Author Archives: Mark Richards
A New Year’s Resolution, For Teachers… Finally!Leave a Comment
The new term is underway, and you’re settled back into the swing of things.
Now is the time for teachers to think about setting a New Year’s Resolution or two for the months ahead.
Here are a few suggestions:
New Year’s Resolution Number 1: Be More Organised
Many teachers start the year well but then things start to slide.
Being organised doesn’t necessarily guarantee you will have a great lesson, day, or week, of course. However, if you are continually disorganised and running around chasing your tail, those good and great days will be few and far between.
And the thing with being disorganised is that it never gets better – it always gets worse.
So, Resolution Number 1 has got to be to get more organised!
Whether it’s to try to get to school 5 or 10 minutes earlier, or to vow to keep your desk tidier, any small way that you can try to be more organised will help.
It should even result in you having a calmer and less stressful day.
It will make you feel on top of your workload. For any teacher, this is massive.
If you’d like to read more around how you can get a little more organised on a weekly basis, check out this handy blog from asana!
Resolution Number 2: Take Less Work Home
Work/life balance is a major issue for any teacher. That’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
However, teachers are sometimes their own worst enemies. If you set out to take less work home – either on certain days or at the weekend (occasionally), you will stop the blurring of school and home.
And it might even stop you feeling like you are working all the time.
How do you do this?
You can try to work smarter when you are setting homework to reduce the marking load.
Is there a day of the week when you could stay in school to work later to finish things off and prepare for the next day? It’s a great feeling to get home and know that all your time that evening is for you, your kids, or your partner.
Listen, you’re a teacher, so realistically you’re never going to make every night like that.
But once or twice a week, or just every once in a while, would be nice, wouldn’t it?
Resolution Number 3: Prioritise Your Own Wellbeing
As teachers, we are wired to put our students first. It sometimes seems difficult to prioritise our own mental health and wellbeing. We feel guilty if we put ourselves first.
However, this is the most important resolution of all.
Putting your mental health first will not only make you a better teacher, but it will also make you a better parent, partner, family member, and friend.
You will know what it is that is good for you and what works for your wellbeing, but typically if you try to eat healthily, get regular exercise, and give yourself time to spend on a hobby or interest, you will get a big mental health boost.
It will certainly help to eliminate stress – something we’ve discussed here previously.
You will be happier, have more energy, and be far better placed to take on the challenges of teaching, and whatever else life throws at you.
It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?
A Guide for new Year 7 students: What to expect in the first week of high schoolLeave a Comment
Starting secondary school is a major milestone in anybody’s life. It’s quite possible that it’s the most nerve-wracking event that any 11-year-old has had to face in their young lives up to that point.
For some, there might be a degree of excitement about the prospect of starting at ‘big school’. However, those feelings are likely to be mixed up with a lot of worry, nervousness, and anxiety.
And that’s the first important point to make here: those feelings are completely normal.
It’s totally okay to be feeling that way.
If you talk to your friends about it, you’ll probably find that they are feeling the same way too.
If you talk to an older brother or sister – or your parents – about how they felt about going into secondary school, you’ll probably find that they understand exactly what you are going through because they felt the same way when they were your age.
Don’t bottle your feelings up inside though – talk to people.
It is a bit of a cliché… but it really is good to talk!
The biggest difference: Size and scale
The biggest single difference of secondary school is the sheer size of it.
Typically, Year 6 at your primary school will have been just 1 class of kids. Year 7 at your new high school might have 6, 7, 8… maybe as many as 10 classes (called forms). This means that the year group you are becoming a part of in September could have more kids in it than the entire primary school you have just left!
And remember there are Years 8, 9, 10 and 11 (and possibly a sixth form) as well.
Because of that, everything just seems to be on a much bigger scale at secondary school.
The thing is… your old primary school will have seemed huge to you at first too when you started there.
But before you knew it, you got used to it and knew your way around it like the back of your hand.
The same thing will happen in secondary school. It might take a bit longer, but you’ll get there.
You’ll be given a map of your school and advice about how to get around. In the first few days many schools ask teachers to collect students and take them to classrooms to make it easier for you to get used to it all.
On that note, you won’t just be thrown in at the deep end at all as you begin secondary school. The start of the school year is usually staggered – so you’ll find that on the day you start, there might only be one or two year groups in school. This makes it less overwhelming.
