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Here’s a breakdown of how to approach every single question on the Edexcel GCSE Transactional Writing Paper (Paper 2 on the English Language GCSE course). It’ll help you with revision, exam timings and generally getting organised!


If you find this lesson useful and you’re looking for more help with revision, you can access more of our English GCSE lessons.


Transactional writing is practical, so for this paper you will be either analysing the practical writing of others, or writing some practical texts yourself. This article will give you a clear approach to each question, so you know how to tackle it and the rough time frames for higher marked questions, so you know how long to spend on each answer.

Section A: Answer all questions, 1hr 20 mins

Q1 (2 marks)

  • Information selection skill — look at the text in a very specific area and choose the right words or info for the focus of the question
  • Make sure to only look at the lines given
  • Make sure to give two separate ideas or points
  • Tests explicit information

Q2 (2 marks)

  • Information selection skill — look at the text in a very specific area and choose the right words or info for the focus of the question
  • Make sure to only look at the lines given
  • Make sure to give two separate ideas or points
  • The wider focus then Q1
  • Tests implicit information

Q3 (15 marks)

  • Analyse how the writer uses language and structure to interest and engage readers — always the same question
  • Analysis question — go into detail about the effects of language and structure — how does the writer use lang/struct? Why? — for each quotation, try to give at least 2 lines of effects, ideally 3
  • PEE paragraphs — the point has to be your own idea about language or structure, then use several quotes, techniques, and effects to back it up
  • You MUST talk about BOTH language and structure EQUALLY
  • Aim for 3 full paragraphs
  • When you choose evidence, be short and specific — use single-word quotations or short phrases, make sure all your evidence proves the idea or point for that paragraph
  • For the top level, you have to use academic essay style language and a high, sensitive vocabulary

Q4 (1 mark)

  • Information selection skill — look at the text in a very specific area and choose the right words or info for the focus of the question
  • Make sure to only look at the lines given (if they give you lines)
  • Tests explicit (obvious) information

Q5 (1 mark)

  • Look at specific lines
  • Identify a phrase (up to 6/7 words) — not a full sentence, not a single word
  • Find the keywords or focus of the question

Q6 (15 marks)

  • Presents you with an opinion — somebody’s personal viewpoint
  • Asks you to evaluate the success of that opinion
  • PEE paragraphs — the point has to be your own idea about the question, then use several quotes, techniques, and effects to back it up
  • Aim for 3 full paragraphs
  • When you choose evidence, be short and specific — use single-word quotations or short phrases, make sure all your evidence proves the idea or point for that paragraph
  • For the top level, you have to use academic essay style language and a high, sensitive vocabulary
  • ‘Evaluate’ means find the things that are successful or particularly important for the question, and analyse how and why they are important
  • You can briefly identify aspects that don’t work so well
  • Provide an overall opinion yourself on how successfully the focus is achieved — is it totally successful or only partially? And why?
  • Make sure to have an INTRO and CONCLUSION — just one sentence each, that summarise your findings

Q7a (6 marks)

  • A focus of viewpoints / attitudes / opinions
  • It will ask you to find similarities OR differences — only one of these
  • Write PEE paragraphs — the point has to be your own idea about attitudes/viewpoints, then use several quotes, techniques, and effects to back it up
  • 2 paragraphs are fine for this one
  • Use comparative essay phrasing — e.g. similarly, likewise, in the same way, in comparison
  • Try to think of comparisons that are not just basic/obvious/literal e.g. appearance — find ideas that are more complex or detailed

Q7b (14 marks)

  • Full comparative essay — you should have a small comparative intro that summarises your findings and a small conclusion (1 sentence each)
  • 3 middle paragraphs — all PEE but the Point is a comparative or contrast idea and each paragraph deals with BOTH texts at the same time
  • The focus is always to do with ideas/ perspectives — the idea is a belief that is presented in the text; perspective is an opinion or viewpoints
  • You can use some of your findings from 7a in this question if appropriate
  • The very best answers will do a layered comparison/contrast on each point: On the surface, the texts seem similar because…. However, if we consider that…. They are in fact quite different.
  • For the top level, you have to use academic essay style language and a high, sensitive vocabulary
  • When you choose evidence, be short and specific — use single-word quotations or short phrases, make sure all your evidence proves the idea or point for that paragraph

Section B: Answer one question, 45 mins

  • A question that asks you to do some form of practical writing — speech, letter, article is the most common
  • Read through the two choices and choose the form and topic that you are most confident — not the most interesting or the one you like more (think about your confidence level for each question)
  • 45-minute question but NOT 45 minutes writing:
  • 5 mins planning
  • 35 mins writing
  • 5 mins checking
  • Always address all of the bullet points and use them as guidance for structuring
  • For top marks, you have to CLOSELY follow the conventions of the form — if it’s a letter, for example, it has to start and end like a letter and use letter writing techniques or conventions.
  • For top marks, you need ALL pieces of punctuation : ; , . ? ! () … “” — you have to show accurate skill with using them in the right places
  • Use accurate, complex grammar and vocab — check over grammar and spelling at the end!
  • Stay very focused on the purpose of the writing and make sure every sentence contributes to that purpose.
  • 4–5 paragraphs maximum — quality rather than quantity
  • Analyse, expand and develop ideas as you go — don’t just give an idea and move on to the next one, stay longer and give more detail on each point according to your purpose
  • As many techniques as you can — if it’s a persuasive purpose, use rhetorical devices as well as poetic devices. Make sure you use techniques that suit the conventions of your form.

Thanks for reading! If you found this lesson useful and you’re looking for more help with revision, you can access more of our English GCSE lessons.

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