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Introduction This document has been produced for the teachers and candidates of the Stage 6 courses in English.

It contains comments on candidate responses to the 2010 Higher School Certificate examinations, indicating the quality of the responses and highlighting their relative strengths and weaknesses. This document should be read in conjunction with the relevant syllabus, the 2010 Higher School Certificate examinations, the marking guidelines and other support documents which have been developed by the Board of Studies to assist in the teaching and learning in English (Standard) and English (Advanced) courses. General comments Generally candidates responded well to the range of texts and questions. Most candidates found the provided quotes to be a solid platform from which to begin their response to the questions, although in weaker responses, candidates failed to move beyond the use of this quote which limited their discussion. Candidates need to be familiar with the Boards Glossary of Key Words which contains some terms commonly used in examination questions. However, candidates should also be aware that not all questions will start with or contain one of the key words from the glossary. Questions such as how?, why? or to what extent? may be asked, or verbs may be used which are not included in the glossary, such as design, translate or list.

English (Standard) and English (Advanced) Paper 1 Area of Study


Section I Question 1 a. In better responses, candidates engaged well with the visual elements of the text and established a link between the visual and how the concept of belonging or not belonging to family was depicted. Weaker responses attempted a description of the image without addressing the how aspect in the question. b. In better responses, candidates clearly explained the nature of the relationship, using textual support to provide depth to the explanation. Weaker responses tended to provide a recount of the relationship. c. In strong responses, candidates focused on the portrayal of friendship as an alternative source of belonging. They used textual references insightfully to identify issues in the text and went beyond literal interpretations to provide points about the idea of friendship as an alternative to family in establishing a sense of belonging. In weaker responses, candidates tended towards explanation with less apt choices in textual referencing and made more generalised statements about friendship and/or families.

d. In better responses, candidates examined elements of the text in order to interpret the text holistically. Explorations of the texts meaning were supported by apt references that revealed the complexity of the speakers attitude. In weaker responses, candidates dealt with the text on a more literal level and often misinterpreted the attitude of the speaker or failed to refer to it at all. e. In stronger responses, candidates analysed the distinctive perspectives provided in the texts and understood that ways could be conceptual. They avoided generalisations and effectively addressed all elements of the question and provided aptly chosen textual evidence in support. Weaker responses tended towards explanation and textual referencing was limited. Section II Question 2 Candidates presented responses in a variety of forms, though narrative was the dominant choice. In better responses, candidates used language appropriate to their chosen form of imaginative writing. They explored the challenges of belonging and not belonging with insight, complexity and/or subtlety. These responses displayed originality and artistry and the mechanics of language were applied skilfully. In sound responses, candidates tended to be more literal in their use of one of the quotations. They tended to be predictable, linear or clichd in their examination of the challenges of belonging and not belonging. In these responses, the mechanics of language was controlled and writing structure was appropriate to form. Weaker responses tended to lack structural direction, were simplistic and inconsistent in their exploration of the challenges of belonging and not belonging. These responses lacked credibility, with limited appropriateness to audience and/or purpose. Flawed mechanics of language were usually a feature of these responses. Section III General comments Candidates approaches to the question varied, with many considering the statement as an opportunity to discuss the impact of the positive and or negative impacts of relationships on belonging, while others chose to explore an individuals interaction with the natural world as having a significant impact on belonging. In stronger responses, candidates engaged in a perceptive manner with the view expressed in the statement, establishing an insightful thesis, which was sustained throughout the response through a discerning selection of textual detail and an astute analysis of both the prescribed text and the text of their own choosing. The skilful integration of the analysis of both texts into the conceptual framework of their response was a distinguishing feature of highly developed responses. These responses were also marked by clear and purposeful control of language, with a judicious use of related material.

