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write to analyse, review, comment or explain


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atwood writer quotation

These four types of writing share many elements. Each one requires:

THE AQA 'A' SYLLABUS

The AQA A syllabus has writing to 'analyse, review and comment' as a piece of coursework that must be based on an analysis of a media text such as a film or magazine ad. As well as requiring the skills mentioned above, you will also need to use an 'appropriate technical vocabulary'. If you are writing about a film (or any other kind of 'moving image' such as a TV programme), you'll find lots more help here.

 

Writing to Analyse

 

Writing to Review

 

Writing to Comment

 

Writing to Explain

OBJECTIVE vs. SUBJECTIVE

By its nature, all writing must, to some degree, reflect its writer’s attitude towards the topic. That is, writing will always contain at least some subjective qualities. When it’s important to reduce the subjectivity of a piece of writing, such as in an explanation, this natural personal bias can be reduced by providing a variety of different points of view.  

 

A CAREFUL ANALYSIS WILL BE AT THE CORE OF THIS WRITING

As you read above, a key aspect of this kind of writing is the need to break down – that is, analyse – your topic so you can identify which key individual aspects are important, relevant or interesting for your audience’s needs.

Having sorted out what you believe is important, you then need to discuss and evaluate your topic at several levels:

 

...EQUALLY IMPORTANT IS A CLOSE AWARENESS OF AUDIENCE

Clearly, if your potential future readers were able to carry out this analysis and evaluation for themselves, there would be no need for you to do the job for them. This points to another key aspect of this writing: you need to show in the writing a close consideration of the needs of your audience. This means that what you write must be useful, interesting and clear.

 
... AND BECAUSE STRUCTURE IS CRUCIAL, PLANNING IS A MUST!

A further important aspect of mark schemes is to award marks for the quality of the organisation of your writing. The examiner is looking for evidence that you have consciously shaped your writing to allow its meaning to unfold clearly, usefully and in an interesting way for your audience.

One way to recognise the care and risks of these kinds of writing is to reflect on your own past experiences of reading reviews, explanations and comments:

  • Have you ever felt patronised by a teacher’s explanation that seemed to you to have a condescending tone?

  • Have you ever felt more confused after an explanation than before - almost made to feel a fool?

  • Have you ever thought that more or less details were needed in a film review or in an explanation of a topic?

  • Have you ever felt that you couldn’t trust the reviewer or the person who is offering an explanation?

  • Have you ever felt bored by the (yawn!) l-e-n-g-t-h and d-e-t-a-i-l (yawn!) of a review or explanation?

If the answer is 'yes' to any of the above, you’ll begin to recognise the care needed with these kinds of writing. Of course, whoever made you feel this way probably didn’t aim set out to patronise, confuse, lose or bore you. They simply made poor judgments about their audience - that is, you, their reader or listener - and their style. Either that or they lacked the knowledge of how to explain, review or analyse their topic. Their writing was unsuccessful and would achieve a low grade.

When you write to explain, review or analyse, you should aim to avoid such common pitfalls. How clear your explanation or review needs to be for its audience, how detailed, how deep, in what tone and register - these are important aspects to consider.

 

GRADE-BOOSTING TIPS

 Want higher marks? Think about the following...

  • Work out what and how much your reader already knows

    • No one likes to read what they already know... it’s boring!

    • ... and if you do tell what they already know, you risk making readers feel patronised.

  • Work out what and how much your reader needs to know

    • too much and, again, they’re bored or their enjoyment of the topic is ruined...

    • ... too little and they’re unsatisfied or still confused!

  • Work out what and how much your reader ought to know

    • in a review, for example, the plot needs to be revealed but only in part...

    • ... and details of the ending? Never!

  • Work out what and how much your reader would be interested in knowing

    • thinking closely about your reader is the key to a good review or explanation!

 


MAKE SURE YOUR ANALYSIS AND EVALUATION IS CLEAR

 

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE CONSIDERED THE NEEDS OF YOUR AUDIENCE

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SUPPORTED YOUR POINTS


TWO EXAMPLES

An explanation of bullying might...

... give key information about the topic
... mention one or two brief
anecdotes to make your point more clearly and to gain interest
... include an analysis of the background to the bully's and the victim's situation
... explain the psychology of the bully and the victim
... classify different types of bullying
... reflect on why and how bullying might happen

A review of a film might give...

... information about genre, director and stars
... a brief explanation of its storyline and plot
... some brief background to the film and a mention of other key films that are comparable
... a brief discussion of how the film develops as a structure, from beginning, to middle to end (avoiding spoilers!)
... how these parts work together to create an
effect or explore a theme
... likely future developments.


Finally, always check your work

Each year, literally thousands of students fail to achieve the marks they could. Don't be one of them ALWAYS CHECK YOUR WRITING BEFORE HANDING IN!

Read each sentence after you write it, thinking of your future reader's reaction
Use a variety of sentence types and styles and remember that shorter sentences are often clearer and crisper sounding. An occasional ultra-short sentence can add real impact to writing.

Read each sentence before you proceed to the next to check it is fluent, accurate and complete. Does it follow on logically from the previous sentence?

Check every paragraph
A paragraph is a series of sentences (five is an average - it is good style to avoid overly short paragraphs) that develop from a single topic sentence used to introduce the point of the paragraph.

Avoid creating overly short paragraphs as this suggests either a) you do not know what a paragraph is or b) that you have no explained the point of the paragraph in sufficient detail. Try to make sure that each paragraph flows naturally on from its predecessor by using the final sentence of each paragraph to subtly 'hook' into the topic of the next paragraph.

To correct a missed paragraph simply put this mark where you want in to be: // then, in your margin write: // = new paragraph. The examiner will not mark you down for this so long as you have not forgotten all of your paragraphs.

Examine each comma and apostrophe
A very common error and poor style is to use a comma instead of a full stop to end a sentence. This makes two or more stylish, short and crisp sentences into one long, drawn out and boring sentence! Always end each sentence with a full stop - or a semi-colon if you know how to use this punctuation mark.

Apostrophes are only ever used for two reasons. But so many students fail to use them effectively. If two words are squeezed together into one and a letter is missed out in the process, show where the letter was by inserting an apostrophe. So should not becomes shouldn't

And when one of two nouns belong to the other, show which one possesses which by adding apostrophe+s to its end. So the school's entrance is correct because the entrance is 'possessed by the school, also Alan's book shows a similar possession.

But watch out for it's: with an apostrophe it only ever means a shortened form of it is or it has, as in it's cold. or it's got a piece missing. If you want to write belonging to it, as in its fur is smooth but its claws are sharp, no apostrophe is needed.

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