13+/Common Entrance English - Choosing your essay

As our Brandon students count down to the 13+ exam (most of our girls sat the exam in Spring but we have a very determined group of Harrow candidates who will certainly do well!) I would like to offer some advice on the English paper.

The first English paper ('Literary prose') offers a prose comprehension followed by a structured writing task. Candidates have the option of writing a directed piece (speeches/magazine articles/diaries) or reflecting on literature. The majority of our students choose the first option and this advice is directed towards them:

1: Read the question carefully, underline the key words.

2: Be aware of the structure of the piece you are being asked to write. Make sure that you have the correct format in mind (e.g. if you are writing an article, have you included an introduction and conclusion?)

3: Think about the level of language you need to maintain: a diary entry can be informal language whereas a letter to a Head needs to be formal. Speeches will need persuasive language.

4: What are you being asked to share with your audience? A diary entry might require you to expose your feelings, a magazine article will need anecdotes.

Once you have finished writing, re-read your piece and refer back to the question to ensure that the finished product and the requirements match.

Good luck!

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