English Literature at A Level - what's it like? Watch

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Recently, I have developed a real passion for English, alongside some other subjects, and I really want to take it as an A Level. A little while ago, I had decided that I would choose Language, but now, I want to take Literature.

Alongside Literature, I will probably studying three subjects, so I was wondering how heavy the work load is at A Level and much time you would advise my to spend on it? What books could I start reading in preparation for it (I really like George Orwell's books and his writing style in Animal Farm, so books similar to that would be great!)? Do you get teacher support with analysis or is it all down to you?


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Pandora.
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(Original post by kingaaran)
Recently, I have developed a real passion for English, alongside some other subjects, and I really want to take it as an A Level. A little while ago, I had decided that I would choose Language, but now, I want to take Literature.

Alongside Literature, I will probably studying three subjects, so I was wondering how heavy the work load is at A Level and much time you would advise my to spend on it? What books could I start reading in preparation for it (I really like George Orwell's books and his writing style in Animal Farm, so books similar to that would be great!)? Do you get teacher support with analysis or is it all down to you?


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Hey! (Just about) A2 student here. :wavey:

Congratulations on picking Literature, it's much better. The work load probably varies between sixth forms. Personally I found the workload to be very little. We read a few books, which I read ahead of time anyway (and since you love Lit, it's not work at all). For work outside of lessons, you could just spend a bit of time researching the novels/plays you're studying, the author or the time period they're set in to get some extra ideas. But overall, I don't think it's time consuming at all. :nah: Apart from coursework, but I managed to do them pretty quickly (ie. A day/two days at most).

Do you know which books you'll be studying yet? There's no real need to read in prep, but definitely read for fun as much as you can to keep widening your interests and developing your ideas. If you like George Orwell's style I assume you like dystopian fiction. I'd take a look at 1984 by Orwell, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I'll see if I can find some more for you, too. I can only speak for The Road - dystopia isn't my favourite genre, but it's a really good book.

My teacher pretty much went through everything with us, but most discussion was sparked by our own ideas. Ideas will probably come naturally so analysis shouldn't be too difficult on your own anyway. It probably depends on your teacher, though.

I hope this helps. If you need any advice or English discussion, feel free to ask!
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(Original post by kingaaran)
Recently, I have developed a real passion for English, alongside some other subjects, and I really want to take it as an A Level. A little while ago, I had decided that I would choose Language, but now, I want to take Literature.

Alongside Literature, I will probably studying three subjects, so I was wondering how heavy the work load is at A Level and much time you would advise my to spend on it? What books could I start reading in preparation for it (I really like George Orwell's books and his writing style in Animal Farm, so books similar to that would be great!)? Do you get teacher support with analysis or is it all down to you?


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Do you know what exam board you'll be with?

I'm with AQA and doing the B specification. At AS the novels vary from Pride and Prejudice to Great Expectations. Then there are poets to study. I did The Kite Runner, The Great Gatsby and poems by John Keats (such as Lamia). For A2 I'm doing Macbeth, Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein. However obviously the novels vary depending on the exam board, but I'm sure the selections are great on each one.

In terms of workload, English Lit was definitely the least work (other subjects are History, Biology and Chemistry) so that obviously determines how it will be in comparison. But it's a really enjoyable A level, and hopefully like my teachers did, you'll receive a lot of guidance when it comes to analysis and essay technique etc.

Hope you enjoy your novels as much as I did

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Hey! (Just about) A2 student here. :wavey:

Congratulations on picking Literature, it's much better. The work load probably varies between sixth forms. Personally I found the workload to be very little. We read a few books, which I read ahead of time anyway (and since you love Lit, it's not work at all). For work outside of lessons, you could just spend a bit of time researching the novels/plays you're studying, the author or the time period they're set in to get some extra ideas. But overall, I don't think it's time consuming at all. :nah: Apart from coursework, but I managed to do them pretty quickly (ie. A day/two days at most).

Do you know which books you'll be studying yet? There's no real need to read in prep, but definitely read for fun as much as you can to keep widening your interests and developing your ideas. If you like George Orwell's style I assume you like dystopian fiction. I'd take a look at 1984 by Orwell, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I'll see if I can find some more for you, too. I can only speak for The Road - dystopia isn't my favourite genre, but it's a really good book.

My teacher pretty much went through everything with us, but most discussion was sparked by our own ideas. Ideas will probably come naturally so analysis shouldn't be too difficult on your own anyway. It probably depends on your teacher, though.

I hope this helps. If you need any advice or English discussion, feel free to ask!

Language did seem appealing to me - the unit on how children acquired language really caught my attention. But my school doesn't offer Language, so I couldn't do it. If my school does introduce the Creative Writing A-Level, I may pick that up instead. What would your opinion be of that?

That's great news! I will be doing Maths, Physics and Biology alongside this A-Level, so the diminutive workload in comparison to them will hopefully make my life that little bit easier.

