The JC1 Mid-Year Exam



3 hours

  • We strongly recommend you spend 1 hr per section, using about 15 min for reading / planning and the remaining 45 to write the essay.
  • Going overboard (e.g. using 1 hr 30 min) will not be worth the extra marks you earn
  • Brief answers tend to be awarded very low marks (e.g. less than 6 marks); incomplete answers tend not to be in the top two bands (18 – 25 marks).

Section A
Unseen – Single Poem (Paper 1)

  • 2 options, one of which will be a Singaporean poem
  • Single-poem questions generally feature poems of 14 to 40 lines.
  • The question itself will always require you to consider in detail the ways in which language, style and form create meaning.
  • It may or may not feature a prompt on the concern (e.g. home, daughter). If no trigger is given, you will be tasked to consider “ways in which your response is shaped by the writer’s language, style and form”.
  • Note that the Singaporean poem may have Singapore references (that will be glossed), but must be considered in the light of universal concerns and methods; in other words, a ‘Singaporean poem’ should not be used as an opportunity to indulge in socio-cultural commentary

Section B
William Shakespeare: Measure for Measure (Paper 1)

  • Compulsory passage-based question (i.e. no option)
  • The passage may be taken from Acts 1, 2 and 3.1, all of which were covered in lectures and tutorials; general knowledge of concerns in the whole text (Acts 1 -5) is expected, especially for “links to elsewhere in the text”.
  • The question will prompt you to relate the passage to a character (e.g. Angelo, Claudio, the Duke, Isabella), character relationship (e.g. Claudio-Isabella) or concern (e.g. law and justice, morality, virtue, appearance and reality) that we have studied.

Section C
Alan Ayckbourn: Woman in Mind (Paper 3)

  • 2 options, both essay questions
  • The questions will be specifically related to the mind, the self or both; this is different from a few of your presentation questions.
  • The trigger will be a concern (e.g. mind losing touch with reality), character (e.g. how the audience relates to Susan) or method (e.g. the importance of the closing scene).

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Recap of Concerns and Methods


  • Analysis of language
    – Perspective or point-of-view
    – Tone (i.e. overall effect of perspective and diction)
    – Diction or patterns of words that support the tone, focusing on verbs, adverbs, adjectives and abstract nouns
  • Analysis of style
    – Imagery, focusing on concrete nouns (i.e. things, places, people)
    – Figurative language, including metaphors, similes, personification
    – Sound patterns, including sibilant, fricative, guttural and plosive sounds
    – Sound devices, such as alliteration assonance and consonance
  • Analysis of form
    – Structure, focusing on parts (e.g. stanza 1, stanza 2) and their purposes
    – Progression, focusing on the shifts / connections between parts
    – Rhythm, including enjambment, end-stopped lines, caesurae or pauses, line length
    – Rhyming pairs and rhyme scheme, focusing on similarity / contrast in ideas
  • Response
    – Covering overall effects (e.g. despondence) and purpose in an introduction
    – Interpreting the purpose of ideas and methods at the end of each body paragraph (e.g. why does the writer refer to the paradox of a book-loving gangster?)
    – Writing a personal response (e.g. what the poem makes you reconsider about ‘home’) to the poem and its concerns
    – Constructing a cohesive, convincing essay that moves from simple to complex ideas

Measure for Measure (Paper 1)

  • Lectures
    – Socio-historical context and overview of concerns
    – Law, justice and the role of authority
    – Virtue and vice, chastity and sexual promiscuity
    – Angelo and Isabella’s self-knowledge, chastity and sexuality
    – Justice (Angelo) and mercy (Escalus)
  • Tutorials
    – Analysing tone, diction, rhythm and syntax (Excerpts)
    – The Duke’s opinion of Angelo (1.1)
    – Claudio, life and death (1.2)
    – The Duke and the rule of law (1.3)
    – Lucio’s role (1.4)
    – Angelo-Isabella relationship (2.2)
    – The role of authority (2.2)
    – The presentation of truth (2.4)
    – Claudio-Isabella relationship (3.1)

Woman in Mind (Paper 3)

  • Lectures
    – Socio-historical and thematic background
    – Fantasy and reality
    – Self and other: social roles (mother, wife)
    – Mental instability and Susan’s culpability
    – Environment in relation to the mind and self
  • Tutorials
    – Analysing character introductions and stage directions
    – Analysing tone, diction, syntax (Excerpts)
    – Presentation of Susan’s family members
    – Presentation of Susan’s imaginary family
    – The use of setting, focusing on domestic scenes
    – The use of stage movement and action
    – Humour, laughter and the underlying ‘disquiet’
    – Mental breakdown and ‘internal rebellion’
    – Susan’s culpability and violence towards her real family

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Manage your time and complete three essays in three hours
This much is obvious, but has to be stressed repeatedly. A brief answer guarantees a failing mark, whereas an extended answer may not earn you the extra marks you think you will get. Remember that the examination is a test of all three sections. Doing well in two sections while not completing the third may boost your ego, but it won’t boost your score. So make sure you spend an even amount of time on the three sections. In the event that you require more time, stop yourself at the 1 hour 10 min mark so that you can spend at least 50 min on another question.

Analyse, analyse, analyse. Close analyse!
This is A-level Literature, and we expect you to understand and write about how writers create meaning. Regardless of the text or section, you should:

  • Identify the methods and effects that support your idea
  • Provide ample evidence in the form of quotations or reference to scenes / chapters
  • Closely analyse the effects of specific words (e.g. what is the effect of ‘most’) in your quotations

Respond to the textual concerns and ‘dramatic significance’
Know the concerns of the text and write about the purpose, significance or meaning of the text. What does Measure say about the morality of a ruler? How does Woman in Mind inform your understanding of one’s identity, and the fragility of the mind? What does the poem say about the nature of memory, and how we are unable to leave the past behind? Literature is a subject within the humanities, and calls for us to be fully human – to connect with ideas and experiences that may or may not be our own.

Simultaneously, we can also comment on the purpose of a specific part of the text. How does one stanza lead onto another? Why is there a shift in tone in the last two lines? How does Angelo’s declaration in 2.1 that he would judge himself impartially foreshadow his own self-sentencing in 5.1? How does the opening scene of Woman prepare the audience for Susan’s descent into madness?

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