Home » Greene’s Blog » Top 5 Revision Tips for A Level EnglishTop 5 Revision Tips for A Level English
Senior Tutor, Matthew Uffindell. gives his time-tested advice for revising for your A level English examinations.
There are a number of useful tips for revising for English A level. With many years as an examiner and helping students through the revision period, I have chosen five important pieces of advice to help you avoid the most common errors which anxious students fall into at this time of year. These five tips will give you something to act on now. (As a bonus I have also added a further five blunders to avoid in the examination!)
My top tip is to know your Assessment Objectives. This means knowing what an Assessment Objective is (essentially it is the particular information required to gain marks in an examination) and the percentage of the marks the examiner will be giving for (for example) context, critical perspectives, comparisons with other texts etc. in each of the questions. Some answers simply do not require all the information you may want to write down – and some may require more.
Your examination specification won’t be the most exciting read of your life, but at least you will know what is being tested! It’s your examination, so look at the examination board websites for the information.
2. Know … what to practise
For an essay-writing examination like English you need to practise what you will be doing in the examination – writing timed essays. And practice makes perfect. Exactly what you practice is crucial, so this point is connected to the first tip. However, in addition to Assessment Objectives, remember to weave in the facts you learn to enable you to develop your argument. Memorising that a particular passage in a text is an example of irony probably won’t help much until you have had the experience of working your example into an actual written answer.
Ask a friend to try to identify the Assessment Objectives you think you have put into your essays – it’ll be good practice for both of you!
3. Know … the point you want to make
The next tip, following from the previous one, is that you should always practice linking facts to the meaning of the text in your revision essays. Looking at students’ notations on texts, one often sees isolated words or phrases such as ‘alliteration’ or ‘iambic pentameter’. Essays are not lists of literary jargon but an argument, so it’s not very helpful for the examiner if you write: ‘This is an example of antimetabole in Richard II .’ So what? Your knowledge may sound impressive, but the examiner wants to know the link between the fact you know and the point you are making (and also whether it is answering the question).
You might know the meaning of ‘antimetabole’ but unless you can show how the grammar of the sentence ‘shapes meaning’ (in the language of the Assessment Objective) then I’m sorry to say the examiner will remain mostly unimpressed.
This tip is as simple and as obvious as it gets! The most common complaint of examiners is that students simply plonk knowledge indiscriminately onto the page, regardless of the question asked. The questions at A level will actually be framed (to the surprise of most students) in a way that helps you address the Assessment Objectives – and you now know how important they are!
So practise answering the question – and as another extra tip, plan your essay for a few minutes to ensure you write a brief introduction, a logical development and a brief conclusion to your essay.
Really? Well, again, this sounds a statement of the obvious – but it’s alarming how many students won’t have read all their texts. Many, for example, will be vague about the minor characters or important developments of the plot. An ‘open text’ paper is not an excuse for spending valuable minutes during the examination flicking through the texts or reading chunks of poetry or prose for the first time.
If you really are panicking in these last few weeks, my advice (for remedial action only) is to choose half a dozen passages now (of a page or so in length) and concentrate on a close analysis of the language of each. Then move on to another half a dozen more when you are ready. This will help you avoid unnecessary panic, restore some confidence and really contribute to your knowledge of the text.
And after five ‘Do …’, here are five brief ‘Don’t …’ for the examination itself:
1. Don’t misspell the name of the author (or the title of the text, characters, etc.)
2. Don’t write in incomplete sentences
3. Don’t ask rhetorical questions
4. Don’t use slang
5. Don’t try to be humourous.
Good luck! More tips coming soon!
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Exams are often a crazy time for students because you must revise for several subjects at once. There’s no need to panic, however that only makes things worse. Take the smart approach to revising for your exams and you’ll see a big improvement in your scores. These great revision tips for students provide the golden insights you need to make the most of every available minute. So, before you sit down to revise, study these tips and you’ll get the scores you need to get into the school of your choice.
1. Tidy Room, Tidy Mind. Tidy up a bit around your dorm room. Pick up stray clothes, fold them up and pack them away. Clean up any trash left lying around, store away your knick nacks and odds and ends too. If your room’s a mess you’re likely to get distracted while you revise and this takes time and energy away from your revision. Keep your room clean as you revise as well. A tidy room helps you focus and keeps your mind freer from distractions. When you go into your room you should be immediately able to access your desk, study materials, and start focusing right away. If not, take a moment to clean and organize.
