GCSE writing for a purpose: articles

This is the first in a series of blogs to help you to ‘write for a purpose’ in preparation for English Language Paper 2.  In this post we talk about how to write an article which requires you to argue a point. 

This is a sample question from an AQA English Language paper, June 2017:

 ‘Parents today are over-protective. They should let their children take part in adventurous, even risky, activities to prepare them for later life.’ Write an article for a broadsheet newspaper in which you argue for or against this statement.

Here’s how you could tackle it:

1. Gather your ideas

Decide whether you are for or against this statement.  Think of at least five strong points to support your argument and jot them down, perhaps as bullet points.  Each point will become a paragraph in your article.

2. Plan for skills

You need to demonstrate the following skills (which you can remember as ‘DAFOREST’):

  • Direct address.  Address the reader as ‘you’ to make them feel the article is personally relevant to them.
  • Alliteration.  Alliteration is a great technique for making statements memorable.
  • Facts.  In an exam you will make up facts. For a newspaper article invent some quotes that will support your argument.
  • Opinions.  Use your own opinions (this goes without saying here!).
  • Rhetorical questions.  These are questions which don’t need an answer but help to strengthen your argument eg. ‘Do you think today’s children are smothered and cosseted?’
  • Repetition.  Like alliteration, repeating words or sentences reinforces your message.  Some stories and poems, for example, start and finish with the same sentence.  Politicians use repetition in speeches to argue their points eg. Tony Blair’s famous quote, ‘Education, education, education…’
  • Emotive language.  Again, this strengthens your argument.  Words like ‘smothered’, ‘stifled’ and ‘oppressed’ elicit a strong emotional reaction.  Instead of the word ‘bad’ you might use ‘torturous’ or ‘barbaric’.
  • Statistics.  This is linked to facts.  Use made up statistics to support your argument.
  • Three (rule of).  For example, ‘By overprotecting children parents are undermining their self-esteem and confidence and causing rebellious behaviour’.

Jot down how you are going to demonstrate each of these skills in your article (perhaps at the same time!), for example:

Direct address/rhetorical questions: ‘Do you tidy your child’s room or put away their clothes?’ ‘Do you interfere with their friendship choices?’

Alliteration/rule of three: ‘If you ease up on the reins your child will be more confident, contented and courageous enough to bounce back after failure’.

3. Plan the counterargument

You need to predict how your reader might argue against some of your points.  Jot down these ideas as bullet points and consider how you will defend your arguments.  For example, ‘You might think that tidying your child’s bedroom is kind, but it causes them misery in the long-term because when they leave home and live with another person they will become unpopular if they don’t help with household chores’.

4. Plan your headline and subheadings

Headlines are much easier to write when you know what your article is going to be about because the job of the headline is to tell the reader, in an instant, what to expect from the article. 

Write a headline that pique’s your reader’s curiosity and draws them in.  Use action verbs and remove any unnecessary articles.  You can use persuasive devices such as alliteration, rhetorical questions and the rule of three in your headline.

Subheadings are important too because they ‘hook’ your reader as they are scanning through the article. Subheadings outline the key idea in each paragraph – the shorter they are the better!  You don’t need to use a subheading for every paragraph; always consider where you think they’re most useful.

5. Plan connectives

What connectives will you use to join paragraphs and sentences?  Try to include a variety.

Adding information: and, also, as well as, furthermore, moreover, too

Building upon an idea: as long as, if

Cause and effect: because, consequently, so, therefore, thus

Comparing: as with, equally, in the same way, like, likewise, similarly.

Contrasting: alternatively, although, apart from, but, except, however, in contrast, instead of, on the other hand, otherwise, unless, unlike, whereas, yet

Emphasising a point: above all, especially, indeed, in particular, notably, significantly.

Giving examples: as revealed by, for example, for instance, in the case of, such as.

Sequencing ideas: firstly, secondly, afterwards, eventually, finally, meanwhile, next, since, whilst. 

6. Write your answer

Planning your answer as above should not take more than 10 minutes.  The only way to speed up the process is to practise exam questions.  Sample questions from the English Language GCSE Paper 2 can be found online.  The more you do now the quicker you will be on the day. 

After 10 minutes planning you will have 35 minutes to write the rest of your answer.  Don’t forget to leave some time at the end to read through and check your writing.

When writing your answer:

  • Write an engaging opening.  Use emotive language or a rhetorical question to draw the reader in.
  • Look at your plan and write your paragraphs in an orderly sequence.
  • End with a clear and firm conclusion to your argument, perhaps using the ‘rule of three’.

