1. Discuss Hopefully you will have a teacher who encourages discussion in the classroom about the work that you're doing- if you don't, make a little group with your friends to discuss it, poem by poem or chapter by chapter. Even if you have to try and explain Shakespeare to your little brother, try and talk to someone about it. Not only will it clarify your ideas, but it will also introduce you to new ones and having some form of debate or a variety of ideas will really help you in your exam.
2. Keep up with annotations Make sure you have every single page annotated (for plays and poems) or a detailed body of notes (for novels) so you know exactly what happens and when. York notes are brilliant for summaries so feel free to read them, but that doesn't mean you can skip writing your own. Just reading stuff is genuinely one of the most ineffective ways of learning. You need to think about them and condensing or rewording someone elses notes into your own is an excellent way to do that.
3. Organise by theme You're never going to be asked a question on "chapter 23". You're going to be asked a question on desire, hatred, revenge, mother/daughter relationships, whatever. So make a list on word of what you think are they key themes in your text. Now use your summary or annotations to gather quotes and discussion points for each theme.
4. Get critics You don't need to know what Humphrey Whittington III said about Carol Ann Duffy but it will be invaluable for you to know what a feminist perspective might be, or a post-modernist or marxist. Add these into your notes on themes and you'll be on your way to building a really thoughtful essay.
5. Practice! Now we start doing practice essays. At first, you can use your themes notes to help you. Once you've done a couple this way, however, you need to start doing them under exam conditions. Once you've done them, use the mark scheme to go over it. Use different colour highlighters to highlight where you've hit certain objectives (e.g. AO1, AO2) and you'll soon see where you're falling short. 6. Condense The week or so before the exam, if you're doing closed-text, you'll want to remember some really key quotes. By this time, you should know what actually happens in your text like the back of your hand, so just decide on about 20 key quotes, put them on a piece of paper and carry them with you wherever you go.
--Riotgrrl 14:22, 25 January 2012 (UTC)