english exam revision

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The exam

  • All people sit two reading papers - General and then either Foundation or Credit. This is because you can only get an exam award for what you actually achieve on the day. As each passage is set at a different level it makes sense to sit the levels that will ensure you get an award.
  • Each exam lasts 50 minutes and consists of a passage and questions. The point of the exam is to test your reading. The questions are meant to help the examiner judge how good you are at close reading, which means how well you spot what is being said and how the author is saying it.

In each level of paper you sit you want to get the higher grade if possible.

To do this you want to reach the 'cut off score' for the higher grade which will be set by the examiner and may be around 70% of total marks available. For example at General level, you can pass with around 50% of the total marks, achieving a grade 4, but will be awarded the higher grade of a 3 if your marks exceed the cut off score.

To help you do this it is important you try to gain full marks for each question because marks become grades.

How to succeed

Here are some tips to help gain maximum marks -

  • Give an answer to every question. You will always get zero if you leave a blank.
  • Read the whole passage before you begin to answer any questions – don’t be tempted to simply read the sections you think the questions relate to, as this won’t give you an overall understanding of what is going on.
  • Read each question carefully - it may direct you to a paragraph or particular sentence. Make sure your answer comes from the right place.
  • Check how many marks are available. Each question will be worth 2 marks in total. 2-0 questions usually require an answer that can only be completely right, with no partial answer acceptable. The layout of question and the answer space will help you decide if one or two pieces of information are required. 2-1-0 usually means there is the possibility of getting one mark for an incomplete or less well explained answer but remember there must be an answer worth two marks somewhere in the passage.
  • Always look for


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