WJEC GCSE Higher Tier Unit 1 English Exam Preparation Including a past paper, mark schemes and sample responses
GCSE English/English Language Your examination is worth40% of your mark for GCSE English. Unit One makes up 20% of your GCSE. It is worth 40 marks and is onehour long. The paper tests your reading and understanding skills. Unit One is all about non-fiction texts. The exam board say: This unit will test through structured questions the reading of two non-fiction texts. Non-fiction texts may include: fact-sheets, leaflets, letters, extracts from autobiographies, biographies, diaries, advertisements, reports, articles and digital and multi-modal texts of various kinds from newspapers and magazines, brochures and the internet. Visual material will always be included in the material used.
We are now going to look in detail at Unit One. How can you maximise your chances of gaining a top grade? Let’s take a look at what the exam board say you need to know....
Key skills for Unit One The examiners are looking for certain key skills. Can you do the following? Read and understand texts, select material appropriate to purpose, collate from different sources and make comparisons and cross-references as appropriate. In other words, can you understand what the text is about and be able to write about it clearly, in detail and with insight? Can you select parts of the text that support your ideas and compare two different texts with each other. Can you explain and evaluate how writers use linguistic, grammatical, structural and presentational features to achieve effects and engage and influence the reader, supporting their comments with detailed textual references? Put simply, this means can you explain why the author has used specific words and phrases. Can you explain how they affect the reader? Can you also analyse, in detail, the author’s use of presentation in a text?
What should I expect? • In the examination, you will be given two pieces of unseen writing to read. The writing will always be non – fiction / media and you will be asked four or five questions. • The texts could be about anything but they may possibly be linked by a common theme. • The type of texts you are asked to read could be any of the following: • Leaflets • Articles (newspaper and magazine) • Reports • Autobiography / biography • Travel writing • Advertisements • Web pages • Reviews
WJEC assessment objectives for Paper One The exam board give us the following information about the questions: Question 1 will be a straightforward test of the candidates’ ability to retrieve information and ideas from one of the texts. Question 2 tests reading and understanding text, and selecting material appropriate to purpose. It also tests how writers use linguistic, grammatical, structural and presentational features. Question 3 (or 3 & 4) and will test the candidates’ ability to read and understand texts, and select material appropriate to purpose, and develop and sustain interpretation of writers’ ideas and perspectives. Final Question refers to both texts. The question will test candidates’ ability to select material appropriate to purpose, to collate material from different sources and make comparisons and cross-references. Candidates should make close reference to, and quote from the sources to support their comments and analysis.
How long should I spend on each question? You are given 1 hour to complete the paper. This means 10 minutes to read the 2 texts and the question paper, 45 minutes to answer the questions and 5 minutes to check your work. For Unit 1 spend slightly more than one minute per mark. For example spend a little over 5 minutes on a 5 mark question and a bit more than 10 minutes on a ten mark question. If you stick to this rough guideline you should get to the final question with around 15-20 minutes to go which is enough time to produce a strong final answer and will allow you to check your work carefully.
Back to Basics Skimming and scanning techniques Skimming and scanning are ways of reading a text quickly. You will need these skills when you are looking for information in the texts. Skimming Skimming is when you very quickly read over a piece of text. You do not need to read every word, you are only finding out the main points or the gist of a text. Scanning Scanning is when you very quickly read over a piece of text, this time however, you are looking for a particular piece of information. For example, in the exam you could be asked to locate three reasons why smoking is on the increase for the under 16s. To do this you would scan the article looking for key words like ‘smoking’, ‘increase’ or ‘under 16s’.
Back to Basics When reading any type of non fiction text, try to find the PAF. PAF means PURPOSE, AUDIENCE, FORM PURPOSE The purpose of a text is most important. What is the text trying to do? Is it trying to make you buy something? Is it trying to give you advice? Is it trying to give you balanced information about an event? How do you know this? What gives it away? AUDIENCE Who do you think is the intended audience of this text? Is it a child? Is it a teenager? Is it an adult? How do you know? What gave it away? FORM What kind of non fiction text is this? Is it a letter, a newspaper article, a review? How do you know? What gives it away? Do you know the features of each kind of non fiction text type? This will be helpful for the writing section too.......
