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Developing Band 4 / 5 Answers - Literature

 As the Literature assessments are drawing close, I'd thought I'd analyse the marking criteria and talk through the various indicators for top Band answers. The key for this is:

Amber = Understanding
Purple = Analysis
Blue = The bridge or development to...
Red = Evaluation

Band 5 Candidates demonstrate:

* sophisticated engagement with writers’ ideas and attitudes
in both texts. They develop sophisticated interpretations of both
texts using imaginatively selected supporting textual detail.

*sophisticated analysis of aspects of language and structure
in both texts.

*perceptive, imaginative and balanced exploration of points of

*perceptive and imaginative comment on the significance of
the contexts of both texts.

Band 4 Candidates demonstrate:

*sustained and developed appreciation of writers’ ideas and
attitudes and provide convincing interpretations using precisely
selected supporting textual detail in both texts.

*analysis of aspects of language and structure in both texts in
convincing detail.

*thoughtful and balanced consideration of links/points of
comparison between the texts.

*thoughtful consideration of the significance of the contexts
of both texts.


We've looked at Higher Order thinking skills and looked to develop our analytical and evaluative skills. Essentially you analyse everyday, but it is the applying of this skill to English that people struggle with.

'Sir glared at me. He's not happy. I think he's trying to tell me something. It might be that I'm talking. Shall I carry on? Judging by the disappointment in his eyes, I better be quiet.'

Analysing is breaking something to its basic parts and working out what they could mean.

Evaluating is then being able to look at the parts and the message and judge its impact.

'Sir glared at me. He's not happy. I think he's trying to tell me something. It might be that I'm talking. Shall I carry on? Judging by the disappointment in his eyes, I better be quiet. That was quite frightening. I wouldn't like to be in his bad books. I certainly know what he expects.

So how does that tie into the mark scheme?

Take Band 4 - key words are 'convincing detail', 'precisely selected supporting textual detail', and 'thoughtful consideration'.

To show this I need to see you independently tackling the task looking at a wide range of detail from the play, considering the way that the writer's have crafted the texts and the impressions they develop overall.

In short, I need you not to be scared to give your own opinions of why Shakespeare and Browning use the language they've used. It is difficult - you are taught that this is hugely important and everything hinges on each Controlled Assessment. However, to hit the top of Band 4 and push into Band 5 you need to take risks. You need to believe in your own thoughts and opinions because that is what makes me marking these works smile and enjoy.

I don't want 60 essays that have been created to a formula.

Most of your school day you trust your opinions and will believe they are the right thing until you enter a classroom and are asked to apply them to a situation you are unfamiliar with. Trust your own thoughts - test them in your mind - do they make sense from what you know about the character?

Knowing that Lady Macbeth has been overbearing / controlling / manipulative is she really commenting on Macbeth's clothing in:

'Was the hope drunk wherein you dress'd yourself?'

Would Macbeth's dress sense worry her? What else does dress suggest? Appearance? Does Macbeth appear different in this scene to when we last saw him at the end of Act 1 Scene 5? Is that what she is more angry about?

Your 'thoughtful' consideration is what gains you the higher marks. Your thoughts (closely linked to the text as a whole) = better marks.

Moving into Band 5 is about having those original thoughts where you don't just develop one idea but you offer many and think about the impact the writer intends to have:

'Was the hope drunk wherein you dress'd yourself?' suggests the disappointment that Lady Macbeth has of Macbeth's metaphorical change in appearance since he agreed to the plot. Her use of 'dress'd seems to accuse Macbeth of only looking like or pretending to be strong enough to kill Duncan although this though the idea of 'drunk' seems to suggest where he was uninhibited before his inhibitions no control him. This may also develop the idea of Macbeth as a coward highlighting her control in the relationship, especially as she assaults Macbeth with a barrage of demeaning Rhetorical Questions and paints him as almost a fool: he is only able to act the part with support of alcohol (or this could potentially be her support). Shakespeare crafts this scene highlighting Lady Macbeth at the peak of her power strengthening the impact of her demise as the plot unravels.

The highlighted section shows understanding of the play in picking out a relevant quotation. The purple then analyses. The blue develops 'thoughtful consideration' and 'perceptive' detail and the red evaluates the impact of the scene / line.

Where a Band 4 answer will stop at the purple, a Band 5 answer would develop the blue and red.
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