Thursday, 10 April 2014

55 days to the English Exam

55 Days to the English Language Exam – Higher

I am in the last few days of term and I am flagging. I am waving, waving, waving. I need some help. My plan is to send students off for Easter with a list of tasks to do for the next 55 days before the exam. The idea, hopefully, is that they do an activity a day and then improve a little bit at a time. Now, I got to 55 higher exam points and then inspiration disappeared like a colleague when some tidying up needs doing. Therefore, I am asking for some help. Can you suggest some possible tasks for foundation students? It can be anything, but the idea is to develop a skill. After all, students struggle with revising for English as they do not understand that English is about skills. 

Either tweet me on @Xris32 or leave a message below. 

Many thanks 



55. Write a paragraph and in each new line use a different piece of punctuation.

54. Learn three famous quotes you could use in your writing.

53. Read a blog and copy out the informal expressions they use. 

52. Learn some different words you could use instead of usual colours (blue, green, yellow).

51. Write your own exam paper. Find the articles and create the writing tasks.

50. Create a poster of fifteen different headlines and analyse them.  

49. Find a famous speech and highlight all the interesting techniques the writer has used.

48. Find a piece of writing designed to shock, amuse or inform. Analyse what the writer did to make the reader feel that emotion.

47. Learn how to use a semicolon (;)

46. Write 2 sentences where you use the weather to persuade or describe an emotion.

45. Find a travel blog and list all the emotions you find

44. Find a song lyric which expresses feelings and explain what it means.

43. Learn how to use dashes instead of brackets and brackets instead of dashes.

42. Write a sentence beginning with an -ly word.

41. Make a poster of all the different connectives you can use in a sentence.

40. Write a paragraph and make each sentence have a different tone. 

39.  Read a famous letter and think about how it ends.

38. Learn what the difference is between a noun, verb, adjective, pronoun and adverb.

37. Learn 5 interesting adverbs.

36. Find a good article (speech or letter) and draw lines to show where the text connects to other aspects in the article.

35. Find out two other sound effects (techniques) that writers can use as well as alliteration.

34. Learn how to use a colon (:).

32. Find five better words to use instead of good, bad, happy and sad.

31. Find a poem and mark out how many syllables are in each word. What patterns do you notice?

30. Research the different types of rhetoric.

29. Pick five words you usually spell incorrectly and learn to spell them correctly.

28. Write in style of someone. Pick a famous person and try to write as they would.

27. Buy a newspaper and write for each picture the answer to this question: Why did the editor pick me?

26. Learn the spelling of the word committed.

25. Using the internet, find five letters and investigate how they start a letter in an interesting ways.

24. Research how ‘however’ and ‘therefore’ can be positioned in different places in a sentence.

23. Write a paragraph and repeat the opening /ending of sentences.

22. Read something from the Guardian online.

21. Learn 5 interesting adjectives.

20. Look out of the window on the bus home -how would you describe what you see?

19. Find an effective piece of writing and highlight all the commas. Look at what each comma does to the writing.

18. Find a magazine and a newspaper and see if you can spot a typo or a grammar mistake. You’ll be surprised.

17. Find a news article and find one flaw.

16. Learn the spelling of ‘embarrassed’

15. Find five interesting sentence structures you could use in your writing.

14. Find three magazine articles and look at how the articles end in an interesting way.

13. Rewrite a newspaper article as a teenage magazine article.

12. Find five lines from a song that could be quite effective in a piece of writing.

11. Write a paragraph where the opening word of each sentence is the same as the last word in the previous sentence.

10. Pick a book of the shelf and find five lines or phrases that you wish you had written.

9. Describe your favourite animal.

8. Find a famous speech and copy out some of the phrases the speaker uses to link or develop ideas.

7. Find three original words to start a sentence with.

6. Learn what a pun is and practise writing and inventing puns, and be ‘punny’. 

5. Experiment with using inverted commas to be sarcastic. That’s ‘cool’!

4. Pick a topic and try to think of 5 funny puns you could use if you were writing about it.

3. Find some form of really formal writing. Copy out all the phrases and words that makes it sound formal.

2. Spend five minutes and craft the best sentence in the world. Keep changing words until it is the greatest sentence.

1.  Pick a newspaper article and highlight all the facts and opinions.

55 Days to the English Language Exam – Foundation

55. Find a sentence you really like and try to adapt it for another piece of writing.

54. Learn the difference between their / there / they’re.

53. Find a magazine article and think about which words you would change if you were writing for a different audience (teenagers / adults).