Similarly, Year 7 often have a longer lunch or have it at a different time from the rest of the school for the first few days – again, this is to make you feel more comfortable and to help you get more used to things.
Don’t worry about the ‘rest of the school’ either. Yes, those Year 11s might seem big and scary but, in general, they are far more bothered and interested in each other to give the new Year 7s a thought.
5 lessons a day: Different subjects and teachers
The other major difference between primary and secondary school is that you have different teachers for different subjects. Whereas in primary, you largely found that you stayed in one place with one teacher, there’s a lot more moving about and changing around during the high school day.
This will take some getting used to – but you will get used to it!
Information, information, information
Secondary schools go to lot and time and trouble to make the transition from primary school easier for students. But one thing you can be sure of is that you will be bombarded with a lot of information: rules, policies, expectations, advice – you name it, you’ll get a lot of it in your first week.
Although it might all might seem a bit overwhelming and too much to take in, the good news is that most of this info will also be written down for you – in your planners, on posters, on the school website.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your new teachers if you don’t understand something. They are there to help!
How To Motivate Your TeenagerLeave a Comment
Do you struggle to motivate your teenager?
Don’t worry if you do – you’re not alone!
After all, parenting isn’t easy – and it can get particularly difficult during the teenage years.
So, how do you get them motivated? How do you get them to pay attention and try harder at school? How do you get them to put more effort into homework and revision?
And just how do you get them to care about their futures as much as you do?
Well, if we had all the answers, we probably wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing now. We’d be sitting on a beach, sipping cocktails, counting the millions we’d earned from solving the problems of millions of parents the world over…
So, no, we haven’t got a water-tight, fool-proof set of genius answers – unfortunately.
But we have got a few great tips that we know work well…
Rewards and Sanctions
The go-to approach for many parents and teachers is some sort of system of rewards and punishments. Indeed, this is the cornerstone of most school behaviour policies.
The thing is – although the carrot and stick approach seems like a simple way to motivate teenagers – research shows that rewards and punishments don’t usually lead to long-term motivation.
It can have limited, short-term success and – for example – if your teen is currently in Year 11 and approaching their GCSEs, it might just be the thing to give them an incentive for ‘a final push’ before their exams.
However, on the flip side, use them too much and you run the risk of teaching your teenager that they only do something if there’s a reward at the end of it. The reward becomes an expectation.
And that’s a dangerous message to send out when all is said and done!
And, ideally, you want to motivate your teenager from Day 1 of Year 10 rather than just the last few weeks of Year 11. You want to instil in them a love of learning and taking on challenges.
It must come from them.
So, often a different approach is needed.
Inner Motivation is the Key
The secret to motivating your teenager is to fuel their self-motivation. The trick is to develop self-discipline.
The problem with micromanaging your teenager is it soon feels like nagging; the downside of giving pep talks is that they can quickly turn into lectures.
The problem comes with the territory. Most teenagers follow strict rules and schedules. To them, it can often feel like they have little control over their day-to-day routines. This all comes at a time in their lives when they are discovering their personality and developing their individuality.
Their desire for more autonomy and independence is only natural. When they don’t feel as if they are getting this, the result is that many teenagers feel powerless, frustrated, and unmotivated.
Want to know the secret to how to motivate your teenager? Give your teen autonomy
One great way of respecting your teen’s autonomy is to set rules, consequences, and routines together. Another way is to encourage open dialogue and communication. Talk to them and listen to what they have to say – even if it really isn’t what you want to hear!
Creating a positive environment in the home helps teenagers to feel understood rather than judged or criticised. Lack of confidence is often at the root of a lack of motivation. If your teenager is lacking either confidence or motivation in a particular subject, a tutor can be a great help. Get in touch with the TutorRight team to find out more.
How to Make a Revision ScheduleLeave a Comment
“How do I make a revision timetable?” It’s probably one of the most asked questions that students ask teachers and tutors. The bottom line is that there is no single right way to do it. Ultimately, if it works for you, it’s right!
However, there are some basic principles and top tips to follow. If you stick to these, you will be well on the way to creating your perfect revision schedule.
How to Make a Revision Schedule: Guiding Principles to Follow
There are a few guiding principles to bear in mind. Firstly, most of your effort should be focused on the topics/questions that carry the most marks and the topics that you are least confident with.
