Unsworth
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English Literature B – Texts and Genres: The Gothic EXAM


SECTION A

This question is out of forty marks and will ask you to choose a question to answer on a particular text of your choice. The questions in this section are very broad, but typical questions seem to be one of two types. Either type (a) which is a critical quote and then a question asking what extent you agree with this view, or for your reactions to this view. The second type (b), which poses a question based on an opinion and asks to what extent you agree with X. Regardless, the two types of questions are very similar and require you to answer them in the same way, so this isn’t really too significant.

A key thing to note with this exam is that you are marked on all the assessment objectives equally, unlike the AS exam where they aren’t sometimes assessed in certain questions. This makes it a lot easier to write about, because it is much simpler and easy to remember what assessment objective to focus on – all of them.

Before starting to write any answer to the exam, I would advise to spend at least five, maybe ten minutes to formulate a plan to your question. I think this is essential and is something that isn’t often emphasised enough to students, because it really will help in this exam, especially as it is closed book. You must remember you have two hours in this exam, simply an hour for each of the two questions. As long as you aren’t an extremely slow writer, anyone should be able to write a sufficient amount in fifty minutes, using ten minutes to plan. The plan itself should be pretty self-explanatory, but here is what I tend to do for mine:

• INTRODUCTION: Define key word/agree or disagree with statement/create debate
• POINT 1: For or against/3-5 key quotes
• POINT 2: For or against/ 3-5 key quotes
• POINT 3: For or against/ 3-5 key quotes
• POINT 4: For or against/ 3-5 key quotes
• CONCLUSION: Reinforce agree or disagree with statement

Hopefully that makes some sense. I don’t write sentences down for my plans - just literally bullet point everything and include the key words. This should be enough to jolt your memory when you look back at your plan for when you are writing your answer, so just keep it concise but with the important information. With the quotes, three to five is just a target to try and write down for each point on your plan. Also, I don’t bother to include the entire quote on the plan, unless it is one that I know I might struggle to remember when writing my answer. For me, just writing the key words of each quote is usually enough to allow me to remember the quote when writing my answer from looking at it, but it’s down to whatever suites you.


SECTION B

Similarly, this question is out of forty marks and you will get a choice of three, it will also ask you to considering your view in light of three texts. The question types are very similar again to those of Section A, however they will be less specific. Any critic quotes that are used will be ones that are generalised to the Gothic genre and not to a specific text. Also, these questions tend to focus on specific Gothic elements and the way in which authors or the Gothic genre explores these concepts.

Again, I would advise you to spend five to ten minutes planning your answer like you did for Section A. You should be aiming to write a similar amount to what you did for the previous question too if you have managed your time well, but don’t worry too much about this. I use the same structure for my plan for this answer as I do for Section A, but the only difference is that I make the points relevant to a certain text. You will use three texts, so naturally that suggests doing two paragraphs per text, unless you include a paragraph where you use all three texts, but that is down to personal preference.

The same rules apply for both sections in terms of what to include and what AO’s to focus on, the only difference is that in Section A you are answering on one text, Section B you are answering on three. Just to note for Section B, if you use The Bloody Chamber, you must of course write about one story in depth, but you must also make reference to another. You can’t write solely about only one of the stories from it. This is something to consider when planning and answering Section B.


CONTENT - This applies to both Sections A and B

Your introduction is something that you must not underestimate the importance of. Although it is unlikely that your introduction itself will actually give you a specific amount of marks, a strong introduction is something that will certainly boost the examiner’s judgement on the rest of your answer. Conversely, a weak introduction that does not set your answer up well is something that will almost definitely weaken your overall mark. You want the examiner to be interested and ready to explore the ideas and arguments that you present in your answer, so by doing this in your introduction it will put you in good stead. An important bit of advice is to define the key word(s) that are in your question. There will always be a key word that the question revolves around, so make sure you identify it and give a brief description of what it means to show the examiner you have understood and noticed this key word.