When you did your coursework, did you have a choice over the novels/poems you studied, as I would love to do novels like Animal Farm, Pride and Prejudice, Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird at a higher level? The poetry written by Carol Ann Duffy is fantastic; did you/could you study any of her poems?

Also, could I ask how is analysing different at A level than at GCSE?

I have absolutely no idea about the books that I will be studying! But I know the exam board is AQA. Ooh, that genre seems intriguing. I will look-up some books and definitely read some of your suggestions.

Thanks for the help. It's really useful!
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(Original post by Lucy96)
Do you know what exam board you'll be with?

I'm with AQA and doing the B specification. At AS the novels vary from Pride and Prejudice to Great Expectations. Then there are poets to study. I did The Kite Runner, The Great Gatsby and poems by John Keats (such as Lamia). For A2 I'm doing Macbeth, Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein. However obviously the novels vary depending on the exam board, but I'm sure the selections are great on each one.

In terms of workload, English Lit was definitely the least work (other subjects are History, Biology and Chemistry) so that obviously determines how it will be in comparison. But it's a really enjoyable A level, and hopefully like my teachers did, you'll receive a lot of guidance when it comes to analysis and essay technique etc.

Hope you enjoy your novels as much as I did

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I'm not certain of the exam board that my school has chosen, but I think it might be AQA. However, I am definitely not certain of the specification they have chosen!

I love Pride and Prejudice; the story is fascinating. However, I am not a fan of Great Expectations, so hopefully I won't have to study it. Poetry is fun, so hopefully that unit will be amazing!

Frankenstein...lovely! I have always wanted to read that novel, so if I can, I will certainly be choosing that novel. How does Controlled Assessment work? What are the AOs and how does the mark scheme operate? Is it similar to GCSE, where the top band asks candidates to be 'sophisticated,' and if-so, what is AQA's interpretation of 'sophisticated' at A-Level?

I'm happy to hear that the workload will not be much in comparison to science-based subjects, as my all of my other A-Levels are going to be science-based - *relief* ! The reason that I decided to go with Literature is because I've heard that it's enjoyable, and as you've said it too, it's made me want to study it more!

Thank you very much for your help. It has been awesome!
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(Original post by kingaaran)
Language did seem appealing to me - the unit on how children acquired language really caught my attention. But my school doesn't offer Language, so I couldn't do it. If my school does introduce the Creative Writing A-Level, I may pick that up instead. What would your opinion be of that?

That's great news! I will be doing Maths, Physics and Biology alongside this A-Level, so the diminutive workload in comparison to them will hopefully make my life that little bit easier.

When you did your coursework, did you have a choice over the novels/poems you studied, as I would love to do novels like Animal Farm, Pride and Prejudice, Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird at a higher level? The poetry written by Carol Ann Duffy is fantastic; did you/could you study any of her poems?

Also, could I ask how is analysing different at A level than at GCSE?

I have absolutely no idea about the books that I will be studying! But I know the exam board is AQA. Ooh, that genre seems intriguing. I will look-up some books and definitely read some of your suggestions.

Thanks for the help. It's really useful!
Ah, that's a shame. I've never heard of Creative Writing as an A Level. I definitely wouldn't pick it over Lit though, Lit is seen as a very strong subject.

It definitely will. :yep: It's great to not have that extra stress.

I didn't have a choice at AS, but I do at A2. My teacher said that Of Mice and Men wasn't suitable for A Level but P&P is I think. Not sure about the others, but since you're on AQA you don't have to worry about it for a few years. I studied Carol Ann Duffy at GCSE, but not at A level. It may be on the syllabus though, I'm not sure - it'll depend on what your teacher picks.

Analysis is pretty much the same but to a much deeper level. Once you get used to it you probably won't notice the difference though.

AQA has a good course, I enjoy it. It's definitely worth finding out if you can.

No problem.
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(Original post by kingaaran)
I'm not certain of the exam board that my school has chosen, but I think it might be AQA. However, I am definitely not certain of the specification they have chosen!

I love Pride and Prejudice; the story is fascinating. However, I am not a fan of Great Expectations, so hopefully I won't have to study it. Poetry is fun, so hopefully that unit will be amazing!

Frankenstein...lovely! I have always wanted to read that novel, so if I can, I will certainly be choosing that novel. How does Controlled Assessment work? What are the AOs and how does the mark scheme operate? Is it similar to GCSE, where the top band asks candidates to be 'sophisticated,' and if-so, what is AQA's interpretation of 'sophisticated' at A-Level?

I'm happy to hear that the workload will not be much in comparison to science-based subjects, as my all of my other A-Levels are going to be science-based - *relief* ! The reason that I decided to go with Literature is because I've heard that it's enjoyable, and as you've said it too, it's made me want to study it more!

