2 Close Reading Techniques Link questions Word choice Sentence structure Meaning and contextPassage as a whole
3 TechniquesOften you will be asked to identify techniques used by writersEnsure that you are able to identify the seven techniques on the sheet you have been given.
4 Techniques and EffectYou may also be asked to explain the effect of a particular technique.This is asking you why the writer has used this comparison or sound effect.
5 His eyes were clear pools of ice Technique- metaphorEffect- gives the colour of his eyes- blue and also a sense that he is a very cold person.
6 “. . . a walkway snaking into the distance.” (Paragraph 3) Identify the technique used in this expression and explain why it is appropriate.
7 MetaphorGives impression that the walkway is thin and twists as it goes into the horizon, much like the shape of a snake.
8 In front of him, traceurs and traceuses from tonight’s class are poised like trapeze artists on railings completing a study in balance.Identify the technique used in this expression and explain why it is appropriate.
9 SimileLike trapeze artists the traceurs and traceuses are balancing at a height.
10 Then quite suddenly he heard the voices fading away from him, as if the boys had tired of their game and gone home, leaving him undetected. Their voices were like bells in the distance, each answering the other and then falling silent.Iain hears the voices of the other boys. Quote a simile which describes their voices. What does it suggest about their voices?
11 Their voices were like bells in the distance Suggest that their voices were far way; he could not hear them properly.
12 “The moon made a white road across the distant sea.” (Paragraph 2) (a) What technique is used in this expression?(b) Explain fully what this expression suggests about the moonlight.
13 MetaphorSuggests that the moonlight was very strong. That it was reflecting on the water.
14 Their language sounded very odd, not at all liquid and running, but like the voice of stones, thorns.By referring to the passage, identify and explain one technique the writer uses to describe the stooks’ language.
15 like the voice of stones, thorns- simile Suggests their language sounded hard and jaggy.
16 Linking QuestionsThese questions are 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.
17 Linking Questions How to answer Identify and write down the link word or phrase and explain that it shows a change in direction of the writer’s argumentQuote the part of the sentence which refers back to the earlier topic and explain, in your own words, what the earlier topic is.Quote the part of the link sentence which looks forward to the next topic and explain, in your own words, what that new topic is.
18 Explain how the one sentence paragraph is an effective link between paragraphs 1 and 3 Howard could see he knew the berries weren’t ready yet, like the ones behind the steading that they always picked; and he understood that this was a lesson being set up for him when he came home without brambles: not to tell lies. And there’d be another lesson behind this one, the real lesson: that is father had been right about that sort of new fangled nonsense coming to grief.In spite of this, he forgot it all and slipped through the Racecourse fence.A crowd mobbed around the grandstand where they served drinks and sandwiches. He made his way through the high society of Lanark, dolled up to the nines…
19 Answer Remember, your answer should deal with the three key elements. The phrase “In spite of this, he forgot it all and slipped through the Racecourse fence” acts as a link sentence. “In spite of this” links back to his thoughts in the previous paragraph about what his father had said. “Slipped through the racecourse fence” introduces what is to follow in the next paragraph as the writer describes the scene at the races.
20 What is the purpose of paragraph 2? How does it achieve this? My first encounter with someone on Twitter was at a birthday party. It was in a bar and the woman was responding to the one question Twitter poses: What are you doing? I’ve always hated this question. I admit, it’s because the answer is generally: nothing. Or: nothing worth reporting. So for me, Twitter would be a problem.Especially since the status updates are limited to 140 characters or less. Including spaces. I love that. Who types without spaces?I am already stressed about the multitude of decisions it will pose: do I really need this space? Is this question mark important? I would have to discipline myself. No hyphenating. Where’s the fun in that?
21 AnswerParagraph 3 acts as a link sentence. “Especially since the status updates” refers back to the previous paragraph which was discussing the concept of Twitter. “Who types without spaces?” introduces the subject of the next paragraph, which is the writer’s obsession with language and grammar.
22 Explain how the first sentence of paragraph two acts as a link. We hardly ever saw him, but what time he was at home my mother decided was too much. He had a weakness for getting drunk and giving his money away.On the other hand, I think he loved us dearly in his own way. When he sauntered home form his far wanderings he would bring strange toys for us, Roy and myself, and gentle, fragile china, for my mother.
