Read the Question and the section of the passage it refers to by dfhercbml


									Higher English: Close Reading Blitz
These exercises will help you improve your Close Reading skills.

What to do:

   1. Read the question and the section of the passage it refers to.
   2. Consider where you think the marks should come from.
   3. Consider the marking instructions and check that you were right.
   4. Read the candidate response and jot down:
         (i)    The mark you would give it, having considered the marking
         (ii)   An explanation on why you awarded the marks that you did.
   5. Look at the Marker Response and compare it to your comments.

(Candidate Response A has been completed as an example.)

2a) Explain, using your own words as far as possible, what is meant by “the
most important driving force behind evolutionary change on the planet” (lines
17-18).                                                                    2U

Marking Instructions
Candidates must use own words; straight lifts: 0.
1: gloss on “driving force” (1 mark) – e.g. cause, factor, impetus, agent of
2: gloss on “evolutionary change” (1 mark) – e.g. development, the way the
species has evolved

Some answers will be less precise than this and markers may have to “dig
out” acceptable explanations.

Candidate Response A
This line means these huge rocks have been the most significant factor in the
change and development of all creatures on earth.

 Mark: 2     A simple answer which clearly nails both key phrases –
 „most significant factor‟ is a clear gloss on „driving force‟ and
 „development of all creatures on earth‟ captures „evolutionary change‟

Candidate Response B
The comet and asteroid impacts force everything to fight for life and survive, and
also to adapt to new circumstances.

Tone / Mood
3b) Explain how the writer creates a slightly humorous tone in lines 34–43.

Marking Instructions
Marks will depend on the quality of explanation. A single point well explained
and suitably supported by reference could score 2 marks. A more basic
comment will score 1 mark.

Reference alone or mere identification of a feature: 0.
1    use of “lucky”                              not usual scientific terminology, suggests
                                                 a more flippant approach
2    use of “dust settled”                       literal/metaphorical ambiguity could be
                                                 seen as humorous
3    “being thumped (on the head)”               unscientific terminology creates a
                                                 humorous picture
4    “thumped” and “conducive” (or any similar   juxtaposition of colloquial and formal
     combination)                                gives rise to humour
5    “not conductive to a long and happy         ironic, understated, deliberately clichéd,
     existence”                                  contrast with “thumped”
6    use of italics/inverted commas to suggest   creates comic effect and emphasis
     method of vocal delivery

Candidate Response A
The writer creates a slightly humorous tone in being thumped on the head by a
large object from space. The writer‟s choice of words in “thumped” has connotations
of cartoons in which one character is unlucky enough to be hit with a large object.
The image evoked from this word is one of humour which brings about this
humorous tone.


Candidate Response B
The language the writer uses is humorous as he uses phrases such as „who just
happened to be “lucky”… alive after the dust settled.” This creates the image of
creatures heads peering out while dust settles. This is a rather humorous image. At
the end of the paragraph when the writer says „thumped on the head by a large
object… not conducive to a long and happy existence. This also is rather humorous
and as if he is reaching out to the skeptics and asking them how you would
survive that.

7. In lines 75–85, the writer deals with various threats to the survival of our
Show how effective the last sentence “And there would be . . . event.” (lines
83–85) is as a conclusion to this paragraph.                                    2E

Marking Instructions
For full marks, an answer must connect a specific aspect of the sentence with
the main idea of the paragraph. Evaluation will probably be implicit.

Main idea: by comparison with other threats, comet impact is much more

Final sentence intensifies/makes clear the main idea by any of:
1      reinforcing/expanding the idea of widespread devastation
2      using understatement, irony, scientist’s idea of humour
3      making an unexpected addition, afterthought
4      using a relatively short sentence
5      by starting the sentence, unusually, with “And”
6      any other acceptable answer

Candidate Response A
It is explaining that there is not much point in worrying about it as there are other
things which could kill us first though the last sentence is explaining that we
could not really reflect on what had happened as most people would actually be


Candidate Response B
This paragraph explains how we as humans are much more at risk from an
“asteroid impact” than we are from modern problems like “acid rain”. This line is
effective as a conclusion as it suggests that we would all be killed instantly by an
asteroid and so there would be no time “for reflection” to compare the two different

Analysing Imagery
9b) Show how effective you find the writer’s use of imagery in lines 106–112
in conveying the excitement of the “debate”.                             2 A/E

Marking Instructions
Marks will depend on the quality of comment on one or more than one image.