Further, I personally always think it is good to say where you stand in regards to the question – do you agree or disagree with the statement and to what extent? Although people tend to think the conclusion is the place where you ultimately reveal your own opinion, I believe doing it in the introduction allows for a stronger argument and it also allows the examiner to follow the route you are going down easier, rather than keeping them guessing. Another thing to consider is that you may actually run out of time and so not be able to do a conclusion. This is something you can perhaps get away with without it affecting your mark, but you obviously can’t get away with not doing an introduction. Therefore, if you include your view in the introduction it means that if you do run out of time for the conclusion, your mark won’t be affected.

A final point with the introduction is to create debate. This is important because it will make sure you remember to include counter points to your argument, as simply arguing only for or against one point will not give you a high grade. You need to spark a debate in your introduction, which should be something quite simple to do really. You can do this by simply making your belief/where you stand in the argument known, then pose a simple second sentence with “However, it could be seen that/the author may have…” etc. Just something small like that gives the vital element of debate to your introduction, and should again set you up well for your answer.

That should hopefully enforce the point that your introduction is something that really should be worked on. It only takes a couple of minutes and a few lines up in your answer, yet it can definitely aid your perception by the examiner and thus your mark.

The rest of your answer should be made up of ideally four to six paragraphs of discussion, debate and analysis. It is difficult to specify what you should include for your content just because of the vast amount you can include. Firstly, every paragraph needs to start with a topic sentence that basically outlines the point you are making. I believe this is something that should just come naturally in your writing, but do make sure you include this. You can include a quote when doing this, but be careful as sometimes it is not effective with a quote. If you do include one, don’t use the following sentence to analyse that quote. Any quotes used in a topic sentence should just be there to supplement the point that you are about to make in the paragraph, they should not be the focal point of that paragraph. Here is quick example I have made – “The reader is repeatedly reminded of Victor’s “ardent desire” for his “acquisition of knowledge” in the novel, yet this knowledge he strives for could be seen to be liminal.” Hopefully that shows you how you can use quotes in the topic sentence to help set up the paragraph, again I would not advise doing this for every paragraph; mix them up, use quotes in one or two topic sentences and don’t in the others.

Next, when including quotes make sure you introduce them. Never start a sentence with a quote. Make sure you introduce any quote by setting it in context, that doesn’t mean outline the event in which it happens, that simply means to just include the name of the character/person who says it. An example is “The creature says [Quote]…” or “Shelley uses the words [Quote]…” doing this is much better than just writing the quote and it shows the examiner that you can actually remember how the quote is used/who says it.

You need to make sure you include at least one occasion where you analyse specific words in a quote. This means include perhaps a longer quote, then pull out a couple of the words or phrases from it and analyse their meaning. This is called language analysis and is a vital part of AO2. You need to do this at least once in your answer to make sure you have ticked off this assessment objective. Again, this shouldn’t really be too difficult as it is easy to analyse specific words and their meanings, because it is subjective and entirely down to how you interpret them. However, you must make sure you say how they are used by X author to shape meanings.

Further, the other aspect of AO2 is structure, form and language, which is something that I personally find the most boring assessment objective to target in this exam. It is quite self-explanatory, you need to talk about the structure of your text(s) mainly. Certain texts do lend themselves to this more than others, so make sure when you are making a point on structure that you choose to do this on a text(s) that does have significant structural points to make. This can range from things like the narrative structure being fragmented or cyclical, to the use of chronology and time in the text. Further, if you talk about form then this is all about it the text being written as a poem or fairy tale or novel or play etc. This can be useful to talk about with Shakespeare’s plays such as Macbeth, as this has a form that does contain some variety from the standard iambic pentameter – E.G the Porter scene – which you can talk about the significance of it.

Moving on to probably the most important aspect of your answer – alternative interpretations. This is something I find a lot of people have trouble with/ often find confusing as to what constitutes an ‘interpretation’ and how you should use them. Simply, an alternative interpretation is where you make a point, then put forward another meaning for that point or another view/way of seeing that point. Here is an example of it in use: “One may see that Victor’s dark mind has been passed onto his monster, rather like a genetic trait, as the monster is his creation. However, I believe the stronger view is that Victor drives his monster into his murderous state through his own actions.” That is an extract from one of my essays and also works nicely as a way of finishing off that specific paragraph. This is what will get you those AO3 marks, putting forward different views and then evaluating them. The interpretations you put forward don’t need to be from a Marxist perspective or feminist perspective, they can simply be just thought up by you.

