Coursework

If you have coursework to do, your teacher will let you know the important details about it. This section is on coursework and is full of hints to help you write the best you can in your coursework assignments.

If you have coursework to do, your teacher will let you know the important details about it.

Coursework is a great way of assessing your writing ability as you do it in your own time and at your own pace. You can also use resources to complete it, including dictionaries, vocab books, grammar books and revision guides. The best thing about coursework is that it takes some of the pressure off for when it comes to doing the other exams.

To get a decent mark in your coursework you need to be organised, have a good plan, and make sure you include plenty of sentences that will wow the examiner. We’ll show you how to be imaginative and accurate with your writing so that your coursework gets you the grade you deserve:

Top tip:

“To write a great piece of coursework, set yourself goals and mini-deadlines. Split the coursework into small, manageable chunks and keep to your deadlines.”

Tips for writing a great piece of coursework

  • Know when the deadline is! Don’t leave writing it all until the night before. Remember the best coursework is always begun well in advance of the deadline.
  • Work in a quiet environment where you can concentrate.
  • Make sure you know what you have to write about - what is the topic in question?
  • Make sure you know what the aim of the coursework is - what is the objective for doing that piece of coursework?
  • Create a mind map before you start writing anything, as this will help you be creative and express your views. It’ll also make sure you don't miss anything out or repeat stuff.
  • Set yourself goals and mini-deadlines. Split the coursework into small, manageable chunks and keep to your deadlines - this will ease any stress the coursework might cause.
  • Use your text book or notes from class to find any exciting idioms or phrases you have learnt which you can include in your coursework to jazz it up a bit.
  • Make a plan. Setting out your points in a clear way will make it easier not to waffle and stick to the question you are answering.
  • Check through your work before handing it in! Look out for missing accents, verbs that haven't been conjugated properly or nouns in the wrong gender. Swap your work with a friend or use your text book to see if there are any obvious mistakes. You can lose lots of marks through silly spelling mistakes, so make sure you check your coursework carefully.

The plan

A good plan is essential to producing a well structured piece of coursework as it allows you to work out where best to fit your ideas in.

  • Use headings. A good plan is logical and easy to follow. Your coursework needs a beginning, middle and end, so set out headings that structure your work and organise what you want to say.
  • In the introduction you could include some relevant or interesting facts but you must say what the theme of your coursework is.
  • The middle paragraphs are where you write your main points and opinions- remember not to waffle.
  • Your conclusion is where everything gets summed up.
  • If you’ve got to include certain information/points, tick them off a list as you write them in. This way you won’t accidentally miss anything out.

Making your coursework your own

Don’t copy from your friends. Plagiarism (reproducing somebody else’s work and claiming it to be your own) is extremely serious and can lead to no GCSE being awarded. Sources of plagiarism include the internet, books, magazines, computer programmes and friends or family. Copying and pasting from an online translator is very obvious, so don't do it! Discussing your thoughts with friends is a great way to come up with fresh ideas, but when you write them down make sure you do it away from each other and don’t look at each other’s notes, otherwise you could be accused of copying. 

Most importantly, don’t think you’ll get away with it. Teachers can spot plagiarism a mile off and it’s not worth doing it to end up with 0 marks. People have very distinctive writing styles so it sticks out if there’s a sudden change. Your teacher also knows your capabilities so may get suspicious if you produce something different to what you usually produce. If you think someone has plagiarised your work, then go to your teacher about it.

Make your work your own and you’ll be really pleased with the results you achieve at the end. At the end of the day, that mark you get is the mark you deserve as it will reflect all the hard work that you've put in.

Using a dictionary

Handy hint:

“Make sure you read all the definitions and find the one you need. If you want to say 'the ship is sinking' you need to look up the correct 'sink' - not the one you find in the bathroom!”

Being able to use a dictionary correctly will save you loads of time and make sure you find exactly what you're looking for. Dictionaries are great places to find good phrases to include; you can learn different ways to give your opinion and find idiomatic expressions (such as "it's raining cats and dogs") that will definitely impress your examiner. Here are some pointers on making the most of a dictionary:

  • Make sure you know the order of the alphabet. This may sound silly, but knowing the order of the alphabet in English and the language you're learning will help you find new words in the dictionary more quickly.
  • Make sure you read all the definitions and find the one you need. If you want to say 'the ship is sinking' you need to look up the correct 'sink' - not the one you find in the bathroom!
  • Learn what the abbreviations mean as these tell you what the word is, how to use it in the plural, or how to form it in the gerund (these are '-ing' words) and then you can select the appropriate word for you work:

 

NF- feminine noun
ADJ - adjective
ADV - adverb
SING - singular noun
PL - plural noun
PP - past participle
INF - infinitive
etc...

Learning grammar and tenses

Learning grammar and different tenses may seem boring and hard to learn but it is really, really important. But you don't need to spend hours reading through a book or doing verb drills in order to learn it; there are plenty of online websites and games that help you to remember important grammar rules.

You could use google.es/google.fr/google.de/google.it to help with your grammar and tenses. You can use google to help improve your accuracy when writing sentences or paragraphs by typing in a word or phrase and then googling it. The results will show you how native speakers use that verb/word in different situations and you'll be able to see which prepositions and tenses are meant to be used with that particular word, or whether it should be plural or singular.