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How to get an A* at English GCSE

Updated on April 14, 2014

Use a wide vocabulary

If your exams are imminent this maybe a tricky thing to improve on at short notice, but if not there are a few ways to widen your vocabulary, so you can use more interesting and impressive vocabulary which will help you achieve higher marks.

1: Read more

Reading is still the best way to improve your vocabulary, and if you find the right book is very enjoyable too. Try to read as much as possible before the exam and make of list of words you don't know so you can look them up later.

2: Subscribe to Word of the Day

They'll send you and impressive new word each day to help you vary your language. Also have a look through their archives, and learn some words. try to use the word learnt at some point that day, whether speaking or writing.

3: Ask for definitions

If you hear someone use a word you don't understand, ask them what it means, and make a mental note. Try to use it sometime later that day.

Vary sentence structure

When your writing try to limit the number of sentences you start with word such as 'the' or 'it'. Try to start with more interesting adjectives, adverbs or verbs.

For example the sentence:

The students listened intently to the teacher's interesting and informative lesson.

Can be changed to:

Interesting and informative, the teacher's lesson was listened to intently by the students.


Listened to intently by the students, the teacher taught an interesting and informative lesson.


Intently, the students listened to the teacher's informative and interesting lesson.

See how those sentences are more interesting than the first?

Varying between long and short sentences also helps this.

Punctuate properly

Punctuation mistakes are something that will really bring down your mark.

There are numerous punctuation tests and guides on the internet. Keep taking these tests regularly, preferably until you start getting full marks.

Know the format

All GCSE boards have a set format to their English exams. make sure you know this back to front so you can learn how to tackle each type of question, and there are no surprises in the exam.


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