AQA A Level English Literature: How to write a A grade essay?

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thepink
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Hi there everyone!

I have struggled for a long time structuring my essays in order to build a coherent argument. Usually, this is a mix of not having time, panic and overthinking and over complicating my points.

I was wondering if anyone doing a level AQA English literature had any tips for writing a band 5 essay? or an in depth how to on structuring one?

Also, if you don't finish your essay in the exam but started off really well can you still get an A?

I have written quite a few decent essays but whenever I placed in timed conditions I can never seem to perform the same way, I think if I see a structure it should help.
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yazrosex
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(Original post by thepink)
Hi there everyone!

I have struggled for a long time structuring my essays in order to build a coherent argument. Usually, this is a mix of not having time, panic and overthinking and over complicating my points.

I was wondering if anyone doing a level AQA English literature had any tips for writing a band 5 essay? or an in depth how to on structuring one?

Also, if you don't finish your essay in the exam but started off really well can you still get an A?

I have written quite a few decent essays but whenever I placed in timed conditions I can never seem to perform the same way, I think if I see a structure it should help.
I’m not a* student but always critique the critic quotes you find. Argue with them and use evidence within the text.
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giella
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Which questions are you talking about? And top tip in general: examiners are not interested in critics’ quotes. There is no specific requirement to include them.
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thepink
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(Original post by giella)
Which questions are you talking about? And top tip in general: examiners are not interested in critics’ quotes. There is no specific requirement to include them.
That's interesting! Thank you, I usually put in a critic if it will enhance my.point other wise I refrain from putting it in.

I think I was talking in general how do you structure an essay well for prose, drama and poetry to get the top band if that makes sense
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giella
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Okay.

For your Shakespeare paper you are given a critical perspective to consider and build upon.

For instance, “in Othello, men control women” In light of this view consider how Shakespeare presents Male attitudes toward women.

You can always start by considering if the view you have been given provides any explanation of these attitudes. You could argue that this is valid to the extent that all the women in the play are eventually obliged to submit to the will of men. You could then present examples from both the extract you are given and from elsewhere that evidence this point.

However, you could also argue that this view is an incomplete explanation of male attitudes toward women. Whilst it provides an explanation of women’s fates at the hands of men, it does not reflect the initial attitudes of Othello and Cassio at the very least, whose attitudes are generally such that they actively prefer their female partners as exactly that: partners. You again would find evidence from both the extract and the rest of the play that supports this point.

Arguably, you could say that, in the end, one person controls all people in the play: Iago, and that he inspires a regressive attitude which sees a man turn upon his wife. Interestingly, Iago does not actually set out to manipulate Desdemona or Bianca directly, for the most part, but focuses on the men themselves, replicating the controlling relationship he has with his own wife. In this sense, Shakespeare demonstrates that misogyny is an infectious and homogenising concept, not a universal norm.

I’m not saying this is the only answer you could give but the structure is what I’d say you needed to attend to. Each point feeds the one that comes after it, using the critical view in the question as a lens through which to explore the relationships in the play. The different interpretations that allow you to tap AO5 come from your turning the critical view around and viewing it from different angles, finding its natural limitations and points of illumination. Doing this in a logical and reasoned pattern enables your AO1 which in turn guides your AO2 and AO3.

You don’t need to remember hundreds of quotes to support your AO2. You get given a passage that enables you to discuss language in detail whilst you use your objective knowledge of the play’s structure and events and characters to provide further weight to your points. Likewise, the AO3 comes from your recognition of the pragmatic features of the interactions and conversations between characters, not from jamming in unnecessary historical context.

Your AO4 is perhaps the most challenging one but it should be informed by your reading of a number of other texts for this paper. You should have an understanding of the diverse representations of love and relationships and how they are not necessarily timelocked. Just by handling the relationships in the play and considering them in terms of their typicality or progressiveness you are engaging with the historicist perspective. You’re not obliged to say that all seventeenth century people thought or believed specific things or jam in unnecessary historical information. It’s a bit more subtle than that. But you don’t need to overthink it. You’ll probably be doing it naturally if you focus on the other assessment objectives.

Please ask if you want anything clarified.
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thepink
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(Original post by giella)
Okay.

For your Shakespeare paper you are given a critical perspective to consider and build upon.

For instance, “in Othello, men control women” In light of this view consider how Shakespeare presents Male attitudes toward women.