23 ‘On the other hand’ is a linking phrase that suggest a contrasting idea from the previous paragraph. ‘he’ refers to the father whose drinking was the subject of paragraph one. ‘Loved us dearly’ introduces the new idea, which is him showing his love by buying presents.
24 Word ChoiceIn these questions you are asked to discuss why the writer has used particular words.
25 How to answer Comment on how the writer’s word choice . . . Find a word or short phrase that creates the effect you are being asked about.Explain how the word/ phrase creates this effect.
26 Q. In Paragraph 1, the writer suggests Iain’s feeling of excitement Q. In Paragraph 1, the writer suggests Iain’s feeling of excitement. By referring to oneexample from Paragraph 1, explain how word choice is used to achieve this.Iain crouched behind one of the stooks listening, watching for deepening shadows, his face and hands sweaty, his knees trembling with excitement.
27 ‘knees trembling’ suggests that he was so excited that he was physically affected.
28 Q. Explain how word choice is used to indicate the power of the night. It was as if the night didn’t want him to speak, were forbidding him to do so, as if it were saying to him, This is my kingdom, you are not to do anything I don’t wish you to do.
29 ‘This is my kingdom’ makes the night seem like a powerful ruler or monarch.
30 Q. Comment on the writer’s use of word choice to show the agility of the “athletic youths”. They bound over rocks, surefooted, before leaping like cats into the air, their trainers crunching into the gravel on landing.
31 “Surefooted” suggests that they are in control of their movements, even complicated ones.
32 Sentence StructureSome of the most challenging questions in Close Reading are the ones which ask you to look at the writer’s sentence structure and to comment on the effect that the writer is trying to create.
33 What To Look ForAlthough it may seem daunting, you can answer all sentence structure questions by using the same process every time. This can be split down into four separate parts which you should consider:Sentence LengthPunctuationFunction of the SentenceAny other stand-out features
34 Sentence LengthConsider whether the writer has used a long or a short sentence and what the effect is.Long Sentences can be used to…Create a list of somethingSuggest a large amountSuggest that something is going on for a long timeShort Sentences can be used to…Indicate that something has happened suddenlyEmphasise an ideaSuggest that there is little of something
35 PunctuationThe next thing to consider is whether there is any particular punctuation mark on which you could comment, for example, colon, semi-colon, comma, brackets etc
36 Comma , Separates different items in a list ‘In English we have to complete a number of units before sitting the exam. These are: Personal Study, Textual Analysis, Writing and Interpretation.’Surrounds extra information – parenthesisAs well as this, however, you need to be focused and committed in order to make good progress.
37 Colon :Indicates an illustration or example of an idea previously mentionedThere was only one solution: he would have to work much harder.Introduces a list or a quotationThe contents of his pockets were as follows: a penknife; four bus tickets; a filthy handkerchief the colour or parchment and a few copper coins.
38 Semi-Colon ; ‘Balances’ out related statements/clauses in a sentence Talent without genius isn’t much; genius without talent is nothing.Used instead of commas for lengthy/complex items in listsThe new school building had 1500 pupils; forty classrooms; one staff room; two computer suites; a dining hall; an assembly hall and a large playground.
39 Dash - Two dashes indicate extra information/parenthesis The kitten – the last of the litter – was taken by a lovely little girl.Use to create a pauseThe new school holds 1500 pupils – I think!
40 Ellipsis … An unfinished/incomplete/interrupted sentence “Did you see the accused take a gun out of his pocket and…”“Objection! Defence Counsel is trying to lead the witness.”Shows uncertainty or pause for special effect“Well…em…um…I think I will go in that case.”
44 Answering Sentence Structure Questions Identify the relevant features of sentence structureExplain their effect
45 Comment on the writer’s use of sentence structure No whisper of wind, no rustleof creature—rat or mouse—moving about.
46 Comment on the writer’s use of sentence structure No whisper of wind, no rustleof creature—rat or mouse—moving about.
47 No whisper of wind, no rustle of creature—rat or mouse—moving about.Parenthesis is used to give an explanation of what type of animals might have been moving about.Repetition of ‘no’ emphasises the absence of sound.
48 Comment on the writer’s use of sentence structure. It’s hard work: the digging, scraping, cataloguing, recording, and so far they’ve turned up little to justify their efforts.
49 Comment on the writer’s use of sentence structure. It’s hard work: the digging, scraping, cataloguing, recording, and so far they’ve turned up little to justify their efforts.
