Wednesday, October 19, 2011

KCPE 2004 Composition analysis

This is an analysis heavily aided by what’s presented in the KCPE Newsletter 2004 as presented by the KNEC.
The examiners are quick to point out the objective of this paper; which is to test candidates’ ability to communicate in writing.
In summary, the following are among the skills tested:
-        building on the line suggested by writing an interesting and relevant story
-        grammatical accuracy
-        fluency in communication of ideas, feelings and technique
-        originality
-        creativity
They also point out that one of the major flaws exhibited by most candidates is the getting carried away so that they write pieces of writing that are too affected and incomprehensible.
They give an example of this:
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Some candidates do indeed acquire a good measure of language structure, vocabulary and phrase that they use accurately and effectively but others unfortunately only go about picking words, phrases and idioms and dropping them in haphazardly and inappropriately.
E.g. in the above piece;
-          fumbled (?) off bed
-          bone chilling screeches of brakes loomed (?) the once tranquil aura
-          availing a good grief (?)
-          in no cue (?)...
-          my sense of telepathy sent it home of an impending doom as I stood aghasted (?)
Now, the topic that year was:
                I could not sleep that night. Let me explain what had happened...
Some candidates even when presented with such uncomplicated topics still end up writing compositions that touch very little on the topic presented. The examiners assert that the penalty for this needs to be heavier, and since this is from seven years ago, I fear for those who do that this year or in subsequent years.
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This first composition is hard to believe to be from a person who’s gone though 8 solid years of primary school.
I do not know what to say about this one.
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Just as the examiners point out, this 2nd candidate has never heard of paragraphs; and few of his sentences bear any meaning.
I would say 03 was as much as he deserved, though you have to prefer this one to the previous one, eh?
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The story presented here is one you’d expect of a Std. 1 pupil. This candidate’s spelling, like they say above, is also surprisingly consistent considering his level. Yeah, let’s move on
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Even the title here is wrongly spelt. I know you don’t have to write a title, but make sure to spell it OK should you decide to [have one].
The words are over-spaced and the handwriting in my opinion is an eyesore. Outside, yesterday and myself are single words as the examiners highlight. In general, this candidate’s spelling is in the doldrums as shown by:
-        quistion
-         saing
-        wistle
-        ear [for ‘hear’]
-        adeed [for ‘indeed’] (?)
I have no idea how they even awarded this a 13. There is only one word to explain it: lenient. I have also noted something else – this candidate did not quite understand the topic (a cardinal sin as you saw at the beginning of this analysis).
                I could not sleep that night. Let me explain what had happened.
                                i.e. something had happened during the day, and not necessarily during the day but earlier. The key word here is had. This thing had occupied your mind so much that night that you found it hard to calm your brain to sleep.
OK, on to the next one...
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This one has rewritten the beginning line; which is quite unnecessary. The candidate interchanges ‘there’ with ‘their’, a basic error.
There are also few pauses; at some point the story simply goes on and on and on. Always try giving the reader a breather where necessary.
The candidate communicates OK and although the examiners judge the story unconvincing, I believe it merits enough for a 23. It’s not as bad as they make it look.
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Phrase-hurling they call it. I call it simply being clumsy in language. E.g. ‘my mother had been known like the back of her hand of her strict discipline...’ (?????)
‘I became huddled...’ ‘...I admired the groung to open up and swallow me...’ ‘... rubbling down food...’ ‘In a dull of a second...’
And they gave this a 32? Pffff.
The candidate also makes one very common mistake with students: ‘I had footsteps by the door.’ See if you can spot what’s wrong there.
All these mistakes can be corrected in different ways, but among these is one very simple one, but that would take perseverance to be effective – learning to speak the language everyday. Most of these awkward expressions and sentence structures can be easily noticed when speaking and be corrected.
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The grammatical accuracy on show here is top-drawer and the candidate’s command of English is better than his predecessors. They say this – the examiners. However, in addition to the errors they’ve pointed out, why did this one begin by rewriting part of the opening line?
Moreover, we don’t ‘represent’ speeches, we make or give them. Anyway, the mistakes made here are minor, e.g. deer life, unifed, etc., are not worth dwelling too much on.
This simply goes to show that although minor errors are quite unavoidable, it is possible to impress the examiners sufficiently despite them and earn marks such as this one did.
There is even a nice simple twist at the end just for good measure – the one about the bees? Not bad. The handwriting is also pretty.
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‘...I dared not flinch on the lights...’ should be ‘flick’ on, not ‘flinch’. They also mention a lot about ‘old block’ – and I totally agree with everything they say.
‘I once saw a white colour but hastily snatched...’ – what does this sentence mean?
‘Probably the thieves were in a lust of our fat cows...’ should be ‘...the thieves lusted after our fat cows...’
Anyway, these top guys’ minor mistakes are easily made up for by the sheer brilliance of their language and presentation. This candidate’s communication is first rate, and the story is well told and simple. I love it.
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Although they do point out errors in this one, I only have praise for this one. It is impeccable – and I’m not  saying this just because they’ve put it at Number 1, no.
The way this candidate describes events, complete with instances of speech and description of the physical appearance of characters, is simply superb.
Analyse this composition thoroughly, it is masterful.

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