Evaluating (you know the tough one)!

Help, tips and assistance for students. This blog is part of a range specifically for students and can be found, along with others, under Student GCSE Blogs.

Paper 1 Q4 is an evaluation question, you have to meet this objective: AO4 Evaluate texts critically and support this with appropriate textual references.

This is a SAMPLE question…


The first thing you need to remember is this is an evaluative question and requires a personal response from you the ‘reader’.

Evaluation is defined as “the making of a judgement about the value of something”.

  • You are being tested on your ability to evaluate how effective a text is.
  • This means you must write about the methods (techniques) a writer uses to create an effective text and are those effects successful?
  • Try to analyse patterns of words e.g. the writer uses [strong verbs] to show….


Let’s look at an extract:



Here’s a ‘sample’ response:

I agree with the student. I believe Dumas successfully creates a mysterious scene with the description of the ‘bandaged eyes’ and as a reader, I can feel the character’s uncertainty and fear.  I would be wondering what was the ‘indiscretion’? I would also be scared for the character; are they going to kill him because the author’s use of powerful language makes me feel as if I am there witnessing the scene unfold in front of me, I am curious as to why there is a need for secrecy. Why can’t the character ‘raise the bandage’?

The long effective description manipulates the reader’s thoughts as we walk ‘the thirty paces’ with the character.  By using sensory language such as the noun ‘odour’, verb ‘roasting’, and the adjective phrase ‘balmy and perfumed’ the reader can also feel the change in atmosphere as the character walks blindly from the rooms to a cave, this will be frightening and creates further mystery. The author emphasises the smells to describe the setting and highlight the character’s reliance on his senses.

Dumas cleverly continues to play on the reader’s senses with touch, smell and hearing – which make up for the lack of sight.  Dumas has successfully described the character’s thoughts as he tries to guess his whereabouts, making the reader feel his blindness. This was an anxious scene for me to read.


Don’t just analyse language here (as in Q2). For this question make a clear statement in response to the question. Add the method used by the author then follow this with a clear opinion – eg


  1. Explain why an author used a specific (method) word/phrase/imagery (in reference to the question).
  2. Why was this particular choice successful/why did it work/why did it create a possible effect on the reader?
  3. And use language that clearly assesses the quality of a text or the effect created with a specific word/phrase/method…eg this is successful because…


Here are other evaluative comments that you can look for in a text:

  1. look for patterns in words that create strong images
  2. look for emotive language that makes the reader feel something
  3. look for punctuation to enhance meaning
  4. look for verbs or modifiers that have strong connotations (positive or negative)
  5. look for adjectives/adverbs that add to the meaning and help you see an image vividly
  6. look for descriptions that reveal a different focus
  7. look for the senses, used to help reader’s understanding
  8. look for any technique used eg personification/onomatopoeia to reinforce an idea
  9. look for descriptions that build up an image for the reader (eg weather)
  10. look for patterns that build tension across an extract


Language to use when evaluating a text:


Thanks for reading.


2 thoughts on “Evaluating (you know the tough one)!

  1. Pingback: Educational Reader’s Digest | Friday 26th May – Friday 2nd June – Douglas Wise

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