1 PAPER TWO SECTION B: WRITING TO EXPLAIN, DECRIBE AND INFORM In this section you will be expected to: - Select ONE question from four options - Write for 45 minutes - Plan, write and then edit your writing carefully
2 This section of the examination paper tests whether you can make the right decisions when writing. The examiner wants to see whether you can respond to a question in an appropriate style for a specific purpose and audience. Audience 1. It is likely that the examination questions in this section of Paper Two will define an audience for your writing. Look at the following questions and underline the audience if there is one. a) Write a letter to the governors of your school informing them of the changes you would like to be made in your school uniform and the reasons for these changes. b) Explain how an important incident in your life has affected you. c) Describe a nightmare world. Remember, whether or not the audience is mentioned in the question, the audience will most definitively be the examiner. 2. The mark scheme demands that you write in a sophisticated way, making clever choices of language. This makes the writing activity slightly artificial, because even if you are asked to write a letter to a friend you will need to write in a sophisticated style. Which of the following pairs of phrases would you be most likely to use in an examination answer? I love school / I enjoy attending school The desks are rubbish / The desks require renovation We do have a problem with litter / There s rubbish everywhere The quality of teaching is impressive / The lessons are good
3 Purpose 3. What are you expected to achieve with your piece of writing? Draw lines to match up the three types of writing with what each is expected to achieve. To inform To explain To describe To give the reasons for something. To produce a vivid picture and atmosphere. To tell someone what they need to know about something. Format 4. In the examination you will probably be told who you are writing to, but also what form your piece of writing should take. For example, look at the following question: Write a letter to the Governors of your school informing them of the changes you would like to be made in your school uniform. a) What is the purpose of this piece of writing? b) What is the audience? c) What form should the piece of writing take? However, remember that the examination board wants you to prove that you can use language well. Consequently, the examiner does not want you to waste time with unnecessary presentational devices. You are advised that: For newspaper or magazine articles: Don t write in columns or draw pictures. For letters: Don t write out addresses in full. For all pieces of writing: Write in paragraphs.
4 1. When writing to inform the most important thing is the organisation of your ideas. First of all read the following example of a piece of informative writing; it was written in response to the examination question: Write a letter to your school governors to inform them of the changes you would like to see in the school uniform. Dear Governors, There has been some heated discussion at school about the nature of the school uniform. A reasonable way forward would be to make some cosmetic changes which would leave the pupils feeling smart but also more comfortable and more fashionable. Firstly, it is clear that the school uniform is unpopular because it is so uncomfortable. For example, in the summer the blazer is far too hot and heavy, while the tie can cause intense sweating. Another reason the school uniform is unpopular is because it is so unfashionable. Very few people would voluntarily wear grey and black clothes. It has been argued that we need to wear formal clothes to prepare us for the world of work, but hardly any women have to wear ties and blazers at work, while it is becoming increasingly common to see men in influential positions wearing a suit without a tie. We are all aware of the reasons for having a school uniform, and the vast majority of parents support it. However, a school uniform would be more popular amongst the pupils if it was more comfortable and less formal. A shirt and either trousers or a skirt, with a pair of shoes, would look smart and would not be seen by pupils as an unnecessary imposition. However, if the wearing of blazers was made optional and if the ties were abandoned pupils would remain smart and, in addition, would be more supportive of their school uniform. 2. When writing a piece of informative writing it is important to use connectives. (a) Some connectives indicate that one thing happens because of something else. Colour these connectives in red. (b) Some connectives extend a point by adding extra information. Colour these connectives in blue.