Just to note about evaluation, this is what will get you into the A/A* band when writing. If you don’t include evaluation then you will struggle to get an A and definitely won’t get an A*. This can just be done when you include alternative interpretations by saying which is stronger/putting forward a stronger view or evaluating a specific critic’s view which you have included. Obviously don’t say an interpretation is very weak, because then the examiner will question why you have included it in your answer. I find it best to just pose a stronger interpretation, rather than specifically saying that X interpretation is weak in any way, but it is personal preference.

Another component of AO3 is making connections and comparisons between different texts. Now your answer in Section A is obviously only on one text, so you are limited. The best way to do this is to perhaps include reference to any allusions to other texts that may be present within your text – like in Frankenstein you could include something about Paradise Lost. This is something that you can use more in your Section B answer, so I wouldn’t worry too much about trying to do this for section A. In Section B, you can achieve this by drawing parallels between your three texts, or by making links to other Gothic texts for specific points. The comparative element isn’t something you want to focus too much on, instead focus more on the implications of two/three texts having specific similarities or differences and the significance of this.

Further, looking at context, you need to really do your research and reading for this if you are striving for A/A*s. Context is very important in this exam and there is generally lots of it about for the Gothic, so do some research on things like Romanticism, Gothicism, Galvanism, Age of Enlightenment and similar things to that. The examiners specify that ‘bolted on’ context is very common and very ineffective. You need to show that you understand the context your text was written in and can relate this to meaningful use in your answer. Also, you need to make reference to the reception that certain aspects of your text may have had on an audience, whether that be contemporary or modern. I cannot stress the value of using context effectively in this exam, and given the volume of context there is surrounding this genre you really should take advantage of it. It can be used to form alternative interpretations and it can be used to evaluate meanings, so the context is a vital component that you should learn and understand.

My penultimate point is about AO1 and keeping your answers focussed and relevant to the question. Often people include things that just aren’t relevant to the question being asked, or desperately try and include something they have learnt in class that again, isn’t relevant. You have to go into this exam with an open mind, not trying to include points you have previously made that you think you can link to the question, because chances are you won’t be able to make it specific enough. I find this is best done in your opening and closing lines of each paragraph, whereby you can open the paragraph by making a point that directly refers to the question, then finish it off by concluding and relating it back to the question again. This ensures that hopefully the content you have included is relevant also to the question and will keep your answers focused on this.

Finally, you need to make sure that you identify and include Gothic concepts/elements in your answer. This exam is all about the Gothic, so if you don’t actually talk about/relate Gothic concepts to your points, you won’t do very well. You should be aware of what the Gothic concepts are; things like good/evil, life/death, the liminal, the satanic, the abhuman, the supernatural, the sublime, horror/terror, the doppelganger, women/men, religion, are a few to name. It is essential you talk about these throughout your answers to both sections and relate them and the significance of them to your points.


Hopefully this helps everyone and makes certain aspects of the exam clearer to understand. Any questions I will be happy to answer
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sharmine
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Wow, this is great. Thank you so much!
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suncake
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(Original post by Unsworth)
x
You absolute babe.
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SagarG
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This may be asking for much - but what grade student are you (assuming your like A* haha) could you post any example essays using this format? the problem i have is i make alot of good points that relate to question, but apparently im not digging deep enough into my analysis of the quotation, its either i choose bad quotes or im just not good at analysing, but my quotes are relevant (welllll i hope so anyway)
thanks in advance - this is very helpful!
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SagarG
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(Original post by Unsworth)
English Literature B – Texts and Genres: The Gothic EXAM