An insightful comment on one image could score up to 2 marks; weaker
comments will be worth up to 1 mark. Mere identification of the image: 0.
Answers on imagery must “deconstruct” the image, i.e. show an
understanding of the literal root of the image and then explore how the writer
is extending it figuratively.

Note that the extended image may be dealt with as one item.

1    “heated”                just as objects, liquids etc when heated are more volatile, full
                             of movement etc, the debate has become voluble, possibly
                             loud, animated, …
2    “ferment”               just as the process of brewing causes movement,
                             effervescence, explosions etc, the debate has become lively,
                             loud, possibly “dangerous”, …
3    “brewing”               just as the process of brewing causes movement,
                             effervescence, heady liquids etc, the debate is developing,
                             growing voluble, loud, …
4    “symptom”               just as a symptom is the outward sign of an underlying
                             disease the debate is the outward sign of the underlying
                             vigorous controversy

Candidate Response A
The writer creates the image of quite a heated debate. It creates the image of
something bubbling, biding it‟s time and just waiting to show itself.


Candidate Response B
The writer uses the image: “in a state of ferment, a symptom that something
significant is brewing.” To convey the excitement of the “debate.” Just as beer
“ferments” so the tone of the “debate” will lie dormant for a while. However beer
“ferments” and is then “brewing”. This image suggests the way in which this
debate could go from being a quiet and flat subject to a vicious and bubbling
argument. The excitement is conveyed in the difference between a state of
“ferment” and a state of “brewing”.

Understanding Meaning 1
9c Which course of action do you think the writer favours? Support your
answer by close reference to lines 113–123.                                                      2U

Marking Instructions
It is possible to make a case for either option, although the “Take action”
option is more likely.

There is no credit for the choice alone. Marks will depend on the quality of
explanation. Clear explanation: 2 marks; less assured explanation: 1 mark.

Mere paraphrase and/or extensive quotation are unlikely to gain any credit.

For full marks there must be some acceptable reference (quotation or close
identification). While this question is coded “U”, candidates should be allowed
to demonstrate their understanding via “analysis” of tone, structure, etc.

1     Take action; because, while recognising that there are other, more probable, dangers to
      our lives, he points out that comet/asteroid impact could kill everyone.
2     Take action; because saying “…but that is not the point” implies something else is
      (recognising the extent of the devastation comet/asteroid impact would create) and must
      be addressed.
3     Take action; because the acknowledgement that there are other dangers is dismissed
      with a curt: “…but that is not the point”.
4     Take action; deliberate contrast between “cost us our lives” and “cost all of us our lives”
      (with italicisation to underline the difference) shows one threat is more serious than the
      other and should, by implication, be addressed more seriously.
5     Do nothing; it is a decision that cannot be made now; we need to learn more first; “great
      deal more” implies we know very little or don’t know enough at the moment.
6     Do nothing; he merely poses a question (and refers to “ask” and “question”) and uses
      conditional and future ideas (“risk”, future”, “may”, “will”) – not indicative of strong feeling
      for doing something now.
7     His stance is ambiguous; a combination of any of the above.

Candidate Response A
The writer seems to agree with the idea of waiting to see if we survive impact or not.
Evidence is that he explains that we could wait. He states that losing our lives is
“not the point” at this moment and we can only decide something after we learn
more about it.


