How to get an A* in English Literature and Language?

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musicangel
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Hi!

I was wondering what do I need to include to get an A* in English Literature essays and Language (I usually get an A)? Any advice would be really appreciated!

Please help!!
Thanks
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A*/100% Man
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Is this for GCSE?
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musicangel
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(Original post by A*/100% Man)
Is this for GCSE?
I am doing IGCSE CIE
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Emilyros
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Your question is a little vague but I'm studying IGCSE English at present so I guess I can help a little. Exam technique is key and although it sounds cliché, your literary skills will come with time so do as many literature and language papers. Read the newspaper and annotate it. If you run out of past papers, make your own exam questions. The difference between A and A* tends to be the really perceptive points so in your essays, look at the text you see in front of you; write the simple points, then think deeply about why the word has been used, the connotations of it various literary techniques that have been employed and always analyse with PQE/PQA et cetera. Make sure you don't worry yourself over English as it will come naturally as it finally has with me! This may sound boring to you but read the dictionary, the thesaurus... to learn new words as really advanced vocabulary makes you stand pout from the A/B candidates. Ask your teacher for advice and go to English clinic, if you have clinics at your school. I can be more specific if you are to but I really hope I have helped, Emily
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Emilyros
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And also, remember to paragraph! Unlike I did!
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musicangel
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(Original post by Emilyros)
Your question is a little vague but I'm studying IGCSE English at present so I guess I can help a little. Exam technique is key and although it sounds cliché, your literary skills will come with time so do as many literature and language papers. Read the newspaper and annotate it. If you run out of past papers, make your own exam questions. The difference between A and A* tends to be the really perceptive points so in your essays, look at the text you see in front of you; write the simple points, then think deeply about why the word has been used, the connotations of it various literary techniques that have been employed and always analyse with PQE/PQA et cetera. Make sure you don't worry yourself over English as it will come naturally as it finally has with me! This may sound boring to you but read the dictionary, the thesaurus... to learn new words as really advanced vocabulary makes you stand pout from the A/B candidates. Ask your teacher for advice and go to English clinic, if you have clinics at your school. I can be more specific if you are to but I really hope I have helped, Emily
Thank you so much for all of your help and advice! I really appreciate it.

Apologies for not being more specific. In essays, should I talk about why the author used a specific technique/idea and what effect this would have? With the novel/play, do I need to include anything from critics as I am not sure how I would do it?
Also, with exam technique, is there anything I should specifically include?

With a PQE paragraph, how many quotes should I include and how many paragraphs should I write in an essay (generally)?

Sorry for all of the questions!
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Emilyros
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(Original post by musicangel)
Thank you so much for all of your help and advice! I really appreciate it.

Apologies for not being more specific. In essays, should I talk about why the author used a specific technique/idea and what effect this would have? With the novel/play, do I need to include anything from critics as I am not sure how I would do it?
Also, with exam technique, is there anything I should specifically include?

With a PQE paragraph, how many quotes should I include and how many paragraphs should I write in an essay (generally)?

Sorry for all of the questions!
Hi, don't worry about it! Well in answer to your first point, I would say yes, really zoning into the author's intentions and how this affects the reader, looking at the part of the book/play/novella etc the event happens and if the event has been foreshadowed, for example.

Where you have 25 minutes for an essay, I would write an introduction and then you should fit at least 3/4 points in that time. However, be concise and don't rush these points. Think; quality not quantity although obviously you wont do well if you write an introduction then just one or two points. There are sample essays on the internet so you can type the title of whatever you are studying and then sample essays and you could find a few.

I'm not doing the same GCSE as you are and we don't refer to critics comments so I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that.
I have quite a good advanced version of PQE my teacher taught me concerning quotation development...
-Introduce observation. Eloquent, concise language and well-chosen vocabulary.
-Introduce quotation. Embed the quotation in a grammatically correct sentence.
-General explanation. Initial observations: give your opinion rather than describe what happens. Key concepts such as ambivalence, irony or comedy may be mentioned.
-Analysis of crucial words. Word-level scrutiny. Analyse connotations and impact very closely. Consider why this particular word applies what it reveals. Close detail to what has been established above.
-Link analysis to ideas; insight. Hard to do: new ideas should emerge following the words you analysed. There should be a new or revised reading of the character or issue.
-Refer to authorial intention. Every detail is designed to influence or affect us. top candidates are perceptive enough to spot the significance of small details. techniques may have been used, which operate separately to the words used.

I find that format helps me to keep in a good essay structure and not loose focus. If you do 3/4 or even 5 of those for each idea, then you should do well.
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Kaiylar
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(Original post by Emilyros)
Hi, don't worry about it! Well in answer to your first point, I would say yes, really zoning into the author's intentions and how this affects the reader, looking at the part of the book/play/novella etc the event happens and if the event has been foreshadowed, for example.

Where you have 25 minutes for an essay, I would write an introduction and then you should fit at least 3/4 points in that time. However, be concise and don't rush these points. Think; quality not quantity although obviously you wont do well if you write an introduction then just one or two points. There are sample essays on the internet so you can type the title of whatever you are studying and then sample essays and you could find a few.