Hopefully this helps everyone and makes certain aspects of the exam clearer to understand. Any questions I will be happy to answer
aaand one more question for section B - i did a practice paper earlier today, i found it fairly easy to structure the argument for section A, however in section B i realised during the timed mock I was going too much into depth with one text, leaving not as much time for the other two to write substantially - how do you plan your section B? like how many quotes, paragraphs etc do you do like in the plan of your section a shown above - thanks in advance!!
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Unsworth
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(Original post by SagarG)
This may be asking for much - but what grade student are you (assuming your like A* haha) could you post any example essays using this format? the problem i have is i make alot of good points that relate to question, but apparently im not digging deep enough into my analysis of the quotation, its either i choose bad quotes or im just not good at analysing, but my quotes are relevant (welllll i hope so anyway)
thanks in advance - this is very helpful!
I will type up the answers I did for my mock exam where I got full marks and post them on here tomorrow for you

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Unsworth
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(Original post by SagarG)
aaand one more question for section B - i did a practice paper earlier today, i found it fairly easy to structure the argument for section A, however in section B i realised during the timed mock I was going too much into depth with one text, leaving not as much time for the other two to write substantially - how do you plan your section B? like how many quotes, paragraphs etc do you do like in the plan of your section a shown above - thanks in advance!!
As I said in the guide, I use the same plan structure as for Section A, but just do 2 paragraphs for each of the three texts, then maybe an extra paragraph where I include all of the texts. Again, aiming for 3-5 quotes in each paragraph.

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SagarG
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(Original post by Unsworth)
As I said in the guide, I use the same plan structure as for Section A, but just do 2 paragraphs for each of the three texts, then maybe an extra paragraph where I include all of the texts. Again, aiming for 3-5 quotes in each paragraph.

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aaah my bad says alot about my reading skills....

and okay great - full marks, WOW! how did you get so good ?! they should be extremely helpful- ps what are you studying? I'm doing the bloody chamber, macbeth and (unfortunatley) wuthering heights o.o
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Unsworth
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(Original post by SagarG)
aaah my bad says alot about my reading skills....

and okay great - full marks, WOW! how did you get so good ?! they should be extremely helpful- ps what are you studying? I'm doing the bloody chamber, macbeth and (unfortunatley) wuthering heights o.o
Haha thanks. Yeah well still need to actually achieve that in the exam! My texts are Frankenstein, Macbeth and The Bloody Chamber

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J.Nalbandian14
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Thanks Unsworth, this is great and so enriched. Very helpful and insightful
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Unsworth
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(Original post by J.Nalbandian14)
Thanks Unsworth, this is great and so enriched. Very helpful and insightful
Welcome
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combinekidd
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This is really helpful thanks! We're doing the same texts too. Have you been able to type up your mock examples yet?
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Unsworth
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(Original post by combinekidd)
This is really helpful thanks! We're doing the same texts too. Have you been able to type up your mock examples yet?
Yes, here they are

Just to note, my Section B answer is only on Frankenstein and Macbeth, because we did this just before Easter and so hadn't completed The Bloody Chamber yet!
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WontGiveUp
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Hiya

Cut a long story short, I was in Year 13 last year and missed an A in English by 2 UMS! This in turn made my university reject me come results day. I did not want to go to insurance choice and was firmly against clearing. I am entered in this exam as a retake.

I was on track for an A* and was the top English Lit score for AS in my entire college. In the June 2012 paper I got a D. Similarly, in the mock paper that I just did at college I was 3 marks off a B.

I need a higher D in this paper to finish with an A overall which is what I need for uni yet will still push for an A*
I have been told that I fail to focus/twist the question

Please could you give me some advice as I am slightly confused about where I go wrong...

Thankyou kindly
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You are a legend.
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thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you x 2789171298741294807
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SagarG
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(Original post by Unsworth)
Yes, here they are

Just to note, my Section B answer is only on Frankenstein and Macbeth, because we did this just before Easter and so hadn't completed The Bloody Chamber yet!
Thanks a lot dude just from these essays i think i see how you structure your intro's and conclusions - from reading that essay do you kind of always mention straight away in the intro of the essay 'in the novel ____ - Author or writers uses (key word from Q) to do X -' then new sentence analysing key word and what it means to you - then ending it with you agreeing/disagreeing with question or critic?

