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A2 English Language Past Papers (Paper 2)

Here are four complete past papers for the A2 exams (paper 2).

As well as attempting the questions you should:

  • Use the questions to help you revise key topics
  • Create mind maps, revision cards and essay plans for each question
  • Practice papers with your notes and perhaps taking longer than you might in an exam.
  • Gradually start to practice questions without your notes and in timed conditions.


Example exam papers:

Creative Writing Workshop

In this post, I’ll be sharing the resources used by Miss Pickup at the recent Easter revision session (Monday 12th April).

You can download the resources to use for your revision and to help you practice creative writing in preparation for your language paper 1 exam.

The powerpoint below gives you some example creative writing questions and a helpful list of tips and advice.

Revision Task One:

Download, read and answer the questions on this sheet:

Task 1 Analysis The Perfect Storm

This is a really interesting example of descriptive writing which should give you a really good idea about how to write descriptively.

Revision Task Two:

One of the most crucial elements of creative writing is sentence variety, and being able to write using a variety of sentence structures and types.

Use the document below to practice writing interesting sentences. You could take one simple, dull sentence and try rewriting it in several ways. Or, try to write different sentences using the different structures given:

Task 2 Sentence Upgrades Paper 1 Jumbo

Final Revision Task:

Have a go at a past paper question. Remember to think carefully about how you plan and structure your ideas. Use the ‘sentences upgrade’ sheet to help you write a variety of sentences. Also, check the slides for some key tips:

Main Task The Question for Today Pollution Theme


My Last Duchess

The Poem:


Browning was classically educated, and could read well in Latin, Greek and French by the age of 14. The poem reflects his interest in art and history. The speaker in the poem is most likely Alfonso II d’Este, the fifth Duke of Ferrara (1533–1598), who, at the age of 25, married Lucrezia di Cosimo de’ Medici, the 14-year-old daughter of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Eleonora di Toledo.

Robert Browning takes this brief anecdote out of the history books and turns it into an opportunity for readers to peek inside the head of a psychopath. Although Browning hints at the real-life Renaissance back-story by putting the word “Ferrara” under the title of the poem as an epigraph, he removes the situation from most of its historical details. It’s important to notice that the Duke, his previous wife, and the woman he’s courting aren’t named in the poem at all. Even though there were historical events that inspired the poem, the text itself has a more generalized, universal, nameless feel.


The poem is set in Italy in the late renaissance. In it, the Duke is entertaining the emissary of the family of his prospective wife. The speaker (the duke) draws by a curtain and shows him a painting of his previous wife, inviting the emissary to admire the painting. He then describes his last duchess, her flirtatious behaviour unbecoming of someone of his illustrious name. After describing how ‘all smiles stopped’, the conversation turns back to a conversation of their wedding arrangements.

Summary Slide:

Download here:


Key Themes:

  • Power
  • Jealousy
  • Dominance
  • Status and Reputation

Useful Links:


Romeo and Juliet: Understanding the Exam

For Romeo and Juliet, you will be asked an essay question based on the themes or characters in the text. This means, you have to develop an in-depth knowledge of the whole play. You could be asked about fate, love, violence, Tybalt, Juliet, Friar Laurence. Any character or theme could be part of the exam.

The good news is, you will always have an extract to start from. So, a large part of your answer can include analysing this extract and exploring the extract in relation to the question.

Have a look at this example:

Romeo and Juliet conflict Question

In this question, the main theme you are being asked to discuss is ‘conflict’ and have an excellent extract to start from. The question is deliberately very open, and there are lots of different ways you could approach it. This means there is no one ‘correct’ answer.

You could get full marks discussing:

  • Juliet’s conflict with her family.
  • The violence between the Montagues and Capulets.
  • The conflict between parents and children.
  • The deaths of Tybalt, Mercutio and Paris.
  • The conflict between individuals like Romeo and Juliet and what society expects of them.

What the examiners want you to demonstrate is an in depth knowledge of the play and the ability to explore interesting ideas. Remembering some quotes will certainly help, but these can even be individual words.

Why not have a go at the essay? Start by making a mind-map of every part of the play that links to conflict. Which type of conflict would you focus on? What quotes might you learn to help you?

Good Websites for A Level Language

Some things to help with home study:




Good twitter accounts to follow:

English Language: Slang and the Representation of Teenagers

It’s difficult to separate discussions about slang from representation of young people. Predominantly, slang is associated with young people and how their creative sue of language helps form part of their social group’s identity. And, as slang terms become accepted into the mainstream dialect of a wider community, new slang terms naturally emerge, once again to confuse anyone older than 25!

To understand different attitudes to slang is not too dissimilar to the attitudes towards text speak we have discussed earlier. Prescriptivists might prefer ‘standard english’, and be irritated by slang use, descriptivists would see slang as an inevitable and interesting aspect of the evolution of our language.

So, before reading on, refresh your memory on some of the typical attitudes towards other uses of language by young people.

Here’s a review of a book by Julie Coleman called ‘The Life of Slang.’ The review suggests a descriptivist stand point, describing how slang has been around for hundreds of years, hinting at its natural position in the continued evolution.

As I said earlier, attitudes towards slang are sometimes hard to separate from attitudes to young people. Do they use slang because they’re lazy? They’re stupid? Both? Or is it something less sinister. These two articles are useful for exploring attitudes to teenagers:

Here’s a past paper question you may wish to attempt. It would be a good opportunity to respond creatively to different ideas about slang and the language use of young people.