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Tips for A1 Individual Oral Commentary

find some general points in each work that you can talk about. For instance, in Miss Julie there is the naturalism, the three units (one room, 24 hours, a straightforward plot), the power shift between them, the fact that they speak in prose, etc. all these things are possible to fit into a IOC, regardless of what extract you get (almost).

Speak slowly. Don't get stressed and that to talk fast, it's not a good idea. You don't want to give the teacher extra time to ask nasty questions.

If the teacher allows you a timer, have one.

Don't forget to state obvious things, such as what kind of work it is. If you get a play, make sure you tell that it is a play.

Most important. State why this is significant for the work as a whole and put it in context with the rest! Returning to Miss Julie, one can say that this extract is important because it shows how the power has shifted from Julie to Jean, it's a crucial turning point.

And lastly, I just want to stress the importance of practice orals before the real one.

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Another tip, though this might not pertain to everyone, our teachers wouldn't tell us anything about the extracts (we tried :)) all they said is that whatever they picked would have loads to talk about to make it easier for us. Keep this in mind when you're reading your works and you might be able to find certain points in the work where you begin to think that that part of the work could possibly be an extract later, so study it. Hamlet for example, the to be or not to be soliloquy, super important turning point, loaded with lit features to discuss the effects of, there's probably good chance it ends up as an IOC choice.

Another practice thing you could do after finding these passages you think are important, or might show up for the IOC, is to get you a copy of the 40 lines (it is a 40 line passage right? Thought I read/heard that somewhere) and then give yourself 20min and see what you get. Or heck, just do a 20min prep time with any 40 line passage, it's good practice to utilizing your prep time as efficiently as possible.

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One way to improve your unseen is to look at the unseen text the most unbiased way as possible, after you get the idea about the poem/prose, then be as biased as possible about the poet :)!. This is one great advice as being biased too early makes you wrong interpret the text easily.

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Also make up a general plan of attack for each of the four texts. I don't know if every school does this, but for my Group 2 texts we had one play, one non-fiction work (essays), one novel and one set of poetry. For each text I would make a general structure; e.g. for the essays, I would remember the thesis of each essay, and then structure the commentary around how the extract from the essay argued for the thesis of the whole essay. Obviously the plan would be different for each text type.

Also, if you have poetry, then it is pretty easy to narrow it down to about 4 or 5 poems; it won't be any of the short ones, or the ones that don't have a lot of content/depth/themes. Then, after narrowing it down, do a practice on each poem. Also, for poems you are expected to show an understanding of how the poem fits into the poet's body of work, so for each poem link the themes in it to other poems, e.g. for Emily ****inson you could say this poem is about death, much like poem B and poem C.

A good understanding of novels and plays is imo the most important aspect of preparation for these texts for the IOC; if you know where the extract is in the story, and how it fits into the story/themes around it, then you are pretty much set for the IOC. For plays, write down all the major events in each Act into an easy to remember list. Some novels will come already set in parts, others won't, so it is a bit harder to do this for novels, but hopefully it won't be an annoying novel in which time shifts around a lot.

Lastly, look at the marking criteria! Structure is 10/30 marks for the IOC and is imo the hardest criteria out of the four. Your commentary needs a good structure, the rest of the criteria will come easily with a good structure. So practice writing a good structure.

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One way to improve your unseen is to look at the unseen text the most unbiased way as possible, after you get the idea about the poem/prose, then be as biased as possible about the poet :)!. This is one great advice as being biased too early makes you wrong interpret the text easily.

I don't see how you can "wrongly" interpret any text. We don't know why the author wrote what he did so all we can do is make a convincing argument. Throw it out there if theres some good evidence, just remember to keep it in context with the book, focusing on the passage and the passage only for all interpretation will lead to stuff being pulled out of context. Can't call Hamlet a murderous psychopath because of one passage :)

Edited by Drake
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1. Contextualizing

How does this poem fit into the poet’s style and body of works?

2) Discussion/Analysis/Argument

Your focus: State the poet’s purpose /central point as clearly as possible- include speaker and audience. See topics

Then begin a discussion of how the poet’s use of all poetic features (CONCEIT), his style/structure to support his central point/purpose.