Some candidates found it difficult to sustain their argument as their chosen related material offered them limited opportunity to develop a strong argument or detailed analysis to support their ideas on the nature of belonging. Sound responses engaged with the view expressed in the statement. Candidates used their knowledge to support their response, but did not develop the response or sustain their analysis in a rigorous manner. These responses tended to list rather than analyse textual details and features, and adopted a series of explanations. Many of these responses approached the question in a logical and structured way, but merely relied on an overview of texts and description as a means of discussion. Some of these responses were overloaded with textual analysis at the expense of a well-developed and coherent line of argument. Links between texts were evident, but remained undeveloped, and candidates did not sustain their conceptual discussion throughout the response. In weaker responses, candidates generally attempted to respond to the view expressed in the statement, but experienced some difficulty in using textual evidence or features to support a discussion of the texts. Candidates often resorted to storytelling with intermittent reference to, rather than explanation of, textual features. Weaker responses were often colloquial, conversational and segmented, demonstrating a varying control of language, and displaying an elementary knowledge of the concept and the texts studied. Some candidates established a simplistic thesis in their introduction but did not develop or sustain this throughout the response. These responses were often unbalanced in their treatment of the prescribed and related texts, most often being weaker in their analysis of their chosen text. Shakespeare

William Shakespeare, As You Like It


In stronger responses, candidates skilfully explored the statement, weaving a consideration of familial and other relationships in the text with a reflection of the importance of the connections to their world and how all of this served to enrich or limit the characters sense of belonging. They assessed the juxtaposed worlds of the court and the Forest of Arden and how these affected or influenced the interactions of characters. They also looked at aspects of Shakespeares dramatic craft, exploring the humour, irony, use of disguise and conflicts within the play to illuminate the growth and development of character. Some responses also discussed the characteristics of Jaques, and the reasons for his inability to interact with others, his not belonging at the end of the play in contrast to the resolved conflicts in the relationships with others. Other responses explored the role of Rosalind (aka Ganymede) as a catalyst in enriching or hindering belonging between others. Weaker responses tended to re-tell the plot with only a limited connection to the idea of belonging and without assessing Shakespeares dramatic techniques. They also tended to focus on Jaques and his desire to limit his sphere of belonging at the expense of a wider exploration of the play. Some of these responses relied on a simplistic understanding of equation of the court as limiting and the country as enriching, but did not take their ideas any further. Poetry

Emily Dickinson, Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson


In stronger responses, candidates used the poems to develop a sophisticated and thoughtful discussion of the poets relationships with others and with her world and then supported it with carefully chosen references to the natural and commonplace imagery that forms the metaphoric centre of her poetry. While many of these responses displayed an awareness of Dickinsons

personal context in light of the question, they did not allow contextual considerations to dominate their discussion. For the most part, candidates focused on the social structures and interactions that limited the poets experience of belonging, but better responses counterbalanced this with a consideration of the enrichment that is found in the poets deep sense of connection to the natural world. While many stronger responses discussed two poems, the brevity of many of the prescribed poems allowed some candidates to discuss three poems to further their discussion, or to explore contrasting aspects of belonging in connection with the quotation. I had been hungry all the years, I gave myself to him and This is my letter to the world were most frequently discussed, yet many strong responses considered other poems. In weaker responses, candidates often discussed Dickinsons context but with little direct reference to the poems or the quotation. Many responses at this level struggled to demonstrate an understanding of the complexity of Dickinsons poetry, focusing instead on an explanation of the poets feelings of not belonging, but failing to relate it to interaction with others and the world around her. Poetic devices were often identified without considering their effect on the meaning. Many weaker responses ignored the quotation in the question.

English (Standard) Paper 2 Modules


Section I Module A: Experience through Language General comments Successful responses embedded an understanding of the language of the module and the elective in their response. Weaker responses lapsed into a simple recount of both texts with just a passing reference to the question in the introduction or conclusion. The choice of related text was often a discriminator in this question. Section II Module B: Close Study of Text General comments In stronger responses, candidates demonstrated a thoughtful selection of material supported by relevant examples, and answered the question with confidence and a sense of personal engagement. Weaker responses were often detailed but demonstrated little relevant textual knowledge. Others were generic and formulaic and had little relationship to the question. Question 4 Drama

(b) William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice


The extract from act 1, scene 3 enabled candidates to explore such ideas as cultural differences, conflict, vengeance, morality, mercy and racism. Weaker responses made simplistic comments about Jews and Christians and did not demonstrate understanding of the complexities of the cultural and religious differences. In stronger responses, candidates analysed the dramatic features of the extracts and presented a sustained discussion of other parts of the play and how the ideas were explored. Weaker responses relied on recount, and often focused on sections of the play which were not introduced in the extract.

