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					Close Reading

        S3 National 5
What will I be asked to do?
ü Read a passage

ü Answer questions

ü Complete it in 50 minutes
        Let’s get the basics right
   Step one when doing
   close reading is:   Read the whole

After reading each      Look back at relevant
question you must:      paragraph

When asked to quote      Write down a few
an expression you:       words: NOT A WHOLE
When asked to explain
                          Use your
fully you should:         OWN words
By the close reading exam you need
to be able to answer questions on:

üSentence structure
üWord choice
üLinking function
        Sentence Structure
Some questions will ask you to look at
the writer’s sentence structure and to
comment on the effect that the writer
is trying to create.

This can seem very difficult at first,
but it’s just a case of knowing what to
look for!
1. Look at the length of the sentence
 Has the writer used a long or a short
 sentence and what is the effect?

 Is it a very long sentence to show a list of
 Or is it to show lots of ideas jumbling
 around in someone’s head? To show

 Is it a very short sentence to show that
 someone is angry or that something has
 happened suddenly? Or to emphasise an
 idea, to make it stand out?
  2. Look at the punctuation of
          the sentence
• Is there any particular punctuation
  mark on which you could comment?

• For example: colon, semi-colon, comma,
  brackets etc?
    3. Look at the function of the
sentence (what kind of sentence you
          are dealing with).
• A statement – indicated by a full
• An exclamation – indicated by an
  exclamation mark.
• A command – indicated by a full stop
  or an exclamation mark.
• A question / rhetorical question–
  indicated by a question mark.
4. Look to see if there is any repetition in
    the sentence (or in more than one
       sentence) in the paragraph.
        !       Exclamation mark Emphasis/
            ?   Question mark    Make the reader
                                 think/ involve the
                                 reader/ writer
                                 can answer it/
                                 show confusion
-   -           Parenthesis      Give additional
(   )                            information-
,   ,
-               Dash             Emphasise
:   Colon        Introduce a
                 list/give extra
;   Semi-colon   Separate
                 items in a
                 list/ extra
…   Ellipsis     Pause =
                 tension/ give
                 time to think
 Sentence structure questions want you to
              comment on:

üLong sentences
üShort sentences
üOne sentence paragraphs
üSentences beginning with unusual words
(e.g. But)
As I did so, to my delight, I heard my mother
laughing; laughing in a way I had not heard
her laugh for a while. In fact it is possible it
was this very atmosphere—this feeling that
things were perhaps starting to return to
what they had been—which played a
significant part in causing me to “lower my
guard”. I asked Uncle Philip when we could
go, to which he shrugged and said:
  Explain the function of the dashes in
  “ ... this very atmosphere–this feeling
  that things were perhaps starting to
  return to what they had been–which
  played ... ” (Paragraph 4)
Identify and say the function of the
punctuation (1)

Say what it tells you (1)
parenthesis/gives extra information

about the atmosphere/Christopher’s
feelings OR situation (1)
“Most affectionate, very beautiful and a
genuine, kind, loving dog, that is
marvellous with children.”

         Q. How does the structure of the
 sentence in Paragraph 25 emphasise Celt’s
                          good points? (2)
Writer uses a list (1)

To catalogue Celt’s many good points
 After Isadora, he made a couple of
 neglected minor gems in the US,
 The Gambler (1974), with James
 Caan as a college professor and
 compulsive gambler, and Dog
 Soldiers, aka Who'll stop the Rain?
 (1978), about a traumatised
 Vietnam war correspondent caught
 up in drug smuggling.

Q. Why have
              A. Brackets
              B. Italics
                            been used?
 Comment on the writer’s use of sentence
  structure in this paragraph to describe
        Christopher’s journey back.
For the next few moments I remained standing
   there in the crowd, trying not to pursue the logic
   of what had just occurred. Then suddenly I began
   to move, back in the direction we had just come,
   to the street in which we had left the carriage.
   Abandoning all sense of decorum, I forced my way
   through the crowds, sometimes pushing violently,
   sometimes squeezing myself through gaps, so that
   people laughed or called angrily after me. I
   reached the street to discover of course that
   the carriage had long since gone on its way. For a
   few confused seconds I stood in the middle of
   the street, trying to form in my head a map of my
   route back home. I then began to run as fast as I
Identify the sentence structure (1)

Say what it tells you (1)
reference to long sentence/many
phrases (punctuated by commas (1)
suggests long journey home/struggle
OR repetition of “sometimes” (with
verb) (1) suggests difficulty of
getting through crowds (1)
OR short sentence at end of
paragraph (1) suggests dramatic
climax (1)
It has been said that two things are
required for happiness: love and work.