Secondly, you should measure your progress based on topic coverage, rather than how much time you have spent revising. Finally, be prepared to adapt your revision timetable according to the rate at which you can confidently understand and memorise information.
If you can, go Digital
It’s a really good idea to use Google Calendar. Not only is it available on both Android and iOS but it also means that your revision schedule will always be with you. After all, your smartphone is always with you, right?
The other (even more important) reason is the flexibility it gives you. You can make changes quickly and easily. Although a revision schedule is there to be followed, it isn’t set in stone. It’s likely that you will need to make adjustments to it from time to time. If you use Google Calendar, changes and updates can be made cleanly.
How much time have you got?
You need to figure out how much time you actually have to revise. There is a need to strike a balance between being ambitious and being realistic. You can’t revise every hour of the day. And, even if you feel you need to, it wouldn’t do you any good anyway – you would just burn yourself out.
You need to factor in all your normal commitments and day-to-day activities. Importantly, make sure that you include time for rest, relaxation, and free time. In the weeks and months running up to your exams, you might spend less time on these things – but you should never do away with them completely!
Prioritise by Subject or Topic
You need to decide which subjects you currently feel the most and least confident about. Other factors to consider are where your exams sit on your exam timetable and what your current grades look like. The key to prioritising is being honest about where you’re at right now.
On that note, don’t avoid the topics you are least confident about and find most difficult. In fact, these are exactly the ones you should be prioritising!
Revise a little, a lot
There’s a temptation to say you are going to spend 10 hours revising a certain topic so that you’ll know it inside out. The reality is that such a revision marathon will probably be a waste of time.
It’s much more effective to revise a little, a lot. 30-minute bursts are the best. Of course, momentum is a great thing. Just because you have allocated a 30-minute time slot, it doesn’t mean that you must stop the moment you reach the 30-minute mark. If you have built some momentum up, keep going for a bit longer! Don’t take a break just because your timetable says so – take one when you need it.
Finally, if at first, you don’t succeed, don’t give up!
There are bound to be times when things go wrong: topics you can’t master, sessions you might miss… there will be setbacks – but don’t let these set you back too much.
And remember, a private tutor can really help you make sense of it all. Get in touch if you think you could do with some help. It’s what we’re here for!
Becoming a Senior Leader in EducationLeave a Comment
Should I apply for a senior leadership position in a school?
It’s a question that many teachers working in schools ask themselves at some point. The correct answer to the above question will depend on the individual, of course – but if it is a question that has come into your head recently, you’ll want to make sure that you get the answer to it right. So, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of becoming a senior leader in education.
Becoming a senior leader: an opportunity to make a difference
It’s kind of why you became a teacher in the first place, isn’t it? The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children and young people is one of the privileges of the profession.
And the opportunity to make a difference needs to be at the forefront of your mind when you are considering whether to try to become a senior leader or not.
Let me explain… as a ‘classroom teacher,’ you make a difference for the pupils you teach. Your classroom is your kingdom, and it is between those four walls that the magic is made.
The thing is that the impact you can have on pupils is limited to those four walls.
When you are a middle leader, such as a Head of Department, you now have an opportunity to have an impact on a wider cohort of young people – and the step up again to senior leadership will take your responsibility and potential impact on a whole-school level.
If you want to become a senior leader, you need to demonstrate that you have had an impact at a whole-school level. Taking on a whole-school project or initiative is an excellent way to do this. Getting more involved on a departmental basis is also a great idea. You need to show that you have an interest in departmental and whole-school issues.
Is a role as a Senior Leader in Education what you really want?
Perhaps most importantly you need to be sure that senior leadership is the right move for you. Yes, the desire to have a greater impact across the whole school is a big attraction – but do you know what the role will entail?
Generally, the people who move into middle leadership and then senior leadership do so, initially, because they are some of the most promising and best classroom teachers in a school. Promotion seems like a natural step. But the further up the management ladder you go, the less time you will spend teaching in the classroom.
The prospect of teaching kids is why we all entered the profession and what we all really love. You’ll be doing a lot less of it when you become a senior leader.
Also, bear in mind that the best classroom practitioners don’t always make the best leaders and managers. In fact, there are quite different skill sets needed.
