Opinions on A level English Literature...

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Grace Appleby
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What is English Lit like at A level? I don’t know weather to take it because I heard some people hate it and it was really difficult. I know we’re with AQA and we study, THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD, ATONEMENT AND CRIME ANTHOLOGY, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, TWELFTH NIGHT AND COMEDY ANTHOLOGY. I don’t particularly enjoy reading, but I’ve read into the texts and they all seem interesting and I’ve watched the film versions and I really enjoyed them, so I’m unsure what to do? I’m stuck between going English lit or doing Sociology.

Has anyone took English Literature and got any advice, like what are the lessons like and what is the workload/homework like?

I’m thinking of taking it alongside History and Philosophy.
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theywereblue
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Hi! I'm taking English Lit and I'm currently in Year 12 and I'm doing the exact same set texts as you (except I'm doing Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew instead of Twelth Night)! Out of interest, are you also studying another Comedy text that you haven't listed? Because I'm pretty sure there should be another novel in your list. Ours is Small Island by Andrea Levy, but there's also the choice of Emma by Jane Austen or another that I don't know the name of.

I'm studying Chemistry, Biology, Psychology and Maths as well, so in all honesty English Lit is like a breath of fresh air in comparison haha! But I think History and Philosophy will marry very well with it.

In terms of difficulty, all of my friends who take both History and English Lit (they've only just added Philosophy as an option at my school for the new Year 12s in September) say that English Lit is a lot easier in every sense. Of course, work load and homework etc varies depending on your school, but at mine, most of it was just to make sure we actually read our set texts, and any other homework was very light.

I think it's great you're already finding your texts interesting and that you really enjoy the film versions!! My teachers keep reiterating that the most important thing they mark on is your breadth of knowledge of the text! Unlike GCSE, the best thing you could ever do is just understand the texts, and know the plot sequence off by heart, and relate a few things to comic / crime features which, once you learn what the features are, is extremely easy to do. They don't look for people making extravagant inferences from specific words / quotes that are tenuous links to what's actually going on. What they love to see is that you enjoy the text enough to be comfortable really showing off your knowledge of the plot order etc and making links between scenes (especially in the Importance of Being Earnest -- which you will come to love, by the way!).

As for you not particularly enjoying reading, if I'm honest, the vast majority of students in my class don't read a single thing outside our set texts. As long as you've read and studied these (and don't mind re-reading them, which will help immensely when studying etc) then you have nothing to worry about! The only people in my class who do badly are the ones who only did English Lit because they couldn't fit anything else with their timetable (and this is only 2 people, but they're only taking it for AS because my school is weird and everyone starts off with 4 subjects (I took 5) and then does AS and then drops one after year 12 and then does the other 3 for A-Level). So you liking the texts, or even just tolerating them, is enough.

And to answer your question on what lessons are like, that too depends on your school, but in mine we did an intro to comic literature and what that actually means, and then we spent a lot of time actually reading the texts together and talking about what we think about the characters and our opinions on the plot (which was much more fun than it sounds) and then we watched the movies / plays in class and then we made links to everything we learned beforehand about comic elements. Going through comic elements before just diving into the texts really really helped to identify them whilst reading and made everything so much easier, so if it feels a little slow for the first couple of lessons don't be disheartened! It made knowing what to talk about a breeze and I'm sure you'll feel the same. We've also been on like 10 cinema trips (to movies and televised plays that are unrelated to what we're studying hahaha) which has made it even more fun. And when it comes to essay practice later on in the year (it took us months to actually get to looking at essays which is a good thing), you may find it's a lot less restrictive than GCSE and you may have more of an input in terms of personal opinion. You also don't have to know much context for these texts -- in the AQA examiner's report they said that ultimately teachers should drop the habit of teaching students a load of context because most times it's unrelated and it makes false assumptions about attitudes and the way the writer intended to portray things etc, and so we've been advised to only add a little bit of context commentary on the end of like one sentence per paragraph, or sometimes none at all in a paragraph if it doesn't link to the point you're trying to make, so with A-Level English Lit you don't even need to do any extra research outside of what you're told in class.

I hope this has given you some insight! Feel free to ask any more questions!
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The Empire Odyssey
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(Original post by Grace Appleby)
What is English Lit like at A level? I don’t know weather to take it because I heard some people hate it and it was really difficult. I know we’re with AQA and we study, THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD, ATONEMENT AND CRIME ANTHOLOGY, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, TWELFTH NIGHT AND COMEDY ANTHOLOGY. I don’t particularly enjoy reading, but I’ve read into the texts and they all seem interesting and I’ve watched the film versions and I really enjoyed them, so I’m unsure what to do? I’m stuck between going English lit or doing Sociology.

Has anyone took English Literature and got any advice, like what are the lessons like and what is the workload/homework like?

I’m thinking of taking it alongside History and Philosophy.
You're doing AQA B - Genre and Critical Theory option. Nice!

I'm not going to reiterate what the above-poster has said. But at AS, I studied English lit, History and Philosophy (and English Language). You don't have anything to worry about. In terms of the hardest to understand was philosophy. History had the most content and so much to remember. Literature was by far the easiest as we mostly read the key texts in lessons and only had to read a few pages or finish off a chapter over the weekend. Ofc, this will depend on your teacher and their teaching style.

I actually dropped Sociology after the 1st 3 weeks. It was so boring - I traded it in for Philosophy. I would say English Lit is more of the "respectable" A-level. But considering you don't like reading, I would suggest you pick Sociology. You will more than likely have to reread the texts a few times, especially when it comes to exam season and writing your class assessments. If you don't enjoy reading in general, you won't enjoy reading the same text over and