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A disappointing performance in English Literature watch

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    I am well aware I should still be pleased with my AS results but having achieved my lowest mark in English Literature, the subject I am most fond of and thought was best suited to, I have had my confidence knocked a lot.

    Now, I got 69/90 for Shakespeare, 61/90 in the nineteenth century novel exam and 115/120 in poetry/drama, which I realise isn't exactly terrible, but I can't help but feel I'm doing something completely wrong.

    Nobody's ever told me that my technique is poor, but I think that might be the problem. When I get into an exam situation I get stressed and any rational thoughts go out the window; I just write what's at the forfront of my mind. I think mine is quite an organised mind, so it's not like I write complete nonsense down, but perhaps it's still not ideal. I think up until now, I've managed to blag my way through stressful exam situations (8 in SATs, A* GCSE) but I can't do that all my life. What's annoying is I got far, far less than people who I know I'm better at English than.

    The flaw to this theory is that I "sat" the Shakespeare module as coursework, yet still didn't do very well. I was proud of that coursework, it was definitely better than anything I could have written at GCSE and my teacher said it was good, and I doubt would have submitted it thinking it wasn't. I might have helped some friends out a few times with tips, etc, and they all ended up with better marks than me!

    So what went wrong? I can't explain away all of my modules on poor marking, nor poor technique under stress. I know I have terrible handwriting that I can't improve no matter how slow I write, but again that can't explain everything.

    So what am I left with? I really, really want to take English at Uni but now don't feel confident that I would be able to cope with it. Have I been kidding myself for as long as I can recall that this is the subject for me?

    Should I still go for it?
    What do you think is the most likely explanation?
    How IS best to answer an English essay if you get affected by stress?
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    After getting my an A today in English Lit with Edexcel (I assume your with them?) I hate to tell you that a big part of your mark rests with the person who marks it! Last year I retook Drama and Poetry and got 120/120 and my best friend got 93/120 so out of curiosity we got our papers back. We both approached the arguement the same way but mine was quite more sophisticated, which we thought was the reason. I think as long as your argument is logical YET shows real depth and individuality, your gonna score well. Don't be afraid to say things like, "When Anthony died I certainly felt Shakespeare was inviting us to empathise completely with Cleopatra", and make little personal statments like that because its all about your own interpretation.
    The good thing with Edexcel is that the exams are quite lengthy - you can spare 5 minutes at the beginning to clearly read the question and make some sort of plan (nothing detailed just the things you KNOW you want to cover), but dont panic if you run out of time. I know this is a TERRIBLE thing to do but in my English exams at the end I made a page of random additional notes which just sprung to mind, but I still got my A! If you start panicking, take a few breaths, but remember to try and keep your argument very clear, although a big part of the critiea is that your consider other views which the examiners love, as well as individuality ...
    Concerning your courework, I think Edexcel may of toughened up here because my A2 coursework came back a bit lower than I expected ....
    And should you do English at uni? I'd say absolutely! It's clear to me that if your getting yourself so worked up about this then you defintely have a passion for it - and almost full marks on Unit 1 is brilliant! I suggest that in January or if needs be June retake your other two modules to boost up your marks, but look forward to A2. It is a bit daunting but very enjoyable! Good luck!! By the way, what play and novel did you do? For AS your marks are looking excellent! Where you thinking of applying?
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    Well first of all, chin up - you got an A! I'm in the same boat in terms of Hamlet. Scraped a C (54/90) in that exam, whereas I got reasonable As in the other units. For me, it was really down to my mindset - my attitude was wrong going into the prep. Our group seemed to be shafted, tbh. Cover teacher, and instead of doing coursework as was planned, we found that we would be sitting an exam instead. Fair dos... but I've always done better in c/w than exams, and 100% of my AS testing ended up as exams.

    To answer the question, I think you're going ott. You received your results this morning and haven't really had time to digest them. You have also got an A, and are still not happy with it. It shows that you believe you can do better, and you'll be motivated to improve. Just wait and think on it for a couple of days, ask questions on here, careers adviser, tutor, whatever. All I can see is that you may need to improve exam technique - nothing to do with your ability at the subject. I don't think you have much to worry about.
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    One tip for all you lot going onto A2 English. ADVANCED YORK NOTES ARE A GOD SEND! This year we had a teacher who was absolutely obsessed with talking about herself (she was preganant for most of the year!) so we all bought these notes. Although I dont think you should take in everything they tell you, they are so helpful. Wicked areas on themes, context, critcical commentary etc etc. I'd defintely recommend you get them ... BUT! Dont do what my class did and all buy your own copies! All put some money togehter, buy them and photocopy! DO make sure they are advanced ones though, or you may be getting ones aimed at GCSE Students!!!
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    Thanks for the quick reply! I thought at least some of what I wrote was original though; I remember making references to Descartes' relevance to Keats, and recall writing what I thought to be lucid but obviously not about an issue in Emma (although I can't remember quite what). Maybe it just wasn't original and to their taste, or something.

    And yes, I am with Edexcel. We did a John Keats anthology, The Rover, Emma and Hamlet.

    I've been looking at English courses but none particularly stands out from the others and their grade requirements look daunting. I also find it really hard to talk about literature (it's so much easier when you just write about it; or so I thought) so interviews are going to be a nightmare. I'm only definitely putting down Sussex because I love Brighton and UEA because I did a course there and it was good; they're not really adequate reasons though, are they?!
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    (Original post by cm1987)
    One tip for all you lot going onto A2 English. ADVANCED YORK NOTES ARE A GOD SEND! This year we had a teacher who was absolutely obsessed with talking about herself (she was preganant for most of the year!) so we all bought these notes. Although I dont think you should take in everything they tell you, they are so helpful. Wicked areas on themes, context, critcical commentary etc etc. I'd defintely recommend you get them ... BUT! Dont do what my class did and all buy your own copies! All put some money togehter, buy them and photocopy! DO make sure they are advanced ones though, or you may be getting ones aimed at GCSE Students!!!
    Are there York Notes for every set text at A-level or just the most popular?
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    A few ideas for any interview for English - imagery, symbolism, imagination, interpretation. Just show how you can get so engrossed in the novel, or poem, and the interpretations you can take of it. As for your reasons for applying - With your marks so far I'd suggest looking at some bigger universities! Royal Holloway, Queen Mary, Leeds to name a few. I think ABB is going to be your standard offer for a good uni for Eng Lit. Edexcel are a bit evil I'm afraid ... Maybe you should ask for your papers to come back and sit down and see whether your teacher agrees with your marks? Or consider a remark? Also, how much practice did you do beforehand, like practice essays and that? The York Notes I mentioned will really help you out ... They do come in all the set texts I think, or if you cant find them in your bookshop or Amazon ask Waterstones to order them for you. Really, I doubt I'd have my A without them. Keep the faith guys - I totally empathise where you lot are sitting after having a bad Unit 1 exam last year but it can be done!
    The worst thing is going to be you keep asking yourself "What if?", so if its gonna stop you from going insane get those papers back! Keep the faith!!!
 
 
 

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