Reading the Subject Report on the OCC (either for one zone or both for May 2013) will remind experienced teachers of this course about the recurring difficulties encountered by each new group of candidates.   Newer teachers will find it useful to highlight some points they can discuss with their students as they get ready to sit Paper 2.

QUESTIONS  on Paper 2 represent a major initial hurdle that we as teachers sometimes do not anticipate.

The first challenge that needs to be stressed with candidates is that most people do poorly on this examination simply because THEY FAIL TO ANSWER THE QUESTION  that they have chosen.  It seems one can simply not do enough work with dissecting, rephrasing, re-writing, composing.  Nerves are certainly an issue for some, but any formula or technique you can come up with to help with this hurdle  is likely to advantage your students.

It’s also helpful to remind students that questions on narration, character, plot and the like are as likely to appear this year as in the past.  I’ve found it helpful to teach students to distinguish between a recurring centre — foreshadowing, eg–and an “annual spin: foreshadowing as form of collusion with the reader  In other words, terms like ‘character’ will appear repeatedly.  Some students will only see the generic term and not the particular angle —the use of contrasting characters–in a particular question about character.  A few exercises directed to this pitfall will not go amiss.  So many students simply grab the familiar word and write essays that are only marginally relevant.

And finally, candidates need to know exactly where on the examination they can find the 3 questions that are available to them based on the genre they have studied–and not least to know which texts they have read are available for this paper.  I’ve found that some elementary exercises on these matters just prior to the exam — it’s a good place to inject some humor –are not wasted.

The foregoing matters may seem peripheral to the more demanding aspects of the thinking and writing involved in this examination–I have not found them to be so, either from the point of view of the teacher or the examiner.