Close Reading – Higher
English Language Skills for Higher English takes you through all the different types of questions you will encounter in the Close Reading NAB and exam and provides practice questions and passages.
Below is a summary of the main points made in the early sections of the book.
How to tackle questions which test your understanding of the basic meaning of the passage.
* Answer as far as possible in your own words.
* Put figures of speech, slang, old-fashioned terms etc. into simple, formal, modern English.
* If you simply copy or lift whole phrases or sentences from the passage you will not be awarded any marks.
* Take into ...view middle of the document...
If the sentence begins with a linking word/phrase such as “but” or “however” which shows a change of direction in the writer’s line of thought, then comment on this also.
In a sentence structure question you are not being asked to show what the sentence means but to show an appreciation of how the sentence is put together.
In order to do this you need to be able to recognise different types of sentences:
* Question (including the rhetorical question)
* Exclamation – may convey amazement, shock, strong emotion
* Command – as used in instructions and persuasive writing
* Minor sentence (or incomplete/ non-sentence) where the verb is left out for dramatic effect or to suggest informality etc.
A new paragraph indicates a new stage in a narrative or argument. A single sentence paragraph may be used for effect e.g. to emphasise a particular statement or idea or to slow the action and create suspense.
Adverts and tabloid newspapers use short paragraphs for instant impact.
When you see an unusually short paragraph you should consider what particular effect the author was aiming at.
Punctuation is not interesting in itself. It is how it affects style and meaning that is important. As such be aware that you will not get marks for identifying a piece of punctuation or its usual purpose. In order to gain marks you must give valid comments on its effect in the context of the passage.
Inverted commas “ ” / ‘ ’ are used:
* To indicate the title of a play, book, TV programme etc.
* To show direct speech.
* For quotations.
* To mark off an individual word/phrase from the rest of the sentence (e.g. to indicate a foreign word, slang or technical term, or a sarcastic tone etc).
(Italics might be used instead for most of the reasons above.)
Colon (:) – introduces a quotation, list, or explanation or expansion of the previous statement.
Semi-colon (;) – often comes between two statements which are closely connected, or which balance or contrast one another. It may also be used to separate a list of phrases.
Single dash (-) – may add on an extra piece of information or indicate a breaking off in a sentence. Use of a series of dashes may suggest informality or convey an outpouring of ideas or emotions.
Two dashes (- -) – mark off an extra but non-essential piece of information in the middle of a sentence. This is known as parenthesis. (Brackets perform the same function.)
* Inversion – where the normal sentence order (subject verb (object)) is reversed to change the emphasis within the sentence.
* Repetition – may be the repetition of single words or phrases or of sentence structure.
* Climax – the building up of a number of ideas in ascending order of importance with the most important kept to the last.
* Anti-climax – the author seems to be building up to climax but in the end it comes to nothing.