Apply for the right position for you
Once you have decided that senior leadership is the right move for you, you shouldn’t just apply for any role as a senior leader in education that you see. Look carefully at the job description and what the role would involve. Make sure that it matches both your interests and your skills.
Once you’ve got there – what can you expect?
Senior leadership can be very tough and there’s always a lot of pressure – but it’s also incredibly rewarding. It really feels like you are shaping the direction a school is moving in – because you really are! That is a real privilege.
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Everything you need to know about the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ GCSE Exam QuestionLeave a Comment
With February being the month of romance, it seems appropriate to take a close look at one of the most romantic stories of all time – Shakespeare’s classic tale of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. So, while there’s romance in the air, let’s spread the love with some top tips for how to answer the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ GCSE exam question.
This tragic play, depicting the lives and deaths of two star-crossed lovers, is one of the most loved works in literary history.
And, of course, there’s also the little matter of the fact that ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a text on the GCSE English Literature exam.
The ‘Romeo and Juliet’ exam question: What to expect?
First and foremost, let’s deal with the basics. What can you expect on the exam? Regardless of whether you are studying the AQA or the Eduqas syllabus, the demands of the questions are very similar. There will be a short extract from the play printed on the paper. The question will then ask to focus on a particular character or theme in the given extract.
The AQA exam will then ask you to write about the same character or theme in the whole play. For example:
Starting with this conversation, explore how Shakespeare presents the relationship between Romeo and Juliet.
- how Shakespeare presents their relationship in this conversation
- how Shakespeare presents the relationship between Romeo and Juliet in the play as a whole.
The Eduqas exam will also ask you to focus on a character or theme in the extract, but the second – separate – the question could ask you to write about another aspect of the whole play. For example:
Read the extract on the opposite page. Then answer the following question:
Look at how Juliet and the Nurse speak and behave here. How do you think an audience might respond to this part of the play? Refer closely to details from the extract to support your answer. For which of the male characters in Romeo and Juliet do you have the most sympathy? Write about how Shakespeare creates sympathy for your chosen character.
So, how do you approach the task?
Focus on what the question is asking you to do
It sounds obvious, but one of the biggest mistakes students make is not focusing on what the question is asking them to do closely enough. Many simply write down the main things that they can remember about the play; choose a few quotes to back up the points they have made; and make the occasional comment about Shakespeare’s language.
Of course, some of all that will be relevant but certainly not all of it.
You need to make sure your answer remains totally focused on the demands of the question, from the outset.
Take this example:
Starting with this conversation, explore how Shakespeare presents aggressive male behaviour in Romeo and Juliet.
- how Shakespeare presents aggressive male behaviour in this conversation
- how Shakespeare presents aggressive male behaviour in the play as a whole.
You need to come up with a statement – an argument – that sums up the main points you are going to make in your answer, such as:
‘In the extract and throughout the play as a whole Shakespeare presents male aggression through every male character – with the exception of Benvolio. This aggression is one of the main reasons why things go wrong during the play of Romeo and Juliet.’
One thing you can be sure of is that you will be expected to use quotes from across the play in your answer. Have a few saved up about characters and themes. However, there’s a lot to remember so it’s best to keep them short and sweet; easy to remember; and to select ones that say a lot about the story.
‘The Prologue’ – right at the start of the play – is as good a place as any to look: “ancient grudge” shows that the problems between the Montague and Capulet families are deep-rooted and long-standing. Similarly, both “star-crossed lovers” and “death-marked love” show that Romeo and Juliet’s relationship was doomed to end in tragedy from the beginning.
If your son or daughter is struggling with the Shakespeare question, hopefully, this blog will have helped a little bit…
But one of our English tutors would be able to help them even more – with ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and all aspects of GCSE English Language and English Literature. Get in touch for a chat to find out more.
GCSE Grades Explained: A guide for parents and studentsLeave a Comment
In England GCSEs are now graded using a numerical system running from 9-1, rather than A* to G – a system that had been in place since GCSE Grades replaced the old ‘O’ Levels in the late 80s. This has caused – for parents and students alike – a fair amount of confusion. Many ask questions, such as: What do these numbers mean? What is a Grade 9 equivalent to? What is a pass at GCSE?
But, have no fear… TutorRight are here to answer all these questions and more with our handy guide ‘GCSE Grades Explained: A guide for parents and students’.
So, without further ado, let’s get explaining…
When and why were GCSE grades changed?
