough to just identify the techniques being used – you must explain how they are effective.

Word Bank

The following phrases may be useful when writing your answer:

The writer / narrator uses / refers to / employs…

The writer / narrator builds / creates / develops…

The writer / narrator creates a mood / atmosphere / sense / feeling of…

The use of simile / metaphor / personification / short sentences / ellipsis creates a sense of…

The pace / rhythm of the text increases / decreases here so that …

See some sample question 3 answers.

Answering Question 4

Compare

The Facts

Worth: 16 marks

You will be tested on AO3:

  • Compare writers’ ideas and perspectives, as well as how these are conveyed, across two or more texts.

Suggested time spent: 16 minutes

What will I need to do?

Compare how the writers of Source A and Source B explore or address a particular idea or theme. You will need to look at surface meaning (such as a fact) and implied meaning (such as a suggestion or hint) within the texts. You will need to use evidence (quotations) from both texts. You need to make detailed comparisons between the two.

Top tips:

  • Make sure your answer refers specifically to the question – you will be given a particular aspect of the pieces to look at.
  • You must use specific quotations from both texts.
  • Your comparison must give equal weight to both texts – don’t focus on one more than another.
  • You must look at the language, structure and themes in both texts.
  • Don’t just give quotations and facts – analyse how the writers both achieve particular effects.

As well as specific facts, you may need to look at the overall tone or impressions of the texts.

Word Bank

The following phrases may be useful when making links between the texts:

Similarities Differences
Likewise However
Similarly On the other hand
As well In contrast
In the same way In comparison
Just as… so… Conversely

Answering Question 5

Print out a Section B support guide.

The Facts

Worth: 40 marks

You will be tested on:

AO5 (24 marks):

  • communicate clearly, effectively and imaginatively, selecting and adapting tone, style and register for different forms, purposes and audiences;
  • organise information and ideas, using structural and grammatical features to support coherence and cohesion of texts.

AO6 (16 marks):

  • use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation.

Suggested time spent: 45 minutes

What will I need to do?

Complete the non-fiction writing task you are given. It will require you to write an engaging non-fiction piece. It should be appropriate to the purpose, audience and form stated in the question. The task will be on a similar theme to the texts supplied in Section A of the exam.

Top tips:

  • Make sure your piece is carefully structured – take two minutes to plan it first.
  • Use a wide range of vocabulary, sentence structures and literary devices – this is your opportunity to show off!
  • Make sure you have read the question carefully – it’s important that your writing fits the task given.
  • Think very carefully about the tone of your piece – it must be appropriate to the purpose, audience and format specified.
  • Take great care with spelling, punctuation and grammar – 16 marks are available for technical accuracy.

Word Bank

Try using some of the following discourse markers in your writing:

Above all

Additionally

Although

Consequently

Firstly

Furthermore

However

In conclusion

Nevertheless

On the other hand

Therefore

Whereas

Try using some of the following literary devices in your writing:

Alliteration

Anecdote

Direct address

Emotive language

Hyperbole

Irony

Metaphor

Personification

Repetition

Rhetorical question

Rule of three

Simile

Final Tips

Timepiece

  • When you know the time of your exam, work out what the timings for each question will be.

e.g. Exam starts at 1.30pm:

Reading Source A: 1.30pm
Reading Source B: 1.38pm
Question 1: 1.46pm
Question 2: 1.51pm
Question 3: 2:01pm
Question 4: 2.13pm
Question 5: 2.29pm
Checking your work: 3.09pm
End of exam: 3.15pm
  • If you miss your timings, don’t panic. Move to the next question quickly – you can always return to the previous one if you have time at the end.
  • Read the text provided carefully. If you’re unsure of what some of the words mean, try to work out their meanings by looking at their context in the sentence.
  • Remember to read for implied meaning, as well as surface meaning.
  • Read the questions very carefully. If need be, underline key words so you are sure what you are being asked.
  • Look at the marks available and adapt your response accordingly. There is no point writing two pages for a six mark question and half a page for a 15 mark question.
  • Write on your copy of the text if you want to. This is your exam paper – annotate and highlight as you need.
  • Keep quotations short – a few words at most.
  • Try to integrate quotations into your sentences.
  • Never criticise a writer. You can evaluate their work, using evidence from the text, but do not make sweeping statements about whether you personally like or dislike the text.
  • Plan your written task – a spider diagram, list or flow chart will help you to create cohesion in your writing.
  • Pay attention to your spelling, punctuation and grammar. This is worth 16 marks in Section B of the exam. Don’t make silly mistakes, such as forgetting to use capital letters correctly.
  • Check your work carefully when you have finished. Use every minute you have!

Believe in yourself. You are prepared and YOU CAN DO THIS!

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