Try! Junk mail can be very annoying but it is now your new best friend. Grab as much of it as you can and try to identify the PAF. Look at the purpose – it is probably to sell you something. How do you know? Be detective like and track down clues. What words and phrases does it use to persuade you to try the product? Are there any pictures, colours, particular fonts, bullet points that are there to persuade you to buy? Look at the audience – who is it for – how do you know? Look at the text type, is it a letter, is it a leaflet – what effect does the text type have on the reader?
Question 1 - Information retrieval This is one of the easier skills you have to master for the exam. It is a basic comprehension skill. You will be asked to locate and write down information from Source 1. For example, you may be asked ‘why are there no closed prisons in Greenland?’. You would simply use your scanning techniques to find the information in text 1 and write down the answers. SIMPLE!
Q.1 According to this article, why are there no closed prisons in Greenland?  This question tests reading and understanding text, selecting material appropriate to purpose and interpreting writers' ideas and perspectives. 0 marks: nothing attempted or fails to engage with the question and/or the text. Give 1 mark to those who make simple comments with occasional reference to the text, or copy unselectively. These answers will struggle to engage with the text and/or the question. Give 2-4 marks, according to quality, to those who make simple comments based on surface features of the text, and/or show awareness of more straightforward implicit meaning. Give 5-7 marks, according to quality, to those who select a range of valid points. Better answers should have a clear focus on the question and a sense of coherence. Give 8-10 marks, according to quality, to those who select and explain a range of valid points. These answers should be thorough and coherent with some depth of understanding and overview.
Some points that candidates may select: • imprisonment never has been used/it is not a traditional form of punishment • the Inuit do not believe in imprisonment as a matter of principle • the really dangerous can be sent to Denmark • it is a tradition to keep criminals within society rather than 'push them out' • the environment is harsh and they need everyone to ensure survival • according to Mille Pederson, the people do not believe in punishment • they prefer rehabilitation and 're-socialising' criminals • they do not believe that locking people up does any good • Yoan Meyer says prisons are just factories for new criminals • very few try to escape from the 'correctional institutions' • the alternative to closed prisons is accepted by society and criminals • their alternative works for them/very few re-offend
Question 2 – presentational devices Question 2 requires you to write about language and presentational devices. The presentational devices you are going to identify and comment on are obviously dependent on the texts you are given to read in the exam and the question asked. However, here are a selection of the most common to get you started........
Question 2 – presentational devices Picturesand illustrations. Most of the source materials in the exam will have pictures on them. Remember, you are looking at newspapers, magazines, web pages, charity leaflets etc – all of these will have carefully chosen pictures on them. Think about the purpose of your source material. If it is a charity leaflet for example, its purpose may be to persuade you to donate to that charity. You need to comment on how that picture in the leaflet helps persuade the reader to part with their money. Perhaps it could be for the RSPCA and the picture on the front is of a cute kitten with a broken paw. You would need to state how that picture a) gets your attention and b) persuades the readership to part with their money. There may be a picture of a smiling person holding up their dog who wants to thank all the lovely people who support the RSPCA. Why is this picture there? How would it persuade the reader to donate?
Question 2 – presentational devices Colour Colour is another key feature that you can comment on in your exam. If you are analysing the presentational features of an advert, try to think about the colours and why they have been chosen. For example, the colour red may be used to symbolise love or passion, white purity, green nature, blue the great outdoors. Use your imagination, there is no ‘set’ answer providing you can justify your point of view. Take care though. It is not enough just to identify a colour, you clearly have to analyse the intended effect on the reader.
Question 2 – presentational devices • After analysing the graphics, you may wish to look at how the words are presented on the page. For this I mean: • font size • any capital letters used • any bold type or italics or underlining • bullet points • the layout of the source material as a whole • Keep asking yourself, why has this device been used? What is the effect on the reader. Without making this analysis, you cannot gain the full marks for this question.
Questions 2 (and 3) – Language How to read between the lines One of the key skills you will need for this exam is to locate, retrieve and interpret information. This means to read between the lines – to look for clues as to how the writer really feels about something. Exam Tip! You can discuss both language and presentational features when writing about inference i.e. reading between the lines.
