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How can I stop 'feature spotting' in an exam?

'Feature spotting' is a term that teachers often throw around in classrooms, and sometimes never fully explain. This can lead students feeling confused and frustrated.

This was a problem that I used to have, before I established what  'feature spotting' actually was.

Basically, 'feature spotting' is when you simply name the different techniques used by an author in a piece of text. So in a question such as 'Compare how Marvell uses language to present ideas and feelings in 'To His Coy Mistress'', instead of analysing the way that the features work you will simply state what Marvell uses.

Feature spotting - 'The structure of To His Coy Mistress is split up into 3 stanzas. Marvell uses exaggeration here. He then uses explicit imagery here, to back up the exaggeration. He then uses alliteration here.'

 

Answering the question - 'Marvell structures To His Coy Mistress as a three pronged attack upon the female addressee, starting in the first stanza by using flattery and extremely exaggerated imagery. 'I would / Love you ten years before the flood, / And you should, if you please, refuse / Till the conversion of the Jews.' The images that Marvell conjures up - the notion of the speaker's love existing before the Flood, and for it to last until the conversion of the Jews - is farsical as the whole idea is that the Flood happened an impossibly long time ago, and Jews do not convert. This imagery helps to present the idea that the speaker in To His Coy Mistress loves the addressee for a particularly long time, due to the farsical, unimaginable comparisons that Marvell is alluding to. 

Annie D. GCSE Geography tutor, A Level English Literature tutor, A Le...

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