You can always start by considering if the view you have been given provides any explanation of these attitudes. You could argue that this is valid to the extent that all the women in the play are eventually obliged to submit to the will of men. You could then present examples from both the extract you are given and from elsewhere that evidence this point.

However, you could also argue that this view is an incomplete explanation of male attitudes toward women. Whilst it provides an explanation of women’s fates at the hands of men, it does not reflect the initial attitudes of Othello and Cassio at the very least, whose attitudes are generally such that they actively prefer their female partners as exactly that: partners. You again would find evidence from both the extract and the rest of the play that supports this point.

Arguably, you could say that, in the end, one person controls all people in the play: Iago, and that he inspires a regressive attitude which sees a man turn upon his wife. Interestingly, Iago does not actually set out to manipulate Desdemona or Bianca directly, for the most part, but focuses on the men themselves, replicating the controlling relationship he has with his own wife. In this sense, Shakespeare demonstrates that misogyny is an infectious and homogenising concept, not a universal norm.

I’m not saying this is the only answer you could give but the structure is what I’d say you needed to attend to. Each point feeds the one that comes after it, using the critical view in the question as a lens through which to explore the relationships in the play. The different interpretations that allow you to tap AO5 come from your turning the critical view around and viewing it from different angles, finding its natural limitations and points of illumination. Doing this in a logical and reasoned pattern enables your AO1 which in turn guides your AO2 and AO3.

You don’t need to remember hundreds of quotes to support your AO2. You get given a passage that enables you to discuss language in detail whilst you use your objective knowledge of the play’s structure and events and characters to provide further weight to your points. Likewise, the AO3 comes from your recognition of the pragmatic features of the interactions and conversations between characters, not from jamming in unnecessary historical context.

Your AO4 is perhaps the most challenging one but it should be informed by your reading of a number of other texts for this paper. You should have an understanding of the diverse representations of love and relationships and how they are not necessarily timelocked. Just by handling the relationships in the play and considering them in terms of their typicality or progressiveness you are engaging with the historicist perspective. You’re not obliged to say that all seventeenth century people thought or believed specific things or jam in unnecessary historical information. It’s a bit more subtle than that. But you don’t need to overthink it. You’ll probably be doing it naturally if you focus on the other assessment objectives.

Please ask if you want anything clarified.
Thank you so much, this made so much sense! You are an absolute gem!
Do you mind if I private message you the essay I wrote for the question you referenced above? I got 20/25 for it but I can't seem to get above that.


For AO4, I've read other works of Shakespeare such as the 'The Winter's Tale' and 'Much ado' and, as you mentioned above, I only mention them if they truly illuminate my argument or if I want to talk about typicality. I also include productions I've watched as a form of AO5 and AO4 do you think that's a good idea?


I'm working on a question that asks me to discuss how far Shakespeare presents Othello as a selfish lover in light of the critic T.S Eliot who argues that Othello's final speech is a 'terrible exposure of human weakness'. I was going to include Shakespeare's presentation of men in most of his plays, referencing the critic E.A.J Honningmann who wonders " whether men are incapable of unselfish love", but I think trying to wedge it in gets me into a muddle so I won't include it.

Would this same structure apply to prose as well? So for my second paper, I study Regeneration and usually, there is a statement to help encourage debate.

Thank you again for taking the time to help me.
Last edited by thepink; 8 months ago
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official1kirsty
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(Original post by thepink)
Thank you so much, this made so much sense! You are an absolute gem!
Do you mind if I private message you the essay I wrote for the question you referenced above? I got 20/25 for it but I can't seem to get above that.


For AO4, I've read other works of Shakespeare such as the 'The Winter's Tale' and 'Much ado' and, as you mentioned above, I only mention them if they truly illuminate my argument or if I want to talk about typicality. I also include productions I've watched as a form of AO5 and AO4 do you think that's a good idea?


I'm working on a question that asks me to discuss how far Shakespeare presents Othello as a selfish lover in light of the critic T.S Eliot who argues that Othello's final speech is a 'terrible exposure of human weakness'. I was going to include Shakespeare's presentation of men in most of his plays, referencing the critic E.A.J Honningmann who wonders " whether men are incapable of unselfish love", but I think trying to wedge it in gets me into a muddle so I won't include it.

Would this same structure apply to prose as well? So for my second paper, I study Regeneration and usually, there is a statement to help encourage debate.

Thank you again for taking the time to help me.
hiya,i cant even get 20/25 haha so well done.Would you mind sending me yours?
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