Tone – AQA Paper2 Q5

Help, tips and assistance for students. This blog is part of a range specifically for students and can be found, along with others, under Student GCSE Blogs.

The new language spec, AQA Q5, (AO5) Paper 1 and paper 2 is worth 24 marks for your content and organisation. Here’s how the top marks are awarded:


One thing to get right is ‘tone’ – it falls into all the bullet points of ‘content’.

‘Tone’ is a linguistic term describing the way YOU, the author, express your attitude towards a topic in your writing.  Your tone can remain constant throughout a piece of writing or can change.  Tone is expressed by your use of syntax, your point of view, and the level of formality in your writing.  Tone can range from sarcastic, to humorous, to serious, to questioning, to angry, to persuasive, or to informative.

For example:

  • That’s great!- suggests an excited, surprised or happy tone
  • You did what? – suggests an irritated tone
  • What the hell did you do? – suggests an angry tone.

The tone you use decides how the readers (in your case, the examiners) read your piece of writing; it tells them how they should feel while they are reading it.

1) Register is convincing and compelling for audience

  • Will they understand the language that you are using?
  • What beliefs, values, and logical ideas does your audience have?

2) Assuredly matched to purpose

  • Should your writing contain slang or colloquial language?
  • Should the tone be formal or informal?
  • Are you evoking a specific reaction or emotion from your audience

3) Extensive and ambitious vocabulary with sustained crafting of linguistic devices

  • Choose language that will help you to express yourself clearly and effectively.
  • Select the appropriate language that is specific to your writing goal or situation.
  • Develop a rich and extensive vocabulary to create variety in your language choices.

Take the following question (paper 2 Q5):

‘Animals have feelings! It’s wrong to breed animals for the sole purpose of killing them for humans. Should we eat meat?’

Write an article for a local newspaper in which you explain your point of view on this statement.

What do you think of following sections/examples (taken from I’ve added brief comments on the right-hand side.


Now consider this article for the same question…

I don’t eat meat, should you?

I’m a 16-year-old vegetarian and have been for the last 5 years of my life. I want you to consider the reasons you eat meat, and hopefully, I may convince you to give meat up! For-ever!

I like the taste of meat! Actually, I miss it!

I bet you didn’t expect that, did you? However, it’s true, my reasons for not eating meat are simple; I think it’s cruel to kill innocent animals. Would you be surprised if I told you 80% of people questioned in a recent poll also think the killing of animals for humans to eat, is cruel? To raise an animal with the sole purpose of killing it is selfish, morally wrong and often inhumane.

Maybe next time you order a steak or chicken nuggets you should think about the animals that went through extreme pain for you to eat your McDonalds. Not only is it inhumane to put animals through such pain, not eating meat and having a vegetarian lifestyle can have huge benefits to animals, the environment, and your health.

Why do you think the phrase ‘like a lamb to the slaughter’ is so effective (and no it’s not just because it contains a simile)? The lamb is innocently and helplessly, led away without realising the danger.

This would score you approx band 3 (15/24 marks). Mainly because whilst register and purpose are ‘generally’ matched, I can’t say it’s consistent. The student hasn’t considered the audience of a ‘local newspaper’ and the article (whilst good) is more likely to appear in their class book.

Now consider this one:

Stop telling me not to eat meat!

I love meat: the smell of bacon on a Sunday morning, a chicken breast, even – liver or kidney. And nothing can beat a near-raw slab of steak – no matter how well your mother cooked that broccoli. There’s little point claiming to me that a vegetarian, let alone a vegan diet, can be as tasty as the bloodthirsty variety. Yet there are good reasons why a survey has found that 40% are cutting down on their meat consumption – becoming, like me, “flexitarian”.

You’ll likely have read many of these arguments before on these very pages. Apparently if we just became vegan (or vegetarian) then world hunger would be solved; Britain could feed itself – without resorting to that nasty, foreign muck so despised these days; the fear of antibiotic resistance would be a thing of the past; the NHS would be saved; and of course, global warming would be consigned to the history books.

Seems like quite a compelling moral argument for ditching the meat – and that’s without even mention the suffering of the animals who are killed and packaged before being cooked in some delicious butter and served up on a plate in front of your gaping maw.

And yet. Meat. It’s yummy. Tofu is never going to match a fish finger sandwich to salve that wicked hangover. So the flexitarian craze should be embraced – although I suspect it’s going to need a better name.

This would hit an upper band 4 (22/24 marks) because it’s convincing and compelling. It’s interesting and lively. It matches its audience and purpose.

Under pressure, it’s a lot to remember, but you MUST match your audience, purpose and language. Your content (AO5) is worth 24 marks! Tone is very important.


  1. Tone– A collection of words and possible meaning in context
  2. Quick-Guide-to-Tones – an ‘at a glance’ guide to tone from

One thought on “Tone – AQA Paper2 Q5

  1. Pingback: Educational Reader’s Digest | Friday 26th May – Friday 2nd June – Douglas Wise

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s