In order to write a response in timed SAC/exam conditions, you must have the confidence to hone in on the author’s key parts of the text.
It is harder to be precise, brief, and succinct; it is easier to ramble on about each and every (emotive) word; rabbit on about why it is placed side by side with another word, and ponder at length why it contrasts with one word and conversely, complements another.
A+ students tend to intuitively hone in on key parts of the text. Have the confidence to back your analysis, be judicious and be selective.
Aim for more, not less comparison. In this case, you will need to sacrifice some word-level analysis. You will need to have a good grasp of key viewpoints, whilst also zooming in on supportive word choices.
See Chapters 7 and 8 (pps. 59-76) for comparative paragraph-styles and a comparative essay structure. These chapters provide a paragraph check-list (for comparisons); they annotate and analyse smart paragraph/essay examples; provide analytical terms to use for comparisons and encourage you to include clever cross-references to the comparative (visual) text.
Make the comparison stand out. What does this mean?
- set up your paragraph with a comparative reference to viewpoints, and a comparative reference to the argument base;
- analyse similarities and differences;
- sum up with a comparative “call to action” sentence;
- use cross-referencing techniques to improve your analysis.
Sharp comparisons improve your analysis. Why? Because they require you to compare key viewpoints and key techniques. You must be on the look out for viewpoints; sometimes they are obvious and emphasised; sometimes they are nuanced and other times they are delayed or hidden. You must find them! You must also ask yourself the important question: which argument technique(s) best support and reinforce the viewpoint. (See pp. 18-32; these pages provide strategies to help you intuitively focus on the key techniques.)
Comparative comments also link with the author’s positioning tactics.
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