English Language Exam: Writing Tips

The best way to prepare for the writing section is to practise writing! (Obviously) But if you’re looking for some tips or inspiration, hopefully this post will help you out.

Firstly, you should consider what is required of you in the exam. It’s important that your writing is fluent, accurate and interesting. You need to prove that the last 11 years of learning literacy at school were not in vain. Here is a simplified overview of the assessment criteria for the writing questions (Questions 5 and 6)

GCSE Writing Criteria

You need to show that you can write confidently for a range of purposes and audiences. The exam has two writing tasks; firstly question 5 asks you to write to explain/describe; secondly question 6 asks you to argue/persuade.

In order to achieve full marks in the communication and organisation criteria, you should make sure that ideas are organised into logical, flowing paragraphs and that you use a range of techniques appropriate to the purpose of the writing. Below, you will find two examples of each writing type with various techniques that can be used in the exam. Both responses are from past paper questions:

Question 5 – Explain/Describe

Description Techniques

Question 6 – Argue/Persuade


In addition to using relevant techniques and organising your ideas, you must ensure that your writing is grammatically correct. The focus on spelling, punctuation and grammar is high on all English exams this year. Take a closer look at the assessment criteria for SPaG:

spag focus


Remember to use a range of sentences in your response. Recall the methods that you have learnt in class, including the slow writing technique where we varied sentences by using ‘Simple/Compound/Complex/Repeat’. Here is a reminder of the three  major sentence types:

Sentence Types

You should also vary your vocabulary to try and impress your reader. The best way to develop your vocabulary is by reading a wide and varied range of sources; you could also include vocabulary that you have learnt during your study of the poems. As an extra task, why not use these word clouds to revise new vocabulary and add new words to your repertoire:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Happy revising 🙂