Before we get started, it makes sense first to explain when and why the GCSE grades were changed.
The new numerical grading was introduced as part of a wider curriculum overhaul carried out by the Conservative government in 2014 by the then-Education Secretary, Michael Gove. It was perceived that too much emphasis had been placed on GCSE coursework. The reformed examination system sought to make the GCSEs more challenging and to make almost all subjects assessed by final exams taken after two years of study. This replaced the old model of assessment which favoured regular assessments through a series of modules.
It was argued that the new numerical scale recognised “more clearly the achievements of high-attaining students.” This is because the additional grades created allow for greater differentiation. Essentially, students can now gain ‘higher’ levels of each grade, instead of simply a standard grade. All exams now contain more extended writing, essay-style questions. It was also explained that the move to numbered grades would make it clear to employers that students had taken the more challenging GCSE.
The new reformed GCSEs were introduced gradually between 2017 and 2019, beginning with English and Maths. By 2020, all GCSEs had adopted the new number graded system.
What are the new grades?
The highest grade is now 9, with 1 being the lowest. The U grade, meaning “ungraded”, remains the same.
The number scale is not directly equivalent to the old letter one. However, the two scales do meet in certain places:
- the bottom of the new grade 7 is equivalent with the bottom of the old grade A;
- the bottom of the new grade 4 is equivalent with the bottom of the old grade C;
- the bottom of new grade 1 is equivalent with the bottom of the old grade G;
- three of the new number grades – 9, 8 and 7 – correspond to the two previous top old grades of A* and A.
What do pupils need to pass their exams?
A grade 4 is a standard pass and a 5 is a ‘strong’ pass. Technically, a student who gets all grade 4s has passed all their exams. However, school league tables are based on the percentage of pupils who achieve a grade 5 or above in English and Maths. Also, bear in mind that many sixth forms and colleges will ask for 5s in certain subjects as an entry requirement – although this varies, and most schools and colleges are quite flexible.
What is a GCSE Point Score?
You may have also heard about something called a ‘GCSE Point Score’. Again, like league tables, these are more of a concern for school leaders than individual students, as they are measurements the government uses to judge schools by. However, just so you know, your GCSE Point Score is basically your average grade over all your GCSEs. So, if you took 10 GCSEs and achieved a Grade 8, 5 Grade 7s; 2 Grade 6s, and 2 Grade 5s, your average point score would be 6.5. With a Grade 5 being a ‘strong’ pass, any point score above 5 would be considered strong.
Finally – in old money – a Grade 7 is the equivalent of a Grade A. A Grade 6 is just above an old Grade B. Grade 5 is between a B and a C; and Grade 4 is equivalent to a Grade C.
Get in touch if you’d like a tutor to help your child reach their GCSE potential.
Is tutoring the perfect part-time job for undergraduates?Leave a Comment
Here’s the short answer… ‘Yes!”
And now for the longer – ever so slightly more detailed – answer…
Look, if you’re currently a student at university, we hear you… we feel you… times are tough! Why would you be so stupid to be an undergraduate in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, ‘eh?
But it is what it is… and you’re in it – hey ho – but there’s no need to worry.
What if there was a great way to make some much needed money AND give your future job prospects a massive boost too?
Well, we may have the answer for you.
Yes, tutoring might just be the perfect part-time job for undergraduates!
The perfect part-time job for undergraduates – It’s rewarding
The big difference between tutoring as a part-time job and virtually all the other types of part-time jobs that students typically do, is that you’ll find tutoring far more rewarding. Take bar work and the hospitality sector – the hours can be long; the pay is generally pretty poor; and you’re likely to be rushed off your feet during every shift. It can be a thankless task sometimes! Not only that, but there also isn’t a great deal of job satisfaction gained usually from pulling a few pints or waiting on a few tables.
Tutoring, on the other hand, is extremely rewarding. It’s great to see a student go from one level to the next, and watch their confidence grow as a result. Tutors have the rare opportunity to genuinely make a lasting and positive impact in students’ lives. That’s something that will give you a buzz and is something to be proud of – especially when you reflect and realise that the improvements a student has made is down to you!
