Nat 5 Close Reading PPT

National 5 Close
Taylor High School English
Close Reading
• Close Reading aims to test your
understanding of language. The questions
will focus on:
• What the writer is saying (Understanding)
• How they writer says it (Analysis )
• How effectively he is saying it (Evaluation)
Exam Technique
• The art of answering test questions in the
correct way is called “exam technique”.
Often, marks are lost not through a lack of
real understanding, but through failure to
grasp exactly what is wanted by the
examiners in certain types of question
• The questions are always “directed”. This
means you will be told to look at a
particular section of the text to find the
answers. You will be given pointers such
• “In the first paragraph…”
• “Look at lines …”
• If you choose an answer from outside the
section you will get NO marks !
Points of Exam Technique !
• Find the answer within the lines you are
directed to
• Note the number of marks available & give
an answer of suitable length & amount of
• Look carefully at what the question
instructs you to do. Use your own words
unless the answer asks you to quote
• The most common task is you will be
asked to pick out a fact from the text and
express it in your own words – we call this
Example – Paraphrasing
• Here is an example. The passage was
about tarantulas and the narrator was the
tarantula itself !
• “I’m nocturnal. I love the moonlight, the
shadows, the dark places, the dappled murk. I’m
not being poetic. I’m simply being true to my
nature, my nocturnal nature. Like all tarantulas.”
• Question: In your own words, in what way is
the speaker like all tarantulas, according to
the first paragraph ? (1 Mark)
The steps to Answering !
• There are three steps to answering this
type of question:
• Step One: Look in the text for the information which will
answer the question, in this case it is the word
• Step Two: Use your metalinguistic skills to work out what
“nocturnal means” (Word Attack or Reading Around)
• Step Three: Express the information in your own words
(paraphrase it) Use a simple sentence which fits the way
the question is worded. In this example you need to
change the narrative voice from 1st person to 3rd person
Now you try !
• Try to answer the question !
• Question: In your own words, in what
way is the speaker like all tarantulas,
according to the first paragraph ? (1
The answer !
• An acceptable answer would be:
The speaker is active by night.
Remember !
• If you were simply to say “The speaker is
nocturnal” or “He or she is nocturnal” you
would get no marks since you have failed
to show that you know what the word
“nocturnal” means and also that you have
the vocabulary to put it into your own
words !
• You may put the original word or words in
brackets after your own version. This will
make it quite clear to the examiner that
you have focused on the right part of the
• Remember: such additions, while helpful
to the examiner, will cost you time & so
should be kept to a minimum !
Summarisation !
• A variation on this kind of question is the
task which asks you to pick out a number
of points the writer makes and briefly
summarise them in your own words. Such
a question frequently includes the word
Example !
• Here is an example again from the same
• Question: The speaker provides several
pieces of evidence to support his
argument that the fear of tarantulas is
Summarise the main ones given in
lines 88-113 (3 marks)
In this question the number of marks
available (3) suggests the number of pieces
of evidence to be found. Always remember
to look carefully at the number of marks. You
would be best to present your answer in a
numbered format:
• You could also go to the text and number
the points on the text (1), (2) and (3) then
all you need to do is paraphrase them.
This will help you locate the information
quickly as you are writing
Warning !
• One of the most common errors in Close
Reading is to write too much for a one
mark question and not enough for a
multiple mark question
Meanings of Words
• Another task set to test understanding is to
explain the meaning of a word or phrase
as used in the text. Again you will need to
apply your metalinguistics to help you
• The word “context” may be used here –
context means the part of the text where
the word is used
Example !
• “Show how the context helps you
understand the meaning of the word
‘nocturnal’.” (2 marks)
• Look again at the opening paragraph !
• “I’m nocturnal. I love the moonlight, the
shadows, the dark places, the dappled murk. I’m
not being poetic. I’m simply being true to my
nature, my nocturnal nature. Like all tarantulas.”
2 Steps to Answering !
• Step 1: Explain the meaning of the word
• Step 2: Show how (quote) the rest of the
text makes the meaning clear by quoting
the word or words which provide clues
Answer !
• An acceptable answer might be:
Nocturnal means being active at night. The
writer refers to his preference for “moonlight”
and “dark” which both suggest night-time.
• Analysis questions ask you to think about
HOW the writer is expressing his ideas. A
common fault of exam technique is to treat
an analysis question as if it is
understanding. Marks are often lost in
these questions because candidates often
explain what is being said rather than how
it is being said.
• Analysis questions will deal with aspects
of style: sentence structure & punctuation;
expression & word choice; figures of
speech; the structure of argument & tone.
• Look very carefully at the wording of the
question to find out what is wanted. If the
question asks you to “Quote” you may
simply pick out a word or expression from
the text. Such questions are usually only
worth one mark.
