How to craft a Band 6 Mod A Textual Conversations essay

Your Ultimate Guide to writing a comparative band 6 essay for Module A Textual Conversations. Read along as we break down exactly what the markers are looking for from central ideas to essay structure.

2 months ago   •   6 min read

By KIS Academics
Photo by Sergey Zolkin / Unsplash

Ever wondered what sets a Band 6 essay apart from a 5? Turns out it's not about how fancy your writing sounds. Demonstrating a nuanced understanding of context through a clear structure and strong central themes makes all the difference in crafting the perfect Mod A essay.

What are markers looking for?

In Module A, markers want you to bring your own ‘considered personal perspective’ to the texts you study. This involves recognising the influence of two key things:

  • Resonances, which just refer to themes, motifs, and values that texts share.
  • And Dissonances, which are places where the ‘child text’ has reframed or reappropriated themes from its ‘parent text’. This also includes places where they’ve diverged completely.

By using this comparative framework to analyse metaphorical ‘textual conversations’ (the way literature interacts), we are then able to make our own judgement on how other texts, contexts, and values enhance our perspectives and shape our compositions.

But where should you start?

A Strong Thesis

Engaging thoroughly with the essay question from the beginning is vital to standing out in the marking centre. This means not memorising one essay word for word. First, distil an original take on your texts by brainstorming a succinct, conceptual thesis. These can be easily moulded to any question type, whilst retaining the ability to get specific enough to dissect the intricacies of a super niche stimulus.

Make this robust by adapting your perspective to different questions, experimenting with arguing ideas in unique ways, and expounding other themes that support your original idea.

Practice creating quick essay plans alongside these, sticking to the keywords from the rubric, and you will make your responses stronger by learning to thoroughly answer the question. You’ll also become more flexible and better at creating well-supported arguments on the go.

Good Analysis

Analysis is the cornerstone of your essay, and good analysis is always embedded in context. So get to know it inside and out! This is because understanding the author’s world is critical to understanding why and how they have portrayed certain themes in specific lights. If you were studying Plath’s ‘Ariel’ alongside Hughes’ ‘Birthday Letters’, for example, you might reflect on the way the context of Postmodernism develops the theme of self-liberation in their poems;

“ …The two perspectives thus resonate in a Postmodernist dissection of self to reveal that Plath could only be liberated from her father and other patriarchal forces through the purging of her physical body, ultimately seen in her death.”

This post-analysis integration of context is fundamental to showing that you have considered the effects of the authors’ worlds on their writing and of your world on your understanding.

Regarding evidence itself, look for and categorise quotes according to their specific theme, value, assumption or perspective. This anchors analysis within its context, but also makes formulating arguments easier. Quotes should have clear literary techniques, demonstrating the impact of form and style, to explicitly show motifs, allusions and intertextuality. Consider how themes are mirrored, aligned, or different in the two texts. Remember, markers prefer well-developed arguments with strong evidence to complex arguments that have no support.

You might like to organise your analysis when drafting your arguments like this:

Divided vs. Integrated Structures

Divided Structures

There are two ways to organise your analysis. The first is a divided structure - using four paragraphs to discuss two themes, making it easier to analyse them in depth. This method often leads to a higher word count, as you need to work harder to make integrated links between texts. Helpfully though, the shorter paragraphs make the structure super clear, and generally, this improves the clarity of your argument.

Here is an example structure that could be used to frame your specific thesis:

Integrated Structures

The second is an integrated structure. This uses three themes to create three paragraphs that include equally weighted evidence from both texts. For most students, this makes framing the directly comparative nature of Module A easier, and allows for a more seamless textual conversation to emerge in support of your thesis. This means you can avoid restating prior arguments, but tackling two texts can still make paragraphs chunky, leading to shallow analysis for the sake of brevity. If you stick to a clear structure like the one below, this won’t be an issue.

Both structures have band six potential, so long as they are packed with quality analysis that is embedded in context, filled with consistent links and interacts with the question.

Don’t stop there! - Edit, Edit, Edit.

Editing is crucial to the essay development process. Any good essay has been carefully drafted, rewritten and reviewed numerous times - but how do you do that?

  • Once you finish drafts, leave them for about 8 hours (or a solid night’s sleep) and then come back to them with fresh eyes to pick up things you missed.
  • Read it out loud - this automatically highlights any cohesion or flow issues.
  • Use words from the rubric - it’s there to help.
  • Signpost your structure with clear linking and concluding words.
  • Print out essays and annotate them by hand. Look for sentences that are too long, repeated words or phrases, and any word count-wasting rambling where you’ve lost sight of the question.
  • Get a second opinion! Have a friend or teacher mark it thoroughly, pointing out areas that could use restructuring or clarity.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How many words should I be writing in an essay?

Realistically, 40 minutes isn’t tonnes of time to demonstrate everything you’ve learnt in this module, so keep it succinct, and don’t try to do too much. Essays should be between 800-1200 words, depending on your writing speed.

How can I get faster at writing?

One word - practice:

  • Handwrite your draft analysis and class notes.
  • Copy pre-written paragraphs for speed.
  • Write regularly from memory.
  • Do writing time-tests.
  • Find a pen that works for you! It makes all the difference.

Are my paragraphs the right length?

Paragraphs should be roughly even to show the breadth of your understanding. The sweet spot is around 4 quotes/250 words (divided) or 5-6 quotes/330 words (integrated). More words means more writing time, so consider cutting down on filler phrases, or restructuring lengthy arguments.

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Written by KIS Academics Tutor for HSC English, Maths, Physics, and Chemistry, Waveney Wood. Waveney is currently pursuing a career in medicine and has received stellar reviews from her past KIS academic students. You can view Waveney’s profile here and request her as a tutor.

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