Reading between the lines Quite often a writer will give the reader clues to how they feel about a particular topic without actually saying the words ‘I like this’ or ‘I don’t like that’. On the following slide are some examples for you to look out for. These are only suggestions. Try finding your own ways to spot the writer’s feelings on the topic they are writing about.
Reading between the lines Humour / sarcasm. A writer might poke fun at a topic or mock it to show that they disagree with it. Exaggeration. A writer might go over the top about the topic. This implies that they like or don’t like something. Repetition. A writer could repeat a statistic or a phrase to show they do or don’t like something. Rhetorical questions. This is a technique often used in writing an argument and its function is to get the reader to agree with what the writer thinks. Positive and negative language. Words often carry positive and negative meanings. It might be nice to be called ‘curvy’ but not so nice to be ‘fat’. Emotive language. This is language that stirs up the emotions. If the writer uses language like ‘unimaginable cruelty’ when discussing animal experiments, they are probably not in favour of them.
Top tips for analysing language For Questions 2 and 3, you need to know how to analyse language effectively. This is often the skill that students find most difficult. So what is so difficult? Sometimes students are simply finding the correct information and copying down the text without analysing the intended impact of the language upon the reader. So, do not copy out chunks of text, use quotations carefully and always explain the effect of a word or phrase on the reader. On the following slides are some top tricks that writers use to influence their readers.
Analysing language - Tone When analysing the language in a piece of text, think about the tone. An easy way to remember about the tone is to ask yourself, what tone of voice would be used to read out the text? Would it be persuasive, informative, argumentative, light hearted and so on. Once you have established what the tone is, work out how you know it is a persuasive or light hearted tone. What words and phrases are used to set this tone? Think also about the purpose of the text – is it to sell you something? Does the tone match the purpose? It would be very odd to read a text whose purpose was to inform you about global warming but was using a light hearted, feel good tone!
Questions 2 & 3 continued Look for any imagery in the text. Imagery is where the writer tries to paint a picture in the reader’s mind to help them relate to what is being described. Imagery is often used in poetry and fiction but you also find it in non fiction texts. Look out for: Similes – compares one thing to another using the words like or as (flat as a pancake) Metaphor – describes one thing as if it were another (you are a tower of strength) Remember, it is not enough just to identify imagery. You need to explain clearly, in detail and in your own words what effect this imagery has upon the reader.
Language – Q.2 and 3 continued Another technique to look out for in your text is sensational or emotive language. Emotive language is often used by writers when they want to manipulate the reader’s feelings. Quite often emotive language will be found in adverts, charity leaflets or a text where the reader passionately believes in or hates something they are writing about. Examples could be: the animals used are often cold, lonely and starving. Remember – it’s not enough to identify emotive language. You have to clearly explain the effect it has on the reader.
Questions 2 & 3 continued A common language technique to spot and comment on is the use of the personal pronoun ‘you’ or ‘us’. This technique is commonly used by the writer to make the text feel more personal to the reader, as if it is aimed directly at them personally. Quite often, rhetorical questions will be used for added emphasis, such as ‘Do you think it’s right that.......’ or ‘Would you like that for your children?’ Sometimes, colloquial language is used. This is the kind of chatty, informal language that you would use with your friends. Remember – it’s not enough to identify the personal pronouns – you have to explain in detail the effect on the reader.
Questions 2 & 3 continued Repetition is a very common technique and often (although not exclusively) used in sales. The word or phrase is repeated throughout the text to make it stick in the reader’s mind. It could be the name of the company, or it could be the word ‘bargain’ or words like ‘best ever’. It is not enough to simply identify examples of repetition – you have to explain in detail the effect on the reader. Something similar is the use of three. You will know all about this from writing to argue or persuade. The technique to spot is where the writer uses a list of three to emphasise a particular point – ‘it is wrong, disgraceful and we shouldn’t stand for it’. Remember – it’s not enough to identify the repetition – you have to explain in detail the effect on the reader.
