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This is the fourth and final blog in a short series designed to support you with last minute exam practice for the OCR GCSE (9-1) English Literature exams – more of a recap of key skills and tips to remember when you’re in the exam hall. It follows on from the three earlier ones which focused on:
And now finishing with:
Developing a personal response – ask yourself the following questions when you respond to an extract or even a quotation:
Here you can think about what Assessment Objectives call developing an ‘informed personal response’. In other words what effect does the text have on you? Remember that the word ‘informed’ means that you need to relate these thoughts to the language of the text. Try thinking about this in relation to an unseen poem or short prose or drama extract:
AO1 is a weighted assessment objective and requires candidates to:
There are two elements to this bullet point, maintaining a critical style and developing an informed critical response. The challenge for your students is how to do both: to write in a reasonably formal way, using appropriate terminology, and to develop that personal response. In many ways ‘personal response’ means trying to express what the text might mean to an audience, or reader, today. It is related to the idea of context – particularly the ‘context of reception’, how the text relates to our understanding of the world. The word ‘informed’ means that it is necessary for candidates to refer closely to the text in justifying these interpretations.
Though Shakespeare was writing 400+ years ago people still believe he has something to say about our contemporary world. Yes the contexts in which the characters exist are different, but human nature probably hasn’t changed that much. We still experience the same emotions – love, jealousy, hope, ambition etc. – as human beings have always done.
Do you think the play does have something to tell us about attitudes and relationships today? Students could think about which events in their play most relate to the modern or contemporary world. This could be because they could imagine a similar event happening today. Or they have experienced similar feelings in their own lives. Or they are reminded of events that have been shown in a film, or on TV, or video, or on the news.
Think about the following theme from the play that has been studied:
Hopefully some of the ideas, reflections, suggested activities have resonated with your own teaching or have possibly given you food for thought for future preparation of students for the linear examinations.
We’d love to know what you think of this blog or any of the other ones in the series. Please feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow us on Twitter @OCR_English.
Kate Newton, OCR English Subject Advisor
Kate has worked at OCR for 4 years and is a member of the English subject team with particular responsibility for GCSE English Literature and AS/A Level English Language and Literature (EMC).
She previously worked for a number of national public sector education organisations, including the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) and the General Teaching Council (GTC), primarily on new policy initiatives. Prior to that, after graduating with a BA Joint Hons in English and Education from Cardiff University, Kate started her professional career with a competitor Awarding Body (mentioning no names!). She loves to cook and eat out as well as exercise regularly, which includes running around after her two young children.