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English Language Paper 2 (AQA GCSE) – How to Approach It

Lots of my students struggle to understand English Language Paper 2, at first it seems less straightforward than Paper 1 as you could be given a whole range of different texts and types of writing: articles, blogs, interviews, letters, diary entries, or speeches.

However, the key to understanding this paper is in the title: PAPER 2: WRITERS’ VIEWPOINTS AND PERSPECTIVES. This means that it is focused on non-fiction writing (not stories) that provides strong opinions. Most of the writing you encounter in this paper will be persuasive, so make sure you are well trained in how to write effective persuasive pieces.


Thanks for reading! If you find this page useful, you can take a look at our full AQA Paper 2 English Language course.

You can also check Example Answer For English Language Paper 2, Question 2.


Section A: Reading

  • You are given one non-fiction text and one literary non-fiction text
  • Tests your comprehension skills (reading + understanding, including difficult vocabulary)
  • Information selection skills (understanding the question and selecting the right quotations to prove your point)
  • Analysis / Evaluation skills (explaining in detail how + why language works in a particular way and tying that to how it achieves the overall purpose of the text)

Section B: Writing

  • Writing to present a viewpoint > ARGUMENTATIVE / PERSUASIVE WRITING

How To Revise:

Timing: 1hr 45 mins

  • Practise timings before taking the real exam
  • Complete mock papers / questions in accurately timed conditions + get your teachers or tutor to mark them + take on board feedback
  • After noting down your feedback, try again and aim for a better grade each time you try. It’s good to make a checklist for each question of things to remember to include, that way over time you’ll train yourself to hit all the targets required for the mark scheme on each question.

Section A: Reading (40 marks) (25% of overall GCSE) — two linked texts

Spend 55mins — 1hr on this section

  • Before you answer the questions, spend 10 mins reading through the texts thoroughly. Don’t skip this stage or do it too fast, as you need to absorb the information and think about it properly before you begin writing.
  • 1 short form question (1 x 4 marks) > 5 mins
  • 2 longer form comparative and analysis questions (1 x 8, 1 x 12 marks) > 8–10 + 12–15 mins
  • 1 extended question (1 x 16 marks) > 15–20 mins
  • 5 mins reading through and checking your answers

Writing (40 marks) (25% of overall GCSE)

Spend 45–50 mins on this section

  • 1 extended writing question (24 marks for content, 16 marks for technical accuracy)
  • Understand all the keywords of the question before you start, make sure your answer is as targeted as possible towards the question.
  • Plan your writing before you begin. Take around 5 mins to plan, it doesn’t need to be in great detail it can just be an overview of where you’re going with the question. Make sure to identify your GAP (Genre, Audience, Purpose) as thoroughly as you can before starting to plan.
  • Spend around 35–40 mins writing. Write using as complex vocabulary as you can. Try to adapt your style to suit the GAP, and use a huge range of language techniques and punctuation. This is a persuasive piece so rhetorical devices are especially important to use here. Semicolons and colons are considered high-level pieces of punctuation, definitely learn how to use those and put them into this answer.

NOTES FROM THE EXAM BOARD:

The aim of this paper is to develop students’ insights into how writers have particular viewpoints and perspectives on issues or themes that are important to the way we think and live our lives. It will encourage students to demonstrate their skills by:

  • In section A, reading two linked sources from different time periods and genres in order to consider how each presents a perspective or viewpoint to influence the reader
  • In section B, producing a written text to a specified audience, purpose, and form in which they give their own perspective on the theme that has been introduced to them in section A.

The paper will assess in this sequence, AO1, AO2, and AO3 for reading, and AO5 and AO6 for writing. Section A will be allocated 40 marks, and section B will be allocated 40 marks to give an equal weighting to the reading and writing tasks.

What will the texts be like?

The sources for the reading questions will be non-fiction and literary non-fiction texts. They will be drawn from the 19th century, and either the 20th or 21st century depending on the time period assessed in Paper 1 in each particular series. The combination selected will always provide students with an opportunity to consider viewpoints and perspectives over time. Choice of genre will include high quality journalism, articles, reports, essays, travel writing, accounts, sketches, letters, diaries, autobiography and biographical passages or other appropriate non-fiction and literary non-fiction forms.

In section B, there will be a single writing task related to the theme of section A. It will specify audience, purpose and form, and will use a range of opinions, statements and writing scenarios to provoke a response.


Thanks for reading! If you find this page useful, you can take a look at our full AQA Paper 2 English Language course.

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