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Higher English Critical Essays

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    I'm not 100% sure of how I should be structuring the essays. My teacher for higher has told us to structure it differently compared to at Int 2. At Int 2 we would do a topic sentence, then expand on it slightly. A quote, then analysis, before referring back to the question/personal response. And we done about 5 of these. At higher, the example essay we were given for ''The Conegatherers'' (which the teacher had written) had a completely different structure. There were waaaay more paragraphs and sometimes it would be like this:

    Topic sentence and then the quote and then the analysis. But instead of starting a new paragraph with a topic sentence, she would place a colon at the end of the personal response of the 1st paragraph and introduce another quote without a topic sentence.

    Also should essays be in chronological order?
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    There is no formula for a higher English essay, or at least that's what they tell us. Don't fuss about the structure, it's content that matters and putting your thoughts down in a logical manor as regards the questions is really the task in hand.

    What do you mean by chronological order? As in order of what content come first in the play/novel/poem? If so, not if it makes sense otherwise.
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    (Original post by ..lauren)
    There is no formula for a higher English essay, or at least that's what they tell us. Don't fuss about the structure, it's content that matters and putting your thoughts down in a logical manor as regards the questions is really the task in hand.

    What do you mean by chronological order? As in order of what content come first in the play/novel/poem? If so, not if it makes sense otherwise.
    Would you or someone else reading this thread be able to look at an essay I write tommorow once I've typed it up and estimate what grade it would get?

    I'm looking to get my essays to atleast a 15/25 which means I need 34 marks in close reading to get to 64%, or even better 2 17/25 essays which means I would only need 30/50 for the close reading.

    64% has been the boundary for an A recently so hopefully I can scrape one.
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    Don't be worrying about structure; as long as you have got down all your main points, quotes and analysis you will be fine. The only purpose of the examiner looking for structure is to make sure that your thoughts are clear and you don't jump from one thing to another within paragraphs all the time.
    Also be aware that most schools (whether it's in timed class essays or prelims) mark a lot more harshly than the SQA do in the final exam as they understand the time pressure and the amount you have had to remember. Just make sure that you get as much down as you possibly can within the time on the day and you should be able to get at least 15.
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    (Original post by r3l4x3d)
    Would you or someone else reading this thread be able to look at an essay I write tommorow once I've typed it up and estimate what grade it would get?

    I'm looking to get my essays to atleast a 15/25 which means I need 34 marks in close reading to get to 64%, or even better 2 17/25 essays which means I would only need 30/50 for the close reading.

    64% has been the boundary for an A recently so hopefully I can scrape one.
    I'm sorry but I could never grade an essay even almost accurately, I'm only sitting higher myself, sorry :P

    Yea, I'm also aiming just to scrape past, but I think I can get 17/19ish for my essays, hopefully!
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    (Original post by scottish19)
    Don't be worrying about structure; as long as you have got down all your main points, quotes and analysis you will be fine. The only purpose of the examiner looking for structure is to make sure that your thoughts are clear and you don't jump from one thing to another within paragraphs all the time.
    Also be aware that most schools (whether it's in timed class essays or prelims) mark a lot more harshly than the SQA do in the final exam as they understand the time pressure and the amount you have had to remember. Just make sure that you get as much down as you possibly can within the time on the day and you should be able to get at least 15.
    Okay thanks. That's definitely given me more confidence. I am guilty of overthinking things (particularly things to do with school) and it never helps me. It's just annoying that we have only had 2 essays actually marked with a score (the prelim papers).

    I managed to get a 13 and a 15 so hopefully with the practice I've had between January and May and hopefully the examiners being a little more lenient I should be getting atleast 15-17s right?
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    (Original post by ..lauren)
    I'm sorry but I could never grade an essay even almost accurately, I'm only sitting higher myself, sorry :P

    Yea, I'm also aiming just to scrape past, but I think I can get 17/19ish for my essays, hopefully!
    So instead of writing around 10 paragraphs that are relatively small and having one quote per paragraph, you could maybe write longer paragraphs with a couple of quotes?

    The essay the teacher gave us has like 10 paragraphs, and some paragraphs have very similar idesa in them just using different quotes, so I could merge them together and write say 5 paragraphs with more info in them?
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    Ok will relate it to a play that I study, "Hamlet", in most of the essays I have 4 different sections but within these sections I have about 2 or 3 shorter paragraphs with quotes - just so the 4 sections don't look too big and looks as if I don't know how to paragraph. Whenever you go on to talk about something new, take a new paragraph and it looks better on the page.
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    (Original post by r3l4x3d)
    So instead of writing around 10 paragraphs that are relatively small and having one quote per paragraph, you could maybe write longer paragraphs with a couple of quotes?