Tutor when you like – It’s flexible
Finding a part-time job to fit around your studies can be a challenge. You’re often tied to shift patterns and specific hours. With tutoring, typically, sessions will be for an hour at a time – making it much easier to fit in around your existing commitments. Not only that, but tuition can also be delivered both face-to-face and online, so you have even more flexibility. Of course, you will never be expected to take on sessions that you don’t want to. You essentially set your own hours!
What do you get from it? It’s great experience
Although you should never take on anything purely ‘because it looks good’, the fact of the matter is that tutoring does look good. It’s a great thing to be able to put on your CV! Regardless of the subject taught or the age of the student you work with, being a tutor proves to a prospective employer that you have a particular skill set, not least that you can instruct and explain topics and concepts concisely.
Naturally, a tutor is expected to adapt their teaching style and methods to meet the needs of the individual student. In doing so, you are showing that you are flexible and can approach different situations in a variety of ways. Of course, if you are planning on applying for a postgraduate course in education, tutoring will give an invaluable taste of what teaching is like – and it shows that you have a commitment to improving the prospects of young people.
And don’t forget… It pays well!
In general, tutoring pays a lot better than other part-time jobs. As it is a professional speciality, you are rewarded for your academic achievements and experience. You don’t need to be a qualified teacher to become a tutor. Maths and English tutors are always in demand. But equally, students are often looking for tutors in specialist subjects – from Mandarin to Psychology or Sociology. Typically, these types of placements can be tricky to find suitable tutors for.
So, whether you see it as a stepping-stone into a lifelong career in education – or just a job that will be a bit more fulfilling than working behind the bar at the Dog & Duck, tutoring might just be the perfect part-time job for undergraduates!
Get in touch for a chat with our friendly team to find out more.
Maths Tutors in WarringtonLeave a Comment
One of – if not the – most frequently asked questions we get here at TutorRight is ‘Have you got Maths tutors in Warrington?’. The good news is that our answer is definitely, ‘Yes!’
It’s the time of year when most Year 11 students sit a set of mock exams for their forthcoming GCSEs. Mocks have always been important, because they are the best opportunity for students to experience a taste of their ‘real’ exams. No amount of practice papers completed in class or at home can really prepare a young person for what it feels like to be in the sports hall with the rest of a year group, sat in rows, completing exams next June.
The results that students get in their practice exams provide invaluable information for teachers too. It gives them a clear sign of how their students are doing at that moment in time. There is no better way to inform future teaching.
Mock exams can be something of a traumatic experience for many students though. Not only are they nerve-wracking, there’s also the small matter of what to do if results are disappointing.
Don’t panic! It’s what the mocks are there for!
Of course, in an ideal world, every student would do brilliantly at every exam they sit. Yet – sadly – we all know the world isn’t like that!
If results aren’t as good as you’d like them to be, the best piece of advice is quite simple: Do.Not.Panic.
Remember that mock exams, although important, are not that important in the grand scheme of things. Put it this way, once you have done your final GCSE exams, nobody is ever going to ask you, ‘How did you do in your mocks?’
Similarly, although setting out to do badly in your mocks isn’t advisable, it’s important to remember two things:
- If you do have a stinker in a mock exam, you probably won’t make the same mistakes again!
- Nobody ever got better at something by getting everything right anyway!
A clear snapshot of where you’re at right now
Ultimately, your mock results provide you with a clear snapshot of where you’re at right now.
It’s often the point at which we get called upon too. The results state how far off you are from where you need to be. It’s no surprise that many parents and young people start asking for maths tutors in Warrington. We certainly notice a spike in interest and enquiries around the time that students have had mock exams.
Maths tutors in Warrington available today
We have local tutors who specialise in Maths, from primary level right through to degree level. As professionals, mathematicians, and educators, our Maths tutors in Warrington will instinctively know how to plot your child’s Maths learning journey over the next few months so that they end up where they want to be… Destination Success!
Our tutors get called on for GCSE exam preparation more than anything else. But remember we have specialists who will tutor students at any stage or age.
Would you like to join the TutorRight team?
As we’ve already mentioned, as the mock results roll in at schools around the area, we see a big increase in enquiries for Maths tutors in Warrington.
We’re always on the lookout for new tutors to join the team! Simply complete our quick Tutor Registration Form to get the ball rolling. You will always be in complete control of how many students you take on. We will treat you professionally and pay competitively.