52. Write a paragraph and make each sentence start with a different word.

51. Read a magazine article and circle all the informal /chatty bits.

50. Write a paragraph that is persuasive and uses AFOREST.

49. Learn that ‘a lot’ is two words.

48. Write a list of as many techniques you can think of.

47. Make a poster of adjectives. Find as many impressive ones as you can.

46. Write a paragraph and end each sentence with a different piece of punctuation - … ? !

45. Research on the internet how to use a comma correctly.

44. Take an article off the internet and try to make it better.

43. Find five headlines and circle the most effective words. Decide what makes them so effective.

42. Read a blog that reviews something and copy out all the best words in it.

41. Learn the spelling of tries / cries.  

40. Read a magazine article and highlight all the effective words you would like to use in your writing.

39. Find a charity letter and circle all the things that persuade you to donate money.

38.  Find a picture and describe it. Then, describe how it makes you feel.

37. Read a leaflet and make a headline for each new paragraph.

36. Write a sentence beginning with an -ly word.

35. Write a paragraph and use a different number of words in each sentence. The first sentence has three words. The next has seven and so on.

34. Describe your favourite animal.

33. Write 5 similes about a beach.

32. Find a leaflet and highlight all the words that persuade you and highlight all the words that describe things. 

31. Find out what the difference is between informing and explaining.

30. Create a list of words you usually spell incorrectly.

29. Google a location and invent a sight, a smell, a taste and sound you might experience there.   

28. Read a newspaper article and stop when you get to a piece of punctuation. Think about why the writer used that piece of punctuation at that point.

27. Find a paragraph and try to copy a sentence but change some of the words in it. Make sure it still makes sense.

26. Copy out a long sentence from a book and see how many sentences you can make from it.

25. Find a leaflet and analyse the use of pictures.

24. Research how to use brackets in your writing correctly.

23. Learn the difference between a noun and an adjective.

22. Learn that a new paragraph should be used for every new time, place, topic or person.

21. Find three original words to start a sentence with.

20. Find a magazine article and circle all the interesting things about how it is written.

19. Find five interesting sentence structures you could use in your writing.

18. Find a leaflet and analyse the use of colours.

17. Spend five minutes looking at one of your exercise books and correct as many mistakes you can find.

16. Find a paragraph and circle all the nouns. Then, think of an adjective you could use to describe the noun.

15. Find a news article and find 5 facts in it.

14. Write a paragraph and try to repeat words in it. Try repeating the start and opening of sentences for effect.

13. Learn when to use to or too in a sentence

12. Copy a paragraph from a newspaper and use your best handwriting.

11. Create a list of five sentence structures you would like to use in your writing.

10. Learn what a counterargument is.

9. Learn what the difference between weather and whether is.

8. Write one detailed paragraph. Try to write it so that it has 8 sentences in it.

7. Write a sentence and then add a comma and then the word ‘because’ to make it longer – and add a bit more to make sure it makes sense.

6. Research what a comma sandwich is.

5. Write fast for five minutes on any topic. Check what you have written and add any missing full stops.

4.  Research better words for – good, bad, excellent and amazing.

3. Make a list of connectives you can use in a sentence.

2. Make a list of different emotions a reader can feel when reading a text.

1.  Write a paragraph that doesn’t use the word ‘the’ or ‘this’ in it. 

Here are some suggestions from people on Twitter:

Get students to describe a picture (your choice) using key language to describe, persuade etc.

Learn spelling words to describe tone: authoritative, persuasive, opinionated etc

Tweet descriptions of (3?) images you see on bus shelter ads? Venn diagram comparing first two pics in free paper.

Learn when to use were/was; is/are; our/are; where/were; there/their; capital letters :-)

Visit  and explain how presentational devices are used.


  1. Read a BBC news article and summarise in a paragraph what lit is about.
    Write down 5 writing techniques - either describe/ persuade/ argue/inform/explain. Write a paragraph using one of each technique.
    Read another news article. Write down all/any words you don't know and look them up - keep a glossary.