English is unlike many other GCSE subjects because, certainly in the case of English language, there are few, if any, hard facts to remember. However, this does not mean that it is unnecessary to revise for English GCSE. In fact, effective, thorough revision will play a key part in your performance in the examination, just like any other subject.
Before we get down to the nitty gritty of revision, it’s probably worth reminding yourself as to what you will come up against in the GCSE examination. English syllabuses vary across the country, but you’ll almost certainly be required to write essays, in the form of your own creative writing, writing to explain, describe or inform and writing to argue, persuade or advise. You’ll also be asked to read one or more fiction and non-fiction or media texts and to answer questions in response to them.
It is therefore relatively easy to divide the English syllabus up into chunks and to concentrate on one chunk at a time. A decent revision guide, either online or in print, can help to lead you through the various techniques that you’ll need to answer each type of question, but to try to find one that is appropriate to the English syllabus that you have followed.
Creative writing, for example, involves writing your own story or narrative. It’s helpful to outline a plot and the main characters involved on paper before you start. This means that you’ll have a pretty good idea as to where your story is going in terms of beginning, build-up, climax and ending, so you can concentrate on adding style and substance to your writing.
Writing to inform, explain or describe involves conveying information to your reader in one form or another. You need to be aware of your purpose and your audience, so that you include a detailed discussion, if necessary, ensuring that the reader can understand precisely what you mean.
Writing to argue, persuade or advise means presenting a coherent, logical argument that convinces the reader that yours is the only sensible point of view. In order to do this, you must grab the reader’s attention right from the start and get straight to the point. You can use certain “tricks”, such as expert opinion, ethical beliefs, striking or emotive language to reinforce your argument. However, if it is not based on logic to start with, it will not be convincing. Rhetorical questions often work well in this type of writing. You do want maximum marks in your GCSE examination don’t you?
There are clearly many more techniques that you need to appreciate and apply if you are going to reach the higher grades.
Of course, whatever the question you may be answering, the examiner will expect your spelling, punctuation and grammar to be up to scratch. To reach an A or A+ grade, you will not only need to spell and to punctuate correctly, but also write sentences that are grammatically correct and varied. This means avoiding writing as you would speak or the use of slang or dialect words, which the examiner may not understand. You must write in formal, standard English. Starting your sentences in different ways and varying their length will make your writing more interesting to read and will earn you additional marks.