English Language Exam Question 2 Analysing a Writer's Language

so welcome to question two this question will always feature language and is very likely to feature presentational features and that's for OCR and the skills that I'm looking at are exactly relevant to the AQA questions writing about language and also writing about presentational features I'm going to concentrate today purely on the language part of this because it's the most difficult so here we go question two here's a sample question which I'm going to answer for you at the end of the video so if you're bored just skip forward to that the day I survived a very grizzly bear attack how does guy grieve use language to make the account of his encounter with the bear so terrifying in your answer refer closely to the passage and so I've highlighted refer closely and translated that for you with an exclamation mark that means use short quotations so as soon as you use single word quotations you're going to hit the top band criteria and I'll show you how to do that at the end now I've also underlined or highlighted my other command words the key words that tell me what to do I've got to explain how I don't need to highlight language because it's always a language question and how what how is it terrifying and I will continually come back to that as you see at the end and so my exam technique as soon as I hit the question underline the key words that tell me what to do the command words and then I'm ready to go and so here is a report from the examiner on that very question and it's really useful to us because it tells us the kind of analysis that you need to get in the top band so here we go an example of this was the candidate who selected the phrase 70 stone killing machine and then went on to comment that the phrase suggested that the bear was devoid of emotion and completely intent on its purpose such a comment shows a clear appreciation of the effect of the imagery used by the writer now notice that this candidate is getting the marks even though they don't use the word imagery they don't have to spot the techniques and that's a point I'll keep coming back to here and then this is a note from me if you have been taught P or P or peel very popular with English teachers across the country you will notice that the P the point being that it's terrifying does not have to be continually repeated here it doesn't seem to appear in the examiner's comments now to make things easier for you because you do use P and peel probably my sample answer is going to put that in and it's a very easy way of making sure that you're answering the question right now the examiners want to tell us what unsuccessful candidates do so less successful responses tended to identify appropriate examples of language use so that will be quotations for which they were credited but did little more than attempt to analyze and we'll see what attempt to analyze means here with comments such as the writer is terrified here and then this person doesn't go on to explain how they just say we know this as he repeats the word terrified this shows that he is terrified in other words the sentence could have stopped here the writer is terrified here and all the rest merely repeats what's there and so that's contrasted to this level of exclamation that we have here in this quotation devoid of emotion and completely intent on its purpose and I'll show you a little more clearly how to do that in my example to the least successful candidates so hopefully not you concentrated mainly on identifying figures of speech such as alliteration and the rule of three in slow steadily stealthily and then making pre-prepared comments such as and this draws the reader in and makes them want to read on now you've probably heard people saying this in class all the time it draws the reader in it makes them want to read on which is true but absolutely everything that the writer writes is intended to do that otherwise you'd never read anything would you and so it doesn't get you any marks at all similarly though and and this I hope you'll find quite positive you don't have to name the fact that it's alliteration or name the fact that it's a metaphor or name the fact that it's a simile or name the fact that it's a rule of three you get where I'm going here you don't get any marks for spotting all these techniques what you get is marks for explaining the how which I've emphasized down here explaining how it is terrifying and if you remember those were our key words in the question how is it terrifying we don't have to keep naming the parts as it were and explaining that this is alliteration or simile right let's get some more advice from the examiner however an attempt to consider the impact of a chosen quotation in particular by exploring into the implications of the language within the context of the passage the context of its use is likely to result in the response moving into a higher mark band so I will demonstrate for you what looking at the implications is and it's really just writing a long explanation it's not necessary for candidates to write at great length now this really surprised me when I read it because it makes the whole exam seem very easy to pass as long as you stick to the skills I just explained so when answering questions 2 & 3 you don't have to write much and the examiner says time restraints do not encourage this so you're going to run out of time anyway they're not expecting much so how much here it is it's important that they select three or four fully appropriate quote stations or references to illustrate the points required in the question and then explained as fully so those really long explanations as they can how these examples convey the particular aspect of the writers purpose in our case the terrifying sense of fear which the question identifies so that's what I'm going to try and show you another reminder from the examiner from a different term exam you know still the same paper but this was January of a different year it is not necessary for candidates to hunt out and name the various linguistic devices so I've told you that about four times now I think or at least three what's far more important to the process of achieving a good mark is that they can explain convincingly the effects of those devices okay so now you're really getting a firm understanding I hope that it's how you explain that's going to get you the grade here is another question as you can see this one does focus on presentation as well as language and in the examiner's report they say something really interesting or in the mark scheme it says anything you write about presentation as long as you relate it to what the questions asking is going to get you the marks they're not looking for anything in particular so whatever you noticed picture headline caption whatever it is that is bound to get you the marks and that's why I'm not focusing on it in this in this video because that's really not where you're going to fall down it's in how you explain the use of language again this is another exam another exam paper and I'm giving it to you again I know it's a sense of overkill but you don't have to hunt down examples of the rule of three and rhetorical questions etc so I hope that reassures you and once again in this year people were also writing this draws the reader in makes the reader want to read on exactly the same problems as the last one I showed you what should you do well that is highlighted in green explaining how or why the effect was achieved so finally I hope the most successful responses both quoted appropriately from the passage and explained how the selected quotation illustrated in this question the writer sense of excitement I didn't read you the full question but there it is this idea of being able and doesn't get much better than this and that's where the excitement comes from okay well enough of that I'm going to skip this let's get to the bears now do you remember I've twice read you a quotation from the examiner saying that you don't have to hunt out information and I'd like to demonstrate for you here with my highlighting that you don't have to hunt out quotations to use either do you remember he said well she said you only needed three or four quotations well I'll take that as a tip that we're going to pick four and so I just third said to myself well okay