My teacher has estimated everyone in the class at a C pass (out of kindness) as most of us failed our prelims (I passed by 1.5 marks)... I think I'm capable of getting that in my other subjects, but apparently English is impossible to get an A in. My English teacher told me about a boy who failed his prelim with a big fat F and in the higher exam he got an A band 1 - it can be done!
Just remember, that in the interps, when answering questions, state the obvious - don't try to 'flourish' your answer... In the essays, try to make sure you answer the question.
There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
A critical essay is an analysis of a text such as a book, film, article, or painting.
When answering points in an essay I would make a new paragraph for each point. 1 - Topic sentence: Just generally the point you are going to discuss 2 - Evidence: Try to use a quote or reference to the text. You should relate why the point you made is relevant to the question and what it means.
Also, along the way, just add in extra paragraphs which relate to the question just to keep the examiner happy.
This way you can find out where the gaps in your knowledge are and fix them! Each paragraph should make a point relevant to the question and each should end with a sentence about how the point answers the question.
It is easier to see what I mean if you have a look at the sample essays in the Higher English section.
There really are no tips for Close Reading - I can only suggest that you try lots of past paper questions (I was doing about two a week in class and one for homework in the run up to the exams).
I'm sure your teacher wouldn't mind marking a paper if you asked.