Often in English Language exams, you’ll be asked to write a diary or journal entry as a creative piece of nonfiction. You may also be asked to analyze (write about) somebody else’s diary entry. This document will help you prepare for both of these types of questions in an exam paper. Below, you’ll find a famous extract from The Diary of Anne Frank, some analytical exam-style questions, and a creative writing based task.

This document is suitable for anyone studying diary and journal writing at any level, from GCSE (aged 14) and above. It is particularly useful for the following exam boards: CIE / Cambridge, OCR, AQA, WJEC / Eduqas, CCEA, Edexcel.

Thanks for reading! If you find this page helpful, take a look at our full Basic and Advanced Descriptive Writing.

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Context: Anne Frank was a German-Dutch Jewish girl who was a victim of the Holocaust in the Second World War (1939–1945). Before she was captured and taken to a concentration camp by the Nazis, she kept a diary that detailed her experiences of the war. The diary entries are all addressed to ‘Kitty’, a fictional friend that Anne invented.

The Extract:


Dearest Kitty,

Yesterday was a very tumultuous day, and we’re still all wound up. Actually, you may wonder if there’s ever a day that passes without some kind of excitement.

The first warning siren went off in the morning while we were at breakfast, but we paid no attention because it only meant that the planes were crossing the coast. I had a terrible headache, so I lay down for an hour after breakfast and then went to the office at about two. At two-thirty Margot had finished her office work and was just gathering her things together when the sirens began wailing again. So she and I trooped back upstairs. None too soon, it seems, for less than five minutes later the guns were booming so loudly that we went and stood in the passage. The house shook and the bombs kept falling. I was clutching my ‘escape bag’, more because I wanted to have something to hold on to than because I wanted to run away. I know we can’t leave here, but if we had to, being seen on the streets would be just as dangerous as getting caught in an air raid. After half an hour the drone of engines faded and the house began to hum with activity again. Peter emerged from his lookout post in the front attic, Dussel remained in the front office, Mrs van D. felt safest in the private office, Mr van Daan had been watching from the loft, and those of us on the landing spread out to watch the columns of smoke rising from the harbor. Before long the smell of fire was everywhere, and outside it looked as if the city were enveloped in a thick fog.

A big fire like that is not a pleasant sight, but fortunately for us, it was all over, and we went back to our various jobs. Just as we were starting dinner: another air-raid alarm. The food was good, but I lost my appetite the moment I heard the siren. Nothing happened, however, and forty-five minutes later the all-clear was sounded. After the washing-up: another air-raid warning, gunfire, and swarms of planes. ‘Oh gosh, twice in one day,’ we thought, ‘that’s twice too many.’ Little good that did us, because once again the bombs rained down, this time on the other side of the city. According to British reports, Schiphol Airport was bombed. The planes dived and climbed, the air was abuzz with the drone of engines. It was very scary, and the whole time I kept thinking, ‘Here it comes, this is it.’

I can assure you that when I went to bed at nine, my legs were still shaking. At the stroke of midnight, I woke up again: more planes! Dussel was undressing, but I took no notice and leaped up, wide awake, at the sound of the first shot. I stayed in Father’s bed until one, in my own bed until one-thirty, and was back in Father’s bed at two. But the planes kept on coming.

Vocabulary list:

Warning siren — a loud alarm that sounds when there is a potential threat or danger

Drone — a constant sound

Abuzz — buzzing


  1. What happens to Anne Frank on the day before she makes this diary entry? (1 mark)
  2. Find three verbs that Anne Frank uses to convey the dramatic intensity of her day. Explain with each verb why it is so dramatic. (6 marks)
  3. Re-read the second paragraph of the extract, beginning ‘The first warning siren went off…’. Select four powerful words or phrases, and analyze their effects. You should write in full PEE paragraphs and include an analysis of imagery in your answer. (10 marks)
  4. “Anne Frank must have had a very unhappy life.” To what extent do you agree with this statement? Write an argumentative essay with an Introduction, middle paragraphs, and a conclusion that explores your opinion on this question. (25 marks)
  5. Write your own diary entry in which you explain a difficult experience. Use first-person pronouns (I/me/my/we/our) and speak in the past tense, as if you are describing the event just after it has happened. Try to use a range of punctuation and language devices. (40 marks)

Thanks for reading! If you find this page helpful, take a look at our full Basic and Advanced Descriptive Writing.