Q: In this sentence what is the reason for
the colon?

A. It breaks the sentence up and makes it more

B. It replaces a full stop and saves having two
sentences so that it looks more dramatic and

C. It introduces an explanation of what is required
            for happiness
  Schools put money into healthy
  eating, citizenships, extra sports,
  foreign trips, social gatherings, litter
  picking, yet at the end of the day
  there is not enough money to buy
  books. It is ridiculous.
Question: comment on the effect of TWO
features of sentence structure.
                                4 marks

The writer uses a list to show all the
things that schools spend money on
before stating the one important thing,
books, which they don’t have money to

The writer uses a short sentence at
the end of the paragraph to emphasise
his disgust at the fact that schools
cant afford to buy books.
He flicked through the copy of Vogue
he had bought at the newsagent's the
day before. For a long time women's
magazines had been a puzzle to him. All
of them - whether for the young or
middle-aged, cheap or pricey - seemed
identical in their triviality: no politics,
no economics, no sociology, no history,
no analysis. Everything was reduced to
the golden rule of four: food,
relationships, disease and looking good.

Q. Write down ALL the things you
might be asked to comment on in this
“Pelgia was astounded. Psipsina was afraid
of strangers, and how did this ghastly ruin
know her name? Who could have told him?
She wiped her hands on her apron for the
 lack of any sense of what to think or do,
           and said, ‘Mandras?’”

Q. How does the sentence structure in the
rest of this paragraph develop Pelagia’s
sense of astonishment?
   “The road ahead tapered to infinity, in stages.
Hill led to hill led to hill, and at each summit the
road abruptly shrank to half its width, then half
its width again, until it became a hairline crack in
the land, then a faint wobble in the haze, then

   Question 6
   “The road…tapered to infinity…”
   Explain how the STRUCTURE of the second
sentence in Paragraph 3 helps to make the meaning
of this expression clear.
Despite having a small team of professional
staff being consulted by government, the
Barn Owl Trust is still a grass-roots
voluntary organisation that prides itself on
the sheer amount of practical work it does.
Erecting nesting boxes, creating ideal
habitats, providing quality care for injured
owls, conducting innovative research and
thought provoking educational work,
organising specialist training for
professionals- The Barn Owl Trust leads the
  Comment on two examples of effective
  sentence structure in this paragraph.
Suddenly out of the greyness, St Kilda
appears. Sheer cliffs rise from the sea. The
air is speckled with birds-kittiwakes ad
gannets- swirling around the rock faces. The
islands are home to more than half a million
breeding birds- the largest colony in europe-
and the air is filled with their calls. As I’ll
discover, the legends and stories
surrounding st Kilda far exceed what the
islands themselves deliver, but at the same
time they fail to capture it’s unique
Show how the writer uses sentence structure
to make this paragraph dramatic.
Short sentences (1) = abrupt/
  mysterious (1)

Parenthesis of “largest colony of
  Europe” (1) = emphasises surprising
  uniqueness of place (1)
  In word choice questions you are being asked
  to comment on why an author has chosen to
  use a particular word and explain the effect
  it creates.

e.g. think about the different effect of these
   two sentences:

James Bond skulked down the stairs and into
  Q’s laboratory.

James Bond skipped down the stairs and into
  Q’s laboratory.
When answering word choice questions
 we need to think about the effect
 the author is trying to create.

Think about what the word actually
  means (denotation) but also the ideas
  suggested by the word (connotation)
              Denotation Connotation
        Red   A colour   Warmth, heat, love, blood,
                          danger, stop, anger





 I do wish the Queen, who is apparently
 wickedly witty in private, was allowed
 to cut loose at her golden jubilee.
 Instead she was given some pre-
 written mince to deliver.


a.Comment on the writer’s word choice
1. “wickedly” has connotations of being
   naughty and mischievous.

“Cut loose” is an informal term for
   having fun.

