How do I analyse English Language exam texts?

Examiners award marks in 3 categories, which put simply are: 

AO1- identification and discussion of linguistic features within given text/s

AO2- identification and discussion of theories and concepts that affect language within given text/s

AO3- discussion of contextual factors that affect language within given text/s

Students who are awarded top marks are able to answer these exam questions using what I call a 'features within features' technique to critically analyse text/s.

In other words, they use AO1, AO2 and AO3 components as a springboard to their wider knowledge. Being a high achieving English Language student relies heavily on a student's ability to be perceptive- read and infer beyond the obvious. 

My Top Tips for analysing texts:

AO1- What linguistic features have been used by the text producer and why? How does this affect the way the text/s are received by the intended audience?

AO2- How is gender/power represented e.g. through stereotypes? Is this done in a subtle and convincing way? How is gender/power explored throughout the text/s? Demonstrate support for an argument, drawing links to linguistic features in the text as well as contextual factors. A diamond tip would be to challenge and refute theories and concepts- this is where examiners are really impressed!

AO3- G.A.S.P (If you’re sitting in the exam hall and struggling, simply refer back to this. If there is one thing I would emphasise, it would be that AO3 can make your analysis and exam answer very perceptive if done in a convincing manner. Every paragraph should discuss and draw relevant links to 1 or more element of G.A.S.P)

Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

Genre- What is the genre of the text/s? E.g. advertisement

Audience- Who is the primary and secondary audience of the text/s?

Subject- What is being discussed in the text/s?

Purpose- What is the purpose of the text/s?

Make a point and elaborate/justify it using AO1, AO2, and AO3. Convince the examiner that what you are arguing is perceptive and critically thought out. 

Be specific when arguing a point- vague statements and explanations will NOT convince the examiner of your argument and so your marks may be limited to a lower grade. 

Safiyyah H. GCSE English Language tutor, A Level English Language tut...

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