Analyze like a 99.95 ATAR student - The ultimate guide to properly analyzing texts

English can be an elusive subject and it seems nearly impossible to write an analysis that satisfies your markers. Let us shed some light on how you actually go about analysing your text by going back to the basics!!

8 months ago   •   3 min read

By KIS Academics

When we read a text we don't just want to be mindlessly reading the words. We need to be reading actively. What does that mean? Well, active reading requires you to think about the message your text is making about society and HOW they are communicating this message.

Whenever you study a text you need to be asking yourself;

  • What is the context in which this text is made in? (Consider significant cultural/social/historical events during the composer's time or any experiences that would influence their purpose and motivation)
  • How does this influence the attitudes, perspectives and motivations presented in the text?
  • How do these attitudes, perspectives and motivations invite the audience (or you, the reader) to reflect and form a newfound opinion?
  • How does the author use form, structure and stylistic devices to achieve its purpose?

Well, that is a lot of things to think about. Which is why you ideally want to read over the text twice. The first time I read a text I annotate using the fun color coding system below.

Once I get a good understanding of what is going on, I then go over it again, this time focusing on just the key themes I want to explore more (basically the themes you plan to write about in your essay).

To break ideas down better I used a table to structure my thoughts.

Table example for George Orwell's 1984

To add on from this I would start picking out quotes that would back up my claims.

This example is from In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (you wouldn’t believe, the same person who wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s!).

So, with these ideas in mind, here’s a flowchart to get you started on analyzing your novel!

My Band 6 Analysis Exemplar

Hannah Kent’s The Good People (2016)

Now this all looks confronting but it with practice, it becomes second nature. Do each color one by one ensuring that every sentence you write contributes to reinforcing your topic sentences and you have got yourself a band 6 body paragraph.

To help make things even easier for you, I have made a little cheat sheet with all the major techniques you should be looking out for.

English Literary Cheat Sheet

Add to this as you discover new techniques and their effects.

Want more personalized study guidance to help drastically improve your marks? A private tutor can make the biggest difference!

This article was written by KIS Academics private tutor for Literature, Sophie de Jersey. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Biomedicine (Chancellor's Scholars) at the University of Melbourne. You can view her profile here and request her as a tutor.

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