Questions 2 and 3 continued Quotations, statistics and anecdotes are used often in newspapers and magazines and sometimes in sales texts. They are used to add interest and credibility to a text. For example, a charity leaflet might highlight the fact that ‘156 more people were helped last year through the generous donations made by people like you.’ They might go on to say that Prince Charles supports the charity and feels ‘This charity holds a special place in my heart’. They may also choose to have a few lines about how the charity has helped a particular person. ‘Robert, 16, was struck down by this terrible illness during his GCSEs.’ Remember – it is not enough to identify quotation, statistics and anecdotes – you need to explain in detail the effect upon the reader.
Questions 2 and 3 continued Humour and or sarcasm is an easy technique to identify and comment on in an exam. Think about the purpose of the humour – is it there simply to entertain and make the writing more lively? Or, is it there to manipulate the reader into thinking in a particular way. For example, if you were reading an article about the justice system in the UK and the judge in a case was mocked as being ‘old as the hills’ and ‘doddery as a dodo’, you might be prejudiced about what he said. Remember, it is not enough to simply identify humour and sarcasm in the exam – you need to explain in detail the effect upon the reader.
Questions 2 and 3 – last bit Look out for and comment on the following techniques – they tend to impress the examiner........ Sentences and paragraphs Short sentences suggest tension and speed. Short paragraphs are often used in tabloid newspapers making them easier to read. Very short paragraphs attract the reader’s attention. Long sentences are mainly used for description and are full of detail. This is the same with long paragraphs. These are often used in broadsheet newspapers. Punctuation Look for question and exclamation marks. Question try to draw a response from the reader while exclamations often stand out and attract attention. Use of imperatives Commands often appear in advice leaflets, ‘try this tip at home’ but can also be used in persuasive texts ‘ Give money now’. Try to link the language to the audience You might wish to comment on more sophisticated language for an educated audience and a more colloquial vocabulary to a teenage audience etc.
Q.2 How does Lucy Jones try to make her internet article interesting for her readers?  Think about: • what she says; • how she says it; • the use of headlines and pictures; • the use of internet features
Q2-Mark scheme… This question tests reading and understanding text, and selecting material appropriate to purpose. It also tests how writers use linguistic, grammatical, structural and presentational features to achieve effects, to engage readers, and to influence the reader. 0 marks: nothing attempted or fails to engage with the question and/or the text. Give 1 mark to those who make simple comments with occasional reference to the text, or copy unselectively. Give 2-4 marks, according to quality, to those who make simple comments based on surface features of the text and/or show awareness of more obvious implicit meanings and techniques used to engage the reader, including presentational and website features. Give 5-7 marks, according to quality, to those who make valid comments/inferences based on appropriate detail from the text. These answers should be addressing the issue of 'how', although they may rely on some spotting of key facts or quotations. Better answers will have a clear focus on techniques used to engage the reader, including exploration of the effect of presentational and website features. Give 8-10 marks, according to quality, to those who explore the text in detail and make valid comments/inferences. These answers should combine specific detail with overview and be fully engaged with analysis of techniques used to engage the reader, including detailed exploration of the effect of presentational and website features.
Some points the candidates may explore: what is said (facts, statistics, examples, quotations): • she exploits the fascination with crime and punishment • she refers to specific individuals • she details unusual methods of dealing with criminals • she gives details of prison life and punishment • she highlights a totally different attitude to crime and punishment • she uses quotations from prisoners, police and magistrates • she use a lot of facts and statistics • she includes both points of view how it is said • she uses irony and humour • her language and tone are informative rather than emotive • she uses 'personal experience'/a first hand account headlines, pictures and internet features • the headline is dramatic with its suggestion of a lack of punishment • the pictures illustrate the treatment of prisoners • the use of website features to illustrate and provide additional information. (e.g. link to prison website, video clip, opportunity to comment on story).
