As one of my students put it in their exam comic, they got to question 4 in the January paper and were like :o the stared at it for a minute and were like :/ and after 20 minutes of trying to answer the question were ready to :'( .
There is no simple answer to hitting the very top band within this question. If you've read my deconstruction of the examiner's report, you'll find this statement:
Q4 - 'Those who attained marks in Band 3 or Band 4 of the mark
scheme, were able to make appropriate selections of words and phrases
from the chosen source texts, analyse how these were effective and then
compare this use of language in relation to the different context of
Key Mistake -'Students whose mark
resided in Band 2 attempted to select and compare but often resorted to
describing content and purpose, speculating on audience or making
generalised comments about sentence length. These students often
identified features such as alliteration, hyperbole, triplets etc. but
then offered only generalised comments that, for example, they ‘involved
the reader’, or ‘drew the reader in’.'
To me, as your humble English teacher, what stands out are these words 'selection of words and phrases', 'analyse how these were effective' and 'compare this use of language in relation to the different contexts'.
Key mistakes seem to be general comments about audience and purpose.
Other English teachers may weigh in and comment on this but I believe the exam board are wanting you to look at the attitude of the writer and form of text and focus your comparison on those at the top level.
So what is the context of the text and how do you write about it?
Have a look at the source above. What can you tell about the text with only a brief glance?
It is an online version of a newspaper and generally because it is online, it can be a little more extreme in its views rather than if it was a printed text. A quick glance of the headline seems to show sensationalising of the topic the titled 'Killed because of electronic age' seems certainly indicates hyperbole and emotive language thus sensationalising (making the story seem bigger than it actually is) the topic. We also know that the Mailonline is a news site that likes to sensationalise stories and usually take an accusatory tone.
Have a look at the source above.
Although I've linked it, it did appear in the print newspaper last year. Print media usually is more balanced and especially print broadsheet newspapers where they are widely thought of as producing in-depth and more newsworthy / important articles (more current affairs less celeb affairs) and the title certainly reflects a more balanced or fact based set of opinions.
So how do we compare these?
Well we go to our old faithful skills of analysis, picking out key quotations, judging why they've been used, zooming in on key words and talking about effect. Then (as the exam board seem to be indicating) we pop the cherry on top by relating the effect to context.
So in practice:
Source 3 seems to be taking a very dramatic approach to the topic of conservation. The headline 'Killed because of the electronic age' seems to sensationalise the article giving it greater urgency or importance. The emotive use of 'Killed' is especially effective in setting a grave tone which adds to the hyperbole of the headline.
This is where we have often stopped before moving on to making our comparison but the exam board seem to want you to go that extra mile:
The sensationalist treatment of the topic and accusatory tone are often features of online articles (especially the Mailonline) often presenting extreme and often biased topics. Hyperbole and emotive language are key in developing this particular tone and point of view.
Now we are really showing we are top level candidates and we can begin to make our comparison. There are few similarities between the articles so we will contrast:
In contrast, Source 1 takes a more balanced approach to the topic of conservation. The use of 'Sir David Attenborough' in the title immediately adds a sense of authenticity or importance to the article as he is a world renowned wildlife presenter. Not only does his prior work give importance to the ideas discussed in the article but the use of someone knighted in their field also gains the reader's attention as the article explores the conservation of some of the world's less known endangered species. Whereas the Mailonline uses emotive language and hyperbole in their headline to create an accusatory, the use of an important conservationist in the headline is something that ties in with the newspapers reputation of producing more newsworthy or important articles meeting the audience's expectations.
Put this all together and we have a well rounded answer that analyses key words focusing on the effect they have and not only compares use of language but compares the context the articles are produced for.
Analysis (Zoom in)
Compare Analysis (Zoom in)
The bold red points are our key ideas and it is absolutely imperative that you compare as you go along. Writing about the texts separately only gets you to the top of Band 2. Develop a couple of paragraphs like the above and you are challenging the examiner not to put you in the top band. Give them no reason to give you less than top band marks.
Have a look at Source 2 which is an extract from a travel book exploring the Appalachian Trail.
What can you say about the context of a travel guide book? What is different from normal travel guides in this book?
Write a paragraph to compare to my MailOnline analysis and post below. Remember the contextual cherry on the top.
Source 3 seems to be
taking a very dramatic approach to the topic of conservation. The
headline 'Killed because of the electronic age' seems to sensationalise
the article giving it greater urgency or importance. The emotive use of
'Killed' is especially effective in setting a grave tone which adds to the hyperbole of the headline. The sensationalist
treatment of the topic and accusatory tone are often features of online
articles (especially the Mailonline) often presenting extreme and often
biased topics. Hyperbole and emotive language are key in developing this
particular tone and point of view.