• Quote the expression that makes it
• However, more usually an answer to an
Analysis question will require you to
explain something in your own words.
• Almost always you will be expected to
quote something as well as providing an
explanation in your own words. Here is a
typical example of a question which
requires you to both quote and comment:
• Select one expression used to describe
this and explain why you find it
Know your questions !
• Make a table in your jotter like the one on
the next slide. Your teacher will give you
a past paper, go through the questions
and identify which questions are examples
of each category
Sentence Structure
• The most important thing is to know what
is meant by sentence structure, and what
answer it should refer to. You should not
only describe the main features of
sentence structure but also explain their
• Basically, the “structure” of the sentence
means the way it is made up and how the
various elements are arranged. The
punctuation can be helpful in giving clues
to the structure.
• Step One: Look out for the types of
sentence the writer uses
•Minor Sentences
•Eric’s Mother
• Statements – tell you something. They
end in a full stop. Most sentences are
statements, so it is usually if other types of
sentence are used that you will need to
comment. Writing which is made up of
statements alone may have a calm or
impersonal tone.
• Questions – ask something. They always end in
a question mark. Using questions may
challenge the reader, or show uncertainty in the
writer. Look out for rhetorical questions, which
do not expect an answer, eg, “What kind of an
answer is that ?” Such questions aim to stir up
strong feelings in the reader, such as anger.
They create what is called an emotive tone,
which simply means one which stirs up feelings
or emotions
• Commands – tell you to do something.
“Think of a number.” They end with either
a full stop or exclamation mark. They are
often used in advertisements or where the
writer tries to create the effect of speaking
directly to the reader.
• Exclamations – Express excitement or
surprise. “How beautiful it was !” “What a
place !” “Goodness gracious !”
Exclamations do not always contain verbs.
They often begin with “What” or “How”, like
the first two examples, and end in an
exclamation mark or full stop.
Exclamations may also create an emotive
or dramatic tone.
• Minor Sentences – don’t contain a verb. Since
they are abbreviations (shortened forms) of
other types of sentences they may end in a full
stop or question mark. “What now ?” “Time for a
rest”. Such sentences will be very short & may
create a tense or dramatic mood. They are
typically informal language & may be used in
direct speech, notes or diary entries. Such
writing without verbs may also be called note
• You will never be asked to identify types of
sentence, you will always be asked to
explain the effect of choosing particular
sentence types. This is only possible
when you know the full context.
Step Two:
• Consider whether sentences are long and
complex or short & simple
• Long sentences containing several verbs
& therefore several clauses are called
complex. These are typical in English.
Normally the more complex, the more
formal the language.
• We do not note a sentence is complex as
it is not out of the ordinary
Simple Sentences
• Sentences with only one verb are called
simple sentences. These are typical of
speech & types of language used to
communicate quickly & directly. Young
children, for example, tend to use many
simple sentences
Step Three – Word Order
• Look at the arrangement of words in a
sentence, particularly longer ones. Some
of the features may be worth commenting
Normal word order
• Most sentences in the English language
follow the order:
• Subject
• Verb
• Object
• Eg:
The farmer shot the rabbit
• In this sentence the subject of the
sentence – the farmer
• Does the action (verb) - shoots
• To the rabbit (object)
• This is an active sentence – the subject
does the verb to the object
• Again this is not unusual and not worth
commenting on !
A reversal of normal word order is
known as inversion
• Inversion is the way Yoda
speaks “Happy am I,” rather
than “I am Happy !” Using
inversion throws emphasis on
to a particular part of the
sentence – in this example the
word “Happy” is stressed.
• Often a pattern will be clear to see in a
Three patterns are specifically common:
Parts of Speech
• The words which make up a sentence are called
parts of speech. There are eight parts of speech
in English, which all have different functions:
nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns,
prepositions, conjunctions and articles. It is
useful to be able to identify these so you can
comment if any part of speech is used in an
unusual way to create a particular effect. Add
each of these terms to your KAL section with a
• Conjunctions, which have a linking
function, are often worthy of comment. In
the case of verbs recognising the tense
can be useful. In most narrative writing
the past tense is used. If the present
tense is used, or if the tense changes at
some point, this may be well worth
commenting on.
• Be precise in describing the effects. You
will get little credit for vague comments
such as the writer uses a lot of adjectives
or the writer uses long sentences broken
up by commas !!!!!!!!
• Parenthesis is when an extra piece of
information is inserted into a sentence and
enclosed by a pair of brackets (), commas, or
dashes -.
• Parenthesis may be a single words, phrase or a
whole clause. While the grammar of the
sentence would remain intact if the parenthesis
were omitted, it will add something significant. It
may make the meaning clearer, by adding an
explanation or clarifying detail.
• Parenthesis may also effect the tone by
adding a comment which may be
humorous or ironic.