Paper 1 Unseen Commentary: The Rules



The paper:

·         Will contain two unseen commentary texts

·         Standard Level papers include guiding questions to accompany the texts

·         Higher Level papers do not include any guiding questions

·         Standard Level exams last for one and half hours

·         Higher Level exams last for two hours



You must:

·         Choose only one of the two texts you are given

·         Write a commentary based on this text



The paper one essay is meant to asses your:

·         ability to understand and interpret texts that have not been previously taught

·         ability to show how a writer has used and manipulated literary features to create an overall meaning / message or to have any other kind of effect on the reader.

·         ability to show an appreciation of aspects such as theme, content, style, structure and language.

·         ability to use quotations as evidence to support your points.

·         ability to integrate these quotations smoothly into your essay.

·         ability to structure commentaries that are continuous and show a gradual development of points and argument. Commentaries comprising unrelated paragraphs will not merit a high achievement level.

·         ability to write in the formal and precise register of literary analysis




·         To carefully track passage and then plan your essay before you start

·         At Standard Level you do not have to use the guiding questions but they are there to help you and draw your attention to important elements of the text. So it is worth having a look at them.

·         Do not write about or try to guess what happened before your prose passage starts or what happens after it ends. Do not try and guess what might have happened in the writer’s life to prompt them to write such a text

·         Do not make links between these passages and other texts / characters you have studied. You are only meant to focus on this text!