What does the CIE English Language (9093) syllabus for A-level entail?

The 9093 English Language syllabus, newly offered by the Cambridge International Examination Board from 2014, is comprised of an AS Level component and an A Level component. The AS Level can be achieved as a standalone qualification, by sitting Papers 1 and 2 in a single examination series. However, in order to achieve the A level qualification, the student must already possess the AS level qualification, or plan to sit all AS and A level papers (Paper 1 & 2 and Paper 3 & 4) in the same examination series/period. 

AS Level

Paper 1 - Passages 

This paper is comprised of three questions, of which the candidate must answer only two. The first question is compulsory, while either question 2 or 3 is optional. Every question adopts an identical format in asking the candidate to do three things: 

1) Read the passage provided. 

2) Write a commentary, with particular focus on i) how the author’s language and style is portrayed in the text and ii) how the author's use of language features (e.g. vocabulary, tone, structure, figurative speech) achieved the passage’s overall purpose. 

3) Write an original piece that either follows the language and style of the passage, or achieves a certain purpose.

Paper 2 - Writing 

This paper is comprised of two sections, Section A and Section B. The candidate must answer only one question from each section. 

Section A, titled ‘Imaginative Writing’, tests the candidate on their descriptive writing skills. Example questions from past examinations implored the candidate to write either i) a story introduction, ii) two mini descriptive pieces that depict contrasting locations or iii) a full narrative piece. 

Section B, titled ‘Writing for an audience’, tests the candidate’s directive and argumentative writing skills. The questions often asks the candidate to write a piece surrounding a given topic that encompasses both advantages and disadvantages, or to write a piece that is either fully positive or fully negative. 

A Level

Paper 3 - Text Analysis 

This paper is comprised of two questions - the candidate must answer both

Question 1 tests two skills: directed writing and the ability to identify key features within different styles of text (speech and written). 

Question 2 requires the candidate to analytically compare the writing style of two passages. 

Paper 4 - Language Topics 

This paper is comprised of three questions, of which the candidate must answer only two

The candidate will either be asked to identify key features of an extensive passage of a distinct language style, or write an essay on a language topic. 

The questions will address a variety of language topics, such as: 

- How different spoken language styles exist and are dependent on social, cultural and economic contexts. 

- English as a global language - one definitive ‘English Language’ vs. progressively changing ‘Englishes’.

- Language acquisition in toddlers and children.

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