Get in touch
If you think your son or daughter would benefit from some extra support in their Maths, we’ve got you covered. Get in touch if you’d like to arrange a Maths tutor in Warrington today!
‘A Christmas Carol’ GCSE English Exam Question Made Easy!Leave a Comment
“Deck the halls with boughs of holly – Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
‘Tis the season to be jolly. Fa-la-la-la-la…”
If you study GCSE English Literature, this is also the season (or term) to be revising Charles Dickens’ classic yuletide tale, ‘A Christmas Carol’.
The novella has a heart-warming ending with Scrooge miraculously metamorphosising from the archetypal tight-fisted miser into a generous, laughter-filled lover of all things festive.
The Christmas Spirit abounds in the story’s closing pages but, sadly, for our intrepid GCSE students there is often no similar conclusion: no mince pies around the open fire and no presents under the tree… just… er… a mock exam!
Bah Humbug, indeed.
But have no fear, the TutorRight team are here – not quite to save Christmas, but to make those pesky ‘A Christmas Carol’ GCSE English Exam Questions seem much easier.
Understanding what to expect from the exam question
There should be no surprises when you open the exam paper. The good news is that there won’t be any nasty surprises with the ‘A Christmas Carol’ question. Although there are very slight differences between the exam boards (Eduqas or AQA). The general principles and format of the questions are very similar.
You will have a printed extract from the novel in the GCSE English Exam Question. You will then be asked to focus on a particular aspect (usually a character or theme) in the extract. Then you will need to write about the same focus across the whole novel.
Here are a couple of examples:
Eduqas GCSE English Exam Question:
‘At the beginning of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge says, ‘‘I wish to be left alone’’. Write about some of the events in the novel which cause Scrooge to change his mind and how they are presented.
In your response you should:
- refer to the extract and the novel as a whole
- show your understanding of characters and events in the novel
- refer to the contexts of the novel’
AQA GCSE English Exam Question:
‘Starting with this extract, explore how Dickens presents ideas about joy and happiness in A Christmas Carol.
- how Dickens presents joy and happiness in this extract
- how Dickens presents ideas about joy and happiness in the novel as a whole.’
Top Tip 1: Scrooge, Scrooge, Scrooge
As the main character in the story, it kind of goes without saying, if you have focused your revision heavily on Scrooge, you won’t go far wrong. As you can see from the example questions above, you may or not be asked specifically about the character of Scrooge.
But even if you aren’t, you’ll still end up spending a lot of time writing about Scrooge – and you need to do this. This is because what he does – and how he reacts to what he sees others do – is so pivotal to the whole story and Dickens’ message overall.
Top Tip 2: Answer the exam question in a sentence
Now don’t get us wrong here – we’re not saying you can write a one sentence answer and that will be enough! But, where a lot of students go wrong is that they don’t write an answer that is completely focused on what the question is asking them to do.
Unfortunately, when examiners mark students’ responses they might be forgiven for thinking that they question set was: ‘Tell me what you can remember about ‘A Christmas Carol’. Some students seem to randomly chuck in anything they can remember!
The thing is… some of it will be relevant but a lot of it won’t be. It’s remarkably easy to write quite a lot but not answer the question at all.
Trying to answer the question in a sentence before you start helps you to avoid this. It should help to keep you focused, and it can be your opening sentence too!
It can be simple:
For example: ‘how Dickens presents ideas about joy and happiness in the novel as a whole.’
A one sentence answer might be something like:
‘At the start of the novel, Scrooge thinks joy and happiness are all down to money but as he sees the way the Cratchits and others with very little celebrate Christmas, he realises that money is not the most important thing.’
Top Tip 3: Characters, themes… and context
Focusing on the characters and themes in the novel is essential. It’s also important to write about the context. This means the background to the novel and why Charles Dickens wanted to write the story.
With ‘A Christmas Carol’ this is straightforward. Dickens had experience of poverty himself as a child. He had empathy for the poor and was angry about the situation they found themselves in at the time. He felt that society needed to change.
Throughout your answer, keep referring to why Dickens wrote the story – not just what or how he wrote it.
Follow these top tips to keep well on track with any ‘A Christmas Carol’ exam answer.
Get in touch if you’d like a tutor from TutorRight to give you more detailed help and guidance around GCSE English.
And in the words of Bob Cratchit, we are left with with just one more thing to say:
“A Merry Christmas to us all…”