Candidate Response B
I think the writer favours fighting the comets as shown by how in the phrase „may
cost all of us our lives.‟ The word all is in italics showing us that he is trying to
make us see his point of view by reaching out to us and making us aware of the
fact that we could die in a comet impact.                                       Mark:
                                                             (Jot comments on the back of this page)
Understanding Meaning 2
12 Show how lines 28–42 help you to understand the meaning of the word
“Armageddon” (line 29).                                                2U

Marking Instructions
One mark for meaning: e.g. total destruction; an event of such decisiveness
and on such a scale that survival is most unlikely,

One mark for reference to and/or explanation of how the context led the
candidate to this understanding:

1 “wipe out most of the human race”
2 “the end of the world is nigh”
3 the force of final short sentence “But the end is nigh.”
4 “face” suggests an ordeal and may gain some credit

NB If there is clearly no understanding of the meaning of the word, then there
can be no credit for a reference to context which would otherwise score a

Candidate Response A
“Armageddon” is when a comet plunges into the earth to wipe out our race. Limet
Opik states this. It is also stated that the end is close.


Candidate Response B
The context helped me to understand that “Armageddon” means the death of
everyone. I was helped in this understanding through “an impact which could wipe
out most of the human race” and “the end is nigh” which both suggest that an
impact could mean the death of every human being.


         Use this space to enter your comments for Candidate Response B on the previous page.
17 Which passage do you find more effective in making you think about the
implications for the human race of comet and asteroid impact? Justify your
choice by referring to the ideas and style of both passages.               5E

Marking Instructions

Note that the question is on “ideas and style”.

The mark for this question should reflect the overall quality of the response
and may not be directly related to the length of the response or to the number
of points/ references made. A succinct, sophisticated response should be
worth more than a series of fairly trivial points and obvious references.
“Ticking and adding up” is not appropriate (or fair) here.

For full marks there must be reference to both elements (i.e. ideas and style)
and to both passages (although not necessarily a balanced treatment) and
convincing evaluative comment. Where reference is made to one passage
only, the maximum mark is 3.

The following guidelines should be followed:

5 marks    clear and intelligent understanding of both passages; sensible
           comments on style; evaluative comment is thoughtful and
4 marks    clear understanding of both passages; sensible comments on style;
           evaluative comment is reasonably convincing
3 marks    understanding of both passages; acceptable comment(s) on style;
           there is some evaluative comment
2 marks    some understanding of both passages; acceptable comment(s) on
           style; at least one appropriate comment
1 mark     one or two relevant but unconvincing comments

The following points could be made, but all points which candidates propose
will have to be judged on their merits:

• theoretical/philosophical ideas more important in Passage 1
• practical problems mainly in Passage 2

• language more sensational/immediate in Passage 2
• more human interest in Passage 2
• use of illustration to explain in passage 1
• contrast in tone at end of passages

                                      Candidate responses are over-the-page!
Candidate Response A
I found the second passage more effective in making me think about the
implications for the human race after a comet or asteroid impact. This was firstly
because of the use of statistics. “The comet travelling at “75,000 miles an hour
would unleash a force 20 million times more powerful than the bomb dropped on
Hiroshima.” This sentence is very frightening and eye-opening. It caught my
attention and illustrated just how hard the human race would be hit by such a
disaster. Also, the writer‟s interviews with the “Astrophysics expert” and the “Liberal
Democrat MP” show that the people who know most about these events are worried
too. This reflects the writer‟s idea that we could all be wiped out and both show that
it could happen.
The first passage delivered a strong message too. I particularly found the idea of
an animal being thumped on the head by a large object from space amusing.
However the writer posed too many questions. This suggested that he was in the
dark about some aspects of the object and this for me was less effective. The second
writer displayed a more knowledgeable approach to the subject through the
statistics and the interview and so this, for me, was the more effective passage in
showing just how badly we would be affected by a comet or asteroid collision.


Candidate Response B
The first passage is probably the better of them both. The first paragraph tells us of
past evolution and what could come of the future one‟s. It also gives mankind an
ultimatum of whether to avoid future impacts or not. Whereas the second
paragraph talks of mankind dying off if there is a collision and that it is
unavoidable. The style of the first paragraph is written in this way to involve the
reader and to show that is a factual paper, where Passage 2 is said in a more
morbid way as the passage opens in describing the pain and suffering mankind
would face.


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