Teaching Q5 (AQA, GCSE English Language, Paper 1)

Firstly: there will be two options for this question. You could be asked to write a descriptive or a narrative piece. You should bear in mind that both questions could be descriptive, or both narrative, or one of each. This means that you must be prepared to answer either. You have 45 minutes; use five of these to plan.

What does the mark scheme say?

AO5 Content and Organisation
Communicate clearly, effectively and imaginatively, selecting and adapting tone, style and register for different forms, purposes and audiences. Organise information and ideas, using structural and grammatical features to support coherence and cohesion of texts.

 AO6 Technical Accuracy
Candidates must use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation.

What are the main features of narrative and descriptive writing?

Narrative Descriptive
•Recounts an event (tells a story)

•Will contain description

•May include dialogue

•Has the structure of a story

•At least one developed character

•Structure using ‘a day in the life’, ‘a tale of two halves’, or by beginning at the end

•Most likely a third person perspective

•Show don’t tell

•Focus on images, not events

•You must show all five senses

•Focus on details

•Use structural focus shifts: begin with a panoramic view, zoom and shift, ending with panoramic view again.


Advice for both:

  • focus on the small: one minor event in the narrative, and zooming into small features in the description;
  • make sure that you are using a structure that is appropriate for the purpose of the writing;
  • vary your sentence openers: try to use -ing verb and -ly adverbs to open your sentences;
  • when using exciting adjectives and adverbs, check that your noun and verb choices complement these;
  • revise the spelling of a few really impressive items of vocabulary, in case you have the opportunity to use them in the exam;
  • use sensory language as much as possible;
  • and vary your sentence and paragraph lengths.

If you find yourself extremely stuck, use the source for inspiration. You can mirror the structure.

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