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How to approach GCSE English - Issues that bring down marks.

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

This post is the first of a series of tips that will discuss how exactly students should approach GCSE English. Each of the posts is really a taster of the material that is delivered in my courses and online classes. One of the first things I look at with students are the reasons why people don't fulfil their potential. Below is a list of three of the more common sticking points people have. 1. Under-developed writing skills

This is the biggest reason that people don’t fulfil their potential on the GCSE English exam.The way the paper is marked means that if you don’t have sophisticated enough writing skills, you won’t achieve a pass mark even if you get all the questions right. I’ll go into more detail on the mark scheme in a different post at some point, but suffice to say all the re-sit students that come to seek my guidance have a lot of work to do on their writing skills. A secondary issue is that students are often unaware that they need to develop these skills.It’s one of those things that is so fundamental that students just assume their writing is fine.This is a major blind spot, and it really hurts candidates’ chances of passing the GCSE English Language paper. 2. Lack of basic grammar

Quality writing and solid grammar are obviously linked. If you have a poor command of grammar, your sentences will often break down or you’ll make basic mistakes. This brings down the overall impression of your writing. One problem that often occurs with students is that they study fundamental grammar rules early in primary school and by the time they reach their GCSE English exam, they have simply forgotten the rules. In some cases, students may have never absorbed grammar the first time around. In my classes and online course, we do a refresher of all the fundamental grammar rules and make sure that students are able to apply them well in their own writing. It’s amazing how quickly some students can transform their writing simply by correcting their grammar. This will lead to significantly better outcomes on the GCSE English Language and Literature papers. It will also come in useful as students progress to further study. 3. Lack of preparation

Although it may seem obvious to highlight a lack of preparation. For the English Language GCSE, it's can be quite challenging to know where to start in terms of preparation for the exam. Students are frequently under the impression that there is nothing they can do to prepare for the English Language exam. They have bought into the myth that ‘you’re either good at English or you’re not’. In reality, English is a skill that is built up over time. Everybody has to learn linguistic and analytical skills – none of us are born with them. Some students pick these up more quickly than others do, but everyone can acquire them to a moderate level. These are just three of the more common issues that affect students at GCSE level. In my full-text guide and in the video course I discuss each of these and another seven significant sticking points that students have when approaching the GCSE English Language course.

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