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Tips for Short Answer & Analytical Commentary
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Tips for Short Answer & Analytical Commentary


As we commence the start of the school year for 2017, I just want to publish a quick article to all new English Language students for 2017 on how they succeed in their upcoming SACs – be it short answer or analytical commentary. I’ll leave essay for the moment and dedicate a future post to it.

Short Answer Tips

  1. Look at the marks! This will give you an indicator as to how much you need to write. You don’t want to write too much, or even too little. This will mean you will run out of time, or have too much time left over and will compromise on quality answers. 
  2. Look for plurals in the question (does it say ‘features’ or ‘choices’?).
  3. Do not list or write dot-points. This is an English subject.
  4. Try and knock this out ASAP when you get into the exam. More marks are allocated to the commentary and an essay section. However, this doesn’t mean you compromise on quality.
  5. This section is a great test of your metalinguistic knowledge. If you fail to know your metalanguage then this section will be very difficult to complete indeed!
  6. Pay attention to the timing!

Analytical Commentary Tips

  1. Don’t make generalisations. E.g. ‘Paragraphing is used to ensure the author’s ideas are interpreted appropriately’ – this can be applied to ANY text in the world!
    1. Link back to social purpose, function, context and register – however, you don’t need to always link back to ALL of them. Just the most appropriate.
  2. I’d recommend structuring by subsystem but some may recommend other structures such as by identity or by register, purpose, context.
  3. Also be careful that you structure appropriately for the correct mode (e..g coherence/cohesion not so relevant in a spoken informal transcript). In a spoken transcript, you MUST look at phonology.
  4. Pay attention to the timing!

I hope this helps! This is just a brief overview and I hope it helps you in your quest for success this year!


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