Thank you very much for your help. It has been awesome!
Ah fair enough

Agreed! And yeah, from what I've heard it's not that enjoyable, but I guess I'd have to read it to judge it! Yeah I'm sure you'll love it

I'm loving Frankenstein so far, my exam paper is based on Gothic literature, so we have to know a fair bit about Gothic architecture and other aspects such as the supernatural, which is fascinating too. Well for my coursework, I had to do answer two questions on two plays within the comic genre: Educating Rita and A Midsummer Night's Dream. They're both marked out of 30 and a combined mark out of 60 is made. I think it's about 50 for an A. For a mark in the top band, they base it off this:

AO1
Use of appropriate critical vocabulary and technically fluent style/ well structured and coherent argument always relevant with very sharp focus on task and confidently ranging around texts.

AO2
Exploration and analysis of key features of form and structure with perceptive evaluation of how they shape meanings.
Exploration and analysis of key aspects of language with perceptive evaluation of how they shape meanings.

AO3
Detailed and perceptive understanding of issues raised in connecting texts through concept of comedy.
Perceptive consideration of different interpretations of texts with sharp evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses and with excellent selection of supportive references.

AO4
Excellent understanding of ways of contextualising ‘comedy’ as a dramatic genre.
Excellent understanding of a range of other relevant contextual factors with specific, detailed links between context/texts/task.

I think the main aim was to depict and explore various ideas, convey them in an intellectual and unique way, show that you understand the genre. So for example, in my coursework, we had to link to aspects of comedy through the ideas of Aristotle, relate aspects of comedy to real life etc. I guess 'sophistication' is quite important, precision in your answer is important. I don't know about you, but I waffle on quite a bit because I love using 'flowery language', sadly I've had to learn to be more precise in my answers Examiners love unique ideas, exploring areas others may not think of doing, creating links between texts.

Yeah that's probably a good idea then. Although I do History too, English Literature was great, it was so refreshing from my two sciences, and it's a great subject to do along sciences because of the fact it's not as heavy as other essay subjects such as history.

Sadly I messed up my exam and so I'm dreading my result haha It should have been my strongest result as it's the subject I find easiest, but you'll do great if you love it! And you're very welcome
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crashMATHS
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(Original post by Pandora.)
Ah, that's a shame. I've never heard of Creative Writing as an A Level. I definitely wouldn't pick it over Lit though, Lit is seen as a very strong subject.

It definitely will. :yep: It's great to not have that extra stress.

I didn't have a choice at AS, but I do at A2. My teacher said that Of Mice and Men wasn't suitable for A Level but P&P is I think. Not sure about the others, but since you're on AQA you don't have to worry about it for a few years. I studied Carol Ann Duffy at GCSE, but not at A level. It may be on the syllabus though, I'm not sure - it'll depend on what your teacher picks.

Analysis is pretty much the same but to a much deeper level. Once you get used to it you probably won't notice the difference though.

AQA has a good course, I enjoy it. It's definitely worth finding out if you can.

No problem.
Once again, thank you very much for the help.


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Ah fair enough

Agreed! And yeah, from what I've heard it's not that enjoyable, but I guess I'd have to read it to judge it! Yeah I'm sure you'll love it

I'm loving Frankenstein so far, my exam paper is based on Gothic literature, so we have to know a fair bit about Gothic architecture and other aspects such as the supernatural, which is fascinating too. Well for my coursework, I had to do answer two questions on two plays within the comic genre: Educating Rita and A Midsummer Night's Dream. They're both marked out of 30 and a combined mark out of 60 is made. I think it's about 50 for an A. For a mark in the top band, they base it off this:

AO1
Use of appropriate critical vocabulary and technically fluent style/ well structured and coherent argument always relevant with very sharp focus on task and confidently ranging around texts.

AO2
Exploration and analysis of key features of form and structure with perceptive evaluation of how they shape meanings.
Exploration and analysis of key aspects of language with perceptive evaluation of how they shape meanings.

AO3
Detailed and perceptive understanding of issues raised in connecting texts through concept of comedy.
Perceptive consideration of different interpretations of texts with sharp evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses and with excellent selection of supportive references.

AO4
Excellent understanding of ways of contextualising ‘comedy’ as a dramatic genre.
Excellent understanding of a range of other relevant contextual factors with specific, detailed links between context/texts/task.

I think the main aim was to depict and explore various ideas, convey them in an intellectual and unique way, show that you understand the genre. So for example, in my coursework, we had to link to aspects of comedy through the ideas of Aristotle, relate aspects of comedy to real life etc. I guess 'sophistication' is quite important, precision in your answer is important. I don't know about you, but I waffle on quite a bit because I love using 'flowery language', sadly I've had to learn to be more precise in my answers Examiners love unique ideas, exploring areas others may not think of doing, creating links between texts.

