Leaving Cert. English, Paper 1 – Part B (Composing Section): The Complete Guide

Leaving Cert. English, Paper 1 – Part B (Composing Section): The Complete Guide

What are you being asked to do?

In the Part B/ composing sections you are being asked to do two things:

  1. Use language in one of five ways: to write either argumentatively, persuasively, informatively, narratively or aesthetically.
  2. Create a written medium aimed at someone (e. g a speech, letter to fellow students, parents). Before looking into these different ways of writing, we need to look at what the marker will be looking for in the answer regardless of what language genre you write in, that you are creating the written medium aimed at an audience asked of you in the question:

PCLM – the method the markers use to grade your answer

Clarity of Purpose (P): The task is to create the written medium asked of you, whether what you write reads, sounds, etc. like what you are asked to write, e. g. it sounds/reads as a letter, speech to a group of students, world leaders, etc. (the task also here is to use language in one of the five ways mentioned above. Therefore the marker will only view your answer as suitably answering the question also if you identify and use the type of writing that is suitable for answering the question you choose).

Coherence of Delivery (C): The examples, paragraphs and points you mention in your answer must link together and consistently and continuously answer the question asked of you: they must contribute to creating the written medium required of you – it is such points that should make your piece sound/read like a letter to students, or a speech to parents, etc. (and you need to consistently stick to using one language type throughout).

Accuracy of Mechanics (M)Spelling and grammar must be of a decent standard (few mistakes) and suitable for the question and language type chosen. The final part of the PCLM method contains the essential detail that will create the written medium asked of you, which will shape what you talk about and how you talk about this:

Efficiency of language use (L)

Here the marker will be looking for you to decide upon:

Who is the audience: the marker is told to look for evidence that shows you know who your audience is and that the subject matter (paragraph, points, examples, etc.) is suitable for them (AKA it is what they will relate and respond to). In addition, he/she will look to see that you are either formal/informal, humorous/serious, etc. to suit your audience. The written medium (e. g speech, letter, etc.) will always have to be directed towards someone, therefore what you say and how you say it must be suited to who you are talking to. Everything and anything you write will be affected by who your audience is. Finally, you need to write your Part B answer in the manner of what you are asked to write – e. g. shape and sound it like a letter, speech, etc.

THE AUDIENCE: You need to focus on your audience when you are writing. Your essay will be directed at someone, so you need to think about how your audience will be able to respond to your writing, that they can relate to and understand your essay. The best ways to ensure this are:

  • Register: Think about your audience and how you should write/speak to them – would they respond better and accept your piece if you spoke formally or informally, humorously or seriously?
  • Tone: What tone would your audience respond to best? Conversational, sarcastic, neutral, etc.?
  • Vocabulary: Should you use complicated or simple wording in your essay – which would suit the audience more?
  • Topics you write on: The topics you focus on should be relevant to your audience, things that they know of or can relate to.
  • Concise or detailed topics: Should you be concise (brief) or detailed with what you are mentioning? Which would your audience prefer?

Focusing on such things will ensure that you will create a written medium required of you. As said, all that is left is to make sure your essay sounds like e. g a letter, speech, report, etc.

The key questions you should be asking yourself before you answer the question here are:

  1. What am I being asked to do/what is the task (and what language type is best for this answer)? (Known as clear appreciation of the task)
  2. Who is my audience? How should I write to them (seriously/humorously, formally/informally)? (Known as register)
  3. What should I write about to them?
  4. Have I written in a suitable quality? Does this read like what the question wanted me to write? (e. g: does it read like a letter, speech to a certain audience, etc?)

As seen in the examples above, regardless of the language type you write in for your answer in the Part B/Essay sections, the marker will always look for evidence that you have focused on what has just been mentioned to see that you have suitably created your written medium. However, as mentioned in the above example, you will need to do so while writing in one of five ways, aesthetically, argumentatively, informatively, narratively or persuasively:

It is essential to know the functions of these types of writing, so you can identify if a question is asking you to write in a certain type of language:

  • Aesthetic – the description of feelings and events
  • Narrative – telling a (short) story
  • Informative – informing someone of something
  • Persuasive – persuading someone of something
  • Argumentative – trying to convince someone of something

Informative use of language: a good way to think of this is as if no audience is present, as all you are doing is saying what you think. You are not trying to persuade or convince someone of an argument, you are saying something irrespective of whether the audience agrees or disagrees.

Persuasive: This is more force here as you are trying to persuade an audience of something.

Argumentative: Even more force is used to convince an audience of something.

Aesthetic: This involves two steps:

  1. describing an event
  2. describing how you felt/feel about it

Narrative: The telling of an event, through the structure of a short story (introduction, complication, climax, conclusion).

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About the Author

John Ryan

John has a Masters in Modern English Literature and is the founder of RyJoLC, an educational consultancy based in Dublin that provides English language and curriculum resources to educational institutions worldwide.
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