Tips on structuring your commentary: (How you talk about central points/themes/characterization, etc. being supported by structure and language features.)

1) First, Do what feels natural for you; Trust your instincts; Go with the flow

2) Generally:

a) A commentary on Frost and Shakespeare that is organized by the structure of the poem or the soliloquy is effective.

But I have heard excellent commentaries structured around themes or effective language features (bringing structure in of course)—this would not be linear.

b) Prose commentaries are usually most effective when not structured linearly.

If the second tip doesn’t resonate with you that is FINE. Do the first- organize your commentary based on what feels right when the extract is in front of you.

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How to structure commentary on a play?We are suppose to do 'The Merchant of Venice.

Well first you state from what scene the particular extract has come from and give a brief description of where the scene comes from. That would be your introduction.

In a play, don't go line by line but if you think you can do it then go ahead.

You must talk about the themes, tone and mood in that extract because that will earn you a lot of points. Also talk about the diction used. Character realization should also be mentioned because that's also important. You also have to talk about preceding and exceeding events which is again important.

As for the conclusion just sum up how the particular extract is important and without it, how it would affect the rest of the play.

It seems pretty simple but it's really hard to remember to use lol. All the best :)

Edited by kim luffy

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How do you correctly structure your oral? Do you use the guiding questions, or is there another way? Also if you are not sure where the extract is in the general story plot, what should you do...?

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How do you correctly structure your oral? Do you use the guiding questions, or is there another way? Also if you are not sure where the extract is in the general story plot, what should you do...?

Just as with the main commentary essay, you have the option of structuring either by theme or chronologically, depending on what you prefer. As there's a serious time pressure in terms of preparing the essay, I would personally recommend chronologically. You will probably end up using all your prep time reading through it and making notes on what you want to say, picking stuff out etc. - whether you'll have time to then sort it into themes and come up with some structure that way is for you to decide!

Re: the guiding questions, I think you can choose to use those as structure or just mention them within what you say. Again it's your choice, there's no right or wrong answer, provided you do have SOME structure of one kind or another and you do attempt to address the guiding questions to some extent (unless you're in HL).

If you don't know where the extract is then you haven't revised enough. So revise more.

Should this happen in the actual thing, you will want to salvage the situation as much as possible. You should have some idea - at the very least, beginning, middle or end. Try and put it in as much context as you're certain of, but the main thing is NOT to say something incorrect. If you're 80% sure it's from the beginning but actually you have a sneaky feeling it could have been a similar chapter at the end... try to explain its significance without saying "this is from the beginning of the book" and your teacher raising their eyebrows in surprise at your mistake. Once you've revealed that you're not even sure where the extract is from, all the rest of your contextual information is devalued. Most books you can usually have a decent idea, it's bad luck if you get an extract which is totally impossible to place (or you've done a horrible book for chronology).

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Preparing for poetry make me want to cry because despite how well I seem to come up with ideas during a class discussion once my teacher has pointed us in the right direction, unless I have memorized every idea ever stated about a poem during a class, I just don't know how to start.

Any tips for preparation? I'm not too worried about the book because our teacher let us hint, strongly, at which texts we'd prefer and I happened to really understand mine from the first discussion and we've studied each important excerpt. But with 20 or so poems to know I'm not so confident :S

Edited by ro_1293x

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It sounds so simple now (the basic outline of how to present our IOC's) but then as soon as you get up there it's like you know nothing. We've started practicing for our commentaries recently and my goodness I am not looking forward to the final one.

Edited by Leah Sampson

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I will soon have my IOC I am not nervous however I WANT a 7 do you have any tips to get the high end 5 marks, because there is one thing of showing very good knowledge but how do I jump to the next step?

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There's two methods that I use to plan what I'm going to say. If you use these well, there's not much chance of getting stuck for something to say!!!