Yeah that's probably a good idea then. Although I do History too, English Literature was great, it was so refreshing from my two sciences, and it's a great subject to do along sciences because of the fact it's not as heavy as other essay subjects such as history.

Sadly I messed up my exam and so I'm dreading my result haha It should have been my strongest result as it's the subject I find easiest, but you'll do great if you love it! And you're very welcome
Wow, thanks! I really hope that we get to do an exam paper on Gothic Literature - it sounds very interesting.

The AOs are quite similar to the ones we are assessed against at GCSE Level, but with a few different aspects. One question: AO3 says "excellent selection of supportive references," so does this mean we have to create a bibliography?

I tend to waffle quite a bit, so that might be one of my downfalls too. Those are great tips. Thanks!

Don't worry about your exam. You seem amazing at English, so I'm sure you'll have done extremely well. Once again, thank you very much for all your help.




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(Original post by kingaaran)
Wow, thanks! I really hope that we get to do an exam paper on Gothic Literature - it sounds very interesting.

The AOs are quite similar to the ones we are assessed against at GCSE Level, but with a few different aspects. One question: AO3 says "excellent selection of supportive references," so does this mean we have to create a bibliography?

I tend to waffle quite a bit, so that might be one of my downfalls too. Those are great tips. Thanks!

Don't worry about your exam. You seem amazing at English, so I'm sure you'll have done extremely well. Once again, thank you very much for all your help.




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Aw yeah, it does

And yes they are, they're just in a bit more depth I suppose Hmm, I'm actually unsure about that. I didn't have to do a bibliography, the only thing I can think it's implying is the idea of Aristotle and other philosophers, perhaps focusing on the opinion's of others. So backing up your ideas and interpretations with existing theories?

With practice you'll easily be able to cut it down and get to the point, so don't let that worry you You're welcome!

Well thank you very much, but I'm really not confident at all. You're most welcome
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(Original post by kingaaran)
Recently, I have developed a real passion for English, alongside some other subjects, and I really want to take it as an A Level. A little while ago, I had decided that I would choose Language, but now, I want to take Literature.

Alongside Literature, I will probably studying three subjects, so I was wondering how heavy the work load is at A Level and much time you would advise my to spend on it? What books could I start reading in preparation for it (I really like George Orwell's books and his writing style in Animal Farm, so books similar to that would be great!)? Do you get teacher support with analysis or is it all down to you?

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You were the same as me. I developed a passion for English at the end of year 11! My English teacher inspired me!

You did say you were going to study English Lit, Maths, Chem and Bio? I think it's an alright workload, but it depends on your exam board and how committed you're going to be. AQA A has set texts lists, coursework texts lists and a wider reading list, so you could imagine it would be quite heavy. I don't know what exam board you're with, but it will be most likely that you will be doing coursework in your 1st year. This should add less pressure but it will take up your time because of re-drafts upon re-drafts.

I would spend as much time as you should spend if I'm honest. One advice, do not sacrifice three A-levels just to save one. So spend a lengthy time on all your A-levels, without having disregarding any of them! The time would honestly depend on your exam board. I did English Language, English Literature, History and Philosophy & Ethics and I would say, despite reading a lot, History would take up time for homework! English Language was not too bad, because we'd get most stuff done in class and Phil and Ethics was alright, but the content was difficult for me. But I suppose your A-levels are science, and mine were all essay based!

I haven't read any George Orwell's texts, which I really should do, but my summer reading list is already too big! I would try reading other literary work from different centuries and periods. Try challenging yourself and reading a Shakespeare play by yourself? Or Charles Dickens, Austen novel! Or some texts in translations such as All Quiet on the Western Front and Crime and Punishment? Vary your Literature - you'd get a much more appreciation for Literature that way!

Because my lessons with my two separate teachers were quite informal, we would normally talk about our ideas and then write each other's notes down in our texts if our teacher would be like "I really would write what he's just said!" The analysis isn't so-so at AS, but in June I came back at started A2 Lit, and the analysis is way harder and more descriptive. In my opinion, the analysis is teacher lead, but you are expected to dive into the analysis into much more detail on your own, especially on coursework.
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You were the same as me. I developed a passion for English at the end of year 11! My English teacher inspired me!

You did say you were going to study English Lit, Maths, Chem and Bio? I think it's an alright workload, but it depends on your exam board and how committed you're going to be. AQA A has set texts lists, coursework texts lists and a wider reading list, so you could imagine it would be quite heavy. I don't know what exam board you're with, but it will be most likely that you will be doing coursework in your 1st year. This should add less pressure but it will take up your time because of re-drafts upon re-drafts.

I would spend as much time as you should spend if I'm honest. One advice, do not sacrifice three A-levels just to save one. So spend a lengthy time on all your A-levels, without having disregarding any of them! The time would honestly depend on your exam board. I did English Language, English Literature, History and Philosophy & Ethics and I would say, despite reading a lot, History would take up time for homework! English Language was not too bad, because we'd get most stuff done in class and Phil and Ethics was alright, but the content was difficult for me. But I suppose your A-levels are science, and mine were all essay based!