2. The word choice creates a contrast
   between the queen’s sombre public
   image and her more fun private
   image where it would appear she
   likes to have fun and make jokes.
   I do wish the Queen, who is apparently
   wickedly witty in private, was allowed
   to cut loose at her golden jubilee.
   Instead she was given some pre-
   written mince to deliver.

b. Comment on the technique in red
         Simple Steps
• Identify the technique

• Say what effect it has on the

The alliteration used creates a fun,
humorous tone which contributes to
the idea that privately the queen
likes to enjoy herself.
    There were the shoppers who sneakily
    took 11 or 12 products to the ten-items
    -or-fewer express checkout; who tried
    to get out with CDs hidden in boxes of
    camembert. Then there were those who
    vented their anger on Sam because
    they thought- mistakenly- that she was
    over charging them; or who ignored her
    as they marched past her till while
    talking on their mobile phones.
Q. Explain fully how two examples of the writer’s word
     choice make clear that Sam was critical of the
     supermarket customers.
1. “” has connotations of….

“” has connotations of….

2. The word choice creates ...
An answer to a word choice question, which
picks out five important words from this
passage and does not explain why the writer has
used them, will score no marks.

The answer which picks out one and makes a
perceptive and relevant comment on it will score
    Cooking is a subtle alchemy. There is magic
    involved in creating delicious food for people
    to eat. Blending certain flavours and
    textures, understanding the effect herbs and
    spices can have on a dish and instinctively
    knowing when to throw in that pinch of
    something is a gift. It is not something you
    can learn.

  What does the writer's word choice tell you
  about his admiration for cooks?

  By using words like alchemy and magic, the
  writer makes it clear that he thinks that
  cooking has some mystery or secret power
  behind it.
   However, the vet managed a
   quick squirt up one tunnel and
   half a squirt up the other, which
   he declared sufficient.

Look at lines 61–62. Explain fully how any
one example of the writer’s word choice
helps to emphasise that the writer was
unconvinced that the vet had done the job

Words like “quick” and “squirt” imply
 that it was done in a short space of
 time with little skill, time or
 attention. “sufficient” suggests it
 was the bare minimum and no more.
The young guide, Rob, was waiting outside. A workman’s van
hurtled past, then we crossed the road, entered through a
wicket gate and followed a path across the field. We were
walking toward the tomb by an indirect route that respected
the wide ditch around the site. Sheep were grazing the field,
and a heron was standing with its aristocratic back to us.
There was a breeze, and the shivery call of a curlew
descending. On all sides there are low hills, holding the plain
between them. To the south, the skyline is dominated by two
much bigger, more distant hills, a peak and a plateau. Though
you wouldn’t know it from here, they belong to another island,
to Hoy. Above these dark hills, in horizontal bars, were the
offending clouds.

Q. Comment on the writer’s use of word choice
and sentence structure in her description of the
clouds in the final sentence of the paragraph.
Imagery includes which
  figures of speech?
Imagery questions want you to say why
the picture the author has created is
effective in explaining his point.
          4 Simple Steps

    Quote an example of imagery (it may
    be given in the question)
•   Name the technique (simile/ metaphor
•   Describe the comparison
•   Say why it’s effective
  Example question (extract taken from a
  passage in which the person is not keen to
  try eating spaghetti for the first time).

He drains the slithering lengths of spaghetti
in a colander in the sink. Some are escaping
through the holes and curling up in the sink
like nests of worms.

Why is the imagery used here effective?

                               4 Marks
“Curling up in the sink like nests of worms”
is a simile which compares the cooked
spaghetti to the piles of sand worms make.
This is effective here as it makes the
spaghetti seem slimy and unpleasant which
suggests she doesn’t want to eat it.

Can you identify the
     four steps?
One minute you have the city to
yourself: it’s just you and a guy
delivering crates of bread, and a
couple of droning street cleaning
machines. (It might be worth
mentioning here that Paris spends
£58 a year per head on street
cleaning compared to £17 per head
in London, which explains why Paris
gleams and London is a toilet.)

