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This is the second of four blogs to support you with last minute exam practice for the OCR GCSE (9-1) English Literature exams later this month. It follows on from the first one which focused on quotations.
Here’s the order of play:
The ability to compare and contrast texts is embedded in both the GCSE (9-1) English Language and Literature courses, so students will no doubt have had plenty of exposure to different types of texts including approaches and strategies for making connections between texts. There is no hard and fast method for this, but it’s worth highlighting a couple of points in relation to the comparison questions featured in the OCR GCSE (9-1) English Literature exam papers. You'll find specimen papers via the GCSE English Literature subject webpage and practice papers via the OCR secure site Interchange:
The keyword in the question is compare – so students are thinking about the connections and similarities between modern text extracts (Paper 1) OR poems (Paper 2) as well as the ways in which they are different. Differences can in fact prove easier and more illuminating to explore – for example, they might be found in the speaker’s tone, or the attitudes expressed toward the theme, the types of language used or the form and structure (poetry).
When comparing texts, evaluate the similarities and differences between texts in a systematic way, considering, for example: narrative voice; theme; tone/mood; language techniques; structure; sentence variation; punctuation for effect.
Consider using the following vocabulary when comparing texts:
As well as evaluative comment:
Using connectors is a good way of ensuring a balanced, purposeful response which interweaves comparison throughout. Tempting as it is for students to fall back on the familiar studied text or poem, at the risk of neglecting the unfamiliar text for comparison, this can lead to unbalanced responses which lack focus. In the very first trialling of sample questions for the new GCSE (9-1) English Literature specification, students expressed confidence in having the familiar text to use as a springboard to make fresh and personal connections with a thematically linked unseen text.
Let us know if you’re finding this series of blogs helpful and do get in touch if you have any questions – follow us on twitter @OCR_English or email email@example.com.
Part 3 will focus on candidates’ independent selection of material to answer OCR GCSE English Literature exam questions, namely choosing another moment or a poem.
Kate Newton, OCR English Subject Advisor
Kate has worked at OCR for 4 years and is a member of the English subject team with particular responsibility for GCSE English Literature and AS/A Level English Language and Literature (EMC).
She previously worked for a number of national public sector education organisations, including the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) and the General Teaching Council (GTC), primarily on new policy initiatives. Prior to that, after graduating with a BA Joint Hons in English and Education from Cardiff University, Kate started her professional career with a competitor Awarding Body (mentioning no names!). She loves to cook and eat out as well as exercise regularly, which includes running around after her two young children.