Grammar brought back into focus for exam pupils

by Emily

The days of sloppy grammar at school could be at an end. Teenagers are to be penalised for poor grammar in tough new rules being proposed for GCSEs and A levels. Why are these rules being proposed, and what does your teen need to do in order to meet the strict new grammatical requirements?

A return to great grammar

It's no secret that many parents and educators bemoan the lack of good grammar usage amongst today's teenagers. As we've spoken about before in this blog, this is due to a combination of factors. Although grammar is returning to prominence, it has not always been taught thoroughly, if at all, in all schools, and certainly not as well as it was in the 1940s and 1950s.

Secondly, teenagers' heavy usage of e-mail and text speak means that they are not accustomed to using standard English, along with its grammatical rules, regulations and possibilities.

The end result is that many teenagers present low standards in written English, even if they are intelligent.

Love for literacy

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has unveiled plans to change this trend. From now on, teenagers could lose up to five per cent of marks in their examinations if they fail to display high standards of written English.

This marks a return to traditional standards. Indeed, until 2003, five per cent of marks in all GCSE exams were set aside for high standards of written English.

Educators are welcoming the move. Prof Alan Smithers, the director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: "Clear expression is evidence of clear thought. It is reasonable to expect accurate spelling and good use of grammar in an exam."

Get into grammar

If your teen needs to brush up on their grammar, then now is the time to start. Don't wait until exam season. Make sure they know how to use apostrophes, commas, colons and how to distinguish between key words such as "their", "they're" and "there". For extra help, why not contact one of First Tutors' English tutors?