Here’s a breakdown of Question 3 from the AQA English Language Paper 2, Section A – which includes an overview, a summary of the question and two example answers, grades C and A.

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  • This question will always ask for language analysis – it may have a different focus and purpose (describe, persuade, influence etc). Identify these before you start writing. 
  • Analyse the specific and detailed effects of language and technique choices according to the focus of the question. 
  • Use PEE paragraph structures – write 3 medium sized paragraphs. Each paragraph should be on a different topic, not a different quotation – use several quotations per paragraph to explore your topic. 
  • Only look at the section of the text that is stated in the question – don’t use the whole text! 


  • You now need to refer only to Source A from lines 18 to 28. How does the writer use language to describe his son? [12 marks]
  • You now need to refer only to Source A from lines 11 to 27. 

How does the writer use language to describe Sister Brendan?[12 marks]

  • You now need to refer only to Source B, the letter by Henry written to his father. How does Henry use language to try to influence his father? [12 marks] 


  • Underline the keywords and find the focus of the question. The keywords are sections of the question that are very important e.g. ‘Lines 18-28’ or ‘how does’. The focus is the main idea of the question e.g. ‘influence his father’. 
  • Go through the given lines and underline or highlight any quotation that could relate to the question – you should keep your quotes as short as possible while still making sense. 
  • Think about which quotes work well together, and which you could say the most about – including which techniques you could analyse for each one. For high level answers, you should synthesise several quotations together and analyse them as a group rather than one by one. 
  • Write 2-3 PEE paragraphs – each with a different topic sentence that addresses a different aspect of the question. Within each paragraph, aim for 3-4 quotations being analysed in as much detail as possible. 
  • Don’t be general in your analysis e.g. ‘it makes the reader want to read on’, ‘it catches the reader’s attention’, ‘it engages the reader’. These types of analyses don’t pick up any marks because they could be applied to any text at any time. Instead, for each quotation think about exactly HOW it works and WHY it contributes to the focus of the question – explain it as sensitively and in as much detail as you can before moving on.


This question only tests one assessment objective: 


Explain, comment on and analyse how writers use language and structure to achieve effects and influence readers, using relevant subject terminology to support their views 

Level 4 “Detailed, perceptive analysis” 10-12 marks

Shows detailed and perceptive understanding of language:  

Analyses the effects of the writer’s choices of language  

Selects a judicious range of textual detail  

Makes sophisticated and accurate use of subject terminology

“Detailed” – lots of precise and thorough analysis of the exact meaning of a word or phrase 

“Perceptive” – sharp, intelligent and sensitive awareness of language – you notice small little details or meanings that the average student might miss 

“Effects” – understanding the exact and precise craft of writing, including how and why a writer would choose a specific word or use a specific technique 

“Judicious” – you choose very useful and important quotations, rather than selecting at random. You understand the question fully and select evidence that properly reflects the meaning and focus of the question – sometimes grouping together several short quotations to analyse as a single effect. 

“Range” – you understand the whole extract and its context, and from the lines or section that you’ve been given you quote from various different places to give a sense of your overall understanding of the piece. 

“Sophisticated” you understand the precise and detailed effects of each technique, and how the writer has used it in their writing. Try to analyse the quotation and technique together for extra marks – e.g. when you notice that the writer used ‘repetition’, analyse the quotation that shows this in terms of why it’s repeating or how the repetition contributes to the overall meaning and question. 

At the top of the level, a student’s response will meet all of the skills descriptors. At the bottom of the level, a student will have Level 3 and at least one of the skills descriptors.

Indicative Standard: 

This is an example section from the AQA Mark Scheme which shows examiners what type of writing they would expect to see in a full mark answer – use this as a benchmark for your own writing. 

“Henry uses direct address to his father which suggests familiarity, ‘’you will not let …’, ‘you will let me come home’ and shows how his future is in the hands of his father, but this is also contrasted with a much more distant and formal mode of address, ‘my dear Father’. This noun phrase is repeated in a number of places as an emotional tool to try and reinforce that his father is ‘dear’ to him – though the distance and time lapse of them being together suggests to the reader this may not be so – and is a deliberate choice by Henry to appeal to his father.”



One way Scott uses language to influence the reader is by using emotive language to persuade and influence the reader on what he is saying. For example, ‘but providence mercifully removed him at this critical moment’. This is effective because it talks about a ‘merciful’ death which is a sensitive subject which could make the reader think about what they might be going through, losing one another to the strong, cold, blizzards.

Another way Scott uses language is by using anecdotal experiences which is effective because he is writing a diary, for a public audience, which is evidenced ‘should this be found I want these facts recorded’. This implies he wants his story to be told and make people aware of the situation him and his friends experienced.

Scott also uses anaphora when he describes the environment around him at the beginning of the extract. For example ‘the small green tent and the great white road’ ‘the thine of a dog and the neigh of our steeds. This is effective because it shows a rhythm in what he is trying to describe, which would make the sentences stick in the reader’s head, setting them a scene of what is happening.

Irony: Adding Layers of Complexity and Surprise


Bird uses adjectives to present the sea as powerful and untameable, much like a wild animal. “Mighty” and “fierce” both convey the strength of the sea, and suggest that it could be dangerous to the surfers, making the reader feel as though a fight or confrontation is occurring between man and nature; this would make us curious as to who ultimately triumphs.

However, through the use of the adverb “majestically” the surfers are presented to the reader as powerful, competent, and impressive. “Majestically” has connotations of royalty, and implies that the surfers are in some way superior to those on the shore; it implies that the spectators look up to them and their skill. Alternatively, it could suggest that the surfers have great control over the waves, and that they have almost dominated the power of the sea through their surfing ability.

This contrasts with later in the extract, when the surfers are described as “bobbing about like corks in smooth water”. This simile creates an image of the surfers being small and insignificant in the water, reminding the reader of how small we are in comparison to nature. However, the verb “bobbing” suggests that the surfers are in no danger; the verb implies a relaxed motion, and might suggest that the surfers are taking a moment to relax after the strength and power required to surf just moments earlier.

Thanks for reading! Take a look at our English Language and Literature courses below: 

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AQA English Language Paper 1

AQA English Language Paper 2

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