Section B English Language Gcse Coursework


Compare the ways these two texts present the life of a writer.

You should consider:

  • how they use language and structure
  • the ideas in the texts

Extract A

Here is an extract from the diaries of John Steinbeck.

Lincoln’s Birthday. My first day of work in my new room. It is a very pleasant room and I have a drafting table to work on which I have always wanted – also a comfortable chair given me by Elaine [his wife]. In fact I have never had it so good and so comfortable. I have known such things to happen – the perfect pointed pencil – the paper persuasive – the fantastic chair and a good light and no writing. Surely a man is a most treacherous animal full of his treasured contradictions. He may not admit it but he loves his paradoxes.

Now that I have everything, we shall see whether I have anything. It is exactly that simple. Mark Twain used to write in bed – so did our greatest poet. But I wonder how often they wrote in bed – or whether they did it twice and the story took hold. Such things happen. Also I would like to know what things they wrote in bed and what things they wrote sitting up. All of this has to do with comfort in writing and what its value is. I should think that a comfortable body would let the mind go freely to its gathering. But such is the human that he might react in an opposite way. Remember my father’s story about the man who did not dare be comfortable because he went to sleep. That might be true of me too. Now I am perfectly comfortable in body. I think my house is in order. Elaine, my beloved, is taking care of all the outside details to allow me the amount of free untroubled time every day to do my work. I can’t think of anything else necessary to a writer except a story and the ability to tell it.

John Steinbeck

Extract B

Here is an extract from Stephen King's advice book and memoir, On Writing. He is talking about his writing desk.

‘The last thing I want to tell you in this part is about my desk. For years I dreamed of having the sort of massive oak slab that would dominate a room - no more child's desk in a trailer laundry-closet, no more cramped kneehole in a rented house. In 1981 I got the one I wanted and placed it in the middle of a spacious, skylighted study (it's a converted stable loft at the rear of the house). For six years I sat behind that desk either drunk or wrecked out of my mind, like a ship's captain in charge of a voyage to nowhere.

A year or two after I sobered up, I got rid of that monstrosity and put in a living-room suite where it had been, picking out the pieces and a nice Turkish rug with my wife's help. In the early nineties, before they moved on to their own lives, my kids sometimes came up in the evening to watch a basketball game or a movie and eat pizza. They usually left a boxful of crusts behind when they moved on, but I didn't care. They came, they seemed to enjoy being with me, and I know I enjoyed being with them. I got another desk - it's handmade, beautiful, and half the size of the T. Rex desk. I put it at the far west end of the office, in a corner under the eave. That eave is very like the one I slept under in Durham, but there are no rats in the walls and no senile grandmother downstairs yelling for someone to feed the horse. I'm sitting under it now, a fifty-three-year-old man with bad eyes, a gimp leg, and no hangover. I'm doing what I know how to do, and as well as I know how to do it. I came through all the stuff I told you about (and plenty more that I didn't), and now I'm going to tell you as much as I can about the job. As promised, it won't take long.

It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around.’

Stephen King

As the thread title suggests, I'm doing GCSE English (language) and am going to sit my exam next week.

I'm taking it with AQA and sitting it under the Foundation tier, partly just to play it safe, but also, because my tutor advised me that it's still possible to gain an overall B, despite not sitting the Higher exam.

I did reasonably well in my coursework/controlled assessments, generally performing to a B standard, (6 Bs and 2 Cs) and was told that because of this, a B was "perfectly possible", as long as I do well in the exam, and get enough marks. However, when I more recently asked for more detail, she has gone on to tell me that she is not sure if this is the case or not.

Before anyone says, I do know the general idea of Higher being A*-C and Foundation being C and below, but I've heard so many varying theories on this, that I wanted to check if there is anyone in the know on here.

My assumption is that the C restriction in Foundation applies only to the exam itself, rather than the actual GCSE overall, since the coursework is not tiered. By this logic, I would assume that provided one has enough marks prior to the exam, (around 94 in my case) they could obtain a B overall by sitting Foundation, but would require a substantially higher pass in the exam, gaining around 80-90% of the marks.

And before you suggest I sit the Higher tier, I've asked and apparently she's put everyone in Foundation and it can't be changed. (sounds a bit dubious to me)

Anyway, I digress, but if anyone knows and can share, it would be appreciated.


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