5 When producing a piece of informative writing it is important to introduce the subject of each paragraph with a topic sentence. Underline each of the topic sentences in this piece of writing. 3. When producing a piece of informative writing it is also important to support your ideas with evidence. Use a squiggly line to highlight any information in this piece of writing that is used to support a point. 4. A clear concluding statement is important in any piece of writing. Which of the following sentences do you think would be the best one to finish the piece of writing? So, go on, change the school uniform. Be brave. Challenge tradition. Think of the pupils. With only a very few changes the school uniform could become popular with parents and pupils. 5. It is likely that a piece of informative writing will have the following qualities: It will be written in the present tense. It will be written in the third person. It will have clear topic sentences. Re-read the example of writing to inform that you have just studied. In the boxes below write an example of each of the stylistic conventions that are associated with informative writing. Quality Example Present tense. Third person. Topic sentence.
6 1. When you are writing to explain you need to organise your ideas and express yourself clearly. Here is an example of a GCSE question that requires a piece of writing to explain: Explain what your dreams and ambitions are for the future. Read the following essay which was written in response to this GCSE question. I have always enjoyed travelling but I have two unfulfilled ambitions. Firstly, I have a serious urge to visit San Francisco and cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge. For me the bridge is a symbol of freedom and opportunity, and travelling over it might motivate me towards a more successful and exciting future. For different reasons I would also like to ski down a double black diamond run on Mammoth Mountain in California. Skiing provides both relaxation and challenge and I feel that an adrenalin threatening run down the most beautiful mountain in the northern hemisphere would be the ultimate challenge of my own skiing ability. From a very early age I have had the ambition to teach English in a secondary school. I can remember the exact moment, when I was only seven years old, that I realised that my teachers enjoyed their work so much, and I had a sense even then that part of their enjoyment was derived from the good work that they were doing. I was inspired by this experience and I feel that I have a great deal to offer future generations of pupils. To achieve this ambition I will have to attend university, an opportunity that has become increasingly attractive as I have got older. Being able to study one subject rather than twelve would encourage me to make the most of my three years work. In addition, I would like to make the most of the social opportunities available. Work hard, play hard. 2 When producing a piece of writing to explain it is important to use connectives, to link ideas within paragraphs and to link paragraphs. The connectives are likely to be used to help you to sequence your ideas. Circle the connectives in this piece of writing. 3 A piece of writing to explain is usually organised by using a different paragraph for each topic. Each paragraph is likely to have a topic sentence which announces the subject of the paragraph. Underline the topic sentences of each of the paragraphs. 4 Examples are necessary when you are trying to explain something. You will have noticed in the piece of writing to explain in this section of your revision book a number of examples are used. Number the four examples of dreams or ambitions.
7 When writing to describe you are expected to describe something vividly but also create an atmosphere. Your task in the examination will be to describe something in such a way that you make it real for the reader. The reader must: Be able to picture the place or event that you are describing and Be able to tell what mood you were in when you described it. To describe something vividly, and to create a mood or atmosphere, you need to: Use powerful verbs Use adverbs to give more information about the verbs. Use adjectives to give more information about the nouns. Use similes and metaphors. 1. Read this extract from a piece of descriptive writing. The pupil had been given the title: Describe a time when you were left waiting for something. Artificially smart salesmen glided effortlessly past me, all focused on avoiding eye contact. I lounged uncomfortably, like an unwelcome corpse, resigned to a life of impatient waiting. Glossy pictures of blurred sports cars mocked my inactivity and in the background telephones rang frantically, ignored. Three empty coffee cups measured the length of my stay. In a moment of rebellion I yawned, then hid it behind my hand if they saw me yawning, sarcastically, they might take even longer. Now: Circle any verbs that you think are powerful. Underline with a single line any adverbs. Underline with a double line any adjectives. Highlight any metaphors in red. Highlight any similes in blue. What atmosphere has been created in this piece of writing?
8 2. See if you can make the following sentences more interesting by: Changing some of the verbs to more powerful verbs. Adding some adverbs and adjectives. Creating some metaphors and similes. Sentence Your improvement The teacher walked into the classroom. Sue threw the stone at her brother. The cat sat on the mat. Moving backwards and forwards in the wind, the tree looked unhappy. Unusually, the room was dark and quiet. If you find this activity difficult you might want to use some of the words and phrases below. Nervously aggressively lobbed huge tall stormed bullying younger jagged quiet noisy hurled dangerously violent increasingly proud empty luxurious contentedly gloomy lazy swaying soundless vulnerable like an aggressive rugby player. as though she was ready to do battle. looking like the proud owner of a huge palace. like a tired drunk. like a weak, old man. like a threatening prison cell.
