Paper 1: Unseen Prose Commentary - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Paper 1: Unseen Prose Commentary


Paper 1: Unseen Prose Commentary Using your planning time effectively Writing too precipitously can have disastrous consequences for your commentary!! – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Paper 1: Unseen Prose Commentary

Paper 1 Unseen Prose Commentary
  • Using your planning time effectively

  • Writing too precipitously can have disastrous
    consequences for your commentary!!
  • You should spend a good 30 mins planning to have
    a confident sense of
  • What the passage is really about
  • The significance of language and literary
  • Your personal response
  • How you intend to structure your commentary with
    a sense of purpose and focus, including a key
    central thesis.

1. Understanding the passage
  • Read through the passage once in its entirety
    without annotating to get an overall sense of
    what the passage is about
  • Write a short paragraph summarising the basic
    narrative of the passage and identifying the key
    themes / ideas when you come to write your
    commentary you can adapt this summary to form the
    first couple of sentences of your introduction,
    in which you need to show explicit understanding
    of the narrative.

2. Annotation Thinking about how meaning is
conveyed through language and literary features
  • Read the passage through two more times, thinking
    carefully about the effects of particular words
    and literary features.
  • For prose commentary in particular, you need to
    be alert to
  • Narrative voice
  • Characterisation
  • Narrative structure
  • Tensions/ oppositions / contrasts
  • Setting
  • Tense and mood
  • Punctuation and syntax
  • Dialogue
  • Reader response

The art of annotation
  • It is essential to use your planning time to make
    coherent, detailed and organised annotations.
  • You need to work out an effective method for
    annotation. You could
  • Underline key words / ideas/ features
  • Jot down your ideas in the margin
  • Use a highlighter to identify particularly
    significant aspects of the passage
  • Use a golden pen to identify what is, to you, the
    key aspect of the passage this could serve as
    the point you focus on for your central thesis
  • Colour coding key themes or literary devices

3. Making sense of your annotations organisation
and structure
  • When you have read the passage 3 times and feel
    your annotations are comprehensive it is vital
    to think carefully about structure (Criterion D,
  • Think carefully about whether you want to
    structure your commentary chronologically or
  • If you opt for a chronological structure, avoid
    adhering strictly to paragraph divisions
    rather, see if you can divide the passage into 3
    sections (look for shifts in subject matter /
    tone). A chronological structure can work well
    but you must avoid the pitfalls of plodding or
    using formulaic topic sentences at the beginning
    of paragraphs. You should aim to show how the
    chronology of the passage builds tension /
    develops character or plot.

  • If you opt for a thematic structure ensure that
    you dont lose a sense of organisation and end up
    repeating yourself as you allude to quotations /
    literary devices which could be relevant to more
    than one theme.
  • Whatever structure you adopt, you need to be
    conscious of
  • The need for a sense of overriding argument, so
    that your commentary is not a series of isolated
    points with no sense of cohesion
  • A central thesis which can be articulated in the
    introduction and returned to in your conclusion
    what drives the passage? What is the most
    striking feature / aspect?
  • Signposting to the examiner what structure you
    have adopted and where your commentary is headed.

4. Writing the Introduction
  • When you have understood the passage, annotated
    in detail and organised your notes into a focused
    structure, you are ready to write your
  • In your introduction you should
  • Explicitly show your understanding of the passage
    (2/3 concise sentences)
  • Assert your key thesis For me, the most
    striking aspect of this passage is
  • Signpost how you are going to structure your
    commentary (This passage falls into three
    distinct sections There are four key themes
    explored in this passage)

5. Writing the Commentary
  • Your introduction is crucial in setting up the
    structure and focus of your main commentary.
  • If you have made thorough annotations and thought
    carefully about structure, you will be set up for
    writing an excellent commentary
  • You need to adhere to the structure you have
    asserted in your introduction and ensure you are
    rigorously analysing the effects of language and
    literary features and integrating textual
    evidence throughout.
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