I haven't read any George Orwell's texts, which I really should do, but my summer reading list is already too big! I would try reading other literary work from different centuries and periods. Try challenging yourself and reading a Shakespeare play by yourself? Or Charles Dickens, Austen novel! Or some texts in translations such as All Quiet on the Western Front and Crime and Punishment? Vary your Literature - you'd get a much more appreciation for Literature that way!

Because my lessons with my two separate teachers were quite informal, we would normally talk about our ideas and then write each other's notes down in our texts if our teacher would be like "I really would write what he's just said!" The analysis isn't so-so at AS, but in June I came back at started A2 Lit, and the analysis is way harder and more descriptive. In my opinion, the analysis is teacher lead, but you are expected to dive into the analysis into much more detail on your own, especially on coursework.
Thank you very much! This is so informative and helpful.

Yes, in the first year of AS I will be finishing off Maths at A2 and doing Further Maths at AS, and then I will be doing all the other subjects at AS. Well, I've been committed to self-teaching myself A-Level Maths and following my revision timetable to ensure that I get enough time for my other subjects and time to myself, in which I sometimes take the time to read, so hopefully I'll be able to manage the workload.

Unfortunately, my school use the AQA exam board for A-Level and GCSE, although I'm unsure of the specification. I've heard from people in my current sixth form and on this thread that AQA are harsh markers and it has a much tighter specification than the other exam boards. Currently, for my GCSE CAs, I draft about four/five times to try to make it perfect, so I'm used to that and I don't mind writing essays, so that shouldn't inflict too many - if any - problems.

Wow! You've picked really cool and broad A-Levels. How are they going for you? What do you think about history, as I was planning on taking it awhile back?

I love Shakespeare's work! His sonnets are lovely. His plays are fantastic. His writing styles are great too! I started reading Twelfth Night last week and I'm enjoying it. I tried reading Great Expectations, as I enjoyed the film, but it slightly put-me-off Dickins. Would you recommended any of his other books? Hmm...I might try that. Thanks!

I'm glad to know that you get teacher guidance, as I quite strangely thought that you had to analyse all of the texts individually - *sigh*! I would expect it to be challenging, but hopefully your brilliant advice and my extra reading should help prepare me for the course.

Once again, thank you very much for all the advice!


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(Original post by kingaaran)
Thank you very much! This is so informative and helpful.

Yes, in the first year of AS I will be finishing off Maths at A2 and doing Further Maths at AS, and then I will be doing all the other subjects at AS. Well, I've been committed to self-teaching myself A-Level Maths and following my revision timetable to ensure that I get enough time for my other subjects and time to myself, in which I sometimes take the time to read, so hopefully I'll be able to manage the workload.

Unfortunately, my school use the AQA exam board for A-Level and GCSE, although I'm unsure of the specification. I've heard from people in my current sixth form and on this thread that AQA are harsh markers and it has a much tighter specification than the other exam boards. Currently, for my GCSE CAs, I draft about four/five times to try to make it perfect, so I'm used to that and I don't mind writing essays, so that shouldn't inflict too many - if any - problems.

Wow! You've picked really cool and broad A-Levels. How are they going for you? What do you think about history, as I was planning on taking it awhile back?

I love Shakespeare's work! His sonnets are lovely. His plays are fantastic. His writing styles are great too! I started reading Twelfth Night last week and I'm enjoying it. I tried reading Great Expectations, as I enjoyed the film, but it slightly put-me-off Dickins. Would you recommended any of his other books? Hmm...I might try that. Thanks!

I'm glad to know that you get teacher guidance, as I quite strangely thought that you had to analyse all of the texts individually - *sigh*! I would expect it to be challenging, but hopefully your brilliant advice and my extra reading should help prepare me for the course.

Once again, thank you very much for all the advice!


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It is advisable that you take at least 3 A2-levels or 2 A2-levels and 1 AS-level in your second year of A levels. I wouldn't plan too much into your second year without experiencing your 1st year first, as the 1st year can really make you change your future plans. Don't feel pressured to take more A-levels then you need too. In my opinion, this is why quite a lot of AS-level students fail - because they feel the need to take four subjects in order to have extra UCAS points. But is CCCC better than BBB at AS? To me it's not.

Personally, I think AQA do have harsh marking occasionally, but not always. And it may be harsh, but the marking isn't unreasonably harsh. At the end of the day, they are only marking what you put down in your exam. CA's were designed so you may not re-do your CA over again! CA are done in a time format - 2-4 hours on each CA. Coursework is different, you have many re-drafts without a time limit as you want, in order for you to get the best grade you can get. CA are so much different to coursework, and a lot of AS English students will sometimes find it a struggle because the re-drafting stage isn't about changing a few words; it's about changing your points, changing your clumsy expressions to sophistication. You will learn a lot about grammar and syntax when re-drafting your coursework! But then again, I had a teacher who just hated clumsy expressions. She was a total nightmare, but she only did it for our own good which is why I secured a B for my overall lit coursework!

