in AQA, English Language, Essay Technique, Writing Skills

Below, you’ll find an approach for each question in Section A of the English Language Paper 1, including tips that help you to get full marks.

The name of this paper is ‘Explorations In Creative Reading + Writing’.

This exam is focused on ‘fiction’ – this means story writing. You will have to analyse a creative writing extract in Section A, then write your own creative piece for Section B.


Thanks for reading! If you find this page useful, you can take a look at our full AQA English Language Paper 1 course.


SKILLS NEEDED: 

  1. Reading comprehension – how well can you understand the story, both on the surface level and the deeper meanings or messages?
  • Read accurately – practise reading longer words, keep a vocabulary list, practice reading a range of extracts from different stories in different time periods; if you can manage it, start reading short stories and whole books regularly – read based around your own interests so that you’re always keeping engaged with the writing!  
  • Understand part to whole – each individual word or quote should reflect the overall deeper purpose or messages of the story – try to go deep into what the ideas are behind the text before you start writing your analysis.

2. Information Selection choose the right quotations and references

  • Pick out the right parts that relate to your question and task.
  • Don’t use really long quotations – be short and specific, make sure you synthesise and zoom in on quotations too!

3. Understanding the effects of language features

  • Understand a wide range of features – including poetic devices, rhetorical devices, and grammatical devices.
  • Be able to pick out these features from the text, but also understand HOW and WHY they are used.
  • Talk in as much detail as you can about the SPECIFIC effects of the feature, finding more than one effect if you can.

QUESTION BREAKDOWN: WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO? 

Q1: 4 marks, pick out 4 things

  • Double-check your answers. 
  • Underline the focus of the question.
Example Question:

List four things about Rosabel from this part of the source. 

Q2: Language Analysis: Gives you a chunk of the extract to focus on, 8 marks

  • Language features skills.
  • Multiple pieces of evidence (quotes/references) for each feature.
  • PEE paragraph.
  • 2-3 paragraphs (PEE).
  • For top marks: Don’t just do one feature per paragraph, find a way to analyse several features within each paragraph by setting your topic sentence as quite a broad idea.

Example Question:

How does the writer use language here to convey Mr Fisher’s views on
books and stories of the past?

Q3: Structure Analysis: read the whole extract, 8 marks

  • Structural features (narrative features / narrative techniques).
  • PEE paragraphs, all using structural features.
  • Effects of the features are really important – make sure you understand in detail HOW and WHY writers use these devices.
  • For top marks: Don’t just do one feature per paragraph, find a way to analyse several features within each paragraph by setting your topic sentence as quite a broad idea.

Example Question:

This text is from the beginning of a short story.
How has the writer structured the text to interest you as a reader?

Q4: Argumentative essay, needs Intro + thesis, 3 middle paragraphs, conclusion

  • Plan + write – 25 mins, 20 marks 
  • Have a clear argumentative starter to your essay – state why you agree as a thesis (be clear on how to write argumentative essays before starting this question).

Example Question:

Focus this part of your answer on the second part of the source, from line 19 to the end. 

A student said, ‘This part of the story, set in the hat shop, shows that the red-haired girl has many advantages in life, and I think Rosabel is right to be angry.’ 

To what extent do you agree? In your response, you could: 

  1. Evaluate how the writer conveys Rosabel’s reactions to the girl.
  2. Support your response with references to the text. [20 marks].
  3. Consider your own impressions of the red-haired girl.
  • Intro + conclusion.
  • Proofreading / Editing at the end to check your spelling and grammar.
  • PEE paragraphs in the centre, with a detailed analysis that argues your point clearly.
  • Essay style writing – use complex vocabulary and essay words.

HOW DO I ANSWER THE QUESTIONS? 

  • Find the focus and keywords of the question.
  • Understand the skills needed for each question.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable with language features / structural features / PEE paragraphs. 
  • Understand how to write an argumentative essay.
  • Know the difference between types of questions: Information Selection (Q1), PEE analysis (Q2 + Q3), full argumentative essay (Q4), and creative/narrative writing (Q5).
  • For top marks: Learn to structure your answers properly and make sure your analysis is detailed, sensitive, and thoughtful, considering alternative interpretations and deeper themes and ideas rather than staying on the surface level of meaning.

Thanks for reading! If you find this page useful, you can take a look at our full AQA English Language Paper 1 course.

To see our full list of English courses available, click here.

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