Monday 19 March 2018

No unwelcome surprises for students in Higher English Paper 2

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

THE most settled English Paper 2 for many years, with no surprises in the material examined, was how the higher level paper was described.

Jim Lusby of the Institute of Education said in the Single Text question there was a consistent and recurring focus on the creative use of language, not only in the Macbeth question, but throughout the section, and indeed throughout the entire paper.   It was, however, a question only for those who had specifically studied the imagery of the play.

The other question, on Macbeth’s character, will have been the popular choice, he said Although the phrasing of the question was complex, containing four separate elements, the well-prepared student would have recognised that an examination of ‘Macbeth’s mind’ could best be conducted through a detailed exploration of his various soliloquies in the drama.

On the Comparative Study question, Mr Lusby said examiners should give more thought to the phrasing of the questions.

He said the Unseen Poem section contained a “hugely welcome change from previous years, in that it presented for reading and discussion a real poem, ‘The Fist’, by a real poet, Derek Walcott.  “Brilliant!”,

There were no surprises in either the selection of poets or the questions set in the Prescribed Poetry section, to everyone’s huge relief.

Sylvia Plath would have been the choice of many candidates, closely followed by the popular Elizabeth Bishop , Derek Mahon,  Gerard Manley Hopkins

He said all the questions were manageable, asking students to discuss both style and themes in their chosen poet.

Mr Lusby  said ordinary level candidates were treated to  “all in all, a good paper that positioned the study of literature exactly where it should be - in the real world!

It offered students a variety of questions that invited them to engage strongly with the text. 

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