Sunday, January 5, 2014

How to Kick IB Language A Paper One's Butt by Analyzing a Poem - Part Four: Criterion D

If you came here first, you might want to read the previous posts on butt-kicking for IB Language Paper One.
The last criterion, known as Criterion D or Language, requires you to spend several minutes on the last step of the writing process.  The last step is EDITING. 

No matter how confident you are in your grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other language skills, you have made a mistake.  You need to re-read everything you wrote and find it. 

On the other hand, if English is not your first language, chances are you have made a lot of mistakes.  You know what kind of mistakes you usually make.  Do you make a lot of comma splices?  Do you have terrible spelling?  Do you often use the wrong form of words (adj. instead of noun, for example)?  Do you forget to apply rules of tense or sentence construction?  Re-read everything you wrote, looking for specific mistakes and correcting them, several times until you are certain that your use of language is as accurate as it can possibly be.

Careful editing will result in a "high degree of accuracy," but that's only half the battle.  Your language must also be "clear, effective, carefully chosen, and precise." 

Remove any extra words or phrases, no matter how cool you think they sound.  For example, "In my opinion, I think that..." is extraneous.  We know it's your opinion.  We know you think it; you wrote it in your essay.  For more on wordiness and eliminating it, click here.

Repetition is extraneous.  Of course you need to repeat your thesis in your conclusion, and you should use the correct vocabulary to discuss literature, i.e. words like simile, imagery, alliteration, characterization, and stanza, which might require you to repeat those words a few times in your analysis.  But don't repeat your ideas over and over.  If you want to make your analysis clear, the key is to develop your ideas using PEE.

For your writing to be effective in this case, again, you need to use the correct vocabulary and support your points with reference to the poem and explanations.  If you have fewer points you want to make, it is more effective to PEEEEEE than to merely PEE.  In other words, add more examples and explain each example -- how does it support your point?

All good writers choose their words carefully.  You are no exception.  But think about why you made the choices you did.  Did you choose a word or phrase because it sounds really academic, or has lots of syllables, or because you recently learned it in your IELTS book?  You must choose each word because it is CLEAR, EFFECTIVE, and CORRECT.
All the good writers choose their words

Nardvark's online
dating profile
As for precise, did you know that the English language had over 200,000 words in common usage?  That's not including academic-specific words like deoxyribonucleic acid.  A lot of English synonyms have varying shades of meaning.  For example, when Nardvark posted his online-dating profile, he could have chosen any of the following words to describe his appearance: fat, plump, chubby, stout, portly, obese, heavy, large, big, corpulent, chunky, blubbery, well-padded, big-boned, robust, pear-shaped, unfit, heart-attack-in-progress, slovenly, fat-assed, XXXL, or cuddly.  Since these words all have roughly the same meaning, it was certainly difficult for Nardvark to choose the most pleasant-sounding way to describe himself, so he tried a different word each day for three weeks.  Nobody answered his ad until he hit upon the descriptor "cuddly."  From attempting to date, Nardvark has learned the importance of always choosing the best word.