  • I use the SCASI framework (Style, Character, Action, Setting, Images/Imagery), and talk through one at a time, trying to make links between them. This can be good for your introduction (ie: The author's style, and the lack of action creates a certain image/tone...)
  • Also think of STOP BAD FIT. This stands for: Symbol, Themes, Organisation, Progression... Big Three (Speaker, Audience, Situation), Atmosphere, Diction... Figurative language, Imagery, Tone.

Hope this helps you!!!

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A tip for the introduction : Right after you state what your extract is, contextualize. State where in the storyline it falls, what happens before and what follows, and more importantly, why the extract is so important in context of the work. Other than just contextualizing in terms of the story, also place it within the author's other work "This extract from the poem 'Lady Lazarus' deals with the theme of death which is a common feature in the works of Sylvia Plath" or even within other works of the same genre or time period, "this ___, like other works fromf the neoclassical period, dealt with self awareness".

This helps show the examiner that you've actually understood not just the work by itself, but placed it in the society that it springs from.

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Oh and also, if you suddenly remember a point in the middle, like you've finished talking about diction and are now talking about literary devices, and suddenly remember an important point or example, DO NOT PUT IT IN! You will lose points for structure! Instead, continue with your original plan. Most often, your teacher will pry out the answer from you at the end. If your teacher doesn't, it wasn't probably as important as you thought it was :)

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When i asked my teacher regarding the structure, he said that i did not have to structure it in terms of intro, main and conclusion.

Cause if you introduce too many or too little concepts in the intro, and you dont get to cover them later on, then that will be a bit awkward.

So can you suggest an efficient structure?

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When i asked my teacher regarding the structure, he said that i did not have to structure it in terms of intro, main and conclusion.

Cause if you introduce too many or too little concepts in the intro, and you dont get to cover them later on, then that will be a bit awkward.

So can you suggest an efficient structure?

Well you should structure it like an essay so you do really want an introduction, main body and conclusion. Part of the art of doing a high grade IOC IS to be able to get the structure nailed. You shouldn't be introducing all that much in your introduction - where the extract is in the text and roughly the main themes it covers as relates to the text as a whole. Give a loose introduction which you can relate basically the whole extract to (e.g. "this scene helps to develop the relationships between the characters and gives us our first insight into the mentality of the protagonist") and that way you're not trapped by too few or too many points. Your points should be for the body of the essay, not for the introduction - the introduction is to provide direction and to display some knowledge of the context for the extract, that's all.

"In this essay I will discuss X, Y and Z" <-- not a very good introduction, in any case. Keep the introduction brief and launch into the main point-scoring aspects of the body. Be sure to leave time to conclude with a quick summary.

If you're aiming for a 7, then you absolutely must have an intro, body and conclusion style to it. Or things analogous to those - you can't deliver a commentary without an introduction as the introduction is essential to score certain points such as context and to a degree, background knowledge! Or have a strong ending without a conclusion. You can insert additional comments throughout as you recall things about context and background within the body of the commentary, but the overall plot context of the scene itself must be addressed at the beginning. Scrapping the structure might prevent you losing points by failing to complete the structure in some way, but at the end of the day you NEED structure to score the top grades - so by scrapping the structure, you also resign yourself to not getting those top grades.

Your teacher is right that your commentary will look weak if you make a massive list of points in your introduction and then fail to cover them. So just have a less specific introduction and have a bit of time management! It's the same with any essay - if you can manage to write an introduction and conclusion you'll score higher than if you didn't or ran out of time and only half-wrote them. The trick is to not run out of time. Not to abandon the introduction and conclusion.

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how do i end my ioc? i know how to begin and continue explaining but after i've spoken everything, i just stop abruptly, which i think is not very appropriate if i want good marks. so any tips on how to end the ioc???

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how do i end my ioc? i know how to begin and continue explaining but after i've spoken everything, i just stop abruptly, which i think is not very appropriate if i want good marks. so any tips on how to end the ioc???

 

Conclude the way you would in any essay. Re-cap your main points, state what you've proven or learnt. Then "Thank-you for listening, are there any questions?" :)

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My plan is to first address the title, controlling metaphor, and then a general argument for the poem. After that I'm going to just  jump into the poem and at the end if I still need to, I shall give some contextualization. Really hoping this works.

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