 What does the imagery in this
 paragraph suggest about London?
 The sky was a hazy mix of black and
 orange. The fallen leaves rustled
 gently then settled as the wind
 whispered wearily, “Good evening
 weary travellers”. There was a
 beautiful calm: only a sole cat
 padded across the lawn. Blinds were
 being drawn and side lamps
 switched on; the moment when its
 no longer day, but night has yet to
Name one technique used in this
paragraph and say why it is effective.
A girl, whose fiancé has mysteriously
  disappeared, is frantically running to
  a nearby farm to raise the alarm. At
  this point, she is crossing a field on
  her way there, but the weather is
  worsening rapidly. Read the extract,
  then answer the questions about the
  use of figurative language.
     Hampered by her narrow skirt and slender, pointed
     shoes, she could not move quickly, and meantime
     the storm which had begun as a small, unheeded
     smudge on the western horizon erupted across the
     sky, wiping out the sun and bringing rain, first in
     splashes, then in a downpour of stinging spears.

'..the storm ... erupted across the sky..'
Explain the image the writer creates by using this
description of the sky. (2 - 1 - 0)
(b). Explain why the writer has described the rain as a
'downpour of stinging spears'. (2 - 1 - 0)
From an extract about humming
Pound for pound, beating your wings 70
times per second uses more energy than
any other activity in the animal kingdom.
Living life in the fast lane means
hummingbirds need a continuous supply
of food.

1. Explain the effectiveness of the image.
A humming bird constantly needs lots
of nectar for energy like a fast car
needs fuel.
  When I finished explaining my greatest
  ambition, my dream floated up in front
  of her like a bubble and with her look
  she popped it.

Q. Why is the imagery used here
What words can we use to describe the
 tone of a piece of writing?

How do you get two marks for a tone
             Link questions

This question is designed to assess your
understanding of how writers link similar
or opposing points together in a way
that helps the flow of their argument.

The question might ask you to show how
a sentence provides an effective link
between two paragraphs or ideas.
To answer a link question you have to
explain which part of the linking
sentence refers back to the previous
paragraph and which part set us up
for what’s coming next- how are the
two related.

STEP 1: explain what is being discussed in the
  previous paragraph

STEP 2: QUOTE the part of the sentence which
  links back to the previous topic

STEP 3: Explain what is being discussed in the
  next paragraph

STEP 4: QUOTE the bit of the sentence that
  links forward
For example:

“QUOTE” links back to the previous
paragraph which talks about …………….
“QUOTE” links forward as the writer
goes on to talk about ……………...
Trees provided many uses: paper, shelter,
tools and most importantly fuel for his fire.
He loved nothing more that the crackle and
snapping of real wood fire. It was a welcome
friend in his his long empty winter nights.

There were some chunks of wood though,
Mansie couldn’t bring himself to burn: the
waves had put too much work into them. The
sea had tirelessly tossed and turned the
drift wood and shaped it into the most
beautiful object: an everlasting creation.
“burn” links back to the previous
paragraph where the paragraph talks
about fires. “Chunks” of wood links
forward as the writer goes on to talk
about specific pieces of special wood.
As for the vet, it is difficult to aim for two nostrils when they
are thrashing from left to right, despite the animal’s owner’s
best efforts to steady them.
However, the vet managed a quick squirt up one tunnel
and half a squirt up the other, which he declared sufficient.
But it didn’t end there.
Just as the vet leaned back and slipped the muzzle off the
dog, the dog tilted his head back, glowered up into my face
and let rip the most enormous sneeze, blowing half his
kennel-cough medicine back over me. Having exacted his
revenge, he stepped from the surgery as bright and lively
as ever.
Q. Explain why “But it didn’t end
there” (line 63) provides an effective
link at this stage in the passage.
 To answer a link question you have to explain
 which part of the linking sentence refers back
 to the previous paragraph and which part set
 us up for what’s coming next- how are the two
In the previous paragraph, the writer is
discussing the unpleasant visit to the vet.
The word “But” in line 63 is a link word
which indicates a continuation. As it
“didn’t end there”, The writer then goes
on to talk about the rest of the visit in
the next paragraph.
  The DVDs are intended to provide you with
    a head start on the academic-
    achievement front, but there is also the
    environmental-hazards problem.

Explain how the sentence in red performs a linking
function. (2 marks)
“The DVDs” links back to the previous
paragraphs which talk about
development and achievement.
                         (1 mark)

“Environmental hazards problem”
introduces what will be discussed in
the next paragraph: bugs, bacteria
etc.                      (1 mark)
Words to remember:
Connotations          Emphasis

Simile                Metaphor

Personification       Colon

Semi-colon            ellipsis

Parenthesis           alliteration

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