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Fantastic Example Answers and Where to Find Them

It’s very easy to find books or websites with sample questions in them but it’s an awful lot harder to find sample answers. Tracking down the elusive top level example responses is a bit like wildlife-spotting for a wonderful but shy animal; it takes perseverance, time and sometimes just getting lucky. It’s strange that there are so few model answers knocking about because they are incredibly useful.

Why are fantastic example answers so helpful?

Seeing how and why an answer gets into the top levels is essential as it really demonstrates what you have to do to get there yourself. You can poach ideas from these top essays and use them yourself- and this is absolutely fine.

No one is expecting you to write a completely original essay about, say, Lady Macbeth. Using ideas from GCSE revision guides and websites helps you hone your own thoughts and allows you to start exploring the texts at a higher level. Also, by reading examples of good quality exam responses, you get a good idea about how to write in a convincing and detailed way. Finally, you can see how the top level responses cover off all of the descriptors that the examiners look for.


An Inspector Calls


What does a top level answer look like?

A top-level answer ticks off the following boxes:

It is written clearly

It is detailed

Several (at least six) quotations are used

Language analysis is sharp and focused

Ideas or characters or themes are thoroughly explored
Context (if assessed) is woven into the response at least three times

Here is an example of a sample high-level response about Mr Birling in ‘An Inspector Calls’. It comes from a chapter in Lightbulb Revision Guide to ‘An Inspector Calls’.

Where do I find these top level answers?

The exam boards do provide a few examples of top level student responses and these are on their websites. BBC Bitesize also has some examples of questions with answers or part answers. Links to these are at the bottom of this article if you want to click through. Your teacher will probably give you examples in class when you come to revise and another good way at getting your paws on excellent responses is to ask any friends in sixth form who did well in their English Literature GCSE to dig out examples of their mock papers. Revision guides tend to have one or two exemplars of how to answer a question at the end of the books.  Lightbulb Revision Guides have plenty of sample exam questions and sample answers; there’s one at the end of each chapter.

So good luck with your quest to hunt down those answers that waltz into the top level of the mark scheme; finding them and using them will certainly help you get there as well.