Persuasive Text- Sample Response

The following question was taken from the 2019 Semester 1 Year 12 ATAR English examination produced by the ETAWA:


Create a persuasive text aimed at a teenage audience which starts with an anecdote.


Question Deconstruction and Planning 

As with all questions, we need to break it down and make sure that we understand what the question is asking of us. We need to understand what the key discriminators are and get our thoughts organised before we begin writing.

Let’s break this question down…

  1. ‘persuasive text’- this means the text of a speech that might be performed in front of a teenage audience. This is your AUDIENCE.
  2. ‘teenage audience’- while this is your AUDIENCE, you also need to consider the CONTEXT of your persuasive text. Is it performed at a school assembly? An awards night? At a conference where many schools have congregated?
  3. PURPOSE- what is your speech going to be about? What is the content? Is it appropriate and relevant to a teenage audience?
  4. Do you know what an ‘anecdote’ is? (Definition- a short story or an interesting or entertaining incident)


Possible Topics 

Climate change


Gender equality… Yeah… this one.

Social media

Instagram and its effect on body image


University- the first year

Environmental issues- recycling etc.


Cultural change

Lowering the age to vote


Sample Response (Gender Equality) 


I lead a very glamorous life. VERY. Some might even say that I’m living the dream and I guess I am. So… here’s a real, authentic and honest account of a shopping trip to Coles. I was pushing my fully-laden trolley down the cleaning products isle when a woman remarked to me that I was very brave. It took me a moment to process what she said, before she pointed at my bright pink fingernails. My daughters often ‘treat’ me to a manicure and this week, their chosen colour was hot pink. And there I was in Coles not really aware of anything much, other than trying to get the shopping done with minimum fuss. My only response was a muttered, stuttered ‘thanks’ and I continued shunting my recalcitrant trolley onwards. But then I thought… ‘How the hell are my hot pink fingernails a symbol of bravery?’ Have I reached the apex of bravery by being seen IN PUBLIC with bright pink fingernails? And what would the people in war-torn countries, asylum seekers on perilous seas in rickety boats or a soldier with a gun in their hand think?


In truth, the answer is perfectly simple and it’s ludicrous to think that a middle-aged man strutting his stuff with hot pink fingernails is in anyway brave at all. It isn’t. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be as the gender binary is slowly being challenged and contested. As it should be. We are gathered here today to promote not only gender equality but to show our authentic face to the world and to make no apologies for it You, the adults of tomorrow, have an opportunity to construct the world in your image and what a joyous image it will be if a teenager doesn’t feel guilty about their identity, that a young person doesn’t feel guilty about who they are, or feel that they have to live a lie. Gender identity is one of the most pressing issues facing teenagers today. This convention of young people here assembled has the power to ensure no-one lives a lie anymore.


I’m horrified every time I walk into a toy shop. The stark reality is that the gender binary exists- in all its forms- whenever I’m asked to buy a present for one my daughter’s friends. The girls’ section is littered, splashed, dominated by pinks and purples, dolls and domesticity, glitter and gloss. The boys’? construction, cars, tools, science stuff. This is outrageous. Do we even stop to consider that one day our boys might be parents and that looking after a baby might be a skill worth learning? Or at least being a caring human being. I find it all quite exhausting. It really doesn’t challenge anyone’s construction of gender if a boy chooses to play with a doll, or wants to do ballet and why should it anyway?


Planning- Rest of Response

My sample response would include the following sections if I was to continue writing…


I’d go on to look at Billy Elliot (film) as an example.

Might offer a refutation/rebuttal.

Perhaps find some statistics to back this up. That the gender binary is being contested.

An appeal to our sense of values… that we want people to grow up to be their best selves, to be empathetic, to judge people on the ‘content of their character’, not by how they look.

Then I’d end with an appeal to paint your nails with pride, dance like no-one’s watching and to live an authentic self.


