Exam board reveals essential tips for AQA A-level English Literature

English Literature concept image

A-level English Literature exams and revision: AQA explains what you need to do

To help you make the most of your remaining revision time, we’ve worked with exam board AQA to create a series of exam advice articles.

In each of these features, you’ll find advice and easy-to-follow tips written by one of AQA’s subject matter experts.

Read on to get the inside track on A-level English Literature, direct from the people who make the exams.


AQA logo byline
AQA logo byline

Know your texts

Students who have a clear sense of the order of events in their texts (how the stories begin and end and where the key moments occur) have a big advantage over those students who don’t.

So you need to know the whole text extremely well. For instance, detailed knowledge of your Shakespeare play will help you position the given extract within the wider context of the play, informing your response to the task.

Answer the question you’ve been asked

It’s important to answer every single element of the question asked on the day - not the question you hoped you’d be asked.

If you answer every part of the question in full then you’ll naturally cover all the elements of the mark scheme - but you’ll find it hard to write an assured and sophisticated argument if you miss part of the question out.

Time-management is really important

Use your time well in the exam. Planning is always a good idea – whether it’s bullet point notes, jottings, or any other means of helping to structure your argument or thought process.

This will help you stay on track with your response and stop you from repeating or contradicting yourself. Remember, examiners read everything so it’ll never be wasted.

Significance is an invitation to debate

Don’t forget that we use the word ‘significance’ as an invitation to debate and ‘significance’ is not the same as importance.

It’s about what’s signified, what meanings arise and what messages are given out by the text. It’s about how these meanings are produced by what writers do and the methods they use.

For instance, are particular characters and ideas given preferential treatment? Are other characters and ideas neglected or sidelined?

Remember your text choices

Plan ahead which section of the question paper you’ll use each text in.

Double-check which texts you plan to write about for each part of the exam. Do you know which exams are open book?

Make sure you have access to a ‘clean’, unannotated copy of the text to use in the exam. We send extra copies of the AQA anthologies to your school or college, just for use on exam day, so no need to worry about those.



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Good luck from AQA

AQA believes everyone has the potential to achieve, and we make sure our qualifications give all students the opportunity to show what they can do and progress to the next stage of their lives.

Our subject experts worked with The Student Room so we can reach as many students as possible with advice on how to approach your revision and exams. We wish you well in the weeks ahead, and don’t forget to look after yourselves too: eat well, sleep well and tell someone how you’re feeling if there are days when things don’t go so well or you don’t feel so good.

 Good luck!