A+ Resources For Students
Higher and Standard Grade English Tips
Close Reading Round Up
In the close reading section of the higher exam paper, you will be given a piece of writing you will not have seen before and asked to answer a set of questions.
Typical U questions ask you to find out a piece of information from a particular paragraph or line. It may ask you to interpret what the author has said; suggest why they had said it or put it into your own words.
Decide on the meaning of in terrorem by the words before it:
Early one morning the sub-inspector at a police station the other end of the town rang me up on the phone and said that an elephant was ravaging the bazaar. Would I please come and do something about it? I did not know what I could do, but I wanted to see what was happening and I got on to a pony and started out. I took my rifle, an old .44 Winchester and much too small to kill an elephant, but I thought the noise might be useful in terrorem.
The narrator is going to kill the elephant but his gun is too small. If the noise might be useful 'in terrorem' means 'to scare'.
Show how the underlined sentence acts as a link between paragraph 1 and paragraph 2.
George Orwell said that sport was 'war minus the shooting' - presumably before shooting became an Olympic event. Orwell's famous phrase captures well the passion and hatred that animates the great football rivalries - Rangers and Celtic, Barcelona and Real Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester United. Remove the hostility between these rivals and the sporting contest is diminished.
For this reason, Spurs fans were not only justified but duty-bound to give Sol Campbell a torrid reception on his return to White Hart Lane in enemy colours. Supporters held up balloons and posters bearing the word 'Judas', booed Campbell's every touch, and pelted Arsenal's team bus with beer cans and bottles.
'Enemy colours' refers to paragraph one, which is about people treating sports like a 'war'. 'torrid reception' refers to paragraph two, which is about Sol Campbell returning to White Hart Lane.' The phrase 'For this reason' shows that the second paragraph will continue the subject of the first, about fanatical football supporters.
A questions ask you about the author's style or techniques, including:
- Word choice
- Figures of speech – imagery or sound
- Sentence Structure
Quote words from the text and explain their connotations; show how they might affect the reader.
The tone of a passage comes from the emotion created by the words. If a paragraph contains the words 'sunny', 'beach' and 'laughter' it will probably have a happy tone. Try entering these words on a Google search and you may get:
From Sunny Beach, it is a forty-minute cruise by boat to the deserted bay beach of Robinson Crusoe and his Man Friday. The two castaways can be found there, welcoming. Games are held on land and in the water throughout the day, with a free show for children and adults. Expect plenty of laughter and ice-cream.
Explain how the word choice creates the tone of this passage:
Sunny Beach was a place where fun and laughter felt out of place. We felt as if we had turned up too early for the party – or too late. For half a year the intended function of Sunny Beach is temporarily out of use.
The expressions 'out of place', 'too late' and 'out of use' are associated with failure and age, and create a tone of bitterness or sadness.
Show how the author's use of punctuation; parenthesis; long and short sentences; and list / repetition / climax enable them to get a point across.
To answer a sentence structure question, explain what the author's choice of structure emphasises, suggests or implies.
Comment on the following sentence structure:
'He doesn't know what to do. He looks around. He's been seen!'
The writer uses repetition of the word 'He' at the start of each sentence.
Each sentence is short as it describes the person's thoughts and actions. This suggests the person is worried and thinking quickly.
An image can be a simile, a metaphor or personification. In each case, something is being compared to something else.
'He was a tiger in battle'
'It was as cold as a polar bear's nose'
When answering questions about imagery:
a) See / feel: what picture does the image create in your mind?
b) Good / bad: Show the associations of the image:
- Is it kind or unkind to compare someone to a tiger? Or both?
- Is the writer trying to make you admire something, feel pity towards it, hate it, fear it, laugh at it?
Explain how the following image is effective:
'The dwarf with his hands on backwards
Sat slumped like a half-filler sack'
The writer uses a metaphor to describe the dwarf's hands: 'hands on backwards'. This suggests the dwarf is deformed and makes me feel pity towards him.
A simile is used to describe how the dwarf is sitting: 'like a half-filled sack'. This shows he could not sit properly.
It also suggests he felt sad. The associations of a 'half-filled sack' are of something missing, because a sack which is not full might have had something taken from it.
The two common sound effects used by writers are:
Onomatopoeia: pop, bang, crash etc
Alliteration: the best buy in beer.
Think you understand? Try:
for some useful interactive quizzes that will test your understanding.
Other Tips Pages
|Revision Tips:||GCSE English, GCSE Maths, GCSE Geography, GCSE Science, and Exam Revision Tips|
|Coursework Tips:||English (general), Higher and Standard Grade English, Maths and Science .|
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