I wouldn't say they are broad as such, because they are all humanities and essay-based subjects. But they are all different in their own way and you have to write so differently in each subject which was my biggest challenge. They are good. Started A2 in June, so I'm definitely dropping History just because it was my fourth choice and I didn't like it from the get go - because I just had a really awful teacher who was consistently away and she was just terrible! But I never really liked History. Only picked it because of our units was WW1 and it helped with my English Literature and War in general, so that was good in that respect.

I'm not a fan of poetry simply because I find it difficult to analyse as I was never taught how to analyse poetry prior to being taught it at A-level. But I do enjoy bits of it. Never really looked at Shakespeare's sonnets, but I will do when I go back in September! Oh really, Twelfth Night? That's considered to be Shakespeare's most challenging and difficult play out of all of his plays!! I'm going be reading that soon, after I've finished Much Ado About Nothing.
Dickens** Dickens is a wonderful novelist! Great Expectations is one of my favourite novels of all time! I think you should definitely read it, it's one of his greatest novels anyway. Erm, Hard Times is a good one - it's a bit hard-going, but if you can tackle Twelfth Night, then you can definitely tackle Hard Times. Also A Tale of Two Cites and Little Dorrit are his other ones you could consider too.

To be perfectly honest, it would depend on your teacher and how they work. Because one of my lit teachers just loves the sound of her own voice she just read to us and we analysed with her - but some teachers don't like reading in their classes so tend to set reading as h/w and analysis activities in class. But you will pick up how to analyse texts at an AS-level standard as the course progresses. Enjoy your wider reading now, and don't get too caught up in 'is there anything else I can do'. Enjoy your summer, because once AS levels start... well... ya know, good luck!
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(Original post by Cool_JordH)
It is advisable that you take at least 3 A2-levels or 2 A2-levels and 1 AS-level in your second year of A levels. I wouldn't plan too much into your second year without experiencing your 1st year first, as the 1st year can really make you change your future plans. Don't feel pressured to take more A-levels then you need too. In my opinion, this is why quite a lot of AS-level students fail - because they feel the need to take four subjects in order to have extra UCAS points. But is CCCC better than BBB at AS? To me it's not.

Personally, I think AQA do have harsh marking occasionally, but not always. And it may be harsh, but the marking isn't unreasonably harsh. At the end of the day, they are only marking what you put down in your exam. CA's were designed so you may not re-do your CA over again! CA are done in a time format - 2-4 hours on each CA. Coursework is different, you have many re-drafts without a time limit as you want, in order for you to get the best grade you can get. CA are so much different to coursework, and a lot of AS English students will sometimes find it a struggle because the re-drafting stage isn't about changing a few words; it's about changing your points, changing your clumsy expressions to sophistication. You will learn a lot about grammar and syntax when re-drafting your coursework! But then again, I had a teacher who just hated clumsy expressions. She was a total nightmare, but she only did it for our own good which is why I secured a B for my overall lit coursework!

I wouldn't say they are broad as such, because they are all humanities and essay-based subjects. But they are all different in their own way and you have to write so differently in each subject which was my biggest challenge. They are good. Started A2 in June, so I'm definitely dropping History just because it was my fourth choice and I didn't like it from the get go - because I just had a really awful teacher who was consistently away and she was just terrible! But I never really liked History. Only picked it because of our units was WW1 and it helped with my English Literature and War in general, so that was good in that respect.

I'm not a fan of poetry simply because I find it difficult to analyse as I was never taught how to analyse poetry prior to being taught it at A-level. But I do enjoy bits of it. Never really looked at Shakespeare's sonnets, but I will do when I go back in September! Oh really, Twelfth Night? That's considered to be Shakespeare's most challenging and difficult play out of all of his plays!! I'm going be reading that soon, after I've finished Much Ado About Nothing.
Dickens** Dickens is a wonderful novelist! Great Expectations is one of my favourite novels of all time! I think you should definitely read it, it's one of his greatest novels anyway. Erm, Hard Times is a good one - it's a bit hard-going, but if you can tackle Twelfth Night, then you can definitely tackle Hard Times. Also A Tale of Two Cites and Little Dorrit are his other ones you could consider too.

