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Question 3 Exemplar

At the request of @kirran_khan here is an exemplar answer for Question 3.

Let's take a look at the top band grade descriptors first:

Mark Band 4
perceptive and detailed
7 - 8 marks

• engages in detail with the events described in the text
• offers perceptive explanations and interpretations of the thoughts and feelings expressed
• employs appropriate quotations or references to support ideas



Source 3

Explain some of the thoughts and feelings of Jim Hamilton on his career in rugby.

Jim Hamilton starts the article reflecting on his career. He clearly is thinking of the future as he states 'I'm not a well-educated person and have nothing to fall back on after rugby' showing he is aware that his career is a short one. This could also highlight a feeling of fear of what the future may hold when his rugby career is over.

That said he has also thought about his career and how he could progress as a player as he had the opportunity to earn big money with Stade Francais but he states that 'money wasn't the only factor.' which shows he thinks there is more to life than money. He clearly feels happy with his career as he reflects ' I wanted to play for Scotland and moved to Edinburgh' highlighting that his ambitious nature drove him in the early part of his career and he thinks he has made the right decision as he states 'If you had said to me at the beginning what was my ideal career I would have said to you essentially what I've done' highlighting again that he feels content at the way his life has progressed.

That said, you get the impression that he still feels fearful for his future as 'The situation here is that I have a contract, but [if he were injured] I'm effectively six months away from having that contract halved and six months away from having that contract taken away.' highlighting he is aware that his career could end at any moment and with his move to France he feels secure as he states 'I was not in the position to support myself and my family after rugby. Now I am.'.

He clearly is a man that is always thinking of the future and admits 'rugby is becoming more of a younger man's game.' and which adds to his feeling of insecurity in the longevity of his career.


Look at how this answer takes quotations from the whole of the text which ticks the first bullet point of 'engages in detail with the events' and also ticks the 'employs appropriate quotations or references to support ideas'. The skill in any top level answer is being able to write a lot about a little and this answer develops a thought and feeling from every quotation used. Remember a feeling is a sensation or emotion and a thought is a mental process. You must try to develop at least 2 thoughts and 2 feelings from four quotations but where a top level answer is successful it will use four quotations and develop a thought and feeling from each. This is key to securing 7 or 8 marks.

There is an example of a top band answer but how do you get to that stage. Evaluate your own answers:

What do you need to do to get to this level? 
What strategies will help you get there in the exam? 
What advice would you give to someone trying to create a top band answer?

If you're reading this then leave your answers to these questions below. Remember I can track page views!    
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+ comments + 2 comments

Chris Hambling
6 January 2013 at 14:51

- What do you need to do to get to this level?
Pick out a thought or feeling and explain what the feeling/thought is relating to. Then back this up with a relevant quotation. Understand why the person feels or thinks this way and the effect this could have or the writer or text or reader(?). Explain what this quotation means in relation to the thought/feeling, perhaps put forward other or opposing ideas to your original point. (WRITE A LOT ABOUT A LITTLE).
Use higher vocabulary to improve on the overall sophistication of the answer, also DON'T TALK ABOUT THE OBVIOUS. Try to use original and thoughtful ideas which you wouldn't necessarily think of first. 'Read between the lines, brother'.

- What strategies will help you get there in the exam?
Firstly, pick out all the thoughts and feelings you come across in the piece of text. Make sure there are 2 thoughts and 2 feelings for your answer. Perhaps try to make connections/links and other ideas for said thoughts and feelings.
Keep into the time constriction but think of that song "Cant Stop" by RHCP and just write and write as much relevant points as you can.

- What advice would you give to someone trying to create a top band answer?
If you think of a sentence which sounds basic and bland, try to swap certain low-level words with more sophisticated ones.
Go on and on and on about a single point. (But not too much or otherwise you REALLY are going on a bit).
Make an attempt at proposing higher level answers - Original, different, less literal and obvious.
Aim to write around a page and a half.

6 January 2013 at 15:57

Remember that although it provides a good impression of you as a candidate that the sophistication of your language - while identifying you as a top level candidate - doesn't explicitly gain you marks. It is a good habit to get into but don't waste time trying to modify your vocabulary for this question in the exam.

Make sure you are developing as much material as possible from your quotations trying to cover both thoughts and feelings from one quotation.

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