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KCSE Revision Materials: Grey Areas in Oral Literature and Commonly Tested Questions that can boost your performance in KCSE English National Exams

Commonly Tested Questions in Oral literature: A simplified guide to grey areas in Oral literature

KCSE Revision Materials: Grey Areas in Oral Literature and Commonly Tested Questions that can boost your performance in KCSE English National Exams. Image Courtesy

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One of the key areas that KCSE candidates in Kenya must peruse through when preparing for KCSE English paper one 101/1 and KCSE English paper two 101/ 2 KNEC national examinations is Oral Literature.

Worth noting is that oral Literature is tested both in English paper one and paper two KCSE exams. It therefore carries up to 45 marks.

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This academic paper is aimed at shedding light on Commonly tested questions and grey areas in Oral literature that esteemed teachers of English must pay close attention to when preparing candidates for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education, KCSE national exams.

Grey Areas in Oral Literature that are Commonly Tested in KCSE English Exams

1. Classification

This is a Commonly Tested question in English paper2 question three.

A candidate is usually told to classify or state the type of genre provided by the examiner.

In this case, the candidate is expected to give the specific category as opposed to general ones.

For example a candidate should classify the song given as a lullaby or initiation song or a narrative as a monster or aetiological instead of just saying that this is a song or an oral narrative.

Since this question carries two marks, the candidate should use the narrative or song given to give specific illustrations to justify his or her answer.

2. Features of narratives or songs

This is a confusing question for majority of the candidates.

They cannot simply differentiate between general characteristics or features and specific/distinctive features of every category/type of narrative or song given.

Whereas general features cut across all categories, distinctive features apply to the specific type of narrative given.

Some of the features of narratives include:

-Opening formula

-Closing formula

-Presence of songs

-Use of dialogue

-Fantasy/ personification

-use of ideophones

– Direct translation

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-Repetition of phrases such as walked and walked, ran and ran

Features of songs on the other hand include:


-Antiphony also referred to as call and response


-Direct address

-local dialect

-direct translation

-Rhetorical questions

-use of local imagery etc

3. Distinctive features of narratives or songs

These are characteristics that apply to a particular type or category of narrative or song given.

Candidates are usually told to ide ntify and illustrate the features of the genre that they have already identified or classified.

The candidate is expected to identify the features of the specific category given that are evident in the narrative given.

These features differ from one category or type to another.

For example distinctive features of monster tales include: the presence of an ogre as a main character, the ogre is malicious and a symbol of evil hence does harm humans, in most cases, the most despised character in the narrative is the one who saves the people from the monster among others.

Dilemma tales on the other hand present or pose two difficult choices for the main character and they are full of suspense.

4. Oral features in narratives and songs

These are characteristics which show that much as the narrative or song has been written down, it is meant to be performed to a live audience.

Examples of oral features in songs include call and response (antiphony), repetition, direct address etc.

Oral features in narratives include opening formula, closing formula, use of songs and dialogue etc.

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