just pick out something in every paragraph and in some paragraphs like the first you can see I've got more than one thing whoops there you go and I call this the random finger technique and I get my students up in class this is on the interactive whiteboard and I get them simply to stab the board somewhere with their eyes shut and we have to come up with some kind of explanation based on wherever their finger lands and that always works believe it or not and then they do it for themselves with the page in front of them you literally stab the page with your finger and wherever your finger lands there's going to be something to write about and I do this to reassure you that you don't have to read the full article fully you don't have to understand everything in the full article to still get top marks in this question so here you are all these bits in yellow are descriptions of the bear and linked to how terrifying it is and I didn't even think when I was highlighting these they just popped straight at me as they would to you and if you don't believe me we play this without the sound and just see if you can do it yourself right so what did I do well I went back to the question now reminded myself of the key words how terrifying and referring closely and my explanation for that was use really short quotations yeah so here we go I'll read it to you and then I'll show you what the highlighting means so Greve wants to prepare us for the attack he knows he's coming and makes it terrifying so that we can marvel at the fact that he escapes with his life I really was his prey the use of really is intended to do away with any doubts we might have that he is exaggerating the terror to make the attack more terrifying he is explicit at the beginning about how under sized he is compared to a 70 stone killing machine which obviously dwarfs him so first my red highlights are the techniques that the writers using so I'm not talking about alliteration or simile but anything that I'm saying that the writer does I've that's explicit okay so the yellow I really was his prey and a 70 stone killing machine they're there to show you where the quotations are and hopefully you can see how I've isolated a single word here to write about from my longer quotation and that was the skill of being appropriate and concise the use of really is intended to do away with any doubts and so on like I come up with an explanation for that small bit now I've made one point about the 70 stone killing machine in the next paragraph I'm going to focus on just a single word and tell you explicitly what that means that the bear is a machine also terrifyingly suggests that it is unfeeling and therefore merciless moreover a machine is relentless and cannot be stopped because it does not feel fear or pain Greve causes us to wonder if anything can stop the bear when the bear does attack he again uses contrast to suggest who who that should say how terrifyingly weak he is even though he is armed with a rifle his fear seems to overcome him so he loads with the shivering hand this emphasizes how slow and in accurate he may be while in turn the bear is contrasted with very powerful verbs this huge killer dropped to all fours and began to bound dropped his ironic as he wishes to drop it by shooting and this irony increases his terror similarly the fact that it is on all fours makes Greaves seem almost out numbered with his two legs which must be stationary the alliteration of began to bound seems to emphasise this with a heavy beat and plosive sound again my colors reflect the same thing so the techniques that the writer is using highlighted in red the quotations in yellow and again you can see that I try to use single words as in dropped or all fours which is very short and began to bound which is also very short and I'm constantly trying to use the shortest quotations that I can finally last paragraph grieve echoes the first description of the Bears size as huge but this time he is not a machine but a killer our terror increases because it appears that grieve cannot escape and we temporarily forget that this is a first-person narrative so he must indeed survive and so I had to deal with that really because how terrifying can it be when we know he survived to tell the story and I've just had to put that in to complete my answer so I hope you can see how I've tried to put in detailed explanations I say something about the quotation there it is moving it about there and then I'll pick on a word in that quotation like machine and go into more detail if I can then find a second point with another connective line moreover I know that I'm writing really detailed explanations and I know the examiner has to give me credit for that and that's it that's the simple technique you find your quotations you say something about them then you pick on individual words like dropped all fours and teased out a bit more from within them I haven't had to spot the techniques that he's using they're just one that have come to me the only exception when I was writing was the alliteration I thought ah well I've spotted the alliteration let's see if I can write something about it yes okay I will he's using it to emphasize something what is it it's this idea that he's under attack and I've decided it gave a heavy beat with the burr number of began and bound and I don't know whether your teachers have told you that but that's a plosive sound because the air literally explodes out of your mouth but and the same with peas but these are called plosive letters and because your your breath has to come out of your mouth explosively to make the sound but I would have got just as many marks if I'd ended the sentence at beat right how long did that take me to write probably 10 minutes it's a 14 mark question so you've got 21 minutes to write that and I did it because I didn't worry and why didn't I worry because of the random finger technique I knew that there would be quotations everywhere I looked I haven't worried about using all of them because the examiners advice was just to use for and there you go how easy that is then you'll only know if you practice this and don't just watch the video practice a question and find out how you do right I'm going to leave you with the actual mark scheme and the advice from the examiner for that very question the higher band responses are likely to show a secure understanding of how the writers description of the details of the attack and of the appearance and behavior of the bear create both tension in the reader and convincingly convey his feelings at the time and so I have actually shown what his feelings were at the time and some tension that the reader is feeling even though it's a first-person narrator and we know he's going to escape and crucially I didn't cheat on this I didn't read the Mar scheme first I just wrote what was there in front of me in the next paragraph he tells us responses at this level may well contrast the measured tone of the description written after the event with the panic the writer felt at the time and make reference to the inadequacy of his assumptions as to how to avoid the bear and I did deal with some of that but I'm going to draw your attention to two things which you may not have noticed the first skill in the first paragraph is highlighted with this word likely the second skill in this paragraph is highlighted with this word may and so what the examiner is saying here is look if I was answering this question this is what I would do but in my pink bubble is actually what you the candidate has to do these are only things you might do so they that's you will take a consistently analytical approach with fully developed comments well that means you keep quoting and you keep highlighting those single words you're looking at really small bits of language how is it fully developed well you write more than one thing about them and that's it those three little lines there are all you have to do and you only have to do them four times to get the top marks so let's go back and see if I did that one too three four paragraphs job done okay now it might not be easy the first time but the third time and the fourth time will make it seem very easy and if you practice this a fifth time there is no way you cannot succeed in this exam so go and practice and succeed that's all there is to it good luck you

