How to write a commentary AS level (Reading Non Fiction)


Step 1: Read the question carefully.

Possible question: ‘comment on the style and language of the set extract (genre-speech, diary, etc.) to pursuade, inform and describe’ (600-900 words)or

‘comment on the ways in which language and style are sused/ to present the relationship between…/to pursuade the audience to… to present the writer’s attitude towards…

Step 2: Read the text at least twice

why? The first reading is to get the overall sense of the passage.

the second reading is to focus on the way the passage works, the specific language, style and the mood created.

Step 3. Divide the passage into equal sections

Why? It is to give equal attention to the different sections

Step 4. Divide the time you have equally ( 12-15 minutes on each part)

why? often candidates write impressive material about the first part of an extract but you need to ensure that you deal with all the passage-especially the conclusion in the same depth.

Step 5. Make a list/ highlight /of key words and phrases

why? you cannot write about everything, but you need some particularly powerful, vivid, meaningful words or phrases to hang your key ideas around.

list of words:

  • that suggest a particular mood of the writer
  • to suggest certain qualities or ideas
  • to echo others in the extract
  • to contrast with others in the extract
  • to use in the introduction

Step 6. Plan your response

think of the structure of your response

plan the progression of the passage

comment on the similarities and contrasts

show how attitudes develop or change

explain how focuses shift from one thing, person or place to another.

Step 7. Start your commentary with a clear, brief introduction

In introduction, you offer an overview or framework for your intrepretation

/commentary of the set passage.

Step 8. Go ahead with the commentary by

Asking the following questions

  1. What happens in the passage?
  2. What do you find particularly effective or striking about the account?
  3. What kinds of things might you write about if commenting on the style and language?
  4. What voice or perspective is exemplified?
  5. What is the passage and and what message is given?
  6. What relationships and/ or social positions in the passage are presented and how do they change or develop, if at all?
  7. what contexts are shown? Are they, for example, cultural, social, economic, geographical or historical?
  • Focus on what the writer does
  • focus on the features presented.
  • describe the effects of those techniques and features on the reader
  • support what you say with well-chosen, selective evidence and apt quotation
  • write in a coherent, fluent way which links rather than lists
  • focus on style and language
  • check your work as you write and tweak to make your expression is succinct.

Step 9. Try to avoid/ not to do the following:

  • using quotations as a substitute for your own words
  • relying on phrases such as this means, the writer explains, this tells us. instead use (page no. 17 of text book)
  • comments which rely on vague generalization.
  • to highlight everything in the text
  • assert an idea or opinion without supporting evidence.
  • to just summarize what happens or paraphrase without offering any commentary or interpretation.
  • list points in an unconnected way.
  • deviate from the question.

All the best! Get! Set/G0!!!

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