Teaching and Learning Points

  • I deconstructed the question BEFORE I began writing my response so that I had a very clear sense of direction. It’s important that you have a focused approach, particularly in deciding what the PURPOSE of your persuasive text is going to be BEFORE you begin writing.
  • I SHOW my audience my context, audience and purpose… I don’t TELL them it. There’s a difference.
  • First two sentences are a weak attempt at humour. I wanted to contrast the ‘glamourous life’ and ‘living the dream’ with something very mundane… shopping at Coles.
  • ‘fully-laden trolley’ is storytelling, it’s being descriptive and setting the scene for the audience. It adds to the narrative.
  • The anecdote starts off innocently and then changes into something more serious… challenging the notion of ‘bravery’.
  • There’s a rhetorical question in there to show my incredulity.
  • Notice the short sentences in the second paragraph to make my point in a short, sharp manner. They’re used for impact and to make the point to-the-point.
  • Notice the repetition in this paragraph to reinforce my message.
  • Notice the alliteration of ‘live a lie’ to reinforce my message.
  • Final sentence of the second paragraph gives the context of the persuasive text.
  • Second paragraph becomes more emotive.
  • I use hyperbole in the first sentence of the third paragraph. Being ‘horrified’ in a top shop is a gross exaggeration used to prove my point.
  • There’s a few triplets in this paragraph.
  • Note the use of alliteration to unify the imagery I use at this point.
  • More emotive language- ‘outrageous’.
  • The planning of the rest of the response shows that I would use some facts to support my argument, that I would appeal to my audience’s values and that I would offer an appeal at the end to not judge people by their appearance but by the ‘content of their character’. This, by the way, is an intertextual reference to Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.


As you can see, I’ve used a reasonable range of persuasive devices (rhetorical questions, triplets, emotive language, alliteration, anecdotes, repetition) as well as SHOWING my audience my context, audience and purpose without TELLING them it. The planning shows that I’d want to offer further proofs (facts and an appeal to values/justice) before getting to the emotional climax of my speech and offering a solution or, at least, a challenge to the audience to go out into the world to live their best lives.

The Dressmaker- Study Guide

Attached below is a study guide for The Dressmaker. You will need to read this and familiarise yourself with this information prior to viewing the film.

Dressmaker Study Guide-2jkz4qg


We will be using the document below to frame our investigation into this text:

The Dressmaker – directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse-2ip2j7h


Remember- It is essential that you view each of these texts repeatedly prior to your Semester 1 examination and prior to any assessments which might require you to respond to these texts.

Genre Study- The Western Genre

The next module of work concerns studying a particular genre. We will study two films; High Noon and The Dressmaker. High Noon can be considered a film in the Western genre. It depicts the ‘Wild West’ in uncompromising terms. The Dressmaker is more a revenge drama which borrows from the Western genre and is a more contemporary film set in Australia.

Year 12 Westerns Booklet-trwsuy

The booklet above will give you an introduction to the genre. Please read this carefully and annotate in as much detail as possible.

Themes of Westerns-2cap9yn

Read the resource above to introduce yourself to some of the dominant themes of Westerns.

Dressmaker Study Guide-2jkm3u0

Here is a study guide to The Dressmaker. There is plenty of information on both films on the internet and you’ll need to ensure you conduct detailed research on both the Western genre and the films we’ll be studying closely.


Murderball Resources

The next text we will study in Year 12 ATAR English is the documentary film Murderball. The text follows the USA quad rugby team as they prepare for the Athens Paralympic Games. The chief protagonists are Mark Zupan (a USA quad rugby player) and Joe Soares (the coach of Team Canada who once played quad rugby for the USA). We will explore the text for constructions of masculinity, how disability is constructed within a sports’ narrative and how we are positioned to respond to hegemonic masculinity, particularly in the treatment of the female characters who appear- briefly- throughout the text.

Please note that this text is studied for Section B (Responding) of the ATAR examination and it is a text you will be expected to know in significant detail. While we will watch this documentary in class (and analyse it), you will also be expected to watch this text through in your own time and build your understanding through independent research.


