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The Dreaded Question 4 - Top band answers

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 each source.'

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?

Source 3

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.

Source 1

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.

To summarise:

Point
Quotation
Explanation
Analysis (Zoom in)
Context
Comparative Point
Quotation
Explanation
Compare Analysis (Zoom in)
Compare Context

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.

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+ comments + 5 comments

Anonymous
19 April 2013 at 21:34

interesting

21 April 2013 at 20:01

this has helped loads

22 April 2013 at 20:52

Glad it has Matt. Thanks for reading

Chris Hambling
31 May 2013 at 15:13

(Didn't QUITE understand what you were asking me to do here, but I still did this anyways).

In source 2, the writer chooses to use swearing to help emphasise the fearfulness of the character. This is implied in the line ‘”Fuck you,” I said as I lugged my tent right over to his’. In using this line the writer can hint to us readers that the character is trying to somewhat promote and advertise his fear for the intruder, whilst still trying to assert dominance and power by using unnecessary aggressive language. The usage of ‘lugged’ is especially effective as it attempts to show us the forcefulness of the character’s actions as he single-handedly tries to move his tent as if to prove to us that he doesn't need help. He is somewhat trying to prove he is part of a ‘one man wolf pack’.
The usage of swearing is mostly common in the context of a book as it manages to make the story come across more natural – it makes the characters seem believable and life-like as they use every day language and curses. This of course fits perfectly in with its context as it aids the readers’ interest and immersion into the story. However, in terms of it being a travel guide book, we can debate that this is slightly unusual as it’s describing the exploration as a story, rather than an explanation – educating the readers of the facts and details. Conclusively, this is what separates this piece of text from the ‘norm’.
Whereas the MailOnline source uses hyperbole and emotive language to further emphasise the point they wish to get across to the readers; it’s used to strike an extended effect into the reader, setting a graver tone for the article. The usage of ‘because’ immediately delivers a sense of accusation within the article, therefore drawing the readers in to find out more. This of course also fits perfectly within the context as articles are constructed specifically to pull in the readers’ interest.

2 June 2013 at 13:16

Your analysis of Source 2 shows the necessary skills but you could step back and look at the quotation you use in relation to the whole article. The fact that he is lugging the tent closer to his friend suggest the fact he doesn't yet he does need help; the contrast between the powerful action but it being done powerfully to seek comfort in someone else.

I'm not sure what you are trying to say with your last part about the MailOnline:

'Whereas the MailOnline source uses hyperbole and emotive language to further emphasise the point they wish to get across to the readers; it’s used to strike an extended effect into the reader, setting a graver tone for the article. The usage of ‘because’ immediately delivers a sense of accusation within the article, therefore drawing the readers in to find out more. This of course also fits perfectly within the context as articles are constructed specifically to pull in the readers’ interest.'

It sounds a bit waffly and I'm unclear as the point you are trying to make by analysing the word 'because' essentially a word used to highlight cause and effect.

Think of the context section as the 'zooming out' within the literature exam - what is the writer / institution trying to say overall.

Try comparing different points within the articles.

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