I have started looking at the content for different GCSE/IGCSE subjects and one thing I was very aware of is the way in which the questions are structured especially when it came to the English Language questions. So I started looking around for resources that could help us lay a foundation for how we go about answering these types of questions. One of the resources that I found was the AQA KS3 English Language Year 9 workbook (Preparing for Paper 1 and paper 2) so I asked the OUP publishing department if we could get a copy to review. Okay straight away, please don’t see AQA and then say we are not doing the AQA exam so this does not apply to us or see on the first page of the book that it states “the main aim of this workbook is to prepare you for the AQA Year 9 English Language test” and think we are not writing Year 9 test this is not apply. My daughter is NOT writing a Year 9 English Language test and she is NOT writing the AQA English Language GCSE but she is going to be writing an English Language exam and we do need to start laying some ground work on how we interpret the questions and how we go about answering them effectively. (In the past I have often used excellent resources and just ignored the fact that they say test or SAT’s – same concept here.)
First impressions on just quickly paging through – I immediately liked the layout and how a question is broken down into smaller sections but there were no answers. I was not sure about the lack of answers. But then we (my daughter and I) started working through it and actually there are no answers because honestly there would be so many ways to answer these questions that you would need to include a whole bunch of answers for just one question. What the book does, is it breaks the question down into stages, it guides you through the stage and then at the end you put it together to craft an answer. Thinking about it, if I wrote an answer for a question and my daughter wrote an answer for the exact question it would be different, so if you included one answer most kids would have in theory written the wrong answer just because they chose a different phrase of a different section to focus on. So I do understand why there are no answers included. And after completing just the second question my daughter did not even want a model answer. She was happy with how she had built up her answer. Her thoughts were “this makes sense, I totally understand what they want, where to look in the text, what to pull out and how to expand.”
She also really enjoyed the fact they give examples of student answers and then ask the user to extend the answer or to decide if Student A or Student B wrote the better answer and then potentially use those ideas to write their own. She really loved this aspect.
The workbook itself covers both Paper 1 and Paper 2 and it works through each question in each paper. And they work through questions on writing about language and structure (which were two things we were specifically looking for) and I must also point out that I really liked the points and tips under the Writing Questions. You might look at it and think 47 pages that is not long but they have included a lot of important points in those 47 pages.
It really is a systematic approach to answering questions, which I think is incredibly useful for kids needing to lay some ground work for future Exams. I think ignoring all references to the fact that it is aimed at kids writing Year 9 test, it is a brilliant book for home educated kids to work through. We (my daughter and I) highly recommend this book.
Admin – As I mentioned above this was a review copy, but I requested it as I thought it would be a useful English resource