I'm not doing the same GCSE as you are and we don't refer to critics comments so I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that.
I have quite a good advanced version of PQE my teacher taught me concerning quotation development...
-Introduce observation. Eloquent, concise language and well-chosen vocabulary.
-Introduce quotation. Embed the quotation in a grammatically correct sentence.
-General explanation. Initial observations: give your opinion rather than describe what happens. Key concepts such as ambivalence, irony or comedy may be mentioned.
-Analysis of crucial words. Word-level scrutiny. Analyse connotations and impact very closely. Consider why this particular word applies what it reveals. Close detail to what has been established above.
-Link analysis to ideas; insight. Hard to do: new ideas should emerge following the words you analysed. There should be a new or revised reading of the character or issue.
-Refer to authorial intention. Every detail is designed to influence or affect us. top candidates are perceptive enough to spot the significance of small details. techniques may have been used, which operate separately to the words used.

I find that format helps me to keep in a good essay structure and not loose focus. If you do 3/4 or even 5 of those for each idea, then you should do well.
Hi, I'm currently studying English GCSE (Lit and Lang) under WJEC and I find your post very helpful. However, do you think you could possibly give an example PQE which follows the format above? If you could do that I'd greatly appreciate it, as it would help me fully understand things I am still unsure about.

Also, should I use this format for all of English (Lang and Lit)?

Thank you.
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♥Samantha♥
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for english lit: have quotations and ideas prepared for every character (especially characters which haven't which haven't come up yet) and theme. that way, no matter what they throw at you, you will have at least 1 sophisticated idea and then you can make up the rest.

for english lang i went in there blind i didn't have a plan or know tf what i was doing. we hadn't even done a practice of some questions... idk how i got an A* i literally skipped a question.
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Coollad1999
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Ask your teacher if they have copies of any A* work from last year's students- they usually do. If not, search the Internet and ask other TSR people (not me because I didn't do IGCSE, I did a normal GCSE in English Lang and lit) if they have any examples. Or search google.

Anyway, when you look through a piece of work, compare it to the mark scheme and observe how they managed to convey everything that the mark scheme asked them to do.

In an English exam, it's always a bit about luck. Different examiners mark more/less harshly and this will impact your grade. I guess I was lucky last year because i got A* in both English Lang and lit although I have no idea how.
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suirrel
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I got an A* on my coursework for English GCSE (WJEC) and an A overall -- hope this helps.

Read a lot of different kinds of material -- this will really help your writing fluency and understand different contexts more.

Context. Where did something happen, when, who was it, how were they affected by their environments?

Read between the lines. Even if the author didn't say something happened, use clues from context to make your own interpretation of how an event unfurled. Remember that even though a book may be in 3rd person, it still may be from the point of view of one character, and therefore may be biased. What could this bias have left out or thought unimportant, which was important to another character?

Grammar. You must, without fail, use correct grammar and maintain a formal style. Prove to the examiner that you can use all appropriate punctuation correctly.

Layout. I'm sure you do this already but it's very important for fluency. Change how you order your paragraphs. Don't stick to PEE. Why not EPE? Why not PEEL? Why not PEE(EE)? Show the examiner how confident you are with the English language.

Hope this all helps!
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A*/100% Man
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In fact, everybody who has responded to you has given sound and valuable points, all imperative in obtaining an A*. To expand on this, however, I would argue that you should attempt to use a structure that is slightly more sophisticated than a PEA/PQA paragraphs to give your more perceptive and analytical responses. Instead, I would try and use something like PEEAL, including two comparative quotations in the longer questions: the second ‘E’ in the aforementioned structure stands for explain, with the ‘A’ and ‘L’ denoting analysis and link respectively. In including these two components, it pushes you into the top of the A* criteria, demonstrating a deeper understanding of the subject material, and more developed analyses. By including links, it shows that you understand the whole text or article; this, in addition to your analysis which explores precise words or phrases, is indicative of higher order responses. If you follow this, while also including the prior points mentioned by other users, you should be suitably equipped to get an A*. Good luck, I am sure that you will succeed.
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musicangel
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(Original post by Emilyros)
Hi, don't worry about it! Well in answer to your first point, I would say yes, really zoning into the author's intentions and how this affects the reader, looking at the part of the book/play/novella etc the event happens and if the event has been foreshadowed, for example.

Where you have 25 minutes for an essay, I would write an introduction and then you should fit at least 3/4 points in that time. However, be concise and don't rush these points. Think; quality not quantity although obviously you wont do well if you write an introduction then just one or two points. There are sample essays on the internet so you can type the title of whatever you are studying and then sample essays and you could find a few.

