AQA A-Level English Literature Study Questions

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Ellie96
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Hey, So, I'm redoing my A-levels due to rubbish grades (for medical reasons blah blah) the first time round. More specifically AS/A2 Eng Lit (and French but that's not too relevant right now). However, the first time I did them was a few years ago so revising is a bit more difficult than it was then. I am aiming for 75 at least in both exams (which I'm hoping to get considering I'm on track for a first at degree level-- eek!) so I need all the help I can get. So, a few questions.

1.Is it necessary to include the opinions of critics and literary theories?

(Not sure if this would come under context?) I vaguely remember it being important to mention cultural things such as Marxism (maybe more literature in relation to their social institutions of origin), relevant movements and things like that but I mean more say 'Écriture Féminine' (Feminine Writing) theory by Cixous or Barthes' 'Death of the Author', Brecht, Structuralism etc. etc.

2. In relation to the question above and context, how relevant is that towards the set text? (AS)

So, I'm writing about Feminine Gospels, however, I can apply literary theory to that fairly easily. Is it worth it? Will that gain or lose me marks?

3. How necessary is analysing at 'word level' and how much emphasis should be put on this?

I always thought it extremely necessary but any essay examples I have read that get A/A* tend to be a bit more general in their analysis...

4. How crucial is the inclusion of technical terms?

Allegory, alliterations etc. etc.

I think that's about it.. Any other tips would be helpful and much appreciated!
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Syndron
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(Original post by Ellie96)
Hey, So, I'm redoing my A-levels due to rubbish grades (for medical reasons blah blah) the first time round. More specifically AS/A2 Eng Lit (and French but that's not too relevant right now). However, the first time I did them was a few years ago so revising is a bit more difficult than it was then. I am aiming for 75 at least in both exams (which I'm hoping to get considering I'm on track for a first at degree level-- eek!) so I need all the help I can get. So, a few questions.

1.Is it necessary to include the opinions of critics and literary theories?

(Not sure if this would come under context?) I vaguely remember it being important to mention cultural things such as Marxism (maybe more literature in relation to their social institutions of origin), relevant movements and things like that but I mean more say 'Écriture Féminine' (Feminine Writing) theory by Cixous or Barthes' 'Death of the Author', Brecht, Structuralism etc. etc.

2. In relation to the question above and context, how relevant is that towards the set text? (AS)

So, I'm writing about Feminine Gospels, however, I can apply literary theory to that fairly easily. Is it worth it? Will that gain or lose me marks?

3. How necessary is analysing at 'word level' and how much emphasis should be put on this?

I always thought it extremely necessary but any essay examples I have read that get A/A* tend to be a bit more general in their analysis...

4. How crucial is the inclusion of technical terms?

Allegory, alliterations etc. etc.

I think that's about it.. Any other tips would be helpful and much appreciated!
Before anything, I would suggest looking at the AOs (Assessment Objectives) so you know what you have to aim for.

1. In my opinion, literary theories is necessary because it is linked to context and you'll have more to say and compare with the other texts. My teachers have told me to include critics in my own writing, but normally it's just one or two because the critics I included, they will be linked to the literary theory that I have mentioned. Remember that whatever critic/theory you include, it should be linked back to the question, therefore, you'll gain more marks.

2. You will lose marks if it is irrelevant. Feminine Gospels, I don't really focus on theory so I am unsure. (sorry )

3. For language analysis, I put more emphasis on it if there is a different interpretation that I can pick out of it which will help me answer the question or link it to my next point. If it is general, then it's more or less narrative so I don't bother trying. AO2 focuses on language, form and structure and it is important to do textual or structural analysis in your exam so if you pick out a quote and it's quite general, don't pick it.

4. You need technical terms (AO2) to argue the effect of said device and what the author is trying to show, so it is crucial imo.
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zakkaz
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Expect typos I'm not the best typer, and I'm a terrible proof reader .

1.Is it necessary to include the opinions of critics and literary theories?

This would count as AO3 and is what pushes students from Bs and C into A and A* territories (band 6). It is not enough to name drop, you have to understand what the critic is saying and use that opinion to support the argument you are making. How and why is it relevant to your argument?

2. In relation to the question above and context, how relevant is that towards the set text? (AS)

To achieve the best grades you need to address all of the AOs but that doesn't mean you put more weight into on than another and this is the case for AO4. The thrust of you argument would be AO2, with support of AO3. AO4 is important, but it won't carry your essay. English is positively marked, so you won't lose marks if you're AO4 is irrelevant but it does make your argument weaker, like AO3 if you put in contextual information make sure the reader knows why this is important and relevant. Most of the time AO4 is relevant to the point a student is trying to make, but they tend to assume the reader knows why and that's what stops them from achieve those higher bands. All quotes, primary or secondary, are used as evidence, make it clear this evidence supporting you argument.

3. How necessary is analysing at 'word level' and how much emphasis should be put on this?

This comes down to AO2. Remember AO2 is Form, Structure and Language. Often, students are good at language analysis, but lose marks by not offering structural analysis. This is is because structural analysis tends to be a bit harder. Look at the foundations of the text. How is setting used,? How is time used - is it elongated, shortened? What role does order and frequency play in the text? How does the beginning function? Etc You need to then bring these ideas back into your argument. For example for an essay on Violence in Wuthering Heights you may argue that the setting nuances the idea that violence simply genetic or environmental.

4. How crucial is the inclusion of technical terms?

At A-Level you are expected to know what metaphors, similes, alliteration, etc are. These are vital in getting those AO2 language marks, but do you have to know what a homodiegetic narrator is? Absolutely not.

It's good to know technical terms but it is not necessary. In fact using a term wrong could disrupt the flow of your argument. Often students get carried away with flowery language and literary terms and it makes the essay harder to read. Stick to making clear and concise arguments and use a technical terms when you know you're using them right.
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Ellie96
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Thank you both for your very helpful responses! You've given me a lot to think about!
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