Right then, Year 11.
Your Literature mock exams have now been marked, and you’ll be getting the papers back at some point over the next few days.
Your teachers have put together the following examiners’ report to help you to identify ways in which you could improve in advance of the real things – which aren’t too far away now!
Don’t forget we’ve also uploaded a couple of A* exemplar papers to give you an idea of what gets the highest marks. You can find these here, where you’ll also find the mock exam paper and mark scheme.
- Timing seems to be the big problem – with a number of you not dividing your time appropriately in the exam. Remember: an extract question is worth 10 marks, whereas a longer-writing task is worth 20 marks. Because of this, you should be spending no more than 20 minutes on an extract analysis, leaving you with 40 minutes for the essay.
- You need to know the texts inside out so that you are fully prepared for the questions that will appear on the exam paper. There’s no substitute for re-reading the books and plays you’ve studied. It’s amazing how much more you can get from a text on the second and third readings of it.
- Across the year, this achieved the highest average mark. The best responses followed the guidance on page 3 of our Literature revision guide and began with a brief overview of where the extract is from in the novel, with an overview of what the reader learns about Crooks.
- The strongest answers tracked the text carefully, and made sure to comment on the beginning, middle and end as Crooks’ behaviour changes in the extract – and there was a reason we started and finished the extract where we did.
- Don’t forget to embed quotations in your sentences to (a) save time and (b) write with more style.
- It was disappointing to see so many students write the same amount for this question as they did the extract analysis. It’s worth double the marks, and so requires double the time – 40 minutes.
- You were given a choice of questions – but both asked you to focus on the novel’s social and historical context, and so it was wise to pick the question where you could do this most easily. (You’ll also need to refer to social and historical context for one of the texts on the other Literature exam; your English teacher will let you know which one.)
- This said, the examiner doesn’t want to read a history essay. Contextual points are only worthwhile when they are connected to the text and the writer’s intentions in writing it.
- The examiner expects to see a plan in your answer booklet. Remember: failing to plan = planning to fail. If you haven’t brainstormed some ideas before you start writing, how will your essay have a clear structure?
- Tracking the presentation of a theme/character throughout a text is one of the easiest ways of structuring an essay – as it allows you to explore the ways in which the presentation changes. However, it’s important to avoid simply retelling the story. The examiner will have read it already!
- Never forget that characters are not real people. They are constructions that the writer has created for specific purposes. Always refer to the way in which they are presented by the writer – not to the way in which they are.
- The majority of you interpreted the two poems on the paper well – and could see the major differences in the ways in which they both presented death.
- Far too many students, however, forgot that they needed to compare the poems. The most effective structure for approaching this essay is detailed is as follows:
- Spend 10 minutes reading/annotating the poems and getting your head around what they’re communicating.
- Briefly introduce both poems and suggest the key ways in which they are similar and different.
- Spend 20 minutes analysing the first poem, tracking it systematically.
- Spend 30 minutes analysing the second poem, but this time, make sure you are making links to the first poem – whether these are points of similarity or difference.
For further guidance on how to approach both of the Literature exams, click here to see our revision guide.
We hope that’s helpful. If you have any specific questions, your English teacher should be your first port of call.