How can "Assessment Objectives" be incorporated in an essay?

"Assessment Objectives" are the guidelines by which an essay can be structured and are useful in that they provide a framework for knowing how an essay may be assessed.

There are five Assessment Objectives, inventively called AO1, AO2, AO3, AO4, and AO5.

AO1: Articulate informed, personal and creative responses to literary texts, using associated concepts and terminology, and coherent, accurate written expression. (AQA)

AO2: Analyse ways in which meanings are shaped in literary texts. (AQA)

AO3: Demonstrate understanding of the significance and influence of the contexts in which literary texts are written and received. (AQA)

AO4: Explore connections across literary texts. (AQA)

AO5: Explore literary texts informed by different interpretations. (AQA)

These objectives act as both a guide for one's overall essay plan and also a checklist for each sentence and paragraph. The overall essay should give roughly equal weight to each AO, unless the question itself suggests that the essay should focus specifically on a close reading, which favours AO2, or a comparison with other texts from the period which requires more use of AO3 to demonstrate an understanding of the period and history of the text, AO4 to draw out other texts as examples, and AO5 to show how you as a writer are aware of other methods of reading and interpreting the text(s) at hand.

Remembering all of these in their AQA form is a bit tough though, especially under stressful conditions, so here's a checklist that may be more useful:

AO1: Be clear and answer the question.

AO2: Analyse language.

AO3: Demonstrate knowledge of historical context.

AO4: Demonstrate knowledge of other relevant texts.

AO5: Demonstrate knowledge of other interpretations and debates.

Not every paragraph will necessarily be able to accommodate every AO, but it is a good practice to keep a tally of how many AOs you're hitting in one. Even a close-reading focused paragraph can benefit from a sprinkling of historical and literary context to support its points, and certainly if you are planning to pursue literature at the university level, knowledge of contexts, interpretation, and debates becomes much more important. Bear these things in mind when writing at all levels!

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