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    In my english class, people are getting between 15 and 20 out of 20, but I continuously gain between 5 and 10 marks.

    Since the exam is in 11 weeks, I am in serious need of some help on how to study and how to get my marks up in this section as this is what is bringing my grade down.

    I've tried asking my teacher but her advice is to practice the essays but this isn't helping.

    I'd be grateful for any advice or tips.

    I assume that you use a formal essay technique. There are a variety discribed on this forum. I use SQAE - Statement Quote Analysis Evaluation. If you do not use such a formal technique then that is a serious weakness and will bring down your grade.

    I also assume that you are able to decode the essay question. I do not mean read the question, I mean decode it: be able to identify the - up to three - points that is demanded you respond to.

    And finally I assume you do not breach the practice of including superflous information. E.g The poem I have chosen is Mid-term break by Seamus Heaney. Seamus Heaney is an irish poet. He won the Nobel prize. He has written thirteen books of poetry and on and on and on.

    And finally I assume your writing skills are ok - e.g. spelling etc.

    Assuming that then you have clearly not understood - or been taught - the criteria that the SQA use to judge a critical essay. See such a grid at the bottom. I always issue my pupils with this grid.

    SQA judge an essay on four criteria.
    a) The logic of your argument and whether you have clearly understood the question.
    b) The quality of your analysis
    c) The quality of your evaluation
    d) Your technical skills.

    I always tell my pupils to read the chart vertically. Basically I mean you must meet ALL the criteria in the column to gain the required grade. My rule - and it is onl;y my rule - if you miss one criteria you gain the lower grade.

    The language used by the SQA is deliberately ambiuous. This allows markers to judge for themselves. e.g. In answering the question for the grade "very sound" they use the expression "secure focus." This ambiguity allows markers to judge for themselves.

    Note that the better the answer the more proficient the candidate is in that area. For example in serious short commings on analysis the candidate effectively provides little analysis. Whereas on Outstanding their analysis is Perceptive.

    To gain the highest mark you essay must contain everything in the Outstanging column.

    You need to really study this chart and come to an understanding of what you feel the SQA mean by these terms. And then you must apply that to your essays. In short that means that:-
    a) You must demonstrate a clear understanding of the text in question.
    b) You must display a clear focus on the question set.
    c) You must demonstrate clear and detailed analysis.
    d) You must demonstrate clear and detailed evaluation
    e) Your basic skills must not be weak.

    By all means PM me if you would like further assistance.
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