How to approach the Non-Fiction texts section 1.Scan the questions. 2. Read the passage through twice. On the second reading highlight anything which strikes you are as interesting. 3. Read the questions with care – what are they asking? 4. If line numbers are given mark these sections on the passage 5. Make a note of how many marks each question is worth, work out how much time you need to spend on each question and how much you need to write for the number of marks available. 6. Underline or highlight anything key words/phrases in the questions. 7. Answer in full sentences 8. Keep an eye on the clock. 9. Remember to use the text as evidence to support your answers.
What are the examiners looking for? The examiners are looking for you to: 1. Show that you understand the text. 2. Collect information or ideas from the text. 3. Use the PEE technique make a Point provide Evidence give an Explanation for the point you have made 4. Show that you understand the purpose of the text to persuade (e.g. an advert or charity leaflet) to inform/instruct (e.g. a factual account) 5. Show that you are aware of the audience of the text (e.g. who is it written for?/ who will be reading it?)
Key words and phrases to watch out for! • Identify • Explain • In your own words • Select (three quotations) • Support your answer with • Refer closely to the passage • How • What does…… suggest? • Why does…? • Give reasons for • Use quotations to support your answer • To what extent… • What impression is given of… • Features of language • Compare • Comment on • Summarise
Identify… This means… Find a word or phrase in the text and write it down e.g. Example question Identify one example of when the poet uses nature to create vivid images in this passage. Example answer In the passage the poet creates vivid images such as, “She was gone, running the blue day down…”
Explain Explain means give details about. This word often accompanies ‘identify’ e.g. Identify one example of when the poet uses nature to create vivid images in this passage. Explain what effect this image has. Example answer In the passage the poet creates vivid images such as, “She was gone, running the blue day down…”.” This use of alliteration makes the reader imagine the girl running as quickly as she can, out of school at the end of the day.
In your own words This phrase means that you should try to put the text into your own language rather than simply copying out a quotation from the passage. Example question In your own words, explain why the search for the elephants was so difficult. Example answer (wrong!) The search for the elephants is so difficult because, “Reports regarding sightings of the elephants became equally bewildering.” Example answer (correct) The search for the elephants is so difficult because there were confusing accounts of when and where the elephants had been seen.
Select (three quotations) Select means pick out from the text and write down Example question Select two words or phrases from the text which help create a mysterious atmosphere. Example answer Two words and phrases from the text which create a mysterious atmosphere are, ‘'Is there anybody there?’ and ‘a host of phantom listeners’
Support your answer with ‘Support your answer with’ means you will need to provide evidence for what you have written from the text. This usually means use quotations to back up what you have said or follow the PEE technique: make a Point provide Evidence give an Explanation for the point you have made
Refer closely to the passage ‘Refer closely to the passage’ means you will need to provide evidence for what you have written from the text. You may quote most of the writer’s words in this case, embedding them into your answer. For example The writer clearly has strong memories of her holidays as she uses lots of senses to describe what she remembers. She describes the ‘dark, stinking, shed’ when describing her experiences of drinking milk ‘fresh from the cow’. The word ‘stinking’ clearly shows what an un pleasant, though memorable experience it must have been.
How How means you need to explain the techniques the writer has used. This will probably mean you need to look for one or several of the following: • Alliteration • Imagery (colours, powerful verbs, adjectives) • Metaphor or simile (comparison) • Personification • Euphemism • Humour/irony • Use of senses • Clever/interesting use of punctuation • Positive/negative words and phrases • Exaggeration/hyperbole • Short sentences/long description • Slow/fast pace • Lists • Rhetorical questions • Dramatic/serious/humorous/etc tone • First or third person narrator
What does…… suggest? The word ‘suggest’ is asking you to give your opinion but also is expecting you to dig beneath the surface and work out the writer’s meaning (infer and deduce) Example question What does the word ‘frenetic’ suggest in line 44? Example answer The word ‘frenetic’ suggests that the reporters are frantically typing to get the news around the world.
Why does…? Why is asking you to explain or give reasons for something. Example question Why is this episode significant in Christy’s life? In this answer you would be expected to give your reasonsfor why this particular part of Christy’s life is important. You will need to include the word ‘because’
Give reasons for Give reasons is the same as ‘why’. You need to explain why you think something is so. Example question Give reasons for your different ideas. In this question you should ensure you explain each idea you have in detail using the word ‘because’ e.g. I think this because… I believe this to be the case because For me, the writer does this because…
Use quotations to support your answer In these questions make sure you copy the writer’s exact words from the passage to back up what you are saying. Use quotation marks “ ” carefully to indicate the writer’s words. Use the PEE technique make a Point provide Evidence (quotations) give an Explanation for the point you have made
To what extent… To what extent means how much, how far, to what degree For example To what extent do you think that the punishment is fair? In your answer you would need to say to what point you agree with the punishment picking out the ways you think it is fair and unfair.
What impression is given of… The word ‘impression’ is asking you to say what you think about something but also is expecting you to dig beneath the surface and work out the writer’s meaning (infer and deduce). For example What different impressions do you get of the writer from the passage? In this question you would need to explain what you think of the writer – his character, personality, behaviour
Features of language If you are asked to explain or comment on features of language you will need to consider: • The writer’s choice of words and phrases (vocabulary). • The writer’s use of imagery (simile, metaphor, personification). • The writer’s use of word play such as puns and jokes • The writer’s tone – the mood or feeling of the text such as angry, serious, dramatic, ironic, critical, guilty
Compare Compare means to find the similarities and differences between two or more things. Example question Both the writer and his companion go swimming. Compare their experiences and feelings. In this question you would need to look at the two men’s experiences of swimming and say how they are the same and how they are different.
Comment on Comment means state points about, say what you think about Example question Comment on the final sentence as an ending to the writing In this question you would to explain what you think of the sentence as an ending, say how effective you think it is and give reasons for your ideas.
Summarise Summarise means sum up, abridge, give the main points The word summarise would usually mean you would be asked to shorten a section of the text by writing about it in your own words.