An Introduction to the Analytical Commentary

An Introduction to the Analytical Commentary

This article has been written by Liam McAlary, a Years 7 – 12, VCE Legal Studies and VCE English Language Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Liam then please check out his page here.

Hey guys, here is my second article for January. Hopefully you are enjoying your holidays and are feeling fresh for when school resumes in a couple of weeks. This article will focus on the analytical commentary, which a lot of schools do not teach in year 11 so it is a style of writing that many students are unfamiliar with going into year 12. This style of writing is commonly used for SACs, (especially in unit 3), and is section B of the exam (30 marks out of 75), so it is worthy of discussion.

Particularly at the start of the year, many students find analytical commentaries difficult as they do not have a defined structure. However, there are some loosely defined approaches to writing them, which are the, “subsystem,” approach (where paragraphs are organised by subsystem), and the, “big ideas,” approach, which sorts paragraphs by key ideas such as function, register, context, social purpose, and the relationship between participants (particularly for conversations). It is common for students to write a combination of the two approaches and this is the model I personally recommend writing as it is probably the most flexible and can be adapted to different texts. Ultimately, write your commentary the way that you feel the most comfortable.

Although there is no defined structure to an analytical commentary, you still need to write a short introduction to the piece (a conclusion is not required). An introduction to an analytical commentary should quickly discuss the context (situational, cultural, etc.), audience, register (formality), social purpose(s), and function(s) (function and social purpose are not the same). Furthermore, an introduction should contain as little analysis as possible (none), The analysis will be done through the rest of the piece.

In terms of the body of your piece, it is pivotal that your analysis is specific to the text at hand. As you discuss the features of the text or transcript, it is important that you continually link their use to the context, audience, register, purpose(s), and function(s) of the piece. Assessors (and teachers) cannot stand commentaries that are, generic, boring, and clearly have rote learned discussions of the features identified. Also, make sure that you are analysing good examples from the text, that your discussion of the feature’s impact on the text is as accurate as possible and that you use examples from the entire text. Commentary texts are often multiple pages, so it is important to show that you have read, absorbed and used the entirety of the text and not just the first page or two.

Finally, a quick word on commentaries when they are SACs. Your SACs assess a certain part of the course, so having a paragraph (generally straight after your introduction) devoted to that outcome is worth doing. For example, in unit 3 AOS 1, write a register paragraph that focuses on informal language features within the text.

Anyway, I hope this article has helped and I will have another one for you next month.

If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: How To Take Notes To Maximise Success2U Maths Tips from a Past Student (98 in 2U Maths)! and Tips on Studying for Exams – LearnMate Tutoring.


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An Introduction to the Analytical Commentary