I need help... So in all my English Literature (Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, AIC, Poems and Macbeth) I NEVER get above 20 marks no matter how hard I try (the highest I got was 18 marks). Is there any tips you guys could share that will enable me to get more than 20 marks?
English Lit advice:
1. Make sure you’ve fully read through Macbeth and understand the key characters and events/plot. This is common sense but there are some difficult/irrelevant scenes (such as the Ross/Old Man scene and the Macduff/Malcolm scene) so ensure you have at least a vague idea of what’s happening in each scene.
2. Learn quotes for specific characters and themes separately - if a question requires both a theme and character you should already have covered it by doing theme and characters separately. If you haven’t, grade boundaries will be pretty low if it’s that difficult. Try and aim for 6-10 quotes for the main characters and main themes; I recommend Mr Bruff, Mr Salles and Stacey Reay videos to help with higher level quote analysis.
3. Pick the hardest scenes, or the scenes you like the least, then pick the biggest theme/character and invent your own question, and plan a response. If you have a go at devising your own questions and thinking like an examiner it will help you to appreciate the bigger themes and threads in the play.
4. Try and read through the play as many times as you can. Try and read even just a chapter a night - if you can try and absorb as much as possible, hopefully you’ll subconsciously memorise more quotes than you think.
So for poems, I made a condensed page of notes (just a single A4 side) on every poem. I’d put top level analysis (Mr Bruff is good for structure analysis and Stacey Reay is good for language analysis), plus contextual points. I’d try and analyse at least 5-6 quotes for each poem minimum, and I’d also make a note of bigger themes and symbolism so it was easier to see links between poems. Then I just kept reading through the notes a few times, and did lots of practice essays to think about which poems compare well.
General essay advice (English & History):
1. Be concise! In both Englishes and in History, quality is more important than quantity! For longer essays it’s vital to plan for a few minutes and have a clear, logical structure. For English Lit I used to do three points (in each point there’d be quotes from an extract than a link to elsewhere, or references to two contrasting characters) and usually two would be language points and one may be a more structure based point (especially for poetry essays). For History, I usually did three clear points that were different and used statistics and specific evidence/references to back them up.
2. As I’ve just touched on - use evidence! For English Lit this is quotes, for History dates, names, quotes or references to specific events. You can’t get a grade 7-9 without using lots of evidence in your answers as this shows factual knowledge and is also helpful in focussing your answers.
3. It’s good practice to have an introduction and conclusion, with the introduction outlining your main point/argument or eg to what extent you agree with the question. For English Lit essays introductions should be a small paragraph (3-4 lines) and include context; History introductions just need to be 1-2 sentences for the longer essays. Both English and History require more detailed conclusions though - ideally a good 5-6 lines.