7. Edit your answer

You’ve finished – hooray!  Take a few minutes to check for SPaG – spelling, punctuation and grammar.  Make any improvements you need to.

Would you like further support?

TutorMyKids offers one-to-one tuition for GCSE English Language and English Literature students.  Our tutors can collaborate with you and your teacher to address the areas you’re struggling with, strengthening your skills and giving you an extra boost of confidence on exam day!


Why flip flop is ok and flop fip isn't
Why flip flop is ok and flop flip isn’t.

Why we can flip flop but not flop flip.

As adults we instinctively hear and learn the right grammar rules over years of usage. Have you ever thought of why we say things in this order. No me neither – Take a look below.

Why we have hip hop muis not hop hop.

And how about Great, green dragons not Green, great dragons.

I love all these glorious snippets of our English language.

If you’re a teacher who loves imparting English language click the link to find out more about becoming a private tutor in Cambridgeshire or email me, Rachel Law at hello@tutormykids.co.uk to arrange to have an informal chat on the phone.




Very Happy Bunnies at Tutor My Kids about the GCSE and A level results
Very Happy Bunnies at Tutor My Kids about the GCSE and A level results

Fabulous GCSE and A Level results from our students and their private tutors at TutorMyKids.

This last couple of weeks has been absolutely fabulous. It’s been our very best year for great GCSE and A level results from our students and their private tutors in Cambridge, Ely and surrounding areas. It is one of my very favourite parts of what we do at Tutor My Kids – talking to parents and our private tutors and finding out how successful the tuition has been and the results achieved.

The proof of the pudding…

Wins come in all shapes and sizes: greater confidence, moving up a maths set, but I suppose the ultimate test is exams, when the work is entirely unguided and unsupported.

…is in the eating.

All our clients and students have different goals for their private tuition, but it’s always life changing – especially when it comes to these exam results.

We’ve a student who’d missed a lot of time due to illness who has achieved A*s in sciences, which has enabled her to take up her place at Hill’s Rd. We’ve a student who had been predicated Es for maths and English who had been offered only vocational courses at Long Road who achieved Bs in English language and English literature, plus a C in maths. She’s now had her options massively widened – with A levels open to her as well as a much broader range of subjects. This is truly life-changing stuff.

Why are these results so good?

Well, I’ve found myself pondering this, because they are better than any other year so far. For some clients, we’ve been working with their children for 2 or 3 years, so it’s a cumulative effect of filling gaps in their knowledge so they’ve been thoroughly prepared by our private tutors, who are almost exclusively qualified teachers. However, some has been tuition that was put in the in final months before the exams, to shore up gaps, cover exam technique plus that key understanding of the marking scheme – what will score marks and what isn’t worth wasting time on. For more info on tuition for GCSE exam and A level tuition, click the links.

I think it’s that essentially that we’re blessed with a fantastic team of amazing teachers who tutor with their heart and soul (as well as paper and pen!). Our teachers are an absolute credit to us; they are the core of what makes us really good at what we do. They build the strongest bonds with their students and parents – it’s far from just a job. This engenders an amazing belief in the student which then becomes self-belief within the student and family.

Our parents are also doing an amazing job of supporting their children between sessions. Sometimes it’s helping with homework, often just a small prompt and a calm place to work. Plus of course, ensuring that their children are there regularly for the tuition.

How do you get such fabulous teachers?

We’re really lucky that we get teachers who are recommended to us by other great teachers. It’s not unusual to have a private tutor bring another great tutor on board. If you’re a qulaified teacher who’s interested in exploring becoming a private tutor, click the link or get in touch with Rachel Law at hello@tutormykids.co.uk to arrange an informal chat.

How do you match them to the student so well?

In the same way as we get great teachers recommending us, we are really fortunate that we get a large percentage of our clients who are recommended to us by existing clients. So I think we’re getting a core of clients who are really committed to helping their children to be the best they can be.

We always visit our clients in their home to discuss and/or assess their needs; we want to ensure the right academic fit. In addition the right personality fit, is as (if not more) important as the correct academic fit. What we do is find the right tutor for the individual student’s needs: for example it’s often much more effective to have a primary school teacher (with good secondary curriculum knowledge) tutor maths to a weaker secondary student because they are often better at filling in basic maths gaps. Equally, if you have a very talented mathematician, you need to put in someone who can really stretch that student to reach their full potential. I suppose it’s that really great knowledge of the tutors and their strength which enables us to get such a great match. Put this together with a great personality fit between the student and tutor, great commitment on both sides and it’s a winning combination.

Happy Bunny

Whatever the reasons, I’m such a happy bunny that we’re delivering such great outcomes for such fabulous students and their families.