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Paper 1 Question 3 

  Focus: Analyse Structure                            Marks: 8                    Time: 10 mins


















Q3 is all about the structure of the story AS A WHOLE. The better you understand the story, the more successful you'll be. The examiner doesn't expect you to cover every single structural feature - you only have 10 minutes! Always comment on the beginning and the end, and then choose at least one other structural feature from anywhere else. As with Q2, don't choose a feature just because you can identify it; choose it because it has an interesting effect on the story or links to your other points.

The wording of the question

- It asks 'How does the writer structure the text to interest you as a reader?'... but that's not what it means!

- The examiner does not care whether the story interests you or not.

- They want you to ANALYSE the structure.

- The wording means that you are free to choose any structural features you want from the whole source.

Some things to avoid

- So avoid writing 'This interests me because...'. It's not the right focus.

- Focus on why the writer has used that particular structural feature at that point in the story.

- Just like in Q2, make your comments SPECIFIC.

- Never use the phrases 'this makes the reader want to read on' / 'this puts a picture in the readers head' / 'this makes me want to find out what happens next' / 'this draws the reader in'. NEVER. EVER.

 So, what is structure?

- Structure is the way the writer has organised the story.

- What information does the writer reveal to you, how do they do it and why?

- Just as writers carefully choose which words and phrases to use, they also carefully choose what to focus on at different points, how to reveal character and plot details and what moods to create.

- Here are some short examples:

WHERE in the story                                 WHAT structural feature                                      WHY it is used here (the effect)


In the opening paragraph...  the writer focuses on the 'grim' and 'tired' town...         This creates an uneasy and uncomfortable                                                                                                                                          atmosphere.

Then it shifts in focus...         the dialogue 'Not much has changed round here.'...     reveals that the man has been to the town                                                                                                                                          before.

In the last lines...                   the 'ray of sunshine' clearly contrasts with the start...    leaving us with a feeling of hope for the                                                                                                                                              man's future. 



Top tips! 

- Annotate the story for structural features at the start of the exam, during the 15 minutes reading time.

- Don't try to comment on every paragraph; you'll run out of time.

- Use short, embedded quotes.

- Make links between different parts of the story.

How are you marked?

There are three skills on the mark scheme:

  1. Analyse / explain the effects of the writer's choice of structural features.

  2. Select relevant quotes.

  3. Use subject terminology.

The skills are NOT equal. Your mark depends on how well you analyse/explain the effects of the structural features.


How to succeed

  • Comment on the beginning, the end and another significant moment in the story.

  • Add structural features (character, tone, dialogue, punctuation etc.) and why it has been used.

  • What does the feature make you think and feel  (the effect on the reader).

Common mistakes

  • Just re-telling the story.

  • Not referring to the whole text.

  • Not commenting on WHY the writer has used the structural feature (the effect).

  • Analysing language.



Introducing a character

Plot twist

Zooming in and out


Setting the Scene

1st Person Narrative

Mood shift

Further Practice

  • Read some marked answers so you can see what makes a clear answer to Q3.

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