Year 11! You asked for it (well, you didn’t) – and here it is.
A day-by-day plan for revising for your English Literature GCSE, with plenty of activities to help prepare you for both the real final literature exams, which are all too soon.
(Click on the hyperlink above for a higher resolution version.)
You can find our GCSE Language Revision Folders by clicking on the link at the top of this page. Don’t forget all of the useful audio you’ll find too by clicking on GCSE Playlists. You should know the password. If not: email Mr Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Want to get your hands on three whole packs of Oreos – as modelled by our very own Mrs Dalby?
You’ve got to be in it to win it!
Download the free Quizlet app for your phone here.
Create an account on it.
Play the game titled Match.
Screenshot your best time and send it to us on Twitter (@englishatlc) or by email (email@example.com).
The student with the best time at 3pm on Wednesday 18th May will receive all three packs of Oreos. #nomnomnom etc.
Your English Literature exams take place on Monday 23rd and Friday 27th May. Together, they account for 75% of the overall GCSE grade for that subject. Here are our top tips for preparing for them…
1. Know what to expect in your exams. You can find all of the past papers by clicking here. Familiarise yourself with how the papers look, and where the texts you’ve studied can be found in them. (Don’t be one of the students who tries to answer on books they haven’t even read!) Our revision guide is a quick-and-simple way to find out what to expect from both exams.
2. Re-read the books/play you’ve studied. You’ll be amazed how better you understand a text when you read it a second/third time.
3. Download some of our revision audio files for use on-the-go. (For the password, ask your English teacher or email Mr Shovlin – firstname.lastname@example.org – who’ll send it to you.)
4. Explore our revision folders where you’ll find a ton of useful revision material. The Of Mice and Men folder, for instance, contains a 20-minute version of the book, extracts from some revision guides, and lots of exemplar essays on it.
5. Use the revision guides you’ve bought. Every year,several students splash out on revision guides but don’t ever bother to use them. Don’t be one of them. The guides are often written by examiners, and so are tailored to the kinds of thing you need to know.(Many of the revision guides you need are still on sale in the library at discounted prices – why not treat yourself?)
6. Learn the key quotes from the texts you’ve studied, as you won’t be allowed copies of them in the exam. The best thing to do is compile your own sets as you’re more likely to remember them – but to give you an idea of what you could do, have a look at our set of Of Mice and Men key quote flashcards – here’s the set, which you can play with online, or import into the free Quizlet app on your phone. Why not have a go at making your own for the other set texts you’ve studied?
7. Re-read our examiners’ report on the Literature mock exam. You can then avoid the common pitfalls in the real thing. You can read some A* exemplar papers here if you want to see the work of some students who excelled that that mock.
8. Download the BBC Bitesize app and set it up for the set texts you’ve studied (and for any other subjects you’re taking.) It’s free and it’s written by senior examiners, and so you know it contains good advice.
We hope these tips are helpful.
Good luck for the exams – we have faith in you!
And don’t forget to check back on the blog for our Language exam tips which will be up over half term.
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.
Well, what do you know? You’ve come to just the right place!
Below you’ll find two exam papers completed by our very own Year 11 students – and both achieved A*s.
You’ll also find a copy of the exam paper itself, should you want to have another look at its joys, and the accompanying mark scheme.
If you’re aiming for a high grade, take the time to read these exemplars – and perhaps make some notes on what makes them so effective.
With thanks to SB and IR in Year 11 for letting us share their exceptional work.
Excited about your forthcoming English mock exams, Year 11?
If the answer is no, we understand. But practice will make perfect – and we want you to have had as much of that as possible in advance of the real examinations in May/June.
The top tips you’ll find below are designed to help you to prepare for the Language mock exams on Wednesday 23rd March, and the Literature mock exam on Monday 11th April. We hope they’re useful!
You should be old hands at the Language exams by now, as you sat mocks in both in November last year. You’ve also been doing regular Unit 2 (Writing) tasks in class over the past couple of months.
You may be less familiar with the Literature paper you’re sitting. This is where this very blog comes in handy!
At the top of this page, you’ll see a link to Past Papers.
Here, you’ll find a load of past papers for both Language and Literature. Have a look at them. Get a feel for the types of question that tend to come up. (Remember that you’ll be doing the Unit 1 Literature paper for your mock on the 11th April.)
You’ll also notice a link to our revision guides:
Each of these is just a few pages long, but they contain all the key info you need: advice on timings, examiners’ hints, dos and don’ts and lots more. Use them!
Preparation is critical to doing your best. That’s the reason this quote is popular in schools!
So what can you do to prepare?
Quite a lot, actually!
Many people think it’s impossible to revise for the English Language exams. They’re wrong.
Here are just a few of the things you could be doing to revise for them:
- Use ActiveTeach to revise (a) how to approach the different types of Unit 1 (Reading) paper question and (b) how to write the various different types of text you could be given for Unit 2 (Writing).
- Use your WJEC GCSE English Language Revision Workbook. (If you haven’t got one, you can pick one up from the library at the discounted price of £5.50.)
- Have a go at a past paper and get your English teacher to have a look at it.
- Complete some of the tests you’ll find here to practise your spelling, punctuation and grammar.
- Read some of the exemplar pieces of writing we’ve posted on the blog. (Search for ‘exemplar’ and you’ll find plenty of student work.)
- Re-read the examiners’ report we put together after your last mock exams – and avoid the common mistakes it mentions.
- Get reading. The best writers are the ones that read voraciously. You can find a selection of great ‘quick reads’ on our blog here.
Revising for the Literature exam is, perhaps, a little easier. Here are our recommendations:
- Re-read Of Mice and Men. If you’re short on time, there’s a 20-minute version in our Of Mice and Men Revision Folder – where you’ll also find a ton of useful revision material.
- Download some of our revision audio files for use on-the-go. (For the password, ask your English teacher or email Mr Shovlin – email@example.com – who’ll send it to you.)
- Use your CGP revision guide. (If you don’t yet have one, they’re on sale in the library for £3 – half price!)
- Learn the key quotes from the novel, as you won’t be allowed a copy of the text in the exam. (You can play games with this set, and even import them into the free Quizlet app on your phone.)
- Familiarise yourself with the unseen poetry section of the exam by looking at the past Unit 1 Literature papers, and by having a go at the pairings in the revision guide.
- Sign up for our Easter Exam Masterclass on the Literature papers if you haven’t already done so.
The mock exams are designed to help you to get your head around the exams. We’re not trying to catch you out.
If you do mess up a mock exam, it’s not the end of the world. It’s far better to make mistakes in a mock exam than in the real thing!
Why not try and get hold of tickets to the fantastic production at Curve later this month?
(If you’re studying the play in Year 10, we’ll be running a school trip to see it next year just before your exams – but there’s no harm in seeing it twice!)