Exams and Preparation

1. Paper 1 – Commentary

One text will be poetry; the other, a written piece to which the techniques of literary criticism can be applied, selected from works such as:

  • a novel or short story
  • an essay
  • a biography
  • a journalistic piece of writing of literary merit.

Depending on its length, the text for commentary may either be a complete piece of writing or an extract from a longer piece. You will need to show an appreciation of aspects such as theme, content, style, structure and language. Where appropriate, they may relate the text to other works read. You will be required to respond to ONE of the two unseen texts for commentary. All commentaries should be continuous and structured; commentaries comprising unrelated paragraphs will not merit a high achievement level. There are many acceptable ways of approaching a commentary; the assessment criteria for this component will help teachers in this area. At Standard Level only, three or four guiding questions will be provided for each text for commentary. These questions are intended only as prompts to help candidates organize their commentaries. It is not compulsory for candidates to respond directly to the guiding questions but, should a candidate choose to use them, the responses must be integrated into the body of the commentary.

Criteria

A: Understanding the Text

How well has the candidate understood the thoughts and feelings expressed in the text?

B: Interpretation of the Text

  • How relevant are the candidateís ideas about the text?
  • How well has the candidate explored those ideas?
  • How well has the candidate illustrated claims?
  • To what extent has the candidate expressed a relevant personal response?

C: Appreciation of Some Literary Features

  • To what extent is the candidate aware of the presence of literary features in the text, such as diction, imagery, tone, structure, style, technique?
  • To what extent does the candidate appreciate the effects of the literary features?
  • How well has the candidate supported claims about the effects of literary features?

D: Presentation

  • How well has the candidate organized the commentary?
  • How effectively have the candidateís ideas been presented?
  • To what extent are supporting examples integrated into the body of the commentary?

E: Formal Use of Language

  • How accurate, clear and precise is the language used by the candidate?
  • How appropriate is the candidateís choice of register and style, for this task? (Register refers, in this context, to the candidateís sensitivity to elements such as the vocabulary, tone, sentence structure and idiom appropriate to the task.)

From A1 Subject Guide

2. Paper 2 – Essay

Paper two will contain two essay questions on each of the genre categories represented in Part 3 of the PBL for the Language A1 studied AND four essay questions of a general nature. You will be required to answer ONE essay question only. You should refer to at least TWO works in their essay. Discussion of other works or authors should only be introduced as supporting material. Normally in the Part 2 paper the major focus of the answer must be the works studied in Part 3; a work of the same genre studied in Part 2 may be included if relevant, but only in addition to the minimum of two Part 3 works required for the answer. Drama:

Criteria

A: Knowledge and Understanding of the Works

  • How well does the candidate know the works studied?
  • How much understanding has the candidate shown of the works studied in relation to the question answered?
  • How detailed and/or appropriate are the candidateís references to the works studied?

B: Response to the Question

  • How well has the candidate understood the specific demands of the question?
  • To what extent has the candidate responded to these demands?
  • How well has the candidate illustrated claims?
  • To what extent has the candidate expressed a relevant personal response?

C: Appreciation of Literary Features

  • To what extent is the candidate aware of the presence of literary features in the works, such as diction, imagery, tone, structure, style and technique?
  • To what extent does the candidate appreciate the effects of the literary features in relation to the question?
  • How well has the candidate supported claims about the effects of literary features?

D: Presentation

  • How well has the candidate organized the essay?
  • How effectively have the candidateís thoughts and feelings been presented?
  • To what extent are supporting examples integrated into the body of the essay?

E: Formal Use of Language

  • How accurate, clear and precise is the language used by the candidate?
  • How appropriate is the candidateís choice of register and style for this task? (Register refers, in this context, to the candidateís sensitivity to elements such as the vocabulary, tone, sentence structure and idiom appropriate to the task.)

Exam Preparation

Analyzing the question:

Choose 2 questions. Define keywords. Highlight options. Determine whether you reject or support the questions perspective.

Think, Pair, Share

Task: Choose 1 question. Choose 1 text that is relevant to the question. Outline some ideas to answer the question. Note examples from the text (without looking!). Choose a 2nd question and repeat.

Planning your Essay

Careful planning is essential though you only have 90 mins. Take too long and you’ll have a brilliant plan that nobody will ever read. Start by considering structure. Does the question lend itself to a specific structure? When all else fails aim for the simple 5 paragraph essay structure.

Task: Use all the information you have collected today to plan an essay.You have 3 minutes to come up with your plan.

Develop a set of abbreviations that help you to speed up this process (P1, Intro., Eg. Trans. etc.).

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