Here are a range of resources which will compliment your study of this course text:

Murderball Study Guide-rc7fev

Murderball Initial Close Analysis-2krd9z4

Murderball Review-1odsj35

Murderball Focus Questions and Ideas-27f6zkp

Murderball Feature Article-19ebs1i

Murderball Article-1rt50i9

Murderball Documentary Study-2kn67eg

Murderball and Masculinity-1gcl8kt

Murder Ball Visual Analysis-26pkh0x

Challenging Normalcy – Masculinity and Disability in Murderball-117yhdp


Please note that Murderball is available to view on ClickView. A link to the text is below:


Section A- Comprehending- Modelled Response

Here is a modelled response from today’s lesson.

Please note the following:


  • Structure- Opening two sentences offer a thesis statement and a reading of the image. There is a clear reading/interpretation of the image.
  • The body paragraph starts with a topic sentence.
  • There is a clear attempt to link the conventions explored in the response.
  • The response is succinct and coherent.
  • It offers a clear and consistent reading.
  • Key words from the question are used to reinforce the main reading of the text.
  • There is an attempt at using sophisticated language.
  • The annotations in black show where the assessment criteria has been met.
  • The annotations in green are where I’ve explicitly linked conventions and reading of the text.
  • The annotations in red are where I’ve analysed the text in a sophisticated manner.

The image can be downloaded. It uses the modelled response from the archive (October 2017) as its basis which in turn was taken from the ‘Good Answers’ guide.

Please make sure you understand the assessment criteria and that you practice the structure in advance of your assessment on Friday.

Come and find me if you have any questions.

Image Annotation

Please note the modelled image analysis above.

Things to note:


  • I’ve not only identified the ways in which the image has been constructed, I’ve explored HOW each convention MIGHT have been used to construct the image in a specific way.
  • In a short answer response, I wouldn’t be able to write about ALL of these image conventions. I would need, as part of my planning process, to identify which 3-4 conventions work BEST to answer the question in a clear and concise manner.


In tomorrow’s lesson, we will look at how the question might be answered.

Under My Thumb- Rolling Stones

Under my thumb
The girl who once had me down
Under my thumb
The girl who once pushed me around
It’s down to me
The difference in the clothes she wears
Down to me, the change has come
She’s under my thumb
And ain’t it the truth babe?
Under my thumb
It’s a squirmin’ dog who’s just had her day
Under my thumb
A girl who has just changed her ways
It’s down to me
Yes it is
The way she does just what she’s told down to me
The change has come
She’s under my thumb
Ah, ah, say it’s alright
Under my thumb
It’s a Siamese cat of a girl
Under my thumb
She’s the sweetest, hmmm, pet in the world
It’s down to me
The way she talks when she’s spoken to
Down to me, the change has come
She’s under my thumb
Ah, take it easy babe
It’s down to me, oh yeah
The way she talks when she’s spoken to
Down to me, the change has come
She’s under my thumb
Yeah, it feels alright
Under my thumb
Her eyes are just kept to herself
Under my thumb, well I
I can still look at someone else
It’s down to me, oh that’s what I said
The way she talks when she’s spoken to
Down to me, the change has come
She’s under my thumb
Say, it’s alright
Say it’s all
Say it’s all
Take it easy babe
Take it easy babe
Feels alright
Take it, take it easy babe
Songwriters: Keith Richards / Mick Jagger
Under My Thumb lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc
When listening to this song (released in 1966), consider the following:
  • How is gender constructed in the lyrics of this song?
  • What words are used to describe women in the lyrics?
  • What is your personal response to this song?
  • Has anything changed in over half a century since this song was released? Out of interest, view ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones for a construction of masculinity… Quite an interesting contrast between the two songs…
  • It’s worth considering both the context of production and the context of reception for a text like this.


Image Analysis

For your next assessment, next week, you will need to respond to two questions; one on narrative fiction, and one question on image analysis.

Here are the things to look for in analysing images:

  • Symbols
  • Depth of Field
  • Framing / composition
  • Rule of Thirds
  • Diagonals
  • Gaze
  • Proximity
  • Body language / posture
  • Setting
  • Light and shade
  • Juxtaposition / incongruity
  • Parody / irony

Here is a link to the images we explored in class: Image Analysis_Gender-10mj02t