To be perfectly honest, it would depend on your teacher and how they work. Because one of my lit teachers just loves the sound of her own voice she just read to us and we analysed with her - but some teachers don't like reading in their classes so tend to set reading as h/w and analysis activities in class. But you will pick up how to analyse texts at an AS-level standard as the course progresses. Enjoy your wider reading now, and don't get too caught up in 'is there anything else I can do'. Enjoy your summer, because once AS levels start... well... ya know, good luck!
I'm not planning extremely. I'm only planning because I'm doing early A-Levels next year, so I need plan how I will manage it all in Year 13. Well, Maths and Further Maths consist of merely sitting the exams, I know most of the Mechanics side of Physics from Maths, so hopefully it should go better than CCCC.

They totally mark harsh and that is my worry with English - the totally subjective marking. My cousin got a D for her coursework in English Literature and then sent it off to be remarked and got an A! We are told to redraft our draft controlled assessments by our teachers before writing it for real, so I'm not too sure about what you mean. Ooh, that's interesting! I hate the time limit in the controlled assessments. In my most recent poetry controlled assessment, I was totally enjoying writing a paragraph on Miss Havisham, from the poem Havisham, and how she is so innocent and how that contrasts with the speaker in The Laboratory and then ran out of time - *angry* !

I don't think my writing style and grammar is bad, nor is my vocabulary, so writing out expressions in a sophisticated way shouldn't possess too much of a problem. I'm more of an English Language person, as I enjoy writing, but my school doesn't offer it, so I've had to go with Literature.

Well, they are all very good subjects. What books have you studied during the course so-far?

Poetry is my favourite part of Literature. I find analysing poetry so much easier than analysing novels. I've read quite a few Shakespeare plays, but I agree: Twelfth Night is very complicated; but that's what makes it interesting! Great Expectations wasn't for me - the BBC film was good, but the book didn't captivate me in the same way Animal Farm did when I first read it, or Frankenstein - which I have now read and I must say that it was brilliant! Hmm...I like a challenging book, so I might try Hard Times, but I have yet to read your previous recommendations.

Ah thank you, again! You've been very helpful! Thanks


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(Original post by kingaaran)
I'm not planning extremely. I'm only planning because I'm doing early A-Levels next year, so I need plan how I will manage it all in Year 13. Well, Maths and Further Maths consist of merely sitting the exams, I know most of the Mechanics side of Physics from Maths, so hopefully it should go better than CCCC.

They totally mark harsh and that is my worry with English - the totally subjective marking. My cousin got a D for her coursework in English Literature and then sent it off to be remarked and got an A! We are told to redraft our draft controlled assessments by our teachers before writing it for real, so I'm not too sure about what you mean. Ooh, that's interesting! I hate the time limit in the controlled assessments. In my most recent poetry controlled assessment, I was totally enjoying writing a paragraph on Miss Havisham, from the poem Havisham, and how she is so innocent and how that contrasts with the speaker in The Laboratory and then ran out of time - *angry* !

I don't think my writing style and grammar is bad, nor is my vocabulary, so writing out expressions in a sophisticated way shouldn't possess too much of a problem. I'm more of an English Language person, as I enjoy writing, but my school doesn't offer it, so I've had to go with Literature.

Well, they are all very good subjects. What books have you studied during the course so-far?

Poetry is my favourite part of Literature. I find analysing poetry so much easier than analysing novels. I've read quite a few Shakespeare plays, but I agree: Twelfth Night is very complicated; but that's what makes it interesting! Great Expectations wasn't for me - the BBC film was good, but the book didn't captivate me in the same way Animal Farm did when I first read it, or Frankenstein - which I have now read and I must say that it was brilliant! Hmm...I like a challenging book, so I might try Hard Times, but I have yet to read your previous recommendations.

Ah thank you, again! You've been very helpful! Thanks


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Well English is a subjective subject - there is no right a wrong, that's why it's such a hard subject to mark. There's obviously a march scheme that goes with every c/w, CA and exam paper but it just differs. That exam marker might have been inexperienced or something. It rarely happens, so don't let that put you off from studying English. Well CA replaced c/w so that re-drafting wouldn't happen because of the inflation of grades. It's acceptable to do a practice CA but not to re-draft the whole thing multiple times. It's unfair to those who actually play by the rules! It's not your fault, but those are the rules of the CA.

Well there you go, perhaps one of your flaws is writing too much and trust me at A-level, you have got to cut that habit out! A lot of students have loads to say, but you haven't got that luxury at A-level. You've got to make every minute count. So now you know - it would be beneficial for you to practise timed essays for your examination for English Lit when it's nearer the time. For A-level, you will have loads to say, but picking out the most interesting and useful points is harder under timed conditions!

You should have said something like "it should not hinder my progression". So your sentence would be considered 'clumsy'. The joys of taking both English A-levels! Comes in handy so many times - it's great! I would have said the same thing a year a go, but after taking up both English A-levels, I much prefer Literature and plan to take that at uni!