29 thoughts on “English Language Exam Question 2 Analysing a Writer's Language


  2. Is it just me sitting there like… "how does he do that?!" Logically, I know because he's an English teacher but wow.

  3. If the question doesn't ask about presentational features should i still write about them?

  4. You know you say 3-4 quotations, is that not including the headline or the article? Do you have to write 6?

  5. How admirable is this man for going through an English question for us at 9 o'clock at night? (See bottom right hand corner) :')

  6. Mr Salles what can i do to improve time managment when answering the questions? It literally took me 45 minutes to complete question 2 – which is a lot of time wasted.

  7. Besides it being a separate text, what's the difference between question 2 and 3?

  8. For the OCR exam, I thought question 2 was about presentation? But thank you for uploading the question one video!

  9. thank you this really helps me I have my exams coming up in 2 days and wasn't really sure on the subject. Thank You.

  10. dominic salles!
    dominic salles!
    u r a living legend and have made this sooooo easy!! but is that really all i need to no?? i got an a star in my imaginative writing and c in my poetry coursework's. is that all i need to no for the sitting exam? i find this to good to be true. and by the way, if i follow all your instructions (practacing etc.) what do you think is possible out of the 80? i'd be delighted with 70 but is taht all i really need to no? plz get bk to me nd thank soooooooooooooo much for your help!!!!! (if this IS all i need to no then i'm prob gonna sit the exam in november.)  

  11. So you can get top marks without analysing the picture? I'm practicing for my OCR English exam and my teacher told me that I needed to analyse the picture on the article as well as the text.

  12. Thanks language is tomorrow morning and was looking for something like this 🙂

  13. how do we balance out presentation and language? do we write more about language or presentation, or should it be equal?

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