I'm not doing the same GCSE as you are and we don't refer to critics comments so I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that.
I have quite a good advanced version of PQE my teacher taught me concerning quotation development...
-Introduce observation. Eloquent, concise language and well-chosen vocabulary.
-Introduce quotation. Embed the quotation in a grammatically correct sentence.
-General explanation. Initial observations: give your opinion rather than describe what happens. Key concepts such as ambivalence, irony or comedy may be mentioned.
-Analysis of crucial words. Word-level scrutiny. Analyse connotations and impact very closely. Consider why this particular word applies what it reveals. Close detail to what has been established above.
-Link analysis to ideas; insight. Hard to do: new ideas should emerge following the words you analysed. There should be a new or revised reading of the character or issue.
-Refer to authorial intention. Every detail is designed to influence or affect us. top candidates are perceptive enough to spot the significance of small details. techniques may have been used, which operate separately to the words used.

I find that format helps me to keep in a good essay structure and not loose focus. If you do 3/4 or even 5 of those for each idea, then you should do well.

Thank you so much for this - it is really helpful!
For 'Link analysis to ideas', how would this be different to the analysis of crucial words? Are they larger, more general ideas about themes etc?

Generally, how many quotations should I include in one paragraph and do I only make one point per paragraph?

With the introduction and conclusion, what are you supposed to write because I find myself just listing the points that I have or will make? Also, how can I make the introduction and conclusion different?

Thank you!!
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musicangel
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(Original post by ♥Samantha♥)
for english lit: have quotations and ideas prepared for every character (especially characters which haven't which haven't come up yet) and theme. that way, no matter what they throw at you, you will have at least 1 sophisticated idea and then you can make up the rest.

for english lang i went in there blind i didn't have a plan or know tf what i was doing. we hadn't even done a practice of some questions... idk how i got an A* i literally skipped a question.
Thank you so much!
With the quotations, how many do you suggest per theme and per character?
For Northanger Abbey (closed book), there are about 10 themes and 9/10 characters and for All My Sons (open book), there are about 9 themes and 7 main characters.
Do you think it would be best to have quotations that showed the progression of the characters throughout the novel/play?
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musicangel
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(Original post by Coollad1999)
Ask your teacher if they have copies of any A* work from last year's students- they usually do. If not, search the Internet and ask other TSR people (not me because I didn't do IGCSE, I did a normal GCSE in English Lang and lit) if they have any examples. Or search google.

Anyway, when you look through a piece of work, compare it to the mark scheme and observe how they managed to convey everything that the mark scheme asked them to do.

In an English exam, it's always a bit about luck. Different examiners mark more/less harshly and this will impact your grade. I guess I was lucky last year because i got A* in both English Lang and lit although I have no idea how.
Thank you for your advice - I definitely will do!
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musicangel
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(Original post by suirrel)
I got an A* on my coursework for English GCSE (WJEC) and an A overall -- hope this helps.

Read a lot of different kinds of material -- this will really help your writing fluency and understand different contexts more.

Context. Where did something happen, when, who was it, how were they affected by their environments?

Read between the lines. Even if the author didn't say something happened, use clues from context to make your own interpretation of how an event unfurled. Remember that even though a book may be in 3rd person, it still may be from the point of view of one character, and therefore may be biased. What could this bias have left out or thought unimportant, which was important to another character?

Grammar. You must, without fail, use correct grammar and maintain a formal style. Prove to the examiner that you can use all appropriate punctuation correctly.

Layout. I'm sure you do this already but it's very important for fluency. Change how you order your paragraphs. Don't stick to PEE. Why not EPE? Why not PEEL? Why not PEE(EE)? Show the examiner how confident you are with the English language.

Hope this all helps!
Thank you so much for this!

With quotations, should I always talk about the context and how it links to a certain idea?
In PEEL, would I link the point back to the question or the quote/evidence to the point?
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musicangel
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(Original post by A*/100% Man)
In fact, everybody who has responded to you has given sound and valuable points, all imperative in obtaining an A*. To expand on this, however, I would argue that you should attempt to use a structure that is slightly more sophisticated than a PEA/PQA paragraphs to give your more perceptive and analytical responses. Instead, I would try and use something like PEEAL, including two comparative quotations in the longer questions: the second ‘E’ in the aforementioned structure stands for explain, with the ‘A’ and ‘L’ denoting analysis and link respectively. In including these two components, it pushes you into the top of the A* criteria, demonstrating a deeper understanding of the subject material, and more developed analyses. By including links, it shows that you understand the whole text or article; this, in addition to your analysis which explores precise words or phrases, is indicative of higher order responses. If you follow this, while also including the prior points mentioned by other users, you should be suitably equipped to get an A*. Good luck, I am sure that you will succeed.
This is very helpful - thank you so much! I really appreciate this.
When you said including two comparative quotations in the longer questions, would that be doing the explanation, analysis and link for one quotation and then the other or would I have two quotations and explain them at the same time?
Would something like an event being foreshadowed be a link to a different part of the text or does it need to restate/link to the point?
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suirrel
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(Original post by musicangel)
Thank you so much for this!

With quotations, should I always talk about the context and how it links to a certain idea?
In PEEL, would I link the point back to the question or the quote/evidence to the point?
I'm not sure what you mean -- your quotes/evidence should always be linking back to the initial question.
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