top of page

How to succeed

  • Choose interesting, descriptive language that you understand.

  • Write a lot about a little - zoom in on certain words.

  • Include what the certain word makes you think and feel (effect on the reader)

  • Make your comments SPECIFIC and DETAILED.

Common mistakes

  • Choosing language you don't understand.

  • Choosing simple, un-descriptive words.

  • Making brief, vague comments about a long quote.

  • Feature spotting - identifying language features but not analysing them.

  • Not linking your comments to the text.


Paper 2 Question 3 

 Focus: Language Analysis                   Marks: 12                      Time: 12 mins (3 paragraphs)

​​   ​
























If this looks familiar, you're right! It's exactly the same question as on P1 Q2, except with a non-fiction text and more marks. Approach it in the same way as P1 Q2, but aim to write slightly more as you have a little more time. The non-fiction sources that AQA choose for Paper 2 can sometimes be descriptive, but you may also need to look for language such as nouns, pronouns, and conjunctions and explain why the writer has used them and the effect on the reader.

How to analyse language

- Explain clearly and in detail why the writer has chosen to use the word or phrase.

- What does it add to the text? What does it make you think of? How does it make you feel as you read?

- Try to use correct language terminology if you can, but remember that it's not the skill that determines your mark.

Here are some examples from the June 2019 exam. The question was ' How does the writer use language to describe the power of the sea?'.

Quote: 'a wall of white water'

The writer uses alliteration by repeating the 'w' sound to describe the wave. This makes the wave sound powerful.   

Level 1 - the student has identified a technique and made a simple comment on the language, but with no explanation.

The writer uses a metaphor to describe the wave as a wall which makes it sound strong like it might hurt the boat.         

Level 2 - the student has used a correct term and has attempted to comment on the effect of the language, but without much detail.

The writer describes the wave as a 'wall' which makes it sound like a barrier that the boat will not be able to get through. It suggests that the boat is weak and vulnerable compared to the strength and size of the wave.

Level 3 - the student has clearly explained the effect of the language.

By comparing the wave to a 'wall' the writer portrays it as impassable and emphasises its dominance in comparison to the vulnerable boat. It gives us the sense that the sea has put up its defences and created a boundary that the boat cannot cross, almost forbidding the men to enter its territory.

Level 4 - the student has made a perceptive comment by introducing the concept of the sea as guarding its territory.

Top tips! 


- There are two ways to increase your marks: being PERCEPTIVE or being DETAILED. Making perceptive comments is     challenging, so aim to be as DETAILED as you can. 

- You DON'T have to write about each bullet point. Avoid commenting on sentence forms (it's very hard to do well).

How are you marked?

There are three skills on the mark scheme:

  1. Analyse / explain the effects of the writer's choice of language.

  2. Select relevant quotes.

  3. Use subject terminology.

The skills are NOT equal. Your mark depends on how well you analyse/explain the effects of the language. 

Further Practice
  • Go to the Skills section and look at Analysing.

  • Read some marked answers to see what a Level 3 answer looks like.

  • Use the Paper 2 practice papers to try some Q3s.

bottom of page