Argument analysis (also know as language analysis, analysis argument, and a variety of other names) is the second area of study (AoS 2) that’s known to be one of the most challenges parts of the VCE English course. Part of the problem is that many schools schedule in their argument analysis SAC at an early stage in the year – so you need to keep your skills sharp if you’re to perform well when the end-of-year task roles around.
In this article, we cover the basics of how to write a great argument analysis answer and impart a few of our favourite tips on how to push your grade just that little bit higher.
What is an argument analysis?
Argument analysis is one of the three core elements of the VCE English course. It’s also quite different from the other key areas of the course, since both text response and comparative answers focus on the analysis of the novels, films, and other texts that you study throughout the year. Argument analysis, in contrast, sees students tasked with analysing ‘cold material’ that they’ve not seen before.
Getting down to business, the language analysis requires students to look at a number of articles or images that have typically been written for the media as an opinion piece or as part of a political or social campaign. Your task is to carefully read the article, analyse and scrutinise the persuasive techniques used, and communicate this analysis in an essay.
What do the examiners want from an argument analysis answer?
Aside from strong analytical skills, there are a few specific things the examiners are looking for when they’re grading argument analysis answers.
First things first, they want to see that you understand the arguments and points of view that are contained within the text. The trick here is to avoid misinterpreting what the writer means when they’re expressing their views, and that can be easier said than done if you aren’t familiar with the central issue discussed.
You’ll need to provide a thorough analysis of the language techniques used to present the argument if you want to score a top mark. It’s really a case of explaining what the writer is doing to try to persuade the reader that their point of view is the right one. Think rhetorical questions, statistics, inclusive writing and you won’t go far wrong. When you’re writing your essay answer, your best bet is to explicitly point out these language techniques before explaining (in simple terms) what they do to bring the reader around to the writer’s viewpoint.
Finally, as with all English answers, you need to write clearly and effectively in an appropriate register. Using an effective writing style and appropriate language will help the examiners to understand the points you’re trying to make, and prevent them from deducting marks for the use bad grammar or a poor approach to expressing ideas.
Top tips for getting a better argument analysis mark
Whether you’re preparing for your SACs or the exam itself, there’s just one pneumonic you’ll need to remember if you want to get the best possible argument analysis grade – the 5Ps:
As ever, the answer is thorough and effective preparation, so be sure to get hold of some sample texts and practise with past exam papers. Knowing what to expect will help to raise your confidence levels and get you used to the argument analysis format.
It also helps to know and understand as many of the linguistic techniques that might be deployed by a writer to persuade readers. We’ve already mentioned statistics, inclusive language, and rhetorical questions, but think also about:
- The use of expert opinion
Finally, make sure that you’re expressing yourself effectively too. Be sure to flex your vocabulary by describing the way the writer is communicating, but be careful to ensure that your writing still makes sense.
By practising and using these methods, you should be well on your way to getting a great mark!
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