Standard Grade Close Reading
Learning Intention To understand the types of questions that could be asked in the close reading paper and learn how to answer them successfully.
Close Reading Exam You will sit two close reading exams. There are three exams – foundation, general and credit. Everyone sits the general exam and one of the others dependant on their ability.
Close Reading Exam • The close reading exam is designed to test your ability to read a passage carefully and answer questions on the passage and the techniques used by the writer. • The passage will be a newspaper article or a section from a short story or novel. • You have 50 minutes to do this.
Layout of the Exam Paper On the passage you will find the following: • There is often a short introduction in italics telling you what the passage is about or where it comes from. • If the passage is from a newspaper it will be laid out in newspaper style. • Each paragraph of the passage is individually numbered. • The name of the author will appear.
Layout of the Exam Paper On the question paper you will find the following: • You will see headings in bold telling you which part of the passage to look in for your answers. • Key or important words in question will also be picked out in bold. • In the margin you will see how many marks are available for the question. If you see 2 and 0 separated by a little black square, then you will have to get the whole answer totally right to get any points at all.
Layout of the Exam Paper • When you see a 2 1 0 they you many need to give two pieces of information. Or, if you are being asked to explain, you may get 1 mark for a partial explanation, but you will need to explain more fully and in more detail to get both marks.
Layout of the Exam Paper • The questions will take you through the passage in order, with the final questions asking you to think back over the whole passage as a whole. • The amount of space you are given to write your answer in gives you an indication of how much you need to write. • If you are expected to give just one word or to pick from multiple choices, there will be a box to write in or tick.
Use Your Own Words Unless you are being asked to quote, you should use your own words. This shows you really understand what the writer is saying. Which of the following expressions tells you that you ought to quote? Why do you think…? Which word…? Explain fully…? Find an expression…? Write down the word…? Which expression…? By close reference to the text…
Use Your Own Words These phrases tell you to quote from the passage: • Which word… • Find an expression… • Write down the word… • Which expression…
Use Your Own Words It can be difficult to use you own words but you must do this to get the marks. Rewrite the following in your own words: • Beneath her discreetly black coat my aunt had very long, slender, shapely legs. • He was forever at a loss with guests. • He ambled behind her to the escalator. • He got the whole story of her financial hardship. • In place of shoes his feet were bound with bandages.
Questions Types Questions are constructed to test your abilities in the following areas: • Reading to obtain an overall impression or gist of a text • Reading to obtain particular information from a text • Reading to grasp ideas and feelings • Reading to appreciate the writer’s craft • Reading to evaluate the writer’s attitudes, assumptions and arguments
Question asking you to obtain particular information This section concentrates on picking out individual pieces of information from a text. This means that the reader is expected to identify specific, individual items of information in the text: what people do, what places look like, what evidence there is for something happening, what reasons are offered for a character’s behaviour, and so on.
Example Behind them, all kinds of people are perched on the tailgates of a variety of vehicles. Is this some bizarre store for recycled rubbish? Well, it in a way it is. Write down an expression which shows that the writer thinks this ‘junk’ makes a strange collection. Answer – bizarre store
Question asking you to obtain particular information Now try examples 1 and 2 in the accompanying document. Answer 1 - (i) “abruptly” (1) (ii) “seized” (1) Answer 2 – “worse than the brigands(of childhood tales)” (2) OR “a most horrible and wild stranger”(2)
Questions asking you to grasp ideas or feelings With this type of question you are going deeper into the text, not just looking at facts and information but going into feelings. These may be the feelings of the characters in the text, or those of the narrator, or those of the writer.
Example At the last corner before the school’s street they both halted in an accustomed way and he squatted down to give her a kiss. She didn’t mind the ritual but not outside the gate: her pals might see and that would be too embarrassing. “…but not outside the gates…” Explain in your own words why the daughter made this condition. Answer – If her friends saw her dad kissing her she would feel uncomfortable about it.
Questions asking you to grasp ideas or feelings implied Now try examples 3 and 4 on your sheet. Example 3 - He is disappointed, angry, annoyed, sad. Any ONE of these for 2 marks Example 4 – She was more astonished/surprised/shocked/disgusted by the fact that he was illiterate(1) than she was by his dirt/filth (1)
Questions asking you to evaluate the writer’s attitudes, assumptions and argument We are looking at what the writer is thinking and saying. We are not in the mind of a character or of any narrator the writer has created. You are most likely to find questions likes this if the passage is factual, especially if it is a piece of journalism.
Example As we walked up to the main lobby there was ‘Vampire’ red wine for sale, glass vials of red liquid, wooden stakes and probably some garlic stashed under the counter. As these tacky souvenirs revealed, it wasn’t the real Dracula’s castle but Hotel Castel Dracula, a three-star hotel built in the mountains to service some of the nearby ski slopes. In your own words, what is the writer’s attitude to the various goods for sale in the hotel lobby?
Answer Now try example 5. Example 5 – thinks they look scruffy/doesn’t like them/ think they’re not well organised.
Appreciating the Writer’s Craft The writer makes careful choices when writing. You should be able to show that you recognise and appreciate the techniques the writer has used and the effect of these. This could include commenting on the use of imagery, sentence structure or word choice. You may be asked to establish the tone or style of a piece of writing and how the writer achieves this.
Sentence Structure Take a good look at the sentence you are being asked about and ask yourself a few questions: • Is the sentence noticeably long or short? • Is it a proper sentence or is it somehow incomplete? • Is it making a statement, asking a question, exclaiming in surprise or anger, giving an order? • Does it have any unusual or very noticeable punctuation? What does the punctuation do? • Is the sentence in an odd order? Are any of the words in unusual places?