50 It’s hard work: the digging, scraping, cataloguing, recording, and so far they’ve turned up little to justify their efforts.A colon is used to introduce a list of all the tasks they have been carrying out. This emphasises how much hard work there has been.
51 Comment on the writer’s use of sentence structure. He was breathing heavily, and the smell was inconceivably foul; it was the reek of rotting flesh, of festering wounds, of ancient perspiration, and of fear.
52 Comment on the writer’s use of sentence structure. He was breathing heavily, and the smell was inconceivably foul; it was the reek of rotting flesh, of festering wounds, of ancient perspiration, and of fear.
53 He was breathing heavily, and the smell was inconceivably foul; it was the reek of rotting flesh, of festering wounds, of ancient perspiration, and of fear.A semi-colon is used to join two statement s about the unpleasant smell. The second part of the sentence contains a list of the negative smells. This emphasises how overpowering these terrible smells were.
54 Comment on the writer’s use of sentence structure. I am already stressed about the multitude of decisions it will pose: do I really need this space? Is this question mark important? I would have to discipline myself. No hyphenating. Where’s the fun in that?
55 Comment on the writer’s use of sentence structure. I am already stressed about the multitude of decisions it will pose: do I really need this space? Is this question mark important? I would have to discipline myself. No hyphenating. Where’s the fun in that?
56 I am already stressed about the multitude of decisions it will pose: do I really need this space? Is this question mark important? I would have to discipline myself. No hyphenating. Where’s the fun in that?A colon introduces a list of questions about how to use Twitter. These questions illustrate the writer’s uncertainty over using Twitter.
57 Context QuestionsFor this type of question you are usually asked to use the context to explain the meaning of a particular word. In other words, how do the words round about help you to understand what the highlighted word means?
58 How to answerFirst of all, find the word in the passage that you have been directed to and read that paragraph again.Consider whether you understand the meaning of the word. If so, great. If not, look at the surrounding words and try to work it out.Once you have worked out the meaning, then you should look at the context surrounding the word in question and pick out the words which have led you to your decision about its meaning. You must do this even if you knew what the word meant anyway.Then in your answer you should give the DEFINITION of the word and QUOTE the words from the context EXPLAINING why they led you to your answer.
59 Explain how the context helps you to understand the meaning of “vicarious” in paragraphs 1 and 2 “At first I was angry at him, frightened for him, but now suddenly I get this rush of joy, watching him race out there into the cold level space of the stilled river, free and warm and vivacious in that smoothed and frozen silence.I think he’s done it, I think he’s across the river and safe and there’s a buzzy glow of vicarious accomplishment starting to well up within me, but then there’s a cracking noise and he falls…”
60 Answering Do I know what it means? If yes, fine. If not, then look to the context. The word “accomplishment” is right next to the word “vicarious” which tells us that something has been achieved. The fact that the narrator is watching his friend and that he says “I think he’s done it” shows us that the achievement is his friend’s. What does this tell us when we put all of this information together?“Vicarious” must mean that the narrator is experiencing this achievement through his friend. So, generally, “vicarious” means to experience something through someone else.Remember that in your answer you must give the meaning and quote the words from the context which helped you to understand – even if you knew the meaning of the word anyway.
61 The AnswerThe word “vicarious” means to experience something through another person. The word “accomplished” shows that something has been achieved and the fact that the writer says, “I think he’s done it” shows the reader that it is through another person that he is experiencing this incident.
62 Explain how the context helps you to understand the meaning of “taxidermy” in Paragraph 1. “When the London dodo died, the animal was stuffed and sold to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Taxidermy not being what it is today, over the next few decades the dodo slowly rotted until it was thrown out in All, that is, except the moth-eaten head and one leg”
63 AnswerThe word “taxidermy” means to preserve the skin of a dead animal and stuff it in a lifelike form. The word “stuffed” leads the reader to this assumption and the fact that it had “rotted” implies that a poor job has been done of preserving the animal.
64 What is the meaning of the word “erudite”, and how does the rest of paragraph 1 help you understand this?Meanwhile, I’m sure he has no idea he has legitimised the site for the legions over 30. I can understand following him because from what I’ve heard, his updates are witty and clever. But with other less erudite celebs, the immediacy of the information doesn’t hold the same appeal.
65 Answer Erudite means knowledgeable or learned (1). Earlier reference to witty and clever help understand this (1)