Reproduced below is a post I wrote this morning for Paper 1 Section A. I might attach some student answers, too. It is a formula I have found has worked very well for my classes; how do you teach yours? These are some of the principles by which I would teach the ‘how’ of these questions.

Purpose and audience (and to a lesser extent, form) should be identified first. In regards to the audience, I have the students ask,

Is it aimed at a particular gender?

Is it aimed at a particular age group?

And the key one, is it aimed at a particular interest/hobby?

One they can identify purpose and audience, they almost have the ‘how’ of the question in their grasp.

If it is a language question, the students need to identify a number of language techniques (such as rhetorical questions, informality, sentence length etc.) For presentation I would identify such devices as logos, images, camera angle analysis, colours etc. These form the ‘what’ of the question. Keith Brindle recommends half the marks and round up for the number of devices to identify for each question.

To answer the house, I would give the students a bank of key linkage words/phrases (this suggests/implies/which) to introduce their ‘how’. The how should always be about how does the device help achieve the purpose and audience.

So, for example, take an article about how teachers who post of the TES should get paid more money. Purpose is to persuade teachers that they should ballot for more money for forum posts. One device identified might be a rhetorical question. The point might read ‘Firstly, The Quill Guy uses a rhetorical question to ask the reader whether teachers should be paid extra to post on the TES forum. The use of this suggests that while teachers currently post for free, this needs to be rethought, and that it is up to reader to demand a rethink.’ Equally, you can have the entirely opposite point (that rhetorical questions encourage make the reader to rethink the the opposite idea), as long as it applies to the purpose and audience.

As part of teaching this, I teach it in conjunction with the writing task. I might organise the students to create articles/adverts themselves based on purpose and audience. I’ll also give them the generic AFOREST + other rhetorical techniques to use. When they have done so, I would have them peer-assess (or even self-assess). A 6 mark question identifying three devices and writing an answer in the way suggested above.

In terms of answering the question best, I would suggest the students initially skim-read the text, highlighting numbers, quotes, punctuation (anything that might be language for example.) If they can begin to identify purpose and audience at this stage, great. If not, oh well. Second read through should just be first and last paragraphs, and topic sentences. At this stage, they should have identified audience and purpose. (For the purpose, they need to have some knowledge of the triplets, but the general ones are inform/entertain/persuade I find.) On the third read through in detail, the students are identifying any details that support the purpose and audience.

The A grade criteria suggests a ‘shaped’ answer. To achieve this I would then encourage the students to number the article with points 1-5 in order that they think most important (to the audience and purpose.) Therefore, when they come to answer, they aren’t simply writing in order of where the points appear chronologically in the text, but rather in order of their importance.

Finally, I would go so far as the suggest the students have something of a formula for writing the answer with purpose and audience identified in the first paragraph and connectives introducing each point (as the paper for section A is reading, not writing.

One last thing! The mark scheme is norm referenced, which means that, like the AFs, while it is essential, it is also somewhat nonsensical in the sense that it relies upon the marker’s good will and ability to discern the lucidity of the student’s answers (on suggested effect is, for example, ‘for effect’!)

Would be interested to see what other people make of this: drop me a PM if you might like some exemplar answers