Lucy Jones uses a range of techniques in this article in order to make it interesting and engaging for her readers. The article begins with a dramatic headline which could exploit the potential readers interest in crime and punishment. ‘Land where killers are free to go hunting’. This plays on the double meaning in this headline implying that murderers are allowed to carry on without fear of punishment. This sensational headline will immediately grab the readers attention and compel them to read on. The article begins by stating the traditional beliefs of the Inuit people who make up ‘80%’ of the population and highlights a totally different attitude to crime and punishment. By using statistics the author adds credibility to the story. This can be seen throughout the article as it concludes with the statement that ‘fewer than 1% of criminals in Greenland re-offend.’ Jones describes in detail the alternative methods used in this country. She uses quotes from officials ‘we take the convicts out hunting-even the murderers’. This gives the article a more personal voice and the use of the qualifier ‘even the murderers’ again makes the article seem more sensational.
Q.3 How does Florence Federal Prison make it difficult for prisoners to escape or cause trouble? 
Q3- Mark scheme This question tests reading and understanding text, and selecting material appropriate to purpose. 0 marks: nothing attempted or fails to engage with the question and/or the text. Give 1 mark to those who make simple comments with occasional reference to the text, or copy unselectively. Give 2-4 marks, according to quality, to those who make simple comments based on surface features of the text and/or show awareness of more obvious implicit meanings. Give 5-7 marks, according to quality, to those who make valid comments/inferences based on appropriate detail from the text. Give 8-10 marks, according to quality, to those who explore the text in detail and make valid comments/inferences. These answers should combine specific detail with overview.
Some points the candidates may explore: the design • maximum security • guard towers and a perimeter fence of razor wire • steel doors and windows in the ceiling • furniture is fixed and made of concrete • cells are self-contained • the cells are designed to prevent eye-contact the regime • 23 hours of solitary confinement each day • no communal meals or work or recreation • no socialising or contact with other prisoners • handcuffs and leg irons, when outside • an escort of three armed guards • limited outside contact (one phone call each month and no visitors) • no matches or lighters the location • it is remote and inhospitable (in the Rocky Mountains) psychology • three years of no trouble leads to a gentler prison
The Final Question - Comparison The final question will always be a comparison of the two texts. The key to answering this question is to a) make sure you are analysing the presentational devices and the language and b) ensure you are answering the question in depth and writing about both texts. An example question might be: Compare and contrast what Simon Bateson and Sarah Lord say about the use of capital punishment. (10 marks) So, how do you compare the texts?
Comparing texts In the final question you will always be asked to compare the 2 texts. There is no set format for answering this question. Perhaps the easiest way is to analyse Text 1 and then compare it to Text 2 saying in what ways they are similar but different. On the higher paper there are not usually bullet points to help you structure your answer. You must therefore structure and plan yourself. Make sure you use a wide range of connectives when comparing the texts. Remember to look for the PAFs of each source and write about how well each text succeeds in its chosen purpose.
Planning Planning is the key to scoring top marks on this answer. It is important to remember that you must follow a P.E.E. Structure but compare both texts. P.E.E. The best way to do this is to create a planning grid...
To answer the next question you will need to look at both texts. Q.4 Compare and contrast what Lucy Jones and Dermot Purgavie say about the treatment of dangerous criminals. 
Q4- Mark scheme This question tests the ability to collate from different sources and make comparisons and cross-references. It also tests the ability to develop and sustain interpretations of writers' ideas and perspectives. 0 marks: nothing attempted or fails to engage with the question and/or the text. Give 1 mark to those who make simple comments with occasional reference to the texts, or copy unselectively. Give 2-4 marks, according to quality, to those who make simple comments based on surface features of the texts and/or show awareness of more straightforward implicit meanings. Weaker answers could be a jumble of detail. Better answers should make some clear, if obvious, comparisons and contrasts. Give 5-7 marks, according to quality, to those make valid comments/inferences based on appropriate detail from the texts. Better answers will show the ability to cross-reference in an organised way. Give 8-10 marks, according to quality, to those who make valid comments/inferences based on a thorough and organised selection of appropriate detail from the texts. These answers should be coherent and insightful, ranging confidently across both texts.
Lucy Jones: • they are taken on hunting trips • they still have jobs • they attend to business using mobile telephones • they can walk the streets • they can visit friends and family • they can even go to a bar • they can buy luxuries for their cells (clothes, television, hi-fis, coffee machines) • they have compulsory counselling • they have to pay and send money to their families Dermot Purgavie: • they are confined in maximum security • they have minimum contact with other people • they get no visitors • only one phone call a month • no work • no luxuries • no attempt at rehabilitation Reward valid alternatives.