English (Advanced) Paper 2 Modules

Section I Module A: Comparative Study of Texts and Context General comments In better responses, candidates developed a thesis which addressed the question and demonstrated a strong conceptual understanding of the module and the elective. They embedded an evaluation of the relationship between text and context in the analysis of the texts. These responses demonstrated an understanding of the term values and also showed a discerning use of textual references. Weaker responses tended to make connections between texts through lengthy description and recount. They were explanatory and narrative rather than analytical. These responses did not demonstrate evaluative judgements and treatment of context was often superficial or absent. Textual references were often not well selected or integrated into the discussion of the two texts studied. Question 1 Exploring Connections Better responses recognised the significance of context in understanding the shift in values between the texts. The relationship between texts and contexts was evaluated, and textual reference was detailed and selected discerningly. A discriminating feature was a candidates ability to engage with the terms of the question through clear, concise arguments and shape a response accordingly. In weaker responses, candidates adopted a thematic approach to the question and confined the discussion to issues rather than values and made parallel connections between texts. Treatment of context was not integrated into the discussion and was treated in isolation. These responses often lacked appropriate textual detail and occasionally showed an unbalanced treatment of texts. Question 2 Texts in Time In better responses, candidates considered the key notion of individuals challenging established values and produced a shaped response that developed and sustained a thesis which genuinely addressed the question and which used a discerning selection of textual references. In weaker responses, candidates tended to identify some similarities between these texts, often with a limited understanding of the significance of these similarities. They often considered the key concept of established values of their time in a superficial or generalised way or ignored it. Treatment of context was not integrated into the discussion and was frequently a reference to the time of composition rather than an understanding of how context is reflected in the construction and reception of texts. They often relied on a few basic or inappropriate references to texts. Section II Module B: Critical Study of Texts General comments In stronger responses, candidates carefully considered arguments and thoughtfully selected, detailed textual references to support a perceptive thesis. Insightful responses demonstrated a strong sense of personal engagement which was developed through an evaluation of a variety of interpretations. Very few responses simply relied on interpretations of others and readings. Weaker responses tended to be descriptive and made limited reference to the language and ideas of the text. They lacked development and did not sustain a coherent and detailed

argument. These responses also reflected a limited understanding of the demands of the question.

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre


In better responses, candidates engaged skilfully with the key words of expectations and love within the novel. These responses were characterised by a detailed knowledge of the novel and of Brontes narrative treatment of Janes nineteenth-century world. Examples of expectations and love were well selected and supported by a strong personal voice and thesis. Weaker responses tended to list examples of love within the plot, particularly Janes struggle to find true love. Expectations was often defined as the nineteenth century expectations of womens roles, and while this may have some relevance to the question, an overwhelming focus on Brontes context did not necessarily support a thesis about the narrative treatment of love and expectations. Section III Module C: Representation and Text General comments Many stronger responses demonstrated an awareness of the constructedness of texts and how the choice of form and its associated language features connected with the composers purpose and context. A carefully constructed thesis was developed through skilful analysis and seamless integration of the prescribed text and well-chosen text or texts of own choosing. Judiciously selected textual evidence was used to support the evaluation of the form and its distinctive features. Weaker responses were largely descriptive and limited in scope. Some understanding of the act of representation through form was evident; however, the treatment of the prescribed text and the text or texts of own choosing was superficial and inconsistent. Some of these responses did present a simple line of argument, but it was not developed further through the textual references. Generally, the text or texts of own choosing were not used to make connections with the prescribed text and to demonstrate understanding of conflicting perspectives or history and memory. Question 11 History and Memory In stronger responses, candidates concentrated on the concepts of History and Memory and communicated a judgement about how effective particular texts were in representing these concepts through their textual form, contributing to their illumination. They then justified these judgements through effective comparison of textual features and ideas.

The Fiftieth Gate


In the case of The Fiftieth Gate, many candidates considered textual form in a very broad sense to include medium of production and language techniques. Many responses viewed Bakers representation of the Holocaust as an event, and focused on an understanding of how the interplay between recorded history and the memories of the survivors, their children and others can lead to empathy, thereby furthering their understanding of the concepts. In stronger responses, candidates employed texts of own choosing to develop this aspect of representation, to and further explore the ways in which various language techniques contributed to their understanding of History and Memory and related this to their thesis. In weaker responses, candidates superficially referred to aspects of history and memory. They described these aspects in relation to their texts and employed related texts that did not further the response.