“Slave” – AQA Paper 2

I need their kind 2 illustrate what’s wrong – what’s wrong?

Prince – Slave – Emancipation


ENGLISH LANGUAGE (8700)-Paper 2 Writers’ viewpoints and perspectives (also see paper 1 “Slave” – AQA Paper 1 ).  At the end of the blog are some resources you can download including a ‘cheat sheet’ for students.  Also, when you’ve finished both ‘Slave’ blogs I suggest you go to my “Betcha by Golly Wow” as there are LOTS of free resources; extracts, AQA new spec, articles etc to help.

This post is linked to Paper 1. If I thought paper 1 was tough, I had the pleasure of teaching paper 2 in the summer term. In my opinion it really is difficult and once again I had this feeling of Déjà vu …”after I marked the first end of unit test(s) and I had a reality check. I even wondered if I’d been in the room for 6 weeks. My title for the blog comes from the fact I became a slave to my own ego. I had to ask why aren’t students getting this – what’s wrong?”

I need to say at this point please do spend time on AQA site – it is quite literally full of teaching ideas, videos, resources etc: AQA English GCSE .

At end end I’ve included some resources you may find helpful.

“The focus for Paper 2 is attitudes/viewpoints/perspectives – looking at how writers have used texts to present a point of view, an argument etc.  There will be two linked texts from different time periods which will be nonfiction and literary non-fiction, such as:

  • high-quality journalism
  • articles
  • reports
  • essays
  • travel writing
  • accounts
  • sketches
  • letters
  • diaries
  • autobiography and biographical passages and other appropriate texts.

Over time there will be a range of different types of texts used. They will be primary sources, ie the original texts. One will always be 19th century and the other will either be 20th or 21st century (depending on what has been used in Paper 1) to assess 19th, 20th and 21st century texts across both papers.”

A quick glace format for Paper 2 (views and perspectives) questions:

  • Q1 – Identify & interpret (AO1) – 4 marks
  • Q2 – Summarise (AO1) – 8 marks
  • Q3 – Language analysis (AO2) – 12 marks
  • Q4 – Compare texts (AO3) – 16 marks
  • Q5 – Argue, Inform, Explain (AO5/6) – 40 marks



paper2 q1

Here like ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ students are given the answers! That seems so simple – just pick the right ones… I scream at them!

Going back to issues we face generally at our school students don’t read for comprehension. This can be from the question, to instructions or the actual text. Common errors many of my students made were; they shaded 5 or 6 boxes (ggrrrrrrrr) or simply picked the wrong answer.  I can only assume because they just don’t read all 8 then make a considered selection.

These are 4 easy marks to pick up and students MUST start reading extracts with care. Only the first 4 selected will be marked (if they pick more than 4). Again we hope our new starters which revolve around repetition/reinforcement of skills will help.

Also I think I am going to use more think/pair/share tasks with an emphasis on the ‘thinking’ part. All this group work/teacher modelling is great and you can really feel like students are making progress, but when students are left to their own devices they simply cannot find relevant details on their own. Hopefully our new SOWs and starters will improve this. I have a set of mini-whiteboards/pens and I am going to use these far more in lessons; make ALL students in the class write something and NOT rely on others in the class to give out answers.

To improve (same as paper 1)

  • Get students retrieving information against the clock
  • Use true and almost true statements alongside false ones
  • Each answer must make sense on its own (ie a simple sentence)



“The point of focus will be relatively narrow within the scope of the topic or theme as a whole as developed by both sources. The scope of the question will not require students to consider writers’ techniques or effects. The question will not reference writers for this reason.” However, students must use quotes to support ideas or they cannot move much beyond band 1/2.

paper2 q2

This is a comparison and interpretation question. To begin with I was really hung up on another one of AQAs key word choices and I was obsessed with teaching the art of ‘summarising’. I soon changed tactics during the unit (which was confusing for me and my students). This seems a relatively easy question where students need to focus on the art of  inference which is a key assessment of comprehension. Some of my students became good at summarising two texts, but they forgot to include quotes and this limits their mark. Many also forgot to make an inference (interpretation) – I told you I was obsessed with the word ‘summary’. Don’t be, it limits their marks. The following helped me clarify my own teaching: Although this question is titled ‘summary’ try to ignore that – it is an “assessment of synthesis is through students’ own writing where students have to:

  1. pick out the point of connection in the question
  2. search out the textual details relevant to the focus of the question
  3. ask themselves: what does this lead me to infer/realise/appreciate about what I’ve been asked to focus on?
  4. bring the two sets of details (and implied meanings) together in their own writing”

Point to remember – for this question quotes are used to inform (or support) their ideas – not to analyse language. Students need to develop their ability to make interpretations through interrogation of the text, in relation to the question focus, eg:

  • what does this suggest to me about ….?
  • what might I imply from this about …?
  • what does it make me realise …?

To help students ensure that they actually meet the AO for this question, after they’ve made a point with quotations, they need to make an interpretation. Try these sentence starters:

  • This might suggest …
  • You could infer …

AQA suggest a grid similar to this will help students focus on the right details

paper 2 q2 grid

(Source: http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/resources/english/AQA-87002-Q2-FI-TS.PDF)

To improve:

  • Students must be able to quickly identify what a text is about – the main point being raise/discussed. (If students had to summarise a text in one point what would it be?)
  • Ensure any point student makes is linked to the question focus
  • Students must: make a point+evidence from each text+interpret (make inference).


Here’s a low band student response in comparison to a high band response:


NOTE “Bullet points in question 2 and 3 The bullet points are a guide for students, but they do not have specific marks allocated to them. Marks are given for the quality and level of response rather than number of points made.”

paper2 q3

This is a language analysis, this is NOT an inference question. Our students seem to be fairly good at making inferences but not very good at basic language analysis. Students must analyse language in context of the extract. This means identifying the language features used, and explaining their effect of writer’s choices.

The following is a complete cut/paste from my AQA paper1 Q2 blog:

The key part of this question is the command word: HOW

For this question I teach students to look for word patterns, phrases, language features, language techniques, sentence forms.  Get students to look for sentence length to enhance mood, adjectives to enhance description, patterns in words or phrases, imagery (simile) adding to overall piece.

The key point here is that students MUST analyse language – it is not enough that they can select a word/phrase or method. They must be able to refer to specific details, name the technique and attempt to closely examine how the writer has conveyed an effect or meaning, they need to interpret their quote by analysing a key word in context of the extract. Students tend to go wrong here because they don’t always make analytical comments about the writing. They are good at picking a word/phrase and sometimes can name the method used (remember if a student names the method used it’s how well the student “makes use of this to improve the quality of the response that is important”). It’s not enough that they say the author has used a simile/adjective if they can’t tell me why the ‘simile’ was effective!  Furthermore what they don’t do very well is to select a key word and make an interpretation as to why it’s effective – in context. For example:

  • His house was now his prison” The concrete noun ‘prison’ could mean he feels his home is a place where he feels trapped, imprisoned or locked in. The writer’s choice is effective because it makes the reader consider a place once associated with safety, indicated by the past verbwas‘ and adverbnow‘ makes him feel he lacks freedom.

Many moons ago  made a brilliant firework poster that I have blown up on my wall:

Quote explosion

If students analyse sentence structure (or punctuation) it must be to enhance the language-that’s really the focus.

We hope our starters which repeat and reinforce concepts such as inference, deduction, comprehension and language analysis in every lesson will help with this.

To improve:

  • (as with Paper 1) get students to identify meaning+method+evidence+effect – students must identify a method the author has used and discuss why it’s important/successful.
  • Get students to identify different possible meanings in a text (or word/phrase)
  • Students must identify ways authors create meaning; meaning+method+evidence+effect eg the author uses (name method) to highlight (link to question focus) seen in (quote) this suggests (meaning). This could create the effect/make a reader (develop effect).
  • Ensure students use a range of statements from the firework poster above – this will encourage them to develop their analysis for higher marks.