In the two articles Lucy Jones and Dermot Purgavie have vastly different things to say about the treatment of dangerous criminals in the countries they are writing about. This is reflected in the tone and content of the two articles. Jones’ article ‘Land where killers are free to go hunting’ describes a society were there are ‘no closed prisons’ the implication being that the prisoners are kept as a useful part of society. This idea of an open prison without walls contrasts massively with the opening of Purgavie’s article ‘Back to the chain gang’. Here the opening paragraph describes the ‘mirror-glass guard towers and the coils of razor wire’ suggesting that Colorado prisons are very much closed. Jones moves on to describe the belief in Greenland that they ‘achieve more by trying to re-socialise people’ a belief which is reflected in the activities the prisoners are allowed to participate in such as being taken ‘out hunting’. We can see from the article that punishment is not the main focus of prison in Greenland. Conversely in Purgavie’s piece he states that there is a ‘trend in America towards tougher and tougher prisons’. In Florence Federal Prison there is no contact with the outside world and the prisoners ‘get out of their cells for just one hour a day and then only in handcuffs and leg irons’ this implies that these prisoners are so dangerous even the guards do not feel safe around them. In contrast the biggest complaint by a prisoner in Jones’ article is that ‘I have to ask permission to do things’, a quote that fits well with the ironic tone of the article. The other main difference in the approaches of these two institutions is their belief in the validity of rehabilitation. Jones’ describes how dangerous prisoners in Greenland are encouraged ‘to change their lives and return to society’ they believe this is something prison does not do. In opposition to this the prisoners in Purgavie’s article are given ‘sensory deprivation’ and there is no facility to help the prisoners rebuild their lives once they leave prison`.
What else should I look for? It is likely (although not certain) that one of the source materials on your exam paper could be either a newspaper or magazine article. For this reason, it is a good idea to get to know the main terminology used in this industry. Broadsheet – a newspaper like the Times or the Guardian. Usually tackles more serious stories. Smaller headlines and more serious tone. Tabloid – a less serious newspaper like the Sun which does contain news but also celebrity gossip and scandal. It will have a less serious tone and a more limited vocabulary. Headline – the title of the main story on the front page. Strapline – the introductory smaller ‘headline’ located just underneath the main headline. Byline – the journalist’s name who wrote the story Sub-headings – you will find these breaking up columns of text. They make the story easier to read and you can find out the main points of the story by scanning these.
Media terms continued Lead story – as its name suggests, it is the main story on the front page. Feature article – a feature is a topic the journalist believes will be interesting to the readers. S/he will cover the topic in some detail. Human interest story – this type of article is often a personal or funny story, e.g. at Christmas a 100 year old letter addressed to Santa Claus is found up a chimney etc. Editorial – this is where the editor (the person in charge of a newspaper) writes his / her opinion on a particular subject or news story. This is sometimes quite controversial.
What else? Practice really does make perfect. For best results keep your junk mail and continue to find the PAF. Go one step further by analysing both the language and the presentational features and getting vital practice for questions 2 and 3. Soon you will be able to do this in your sleep!! For practice see your teacher who will be delighted to give you millions of past papers.
Finally!! Top tips for exam success........ Prepare for your exam now. Start saving that junk mail ..... you know what to do! Start asking for those past papers. Time yourself. You have 1 hour to complete 4/5 questions. Can you do it? Read every non fiction title you can manage. Start to look at different types of newspapers and magazines, web pages, travel writing etc. Start to look for particular styles – know what to expect. Get a good night’s sleep before your exam – you’ll need it! Pack at least two pens in black or blue. Bring a highlighter… Plan your journey. Do you really want to be late? In the exam room, listen carefully to all instructions Read the questions before you read the texts. This will help you as you already know what you are looking for when you read the texts. Read the questions carefully. Use the bullet points to help structure your answer. Remember that you get most marks for questions 4 and 5. Take a deep breath and relax. You can do it!!
Links Links to WJEC exam papers http://www.wjec.co.uk/index.php?subject=51&level=7&list=paper