How to analyse an extract

Tasks can focus on effectiveness, themes and ideas, how writers have used language, form and structure, or a combination of these. You will usually need to think about:

  • Explicit and implicit information.
  • How the writer has used language features.
  • How the writer has used structure.
  • Comparing two different texts – their methods, audiences and purpose.
  • Evaluating texts - to what extent does it achieve its purpose?

Firstly, circle key instructions in the question.

Then, read the text and highlight three to four quotations that will support your answer.

Finally, jot down a brief plan of the points you are going to make in your answer.

In Paper 2, you will answer questions on two different texts. One text will be from the 19th century (pre-1900) the other will be from either the 20th or the 21st century.

curriculum-key-fact
Always keep in mind how much time you have to spend on each question – be strict about this to avoid running out of time on longer questions.

Annotating

The key to planning an answer is to think about what the task is asking you to do. For example, it may ask you to look at a particular idea or viewpoint. Read the text carefully, with the question in mind. Thinking about the question, annotate the extract. Use highlighting or underlining to pick out key parts of the text that you can use in your answer.

You might read the extract a couple of times, focussing on different things as you do. For example, focus on the language used, then the way that the text is structured, and then finally how the writer aims to use both of these things to achieve their purpose and influence the reader.

Using coloured pens to annotate different aspects or features might help you to be selective when identifying the evidence needed to answer the question.

Planning an answer

When you’ve read the text carefully and annotated it, then make a plan. Make a bullet point list or a mind map of all the ideas you can think of that are relevant to the question. Link the ideas to specific quotations from the extract.

Select the best points to use. Aim for at least three or four main points, and arrange them in a logical order. Your choice of order should help you to develop your ideas and reach a convincing conclusion.

Write up your points using the SQuID answer framework:

SQUID is an acronym for - ‘statement, quotation, inference and development'.

S – Statement:

  • Begin with a statement that focuses on the question, eg 'In cities, burglars don’t seem to feel any guilt.'
  • Or identifies the method being used, eg 'The writer opens with a short statement…', 'The writer uses similes…', etc

Qu – Quote:

  • Next quote from the text the word or phrase you are analysing, eg “cold-hearted”.

I – Infer:

  • Then work out what the use of structure or language implies to you, eg 'The first focus is negative - on burglars who are “cold-hearted” implies that this was a cruel robbery. The adjective “cold” implies icy, with no feelings in their hearts – as hearts suggest emotion.'

D – Develop:

  • Finally, develop with a comment on the reader’s response, eg 'The reader will feel pity for the victim and angry towards the burglars.'
  • If comparing texts you might use this part of your answer to link to the other text, using comparative discourse markers, eg 'by contrast', 'similarly', etc