    The essay the teacher gave us has like 10 paragraphs, and some paragraphs have very similar idesa in them just using different quotes, so I could merge them together and write say 5 paragraphs with more info in them?
    My teacher seems to have QUITE a different approach to yours... She hasn't once told us how many paragraphs we need. She doesn't even give us quotes to learn because she reckons this distracts you from the actual point because you're so keen to use them. She's perfectly happy with paraphrasing or outlining the plot instead, and thinks that if a quote is important then it will stick out to us. I do trust her because she is an SQA marker and the head of department with a lot of experience in teaching Higher.

    Main point, stop fussing about structure! Learn your texts and your notes on theme ect. and you cannot go wrong unless you answer the wrong structure.

    Also, you can get an A in a 700 word essay - length isn't particularly important if you have the correct points in the correct place and can display that you understand and can analyse the ideas of the texts.
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    my teacher consistently tells us that we need to write about 4-5 pages per essay to actually achieve a good grade.. is this true? I can't write that fast at all! I tend to write about 4ish paragraphs with an introduction and conclusion, which usually ends up about 2+ pages each..
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    (Original post by rawragee)
    my teacher consistently tells us that we need to write about 4-5 pages per essay to actually achieve a good grade.. is this true? I can't write that fast at all! I tend to write about 4ish paragraphs with an introduction and conclusion, which usually ends up about 2+ pages each..
    No. You can get a 17 with just three pages, and easily a 21 with about 4.
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    I did Higher last year, and I would always have 3 sides of A4. Your length should be around that for a good mark - everything else depends on your points and analysis.

    The structure is quite important. You need, from the very beginning, a thesis. From looking at the question, what can you say about your text? From having read your text, you need to have decided on the messages from the themes (THE MESSAGES OF YOUR TEXT). For Romeo and Juliet it could be: one should not be too passionate to an opposite and love another wholly whilst disregarding all other ties as this will lead to the inevitable downfall of one.

    Now, for example, say I have a question on:

    Discuss passion within a play that you have studied.

    From looking at that, I would, in relation to my text and its themes, have thought up a message: how does passion (from the question) relate to my text? And what does it tell us?

    My overall message would be: If one is too passionate to an opposite then one will wholly disregard all other ties and this will lead a clash of ties until the inevitable downfall of one.

    I would then split my paragraphs to convey this.

    Intro
    Para 1 - one is too passionate to an opposite
    Para 2 - one will wholly disregard all other ties
    Para 3 - clash of ties
    Para 4 - inevitable downfall of one
    Conc

    Voila. Your message needs to span the whole text, and like a story (of your message) it needs a beginning (being too passionate), a middle (clash of ties - the conflict) and an end (inevitable downfall of one). MESSAGES ARE FROM THE THEMES, THEREFORE YOUR ESSAY NEEDS TO CENTRE AROUND YOUR THEMES AS IF YOU'RE ALWAYS DISCUSSING THEM.
    You need to be quite specific sometimes too. For example, I could've made my first point: one is too passionate. This would mean just simply describing Romeo's passion in the beginning. But, that is just describing. It doesn't say much. Therefore, make your points something that CLEARLY conveys your messages.
    You cannot, throughout your whole essay, keep on mentioning PASSION: passion is prominent here, here, here and some there as well. No. It's not a list. You need your own messages of the text from looking at passion in the play!

    I use, and tell others, to use: PEEEEL

    Point - the statement of what you want to prove - Undeniably, the character of Romeo is wholly passionate for Juliet of the warring Montague family.
    Evidence - quote/technique to back yourself up. These allow 'suggestions', thus analysis
    Explain - What does your quote/technique mean?
    Evidence - repeat above - the reason I do this is to allow more analysis = stronger argument
    Explain - as said above
    Link - How do all your explanations (suggestions) relate to your Point, and what does this paragraph, bluntly, say about the theme and what we can learn from it?

    Next paragraph:
    Indeed, Romeo is too passionate and consequently this means that he disregards his other ties.

    Use words like 'indeed', 'consequently' etc as it shows linking of points - you're going smoothly from one point to another. It all connects.

    TECHNIQUES are very important - these allow one to analyse. Techniques = analysis = stronger analysis = A.

    Make sure to use very big and sophisticated words: It cannot be denied that Romeo's inherent desire leaves him forever insatiable. <----- sophisticated language is NEEDED.

    Your introduction needs to outline your points - your argument. For example,

    Passion is most telling of William Shakespeare's messages within Romeo and Juliet. The character of Romeo and Juliet, opposites, fall in love with one another and this goes against society until it eventually results in their death. This allows Shakespeare to convey his integral messages: if one is too passionate then one will wholly disregard all other ties resulting in a clash of ties until the inevitable downfall of one. This allows the portrayal of the themes of fate and passion. Shakespeare is able to do this through his masterful use of dramatic devices such as motif, symbolism and climax.

