I was thinking about what I could write about for my next blog to ensure that it benefits the maximum number of students. I asked myself whether there is something that’s common to all the concours (HEC, X, Centrale, Agro-Véto, Banque PT, etc) which students often have difficulties with. And then I found it: I was doing a colle with a student and he said, “this text is extracted from the NPR”. Like many students that I see, he had not mastered one of the most fundamental things you need to be able to do for the concours: he didn’t know the correct way to refer to the text he had been given. And because speaking about texts is the most basic and most vital of the skills you need for the concours, you must get the language right; the examiners will not show you any mercy here! Do you know what two common mistakes my student made? If you don’t, this blog will make them clear.
When referring to texts in English, students make a number of different types of mistakes, so this blog is divided into several categories.
Getting the basics right: prepositions
This is the most basic level of error and, unfortunately, students make it far too frequently. But there are only two key structures to learn:
A text FROM + name of the newspaper: an article from the Guardian (and NOT an article of the Guardian).
A text BY + name of the writer: an article by Paul Krugman (and NOT an article from [or of] Paul Krugman).
You can also say “the/an Economist article”, which has the advantage of (a) being shorter and (b) being very different from any structure in French, which means it counts as richesse linguistique, and gains you points.
Referring to the writer of a text
When speaking about the writer of text there are a number of things to remember:
Don’t refer to the writer as “the author” as this word is only used to speak about writers of fiction. Instead, say “writer” or “journalist”. If the article you have been given is an opinion text rather than a news report (see this blog for clarification of the difference) then you could refer to the writer as “the columnist”. However …
… make sure that the writer of the text you have been given is actually a journalist! A very frequent complaint in the rapports de jury is that candidates assume that the writer of an article is “the journalist”, but he / she may be a famous politician or some other public figure. Note also that some texts are written by an editorial board (that is, a group of journalists).
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