Sentence Structure Sentence structure just means the way that sentences are put together. If a sentence is constructed in an unusual way you will notice this. Often a writer will construct an unusual sentence to grab your attention, or to gain some particular effect.
Sentence Structure • Long sentences can be used to give complicated information and emphasise the link between ideas • Short sentences can be used to sum up and to attract attention by stopping the reader in their tracks • Repetition – certain words are repeated for emphasis • Rhetorical questions – do not require an answer and usually make a statement
Sentence Structure • Use the punctuation to help you answer sentence structures questions. • Punctuation marks are the signposts in the structure of sentences.
Commas • It helps if you understand the function of punctuation marks • Think about the function of the commas in the following examples: • This number is being played live, in response to many requests, by Robbie Williams. • I went to the shop, the one on the corner, to get coffee. • I bought oranges, apples, bananas, lemons and grapes.
Commas , Commas are • Used to clarify text and avoid misunderstanding • Used (as a pair of commas) round parenthesis • Used to separate items in a list Write these down
Colon : • To introduce a list • To signal an explanation following a statement. Eg. The isle is the most desolate place I have ever seen: its docks deserted, windows smashed… • To contribute to the balance of a sentence which contains contrasting ideas. Eg. To err is human: to forgive is divine
Semi-colon ; • Think about how the semi-colon is used in the following: • I have a dog; his name is Patch. • The alternatives included: a “Landscape of Thorns” – a square mile of randomly spaced 80 ft spikes; “Menacing Earthworks” – giant mounds surrounding a 2,000 ft map of the world displaying all of the planet’s nuclear waste dumps; a “Black hole” – a huge slab of black concrete that absorbs so much solar heat that it is impossible to approach.
Semi-colon Semi-colons are used to: • Indicate an interconnection between items which in themselves could stand as grammatically correct sentences. • To separate items in a complex list where commas are already used within items. Write these down.
Single Dash - Look at these examples and think about the function of the dash. • My brother went to work today – or was it yesterday? • ‘Landscape of Thorns’ – a square mile of randomly-spaced 80 ft spikes.
Single Dash The single dash is used • To indicate an afterthought • To replace the colon after a statement and before an explanation. Write these down.
Parenthesis • Parenthesis is the name given to the technique of adding additional information to a sentence. • This can be for a variety of purposes: to supply additional information, to provide details or examples, to offer an aside or an authorial comment, to insert a reservation, to repeat an idea in a different style. • Paired dashes, brackets and paired commas can all be used to give this extra information in a sentence. • Write this down
Parenthesis • Consider the following examples: • John Fraser, Head Boy, stepped up to the lectern to make a speech of welcome. • The Headteacher, known for her ferocity towards miscreant boys who wouldn’t take a warning, moved towards the guilty two standing in the corner
Parenthesis • He told me that I would be perfectly safe – somehow I didn’t believe him – and that it was virtually unknown for this type of creature to attack human beings.
Inverted Commas Inverted commas can be used • To indicate the words actually used by a speaker in direct speech • To indicate the words of a quotation • To indicate a word used in an unusual way or slightly out of context • Write this down
Ellipsis The three dots at the end or in the middle of a sentence are used to: • indicate the sudden breaking off of speech or line of thought • indicate a trailing off, the line of thought implied rather than expressed • signpost a change in subject • imply an unwillingness to continue • Write this down
Question Mark • Used to indicate a question and can create a questioning tone or doubt. • Can indicate a rhetorical question – one the answer to is understood or implied.
Further features of sentence structure Look for • long sentences – often used to get across complex ideas • short sentences – often used to make a clear, simple point • lists – to list all the important details for emphasis • repetition of words or structures to emphasise a point.
Types of Sentence Statement – gives information Question – asks something Commands – tells us to do something Exclamation – sentence that expresses strong feeling – ends in an exclamation mark
Identify the Different Sentence Types • 1. What time does the match start? • 2. Give me the money. • 3. What a hassle the day turned out to be! • 4. The man crossed the road slowly and carefully. • 5. Oi! Come here! • 6. What do people care nowadays?
Example The transaction seemed to fluster her, as if she might not have enough to pay for the few things she’d bought. A tin of lentil soup. A individual chicken pie. One solitary tomato. Maybe she did need the avocados – or something else. How does the writer emphasise that the woman had brought ‘few things’ through the use of sentence structure? (2 1 0) Answer – Each item (1) is given a sentence of its own (1)
Sentence Structure Try examples 6, 7 and 8 Answer 6 – List/repetition of phrases (1) + Explanation (1) e.g. Reference to variety of smells, builds to a climax 7 – short sentence (following a long sentence) (1) final sentence in paragraph (1) 8 – List(1) of questions (1)
Word Choice This is a very simple idea. When you are being asked about word choice you are simply being asked to look at the words and see why the writer has chosen those particular words to describe something or some feeling, rather than any other similar word.
Connotation and Denotation Denotation The denotation of a word is the basic meaning. Connotation The connotation of a word is what it suggests to you.
Try this example All the following words’ denotations are the same – they all mean thin. Explain the different connotations for each of the words and explain the effect it creates - Underweight - Skinny - Slim
Answering a word choice question • Normally you get no marks for identifying interesting words • All the marks that you are going to get will arise from the connotations which you discuss. In answering any Word Choice question you should: • Quote the word(s) • Follow your quotation with ‘suggests…’ • Refer to question along with comment
Word Choice The transaction seemed to fluster her, as if she might not have enough money to pay or the few things she’d bought. A tin of lentil soup. An individual chicken pie. One solitary tomato. Maybe she did need the avocados – or something else. How does the writer emphasise that the woman had bought ‘few things’ through the use of word choice? (2 0) Answer – use of a / an / one / individual / solitary Any one for two marks