    For your conclusions, connect all your Link sentences together and try to give advice to the reader in response to your message:

    In conclusion, passion leaves one heavily flawed. If one is too passionate then surely this will mean that one is unable to think adequately and moderately. Indeed, one's conscience thought will be overshadowed until one acts on passion alone. There will be a conflict of desire: free will or the will of the state? If like Romeo one chooses free will, then this will go against the will of the state and it cannot be denied that this selfish option will leave everyone unhappy: eventual death is an outcome. However, humanity can do nothing but choose this option: we are flawed, and like Romeo, we can do nothing but be passionate - it is inevitable.


    Therefore, when you read your texts and revise, DECIDE on your messages. In the exam, this should come quickly and you'll be able to adopt it to any question (hopefully). Also, sort your technique/quotations under different themes. This allows easier revision, and in the exam you can decide about the question: will these two themes be better for this question, or this one? And you'll know EVERYTHING under those themes.
    EACH theme gives a different message and obviously these can be combined: like I did for this example of discussing Fate and Passion.
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    (Original post by Quick-use)
    I did Higher last year, and I would always have 3 sides of A4. Your length should be around that for a good mark - everything else depends on your points and analysis.

    The structure is quite important. You need, from the very beginning, a thesis. From looking at the question, what can you say about your text? From having read your text, you need to have decided on the messages from the themes (THE MESSAGES OF YOUR TEXT). For Romeo and Juliet it could be: one should not be too passionate to an opposite and love another wholly whilst disregarding all other ties as this will lead to the inevitable downfall of one.

    Now, for example, say I have a question on:

    Discuss passion within a play that you have studied.

    From looking at that, I would, in relation to my text and its themes, have thought up a message: how does passion (from the question) relate to my text? And what does it tell us?

    My overall message would be: If one is too passionate to an opposite then one will wholly disregard all other ties and this will lead a clash of ties until the inevitable downfall of one.

    I would then split my paragraphs to convey this.

    Intro
    Para 1 - one is too passionate to an opposite
    Para 2 - one will wholly disregard all other ties
    Para 3 - clash of ties
    Para 4 - inevitable downfall of one
    Conc

    Voila. Your message needs to span the whole text, and like a story (of your message) it needs a beginning (being too passionate), a middle (clash of ties - the conflict) and an end (inevitable downfall of one). MESSAGES ARE FROM THE THEMES, THEREFORE YOUR ESSAY NEEDS TO CENTRE AROUND YOUR THEMES AS IF YOU'RE ALWAYS DISCUSSING THEM.
    You need to be quite specific sometimes too. For example, I could've made my first point: one is too passionate. This would mean just simply describing Romeo's passion in the beginning. But, that is just describing. It doesn't say much. Therefore, make your points something that CLEARLY conveys your messages.
    You cannot, throughout your whole essay, keep on mentioning PASSION: passion is prominent here, here, here and some there as well. No. It's not a list. You need your own messages of the text from looking at passion in the play!

    I use, and tell others, to use: PEEEEL

    Point - the statement of what you want to prove - Undeniably, the character of Romeo is wholly passionate for Juliet of the warring Montague family.
    Evidence - quote/technique to back yourself up. These allow 'suggestions', thus analysis
    Explain - What does your quote/technique mean?
    Evidence - repeat above - the reason I do this is to allow more analysis = stronger argument
    Explain - as said above
    Link - How do all your explanations (suggestions) relate to your Point, and what does this paragraph, bluntly, say about the theme and what we can learn from it?

    Next paragraph:
    Indeed, Romeo is too passionate and consequently this means that he disregards his other ties.

    Use words like 'indeed', 'consequently' etc as it shows linking of points - you're going smoothly from one point to another. It all connects.

    TECHNIQUES are very important - these allow one to analyse. Techniques = analysis = stronger analysis = A.

    Make sure to use very big and sophisticated words: It cannot be denied that Romeo's inherent desire leaves him forever insatiable. <----- sophisticated language is NEEDED.

    Your introduction needs to outline your points - your argument. For example,

    Passion is most telling of William Shakespeare's messages within Romeo and Juliet. The character of Romeo and Juliet, opposites, fall in love with one another and this goes against society until it eventually results in their death. This allows Shakespeare to convey his integral messages: if one is too passionate then one will wholly disregard all other ties resulting in a clash of ties until the inevitable downfall of one. This allows the portrayal of the themes of fate and passion. Shakespeare is able to do this through his masterful use of dramatic devices such as motif, symbolism and climax.