9 The process of writing an answer Inform and Explain Circle the key words in the title. Identify audience, purpose and format. Brainstorm any ideas or words linked to the question. Choose three or four paragraphs and record what information you would like to include in each. Put your paragraphs into a logical order. Produce your piece of writing, editing as you go. Leave at least five minutes at the end for checking your spelling and punctuation. Describe Circle the key words in the question. Choose somewhere or something you would like to describe, and think of the atmosphere you would like to create. Brainstorm any ideas or words linked to the place or event. Link verbs, adverbs and adjectives to each of the ideas you have listed. Order your ideas logically. Produce your piece of writing, editing as you go. Leave at least five minutes at the end for checking your spelling and punctuation. Read through these questions before looking at the mark scheme on the next page. 1. Circle the important words in the mark scheme. What qualities will the examiner be looking for in your writing? 2. Explain the differences between a Grade D and a Grade C. 3. Explain the differences between a Grade B and a Grade A.
10 U G F E D C B Communication and Organisation Communicates some meaning Some simple sequencing Communicates some meaning with occasional sense of audience and purpose Ideas are sequenced simply but generally appropriate Clear communication of ideas with more sense of audience and purpose. Uses some organisation devices appropriately with occasional selection of words Sustained awareness of audience and purpose More conscious attempt to organise sentences into paragraphs with some attempt to use vocabulary for effect Conscious attempt to suit the needs of purpose and audience and begins to engage reader s responses Clear, if mechanical, paragraphing with more conscious awareness of vocabulary for effect Clear identification with purpose and audience; begins to sustain readers responses Evidence of structure with usually coherent paragraphs and clear selection of vocabulary for effect Form, content and style are generally matched to audience and purpose Sentence structure, punctuation and spelling Some sentences, some accuracy in spelling of simple words, random punctuation. In sentences Generally accurate basic spelling Evidence of conscious punctuation Uses a range of securely demarcated sentence structures Some accurate spelling of more complex words Starts to use a range of punctuation Uses sentence forms for effect Generally secure in spelling Generally secure in punctuation which clarifies meaning and purpose A Well structured, starting to use paragraphs to enhance meaning and with increasing sophistication in vocabulary choice Form, content and style are consistently matched to audience and purpose Coherently structured with fluently linked sentences structures and paragraphs and evidence of conscious crafting A* Form, content and style are assuredly matched to audience and purpose; distinctive and consistently effective Uses full range of appropriate sentence structures Achieves a high level of technical accuracy in spelling Achieves a high level of technical accuracy in punctuation Controlled and sustained crafting with highly effective and delightful vocabulary
11 Grades and Targets 4. Re-read the three pieces of writing that you have studied in this section of your revision book: Inform the governors of your school what changes you would like to the school uniform. Explain what your dreams and ambitions are for the future. Describe a time when you were left waiting for something. For each piece of writing: a) say what GCSE grade you would give it and why; b) say what improvements would be needed to get the next grade. Inform.some heated discussion at school about the nature of the school uniform. A reasonable way forward would be to make some cosmetic changes which would leave the pupils feeling smart but also more comfortable and more fashionable Describe coffee cups measured the length of my stay. In a moment of rebellion I yawned, then hid it behind my hand if they saw me yawning, sarcastically, they might take even longer. Explain. the ambition to teach English in a secondary school. I can remember the exact moment, when I was only seven years old, that I realised that my teachers enjoyed their work so much, and I had a sense even then that part of their enjoyment was derived from the good work that they were doing. I was inspired by this experience and I feel that I have a great deal to offer future generations of pupils..
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