Also for revision, i was thinking of instead of doing loads of timed mock essays all the time, to really kind of get structure down in good time i was thinking of doing lots of timed essay planning but with a bit more detail enough to construct an essay - and then re doing these later in short, brief bullet points as you do to get used to not writing much, and then finally just attempting the essay question without looking at the plan at all and giving it a go as i would in the exam and then compare and see what i should have added, or what i did wrong in comparison to my detailed essay plans?

just a thought, wanted to know if you think this will work
thanks! :cool:

Just a follow up - i've kinda given an intro and conclusion a go in the layout of yours for the question: At the end of the play, Malcolm describes Macbeth as a ‘butcher’. Do you think Macbeth is merely portrayed as a butcher? - is this a good format to keep to my section A and B's? Before i found myself almost making new points in the intro and conclusion which I don't see you doing so am getting worried its not as structured as it could be as I keep creating new debate/interpretations when really time is running out and i need to end the thing! - wont try bother you no more lol sorry

Intro - In the play Macbeth, Shakespeare uses excessive violence throughout thus reflecting the contemporary scenes of execution Jacobeans would have been familiar with. This may be why the protagonist Macbeth is portrayed as a butcher, as the connotations of a ‘butcher’ implies a desensitised individual capable of killing and chopping up animals or humans. I somewhat disagree with Malcom’s view that Macbeth is ‘merely’ portrayed as a butcher, but rather has a “vaulting ambition” enabling him to endure ‘butcher’ tendencies.

Conclusion – In conclusion, I agree that Macbeth is capable of enduring actions of a ‘butcher’, however I disagree with Malcom that Macbeth is ‘merely portrayed as a butcher’, as Shakespeare enables us to see his distressed emotions and difficulties through the use of soliloquys reflecting his troubled internal mind, which one could argue a butcher does not possess.
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Unsworth
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(Original post by SagarG)
Thanks a lot dude just from these essays i think i see how you structure your intro's and conclusions - from reading that essay do you kind of always mention straight away in the intro of the essay 'in the novel ____ - Author or writers uses (key word from Q) to do X -' then new sentence analysing key word and what it means to you - then ending it with you agreeing/disagreeing with question or critic?

Also for revision, i was thinking of instead of doing loads of timed mock essays all the time, to really kind of get structure down in good time i was thinking of doing lots of timed essay planning but with a bit more detail enough to construct an essay - and then re doing these later in short, brief bullet points as you do to get used to not writing much, and then finally just attempting the essay question without looking at the plan at all and giving it a go as i would in the exam and then compare and see what i should have added, or what i did wrong in comparison to my detailed essay plans?

just a thought, wanted to know if you think this will work
thanks! :cool:
Yeah that is how I tend to structure all of my essays for this exam for both sections. It may seem quite formulaic, but I find it very simple and easy for anyone reading to understand. It may not be something that grabs the examiner's attention by a hook, but what it does do is make sure that the examiner can clearly understand my main argument, can see that I am creating a debate (which should interest them anyway) and that crucially I understand the question which is being asked. If you do that then the examiner can only gain positives from it!

That sounds great what you intend to do regarding the essay plans. I myself am not doing every single past essay question aha. I am probably at the moment just doing one a week - so nothing crazy! What I have been doing though is making A4 essay plans for a variety of different past questions, with around 4/5 bullet points for each of my paragraphs. I can just include the main points within that paragraph along with just the main quote(s), which is quick and easy to revise from and build on in the exam
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Unsworth
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(Original post by SagarG)
Just a follow up - i've kinda given an intro and conclusion a go in the layout of yours for the question: At the end of the play, Malcolm describes Macbeth as a ‘butcher’. Do you think Macbeth is merely portrayed as a butcher? - is this a good format to keep to my section A and B's? Before i found myself almost making new points in the intro and conclusion which I don't see you doing so am getting worried its not as structured as it could be as I keep creating new debate/interpretations when really time is running out and i need to end the thing! - wont try bother you no more lol sorry

Intro - In the play Macbeth, Shakespeare uses excessive violence throughout thus reflecting the contemporary scenes of execution Jacobeans would have been familiar with. This may be why the protagonist Macbeth is portrayed as a butcher, as the connotations of a ‘butcher’ implies a desensitised individual capable of killing and chopping up animals or humans. I somewhat disagree with Malcom’s view that Macbeth is ‘merely’ portrayed as a butcher, but rather has a “vaulting ambition” enabling him to endure ‘butcher’ tendencies.

Conclusion – In conclusion, I agree that Macbeth is capable of enduring actions of a ‘butcher’, however I disagree with Malcom that Macbeth is ‘merely portrayed as a butcher’, as Shakespeare enables us to see his distressed emotions and difficulties through the use of soliloquys reflecting his troubled internal mind, which one could argue a butcher does not possess.
That's a good point you have made and a mistake I think is quite common. Do not raise new points in your conclusion and no not raise points in your introduction that you then do not address! Your conclusion, although boring, should just really be a summing up of your main argument and just a reinforcement of your point - it should not spark further debate.

Just a quick scenario I thought of: Think of a conclusion as the 'shaking hands' of a deal. You have already introduced your idea to X person, you have then gone through your idea /plan with X person and we can assume X person has agreed to your action. Now you just shake their hand and it is all finished. The conclusion is like the shaking of the hands in the deal - you have made all your points and secured what you wanted. You wouldn't then suddenly throw up a new point when shaking hands that might make X person reconsider anything would you? You just finish it off nicely and walk away haha.

Your introduction and conclusion are both perfect, exactly how I would suggest doing them! I could not improve them any more myself
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Yeah that is how I tend to structure all of my essays for this exam for both sections. It may seem quite formulaic, but I find it very simple and easy for anyone reading to understand. It may not be something that grabs the examiner's attention by a hook, but what it does do is make sure that the examiner can clearly understand my main argument, can see that I am creating a debate (which should interest them anyway) and that crucially I understand the question which is being asked. If you do that then the examiner can only gain positives from it!

That sounds great what you intend to do regarding the essay plans. I myself am not doing every single past essay question aha. I am probably at the moment just doing one a week - so nothing crazy! What I have been doing though is making A4 essay plans for a variety of different past questions, with around 4/5 bullet points for each of my paragraphs. I can just include the main points within that paragraph along with just the main quote(s), which is quick and easy to revise from and build on in the exam

That's a good point you have made and a mistake I think is quite common. Do not raise new points in your conclusion and no not raise points in your introduction that you then do not address! Your conclusion, although boring, should just really be a summing up of your main argument and just a reinforcement of your point - it should not spark further debate.

Just a quick scenario I thought of: Think of a conclusion as the 'shaking hands' of a deal. You have already introduced your idea to X person, you have then gone through your idea /plan with X person and we can assume X person has agreed to your action. Now you just shake their hand and it is all finished. The conclusion is like the shaking of the hands in the deal - you have made all your points and secured what you wanted. You wouldn't then suddenly throw up a new point when shaking hands that might make X person reconsider anything would you? You just finish it off nicely and walk away haha
Ahh the relief i just felt after finding out that was exactly what was needed for an intro and conclusion!

Haha yeah, as much as I'm not a fan of equations, apart from the main body of the essay i reckon some form of formula is necessary for plan/intros/conclusions since the examiners want a proper structured argument - lol sometimes i find brief can be hard because it's not specific enough for my mind to concentrate? - maybe thats why my teachers didn't like the unfinished buisness I proposed to them on my essays !

And ah i suppose our revision plans are similar then, what are your plans for section A ? I'm thinking of doing Macbeth for section A for sure, it just seems a lot easier to talk about then the other texts haha, i'm kind of debating whether to learn all of the bloody chamber stories in depth or just pick like 3 in depth and a couple more briefly to strengthen an indepth analysis of one of the 3
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