30-1 The Critical / Analytical Response to Literary Texts Assignment
The Critical / Analytical Response to Literary Texts Assignment asks you to demonstrate
your understanding of a literary text (or texts) that you have studied in detail in your English
Language Arts 30–1 course. The assignment is a further, more focused exploration of the topic
introduced in the Personal Response to Texts Assignment. Pay close attention to the wording of
the topic for the Critical / Analytical Response to Literary Texts Assignment. Because it is not
identical to that of the Personal Response, you need to consider the way(s) in which the thematic
context has been reframed for a more specific focus. You are expected to write about how
the assigned topic is reflected in the ideas developed by the text creator. You are expected
to write a thoughtful, well-developed composition in which you synthesize your thinking about
both the assigned topic and your interpretation of your chosen text. Your composition will be
assessed on the basis of your ability to express your understanding of the literary text, to relate
that understanding of the text to the assignment, and to support your ideas with evidence from
your chosen text.
In this assignment, you must focus your composition on a text or texts other than those
provided in the examination. Compositions that refer only to the texts provided in the
examination or that make no reference to literature studied are assessed as Insufficient. A
composition will also be assessed as Insufficient when so little has been written that it is not
possible to assess Thought and Understanding and/or Supporting Evidence, or the marker can
discern no evidence of an attempt to fulfill the writing task presented in the assignment.
When considering which text to discuss, select a literary text that you have studied
thoroughly, that you know well, that is meaningful to you, and that is relevant to the
assigned topic. Texts which have literary merit and complexity of theme and style provide you
with the opportunity to produce a persuasive critical / analytical response that contains insight
and substance. If you choose a text that has not been studied in depth in the classroom or that
lacks literary merit and complexity, you reduce your chances of producing a critical / analytical
response that will meet the standard for the English Language Arts 30–1 Diploma Examination.
The time suggested for you to complete the Critical / Analytical Response to Literary
Texts Assignment, including time for Personal Reflection on Choice of Literary Text(s), is
approximately 1½ to 2 hours and the suggested word count range is 800–1600 words.
The Critical / Analytical Response to Literary Texts Assignment is worth 30% of your total
examination mark (Parts A and B combined) and is assessed according to five scoring categories:
Thought and Understanding and Supporting Evidence (each worth 7.5% of your total
examination mark) and Form and Structure, Matters of Choice, and Matters of Correctness
(each worth 5% of your total examination mark). A response assigned an Insufficient, for any
reason, receives a score of zero in all categories.
INSUFFICIENT Critical / Analytical Response to Text Assignment
Compositions are assigned an Insufficient when
• the student has written so little that it is not possible to assess Thought and Understanding and/
or Supporting Evidence, OR
• no reference has been made to literature studied, OR
• the only literary reference present is to the text(s) provided in the first assignment, OR
• there is no evidence of an attempt to fulfill the task presented in the assignment.
Suggestions for Writing the Critical / Analytical Response to Literary Texts Assignment
Be sure that your selection and treatment of the literary text reflect and develop the assigned
topic in enough detail to sustain a thorough discussion of both the topic and the text at the
English Language Arts 30–1 level. You must be able to provide sufficient significant and relevant
supporting evidence from your chosen text to illustrate your ideas logically and persuasively.
Your discussion must demonstrate the depth of your understanding of the literature as well as
your response to it. (See Appendix A of this guide for a short list of texts that students often use
on diploma examinations.)
If you choose to support your ideas with more than one text, make sure that each text
purposefully supports and develops the unifying or controlling idea in your response. As well,
state clearly your reasons for using more than one text in the Initial Planning section and/or
in your response itself. A general guideline is to provide equal treatment of each text that you
reference. Consider carefully why you are examining a second text before you make it part
of your response.
Remember, markers do not read student responses written on literary texts they do not know
well. Be cautioned, however, that choosing texts that are rarely studied in English Language
Arts 30–1 classrooms may make it challenging for the examination manager to find markers
who are familiar with such texts during any given marking session. In the Initial Planning
section, identify the text that you will discuss in your response. Use the Personal Reflection on
Choice of Literary Text(s) part of the Initial Planning section to clarify your reasons for choosing
the literature you have identified. Markers will consider the ideas presented in the Personal
Reflection on Choice of Literary Text(s) when considering the effectiveness of your ideas and
The Personal Reflection on Choice of Literary Text(s) is intended to help you to clarify the ways
in which the topic is addressed by the text you select. As you reflect, you may become more
confident, or you may decide your initial choice restricts your ability to discuss the topic or does
not provide sufficient supporting evidence for an effective discussion. Use your time efficiently to
allow for time both to plan and to write a prose composition using supporting evidence from a
literary text that addresses the topic and demonstrates your detailed understanding.
When planning, carefully consider your controlling idea or how you will create a strong unifying
effect in your response. Develop your ideas in a manner that will effectively communicate your
literary interpretation and understanding to the reader. Your supporting evidence must relate
clearly to the topic and support your literary interpretation. Use only those events, circumstances,
or details that support or enhance your discussion.
Do not merely retell the sequence of events in the text. Show that you have deliberately chosen
support to reinforce your ideas. Make sure that your evidence accurately represents the literary
text. Carefully integrated supporting evidence such as quotations or paraphrases will show
the reader that you appreciated the significance of the literary text you have chosen. However,
supporting evidence—while it is a significant requirement of the assignment—does not speak for
itself. The function of evidence is to illustrate or illuminate an idea that you have expressed in
your own words and to provide opportunity for further analysis or discussion.
Generally, it is best not to quote from a text unless (1) the quotation lends greater authority to an
idea than a paraphrase would or (2) the quotation is so significant or so emphatically stated that
a paraphrase would not capture the eloquence of the text. Paraphrase whenever the exact words
are not as important as the details they present. Practise the skillful integration of supporting
evidence, and refer to your English Language Arts handbooks for guidance regarding embedding
quotations and avoiding plagiarism when you summarize or paraphrase.
You should be cautious about embedding lengthy quotations, footnotes, or references into firstdraft writing because they often impede the unifying effect and the creation of an authentic voice. Providing bibliographic information or page references for your supporting evidence is not required in your response and may consume time you might use better in other aspects of your
preparation for and writing of the examination.