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How to Prepare for Paper One's Unseen Texts

The new structure of The English Advanced Paper One exam is upon us. Instead of 15 marks there are now 20 in each section. There is no more creative writing but there are more marks allocated to unseen texts. Instead of being freaked out by 5 markers, 7 markers now exist.


"What does this all mean for me?"


This means that, no matter how well you know your prescribed text, half of your marks ride on your ability to analyse and respond to a new text on the spot. This is not something that can be rote learned or memorised and it is definitely a skill that requires practise.


"How would I prepare for section one?"

  • Make sure you expose yourself to as many genres as you can. The more practice you get with your poems, short stories and visual texts, the better. Your teacher or your tutor should hopefully be organising this for you.

  • Go through some texts with a person who knows what they are doing. This is your teacher or your tutor, or even another student who is amazing at English. Learning purely by yourself off a list of techniques found online does not work because you do not know how to apply the techniques and what effects the techniques achieve.

  • But also, you need to practise by yourself. If you have only watched someone shoot goals in basketball but haven't shot any yourself, you still don't know how to do it.

  • Answer questions! Simply identifying and annotating your texts with techniques does not mean you know how to formulate a response. Learn from your teacher, tutor or gifted friend and then get practising!

  • Make sure you are consistent with your practice. It should be done in small doses alongside with your essay preparation and study of your prescribed texts. Even just examining one text a week will mean you have practised with 52 texts in one year.

  • Start as early as possible! This is a skill that improves depending on how much time you have spent sharpening it. No matter which year of high school you are in, there are only benefits in starting as soon as this very moment.


Be consistent; dedicate yourself; you will ace section one!

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