How to answer AS level literature questions? Watch

Laura2712
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#1
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Hi!

I am studying AS level English Literature on AQA spec A. I understand the texts and analysis so far however I am really struggling to answer the exam questions. I was wondering if TSR could give me some tips on what to include in my essays.

I have looked at the A.O.s and know that you need to include:
language analysis
structure
different interpretations of audiences
and that you have to look at the play as a whole
but I am really struggling. It's like I know what I need to do but I can';t do it. Does that make sense? Like when I get given an exam question, my mind just fails to come up with anything to put. I know this will get better, the better I know the text but I just wanted a few key pointers really on what I have to do to get the higher grades and if there is, maybe, a generic essay plan that anyone could give me?

I am studying: A Woman of No Importance, Beowulf and Spies if anyone is prepared to give text-specific help...

Thank you for any assistance in advance!

:tsr2:
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02mik_e
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yh i know what you mean, i had this problem and i am only beginning to develop my writing into A-grade style. Just look at sample A-grade essays and see how they do it.
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icedsarcasm
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Plan! I know loads of people don't plan at GCSE because they think it's a waste of time (I was one of those people), but you really do get marks for organisation and structure at A Level, so it's important that you make the time to plan your answer.

Also remember that while at GCSE it was mostly about getting everything you possibly could about the text into your answer, at AS they are much more interested in your analysis. You don't have to cover everything - for a lot of questions you simply won't have time in a 60 minute exam! Focus on about 4 'topic areas' relevant to the question that you want to explore, and then write about them in a lot of detail. That will get you far more marks then just listing every relevant point without depth of analysis.

From what my teacher has said, and what me & friends have found, the hardest box to check is AO3 which is the language analysis, because you have to do a lot more of it than you think. You need to use quote you can really pick apart and analyse, as well as talking in broader terms about imagery. I can give you some examples of this from my Spies notes if you'd like (I did the exam last week), but I'm not studying the other texts!

Hope that was in some way helpful? Good luck
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02mik_e
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(Original post by icedsarcasm)
Plan! I know loads of people don't plan at GCSE because they think it's a waste of time (I was one of those people), but you really do get marks for organisation and structure at A Level, so it's important that you make the time to plan your answer.

Also remember that while at GCSE it was mostly about getting everything you possibly could about the text into your answer, at AS they are much more interested in your analysis. You don't have to cover everything - for a lot of questions you simply won't have time in a 60 minute exam! Focus on about 4 'topic areas' relevant to the question that you want to explore, and then write about them in a lot of detail. That will get you far more marks then just listing every relevant point without depth of analysis.

From what my teacher has said, and what me & friends have found, the hardest box to check is AO3 which is the language analysis, because you have to do a lot more of it than you think. You need to use quote you can really pick apart and analyse, as well as talking in broader terms about imagery. I can give you some examples of this from my Spies notes if you'd like (I did the exam last week), but I'm not studying the other texts!

Hope that was in some way helpful? Good luck
could you give me an example please? because i am in the same predicament as the OP
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icedsarcasm
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Ok, say for example you chose the quote "like an ogre in his cave" in an essay about Mr Hayward. It's not enough to just say that it shows Steven's scared of him - that's content, not analysis. So you'd say that, but you'd go on to talk about the language in depth, so you might say: "This quote uses the fairytale imagery of an ogre, which is indicative of Steven's childish perspective of the world. An ogre is a typical fairytale monster who is invariably a scary character, and the quote shows that Mr Hayward, too, is someone Steven feels people are automatically scared of. Frayn's image also suggests that Mr Hayward's garage is his domain, as a cave is an ogre's". In the same essay about Mr Hayward, you might mention that he uses the phrase "old bean" - so you could talk about the sadistic way in which he uses seemingly polite language to dominate the children.
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Laura2712
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Thanks guys, erm has anyone got a few essays on some of the texts I'm doing that they could pm me with a grade on them if possible because I really need to read some to get an idea of the format, and the style and the way of thinking etc. Thanks!
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02mik_e
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http://www.study-spies.co.nr/ Spies essays by previous students. It's really good.
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butterfly_girl_5
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i like this explanation of how to write a paragraph:

- come up with 3/4 statements that sum up your argument, make each one the intro sentence of a paragraph and then spend the rest of the paragraph explaining the point.

also:
use quotes when you have to back up a point- not a formula
pick out particular literary techniques that best demonstrate your point and analyse one (this counts as 'close reading') I found Byron's satirical poems best suited to this one

when you get given an exam question- pick it apart- think carefully about each individual word, and pay close attention to the question word (eg what is the content, how is the technique or 'method' - this is a common stumbling block)

I find reading literary criticism really helps- even if you can barely understand what theyre saying- bc i still have the same huge problem that youre talking about- my mind just goes blank and i think 'what could i possibly say about that??' so reading a few thing people who really no what their talking about have said can really help- also the kind of words they used. ideally, try to think hard about what theyre trying to say and think about what you think about what they think. (eg- 'romeo & juliet is about archetypal love that transcends time and space' for Jekyll and Hyde/heart of darkness: atavistic, for Byron: malapropism, anaphora)

I dont mean a-level study guides- they dont help in that way- I like cambridge companions
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