2. Cut Out All Distractions – Facebook, Twitter, and TV. Remove all of your life distractions for just a few hours while you revise. You’ll get much more accomplished in a shorter period of time and retain more information. If necessary take drastic steps to seal yourself away from all your life’s exterior distractions. Put your computer in the closet or in another room. Unplug the TV or put the remote in a place you can’t access easily like your parent’s room. These distractions will divert your attention and waste time. Social networking, your favourite television shows and even friends all have their place–and it’s not when you should be revising. Save the networking for after your revision.
3. Get Organised. Organisation is a key component of good revision sessions. Organise your time by cutting your revision into smaller segments. Devote a segment to each subject you need to revise for, and schedule segments when you have time. Start early in the morning when you are fresh, not later in the evening when you are tired and used to relaxing in front of the TV. This makes it easier to concentrate. You will likely forget most of your material if you revise right before bedtime anyway.
4. Make Notes. Good notes will improve your retention greatly. Sometimes, simply the action of writing facts down helps you retain them longer. You’ll also be ready to access those notes if necessary at a moment’s notice when you need a quick refresher.
Take notes on specific facts and ideas you have trouble comprehending as you revise. This helps you cover more subjects without having to commit everything to memory. When you need to study really complex topics involving lots of memorization, notes are indispensable.
5. Make a Big Poster. When you encounter very difficult subject matter requiring intense study and memorization like the periodic tables, or complicated math equations, design a big poster with all the facts right on it. Place the poster in your room so you see it every day and use it as a memory aid. You’ll begin to feel more and more comfortable with the information this way. You can create big posters as study canvases through uploading your own images. This will be a great study tool and every time you step into the room, you will able to see and remember what has been revised.
6. Study with Someone. Studying with someone else helps keep you focused and makes revision more fun. Choose a study buddy you can trust and get along with, but someone who is serious about their studies and wants to do well on their exams.
Following these helpful tips really pays off in the long run. Your exams are your ticket to a great school, and that’s an important part of your life. Plan your revision, take it seriously and you will achieve the higher scores you are looking for.Speak Your Mind Cancel reply
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No, not that kind of style. Writing style. Here's some advice on how to express yourself in an engaging, effective and stylish way.
Here’s a 40-word sentence. Can you cut it in half without changing the meaning?
Over the course of the six weeks, I became very familiar with playing the cello, the flute, the trumpet, and the marimba in the morning session while I continually learned how to play the acoustic guitar in the afternoon sessions.
Wait, actually try cutting this (in your mind) before scrolling down. See how concise you can get it.
Okay, here’s one way to revise it:
In six weeks, I learned the cello, flute, trumpet, and marimba in the mornings and acoustic guitar in the afternoons.
There. Half the words and retains the meaning.Another great read: Five Mistakes Your Making in You're College Essay
2. Split long sentences with complex ideas into two.
This may sound contrary to the first point but it ain’t. Why? Sometimes we’re just trying to pack too much into the same sentence.
Check this one out:
For an inquisitive student like me, Brown’s liberal program provides a diverse and intellectually stimulating environment, giving me great freedom to tailor my education by pursuing a double concentration in both public health and business, while also being able to tap into other, more unconventional, academic interests, such as ancient history and etymology through the first year seminars.
That’s a lot for one sentence, eh?
This sentence is what I’d call “top heavy.” It has a lot of important information in the first half–so much, in fact, that I need a break before I can take in the bits at the end about “ancient history” and “etymology.” Two options for revising this:
Option 1. If you find yourself trying to pack a lot into one sentence, just use two.
Two sentences work just as well, and require no extra words. In the example above, the author could write:
For an inquisitive student like me, Brown’s liberal program provides a diverse and intellectually stimulating environment, giving me great freedom to tailor my education by pursuing a double concentration in both public health and business. I also look forward to pursuing other. more unconventional, academic interests, such as ancient history and etymology through the first year seminars.
Option 2: Just trim the first half of the sentence to its essence, or cut most of it.
That might look like this:
At Brown I look forward to pursuing a double concentration in both public health and business, while also tapping into other, more unconventional academic interests, such as ancient history and etymology.
And just for the record (for all the counselors who might be wondering), I don’t actually write out these revisions for my students; I ask questions and let them figure it out. In this example, for instance, I highlighted the first half of the sentence and wrote, “Can you make this more concise?”