Paper 2. Question 1. Examiner Tips.

Standard
  • The passage will be literary and/or contain description of a person or place or both. You will have to be sensitive to atmosphere and show appreciation of the feelings of the characters in your response.
  • This question is rewarded not only for identification of relevant material in the passage but also inference, development of the ideas and use of supporting detail. There are therefore four types of content required to show advanced comprehension for a top mark out of 15 for Reading.
  • For full marks out of 5 for Writing you need to demonstrate structure, sequence, and ‘a wide range of original and appropriate language’.
  • It will help you enormously to highlight the material you are going to use in the text, and then write a quick plan in order to organise it into a logical structure before you start writing your response. This will enable you to avoid repetition and to make sure you are fully answering the question.
  • Use everything which is relevant, not just some of the material. On the other hand, there may be some parts which you should ignore because they are not covered by the question. • Do not drift away from the text; everything you write must be ‘tethered’ to the passage i.e. have a direct connection with it and be supported by references to it.
  • Before you start writing, decide how formal the task is and adopt an appropriate tone. No question in an exam assessing your ability to use educated English will expect you to use slang or jargon or non-sentences, so expect to have to write in a reasonably formal style whoever your audience is and whatever the task. Even a letter to a relative will be someone distant or older, such as an uncle whom you haven’t met recently, and a report to your fellow students will be official or for publication in the school magazine. It is essential to remember who your audience is and to address them directly as ‘you’.
  • Though you can use short quotations from the passage within your response, you should not copy big chunks of text and you should use your own words when not actually giving details.
  • If the question has several parts you can either integrate the two, e.g. advantages and disadvantages, or deal with them separately. You can decide on your own structure for your answer, but what matters is that there should be a structure of some kind, and one which the reader can discern.
  • It is time-wasting and does not achieve anything to try to design your answer in the layout which you think might be appropriate in real life, e.g. dividing a newspaper report into columns and adding drawings and extraneous advertising material. This cannot be rewarded and can distract you from the real task of providing appropriate and accurate content for your response.
  • What is important is that your answer should be divided into paragraphs, as all continuous prose should be.
  • If you are given bullet points to remind you what should be included, use them to check you have covered what is required, and they can also help you to structure your answer. The material from the passage should be put into the appropriate section and not repeated.
  • Do not add extra sections, for instance where you are given which questions to ask in an interview, stick to those questions only. It makes the response too fragmented or less focused if you add more.
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