Writing an A Grade CommentaryWatch
I'm doing A2 EdExcel English Language and in my AS textual commentary exam I got 90/90 so can advise on this one!
Monday is the varieties paper, which, as I believe it, is where we have to analyse 3, or 4, texts. So for this one you need to revise the history of English, what happenned when and where, and WHY?! For instance:
What: the redundant 'e' came around.
When: After the Norman invasion of 1066.
Why: Either French influence or that spelling was dictated by pronunciation or to make it look like the more prestigious language that was Latin, as this was the language of science and medicine and spoken by scholars or (if the text is after 1476) then printers put it on there to make it look more professional.
It is VITAL that you include the 'what' and 'when' but for the top band marks, you need to include at least one point from the 'why'. This need not be for all of the points, but just remember to do it sometimes. The examiners love it because B grade, and below, candidates do not do it; therefore their essays become slightly repetitive and follow the same formatt. If you have a brain-wave in the exam, and feel like breaking out then do it! They like anything slightly different.
You know the whole, PQE rule about essays. Point, Quote, Explanation. Some other people have others, such as PEE etc. Just ensure that you do follow this as then you cannot really go wrong for English. However, do not just go:
1st point: PQE
2nd point: PQE
3rd point: PQE
4th pont: PQE
...as this will become far too repetitive. For instance:
1st point: PQE
2nd point: PQE
3rd point: QPE
4th point: EPQ
...as this gives more variety.
You also need to know the basic parts of English; for instance: nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, pronouns (including which person), interjections, conjunctions and such.
Weds: Editorial and Topics Essay (Synoptic). This is where you need to be able to rewrite any text, from any date, into any other format. Therefore you just need to know skills for the desk study. Which, as I believe, you did this year too, so you should be fully prepared for this part of the exam. Then it is basically a commentary, as with the varieties question etc.
The Topics essay is entirely different. You have a choice of four, so make sure you pick something vaguely that you are interested in. Then give a blanced view. I know that it is easy to just descend into a rant about a topic, especially if you feel passionate about something, but you must give a balanced, unbiased view. Then before the conclusion, you can give your opinion.
Hope this helps.
Introduction: contexts, registers, audiences, purposes (basic, but it helps you clarify the point of the text/s). If it is a transcript, I prefer to put expected features (e.g this is a political interview, so I expect the interviewer to control topic management, the interviewee to hold the floor for longer, overlaps if a contentious issue arises, tag questions from both sides to try and get consensus etc. etc.)
Then, follow it up with these paragraphs (you can really do them in any order)
- Grammar / Syntax
- Literary / Rhetorical Features
- If it's your own writing, comment upon the texts given to you briefly (were they linguistically useful, or did you have to do a considerable amount of reworking?).
I prefer to tackle the areas rather than split it up into analysis of text A, then of text B etc., as if you run out of time, at least you have analysed all texts.
If it is language through time, these paragraphs are also useful
- Grammatical / Syntactical change
- Orthographic change
- Semantic change
- Change in the use of the medium
Hopefully that helps a little?
I'm just so worried about having too much to write and not enough time to write it. If there are 3 texts, then it is only 30 mins a text, to annotate too, and if there are 4 then it is just over 22mins a text; including annotation! This is not enough time to cover the points in depth, and add extra information. Oh dear lord, I'm practising essays today to speed up my hand-writing. Can normally do an A4 page in 15mins, so hopefully 2 will be enough for each text. Do you find that you can also relate Text B to Text A by saying, "Similarly with Text A, Text B also has..." as then this saves time on writing the explanations twice!
I'm doing language through time on Wednesday with WJEC, and it's 1hr 15 for that, and then 1hr 15 for transcript analysis.