    For your conclusions, connect all your Link sentences together and try to give advice to the reader in response to your message:

    In conclusion, passion leaves one heavily flawed. If one is too passionate then surely this will mean that one is unable to think adequately and moderately. Indeed, one's conscience thought will be overshadowed until one acts on passion alone. There will be a conflict of desire: free will or the will of the state? If like Romeo one chooses free will, then this will go against the will of the state and it cannot be denied that this selfish option will leave everyone unhappy: eventual death is an outcome. However, humanity can do nothing but choose this option: we are flawed, and like Romeo, we can do nothing but be passionate - it is inevitable.


    Therefore, when you read your texts and revise, DECIDE on your messages. In the exam, this should come quickly and you'll be able to adopt it to any question (hopefully). Also, sort your technique/quotations under different themes. This allows easier revision, and in the exam you can decide about the question: will these two themes be better for this question, or this one? And you'll know EVERYTHING under those themes.
    EACH theme gives a different message and obviously these can be combined: like I did for this example of discussing Fate and Passion.
    Oh my you have put a lot into this, but if anything's going to placate someone trying to organise their approach to writing in the CE paper, this is certainly not it.

    The markers are looking for evidence that you have an understanding - as opposed to just a knowledge - of the texts you have been studying since last June.

    By now the underlying themes should be clear to you. You should be looking at past papers and seeing that very similar sorts of questions crop up on a regular basis: conflict/generational divide/ narrative structure/ role of setting/ impact of opening or satisfaction with ending / etc etc.

    Just LOOK, think and plan approaches. A good plan will allow a natural, fluid structure to occur.

    If you have read and re-read - as you should have done - the references will jump out. If not, your teacher might just have a list of the more obvious.

    Familiarity breeds confidence in H English!
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    (Original post by r3l4x3d)
    I'm not 100% sure of how I should be structuring the essays. My teacher for higher has told us to structure it differently compared to at Int 2. At Int 2 we would do a topic sentence, then expand on it slightly. A quote, then analysis, before referring back to the question/personal response. And we done about 5 of these. At higher, the example essay we were given for ''The Conegatherers'' (which the teacher had written) had a completely different structure. There were waaaay more paragraphs and sometimes it would be like this:

    Topic sentence and then the quote and then the analysis. But instead of starting a new paragraph with a topic sentence, she would place a colon at the end of the personal response of the 1st paragraph and introduce another quote without a topic sentence.

    Also should essays be in chronological order?

    I write my essays using the SEXY structure:
    S= Statement- topic sentence(say something relevant about the text)
    E= Evidence- give a quote to back it up
    X= eXplain- explain the quote..(answering the question)
    Y= Your opinion

    I do this more than once in a paragraph and then i write a short mini-conclusion(just one sentence) to wrap up the paragraph. H
    ope this helps
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    I use
    SEAC

    S- topic Sentence (like contextualise quotation)
    E - Evidence (quotation)
    A - Analysis (literal meaning, metaphorical/connoations)
    C- Comment (evaluative statement)

    I usual write 3 pages with four paragraphs then my intro and conclusion, gets me a B! no need to be writing like ten pages, normally include four/ five quotes. Normally four for a poem - two from each stanza type of thing!
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    I personally use the PEER method:

    Point - make your point about the quote your about to use, also referred to as a topical sentence,
    Evidence - State your evidence for example your quote,
    Evaluate - Analyse the evidence you have given using appropriate reference to techniques, themes etc,
    Relate to Question - Always ensure you are linking to the chosen question.

    I wouldn't necessarily start a new paragraph for a new quote as sometimes it all links together, you need to be able to understand what will flow together and therefore make an appropriate assumption on how to structure the essay.

    I'm also sitting the Higher paper this year and I am VERY nervous, I'm hoping the questions are in no way similar to what they were of 2010 because none of them really work for the things I have. Hoping to get at least 15/17 for my essays and maybe 25-35 for Close Reading. It all depends on whether or not the marker you get is very strict or lenient. This is why I hate English.
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    I just wondered how everyone is revising for the higher english exam?
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    (Original post by hannah94xx)
    I just wondered how everyone is revising for the higher english exam?
    Learning quotes and analysis,ohh and watching Eurovision classics
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    (Original post by hannah94xx)
    I just wondered how everyone is revising for the higher english exam?
    Learning quotes like a boss. If I know my quotes, I can fit questions around them!
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    (Original post by rawragee)
    my teacher consistently tells us that we need to write about 4-5 pages per essay to actually achieve a good grade.. is this true? I can't write that fast at all! I tend to write about 4ish paragraphs with an introduction and conclusion, which usually ends up about 2+ pages each..
    Beyond not true, I bagged a 23 in a class essay with 3 pages, same at int 2 in the exam...quality over quantity!!

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