Here’s a low band student response in comparison to a high band response:



paper2 q4

This question explicitly requires students to compare how writers convey their perspectives or the method they used to inform their reader of something.

“It will always reference the writers in the question in a way that Q2 won’t”. Convey (or its equivalent) requires students to consider effects of language as well as other methods (techniques) used by the writer to convey meaning.

This can be through different methods such as: direct address, word groups (adjectives), hyperbole, tone, dialogue, tone of the writing, use of image to reinforce meaning, testimonies, foregrounding or emphasis, bias (what is present or omitted), level of selectivity of information etc.

This question is pretty skillful, it needs students to make a comparison of texts, indicate the methods used and comment on the effect. “This highlights the fact that writers craft their writing deliberately and use a range of techniques and methods in order to achieve their desired effect and create an impact on the reader.” A writer’s choices can tell the reader a lot about the writers own feelings towards a particular issue. Again, as with Q2 on paper 1…I really advise you to download the resource at the bottom of Slave paper 1 (AQA methods) – look at the subject terminology the exam board expects/assumes students to use confidently with regards comparison of methods.

When teaching this my students found it difficult to pick out methods beyond simple word groups (adjective/adverb etc). From September I am going to start the unit with basic skills building skills as I go (using the resource “AQA Methods by year group”). I am hoping the new focus on KS2 grammar focus will really help with this aspect.

A common error my students made was that they picked maybe one method per text .. this limits the marks they can get. They need to not only compare the views of each text but also the methods used by the writer to convey their perspective… in other words the more methods the student can identify and comment on with regards overall meaning means a higher mark.

To improve:

  • Get students confident listing, commenting or detailing an author’s view/perspective in an extract (or on a topic).
  • Students must make a clear statement in response to the question about the two texts/articles (comparison similarity or differences) Statement+method+explain+link to Q+evidence+effect+meaning or inference eg The author in text A clearly feels (link to question) this is seen in (method), the author used (XXX) seen (evidence) because (ensure links to question). This would (discuss effect) and could suggest (meaning or inference).

Here’s a low band student response in comparison to a high band response:



paper2 q5

Again this is a tough question not only do students have to remember the format (eg speech) they need to write in, the purpose (eg argue) they have to remember methods  (eg rhetoric question) to convey their own opinions and write their ideas in a coherent and articulate organised manner (eg organisation) and that requires a range of connectives (eg furthermore). This becomes a bigger ask because many of my students just don’t care that much about some topics and find it difficult to write with appropriate tone or passion.

Many teachers use DA FOREST and it does help:

  • D direct address
  • A alliteration
  • F facts
  • O opinions
  • R rhetorical questions
  • E emotive language
  • S statistics
  • T three (power of three)

I also teach; flattery, commands, personal pronouns, positive/negative language, repetition as part of persuasive writing. I am sure you also have others you teach.

Resources – A few resources I put together to teach the new spec to KS3:

Here’s an ‘at a glance’ for each question for P2 (for an editable word version – go to “Betcha by Golly Wow” and scroll down to No 13, then open P2 resources).

This is student ‘at a glance’ revision guide to each question (there’s a matching P1 version on SLAVE 1). There are lots of versions of these around, so you’ll be able to find one to suit your taste/needs:

A grid to analyse non-fiction texts

For Q5, the types of writing and minimum requirements

Some persuasive writing methods, definition and examples

A resource to help students understand the purpose of an article

A basic grid designed to make students analyse in context

A basic grid designed to help students understand methods and effect

A resource to help students understand structure of a text

The screen shot sample answers I’ve included are all from e-AQA somebody in your school should have a login.

There are different resources on paper 1 blog that can be used for paper 2.


Links to some other great blogs from a range of English Teachers re AQA paper 1/2

2 thoughts on ““Slave” – AQA Paper 2

  1. Pingback: “Let’s Work” | alwayslearningweb

  2. Pingback: “Slave” – AQA Paper 1 | alwayslearningweb

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