1. Practise the kinds of questions you will need to answer
As part of your preparation for the exams, you should make sure you are completely clear about the kinds of questions you will need to answer. You should have practised writing answers to these kinds of questions, both throughout the course and as part of your revision programme.
2. Read the question carefully
Many students fail to answer the actual question set. Perhaps they misread the question, or answer a similar one they have studied during revision. To avoid doing this, read the question once right through, then re-read it more slowly. Some students underline or highlight key words as they read through the question. Questions set for GCSE English often ask you to give your own views on a topic. Make sure you express your ideas clearly and, where necessary, support your ideas with appropriate references and evidence.
3. Plan your answer
Planning what you are going to write is a very important part of answering the question. Essays written without any form of planning are usually poorly structured and rambling and, consequently, score low marks. Don’t think that time spent planning your work is wasted – careful planning will mean that you produce a much better answer.
4. Write accurately
Make sure your responses are written as clearly and as accurately as you can. Poor spelling, punctuation and grammar will mean that you will not score as highly as you might and can interfere with the clarity of what you want to say. Try to leave time to check through your work before the end of the exam.
5. Keep a check on the time
Time is a major factor in writing an examination answer. In most GCSE English and English Literature exams, you will have about 45 minutes to answer a question. In order to ensure you say all you want to say in the time and do not have to leave the essay unfinished, you need to time yourself carefully.
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