What makes a text analysis good? This is a complex question. However, to help us along, here are a few things you can do to aim for a high score, and get your skills on point.
1) Show your understanding of the text
Right from the very beginning, in the introduction, show your understanding of the text. To do this with complete clarity, you will require knowledge about the format of the text. Make sure to go through the textual features of the following:
- political cartoons
- opinion columns
- extracts from essays
- electronic texts (such as social networking sites and blogs)
- brochures (such as public information leaflets)
- extracts from memoirs, diaries and other autobiographical texts
How to Pick Non-Literary Texts for the Individual Oral
Once you show that you understand the text type, you can scope out the text and it's composition, so you can maybe dedicate a full paragraph to display your understanding of the layout. This helps you to gain points for Criterion A, which is knowledge and understanding.
Although Paper 1 is always a bit daunting because the texts are unseen, there is a method to each format - each type of text you might get. Showing the examiner that you are well-versed with different text types, will only work in your favour.
2) Analyse textual features
The main thing in a textual analysis is your analysis itself! There are two specific things you can analyse and evaluate:
- textual features, and
- stylistic or authorial choices.
Textual features are a very essential part of your analysis. We will have to make an inventory of all the elements of the composition of the text. Why is it arranged the way it is
Authorial choices are important too. These choices reflect the style of the creator, as well as their overall message. What is the tone being used here, and the overall attitude? Why could this specific artwork have been chosen for the cover?
Before you begin writing, create a mindmap with every detail you are noticing.
In addition to this, identifying any missing textual features can almost be as important as identifying the ones that are present. If an important textual feature is missing, it will be missing for a reason. Your ability to identify this will make your analysis well-informed.
One final thing you need to watch out for - the stylistic choices in the text.
- Stylistic choices are more nuanced, and requires a keen eye - you need to know the patterns to see how certain texts are defying their patterns.
For example, if you are analysing an advertisement poster for a particular brand, it will be following a style, in particular the style that the brand has created for itself.
An observation such as this, about a textual feature, or an authorial or stylistic choice, also requires a very clear explanation from you, using evidence from the text.
3) Organise your points before writing
The structuring of the essay requires your focus. Each textual analysis will have to be organised differently, according to it's requirement - the guiding question.
Before you begin writing, try to roughly organise how you will divide the paragraphs in your essay.
Once you start, give a clear and precise introduction. The introduction must address the key terms in the guiding question, as well as:
- a relevant and appropriate understanding of the genre, audience and purpose,
- any understanding you may have of a general, valid context, and
- a clear reference to what the rest of your essay is going to look like.
The next three paragraphs at least, are going to make up the main body of your analysis. These paragraphs must be lengthy - understandably - and showcase all of your knowledge about the specific point you are mentioning, as well as how it is being displayed in an interesting manner within the text.
Showcasing your understanding of all of this in your three body paragraphs will showcase your ability to notice smaller details that are not visible at first glance.
And finally, the last paragraph will be your evaluation and conclusion. In the conclusion, you must:
- Briefly summarize the main points without repeating it verbatim,
- Give an insightful evaluation or observation if possible, to tie everything together, and
- Address the guiding question with confidence, while turning the question into your thesis statement.
Understandably, although the structure itself is clear, the execution of it can be slightly troublesome. The examiner will be looking at the presentation of your ideas, and how these ideas are organized effectively, and with focus.
4) Use the IB Structuring Technique
Yes - the PEEL technique is effective. Utilise the trusted technique, where you:
- provide the main point;
This can be anything - perhaps that a text is using a variety of persuasive techniques in order to be effective. Make sure your topic sentence is focused, and is concise enough to provide clarity for the rest of your paragraph.
- give examples of your point;
Here, examples are another word for ‘evidence’. Provide evidence from the text by mentioning the specific details or devices you have noticed from the text.
- explain why the evidence is necessary, or helps to validate the main point;
After providing the example, explain why you have chosen it to support your topic sentence. Giving an explanation and analysis elevates your answer from a medium scoring essay to an above-average essay.
- and link to the original point, or to your main argument for the essay.
The conclusion is the perfect sentence to re-instate your main point, and give clear coherence to everything you have mentioned in the essay by stating your main argument one last time.
There is one final thing to bring your knowledge about perfecting a textual analysis at it's new peak - the words you will use to write everything down.
Language is one of the most important things to consider while writing the analysis - both the language of the text, as well as the language of your writing. The second one is what we need to master for the textual analysis.
For the Language criteria, there are two main things to ensure:
Make sure your writing is clear and concise. The examiner must understand you are writing each sentence with clarity and purpose.
Keep your register and tone formal and objective, to present a well informed, detached and neutral analysis.
There is one more thing to keep in mind, although it comes with practice. Make sure your writing is accurate, and pay attention to:
- spelling, and
- syntax (punctuation in this case, mostly).
Although the language criteria can only be perfected or improved with practice, you can improve your score almost immediately if you set aside a minute or two to proofread your analysis, and ensure everything you have written is accurate, clear and objective.
With these 5 steps, you can strive to score above a 16 with considerable ease! Scoring a Level 5 in all four of the level descriptors is not unheard of, all you need is a bit of guidance, and a gentle nudge in the right direction to make sure you are on the best path to improvement.
You can do it all on your own! But if you need a bit of expert feedback on your writing, or would like to get more clarity regarding your areas of improvement, get in touch with us here, and we will take a look at your writing.