My AS, we did WW1 Literature so we studied Birdsong, Not About Heroes, Journey's End for coursework. The exam texts were Regeneration and the Oxford Book of War Poetry for the poetry section. For my wider reading, I picked All Quiet on the Western Front, The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road. Alongside Brothers in War (a series of letters from one family) and just general poems from WW1. For A2, we've studied Enduring Love and when we go back we will be studying Wuthering Heights and Othello (which I've already read).

If you like poetry and want a challenging text, try Paradise Lost by John Miltion, 17th century epic poem!! Also Dracula which I have just completed is said to be a challenging book! Paradise Lost and Dracula are to only be studied at undergraduate level, but then again so can any Shakespeare play! So try it if you want a real challenge!
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(Original post by Cool_JordH)
Well English is a subjective subject - there is no right a wrong, that's why it's such a hard subject to mark. There's obviously a march scheme that goes with every c/w, CA and exam paper but it just differs. That exam marker might have been inexperienced or something. It rarely happens, so don't let that put you off from studying English. Well CA replaced c/w so that re-drafting wouldn't happen because of the inflation of grades. It's acceptable to do a practice CA but not to re-draft the whole thing multiple times. It's unfair to those who actually play by the rules! It's not your fault, but those are the rules of the CA.

Well there you go, perhaps one of your flaws is writing too much and trust me at A-level, you have got to cut that habit out! A lot of students have loads to say, but you haven't got that luxury at A-level. You've got to make every minute count. So now you know - it would be beneficial for you to practise timed essays for your examination for English Lit when it's nearer the time. For A-level, you will have loads to say, but picking out the most interesting and useful points is harder under timed conditions!

You should have said something like "it should not hinder my progression". So your sentence would be considered 'clumsy'. The joys of taking both English A-levels! Comes in handy so many times - it's great! I would have said the same thing a year a go, but after taking up both English A-levels, I much prefer Literature and plan to take that at uni!

My AS, we did WW1 Literature so we studied Birdsong, Not About Heroes, Journey's End for coursework. The exam texts were Regeneration and the Oxford Book of War Poetry for the poetry section. For my wider reading, I picked All Quiet on the Western Front, The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road. Alongside Brothers in War (a series of letters from one family) and just general poems from WW1. For A2, we've studied Enduring Love and when we go back we will be studying Wuthering Heights and Othello (which I've already read).

If you like poetry and want a challenging text, try Paradise Lost by John Miltion, 17th century epic poem!! Also Dracula which I have just completed is said to be a challenging book! Paradise Lost and Dracula are to only be studied at undergraduate level, but then again so can any Shakespeare play! So try it if you want a real challenge!
Wow, once again, this has been really informative and useful advice, so thanks!


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Ah fair enough

Agreed! And yeah, from what I've heard it's not that enjoyable, but I guess I'd have to read it to judge it! Yeah I'm sure you'll love it

I'm loving Frankenstein so far, my exam paper is based on Gothic literature, so we have to know a fair bit about Gothic architecture and other aspects such as the supernatural, which is fascinating too. Well for my coursework, I had to do answer two questions on two plays within the comic genre: Educating Rita and A Midsummer Night's Dream. They're both marked out of 30 and a combined mark out of 60 is made. I think it's about 50 for an A. For a mark in the top band, they base it off this:

AO1
Use of appropriate critical vocabulary and technically fluent style/ well structured and coherent argument always relevant with very sharp focus on task and confidently ranging around texts.

AO2
Exploration and analysis of key features of form and structure with perceptive evaluation of how they shape meanings.
Exploration and analysis of key aspects of language with perceptive evaluation of how they shape meanings.

AO3
Detailed and perceptive understanding of issues raised in connecting texts through concept of comedy.
Perceptive consideration of different interpretations of texts with sharp evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses and with excellent selection of supportive references.

AO4
Excellent understanding of ways of contextualising ‘comedy’ as a dramatic genre.
Excellent understanding of a range of other relevant contextual factors with specific, detailed links between context/texts/task.

I think the main aim was to depict and explore various ideas, convey them in an intellectual and unique way, show that you understand the genre. So for example, in my coursework, we had to link to aspects of comedy through the ideas of Aristotle, relate aspects of comedy to real life etc. I guess 'sophistication' is quite important, precision in your answer is important. I don't know about you, but I waffle on quite a bit because I love using 'flowery language', sadly I've had to learn to be more precise in my answers Examiners love unique ideas, exploring areas others may not think of doing, creating links between texts.

Yeah that's probably a good idea then. Although I do History too, English Literature was great, it was so refreshing from my two sciences, and it's a great subject to do along sciences because of the fact it's not as heavy as other essay subjects such as history.

Sadly I messed up my exam and so I'm dreading my result haha It should have been my strongest result as it's the subject I find easiest, but you'll do great if you love it! And you're very welcome
Omg you did the exact same coursework as me!! :beer:
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Omg you did the exact same coursework as me!! :beer:
Go us
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