Some old habits have arisen when marking my OMAM essays based on section 3. We will read, and write, essays on section 4 and section 5, most probably in the new year, as the focus will move towards paper 1 analysis.

Initial impressions suggest that more pupils are writing in an evaluative style. More pupils are aware of the need for a focus, and that a focus aids an evaluative style. Strangely, though, these errors have arisen with more than a few pupils:

a) Incorrect use of the possessive apostrophe on Lennie. Is this because the name ends in two vowels? Is it because ‘ies’ is a common plural suffix spelling? Either way, it is poor.
b) Writing Lennie without capitalising it as a proper noun. Please do so: he deserves it.
c) Not embedding quotations, or making it clear where they come from. Many students are not writing their quotations clearly. They either:

– Simply write the quotation in its own sentence without further reference.
– Introduce the point, the quotation and then begin explaining in its own sentence.
– Call the quote ‘this quote suggests’, or write, ‘we know this because it says…’

These are errors not seen in a while. They require addressing before the next analytical essay. I wonder what causes them? While I provided a list of suggested quotations, I am thinking that they are being used without students truly seeing the context. Maybe it would be worthwhile only listing the first and last words of suggested quotations to compel students to see from which context they appeared?

One question asked of many pupils is for them to identify where their style has become evaluative. This is often because: they are writing in detail that is precise; they use connective phrases that imply that their ideas are speculating on alternative interpretations; and they are using topic sentences/statements that round off or conclude a short passage of exploratory analysis.

Fortunately, there are a fair number of students who write in clear, evaluative style. Too many students are writing in a metaphorical style that risks (and is often) vague at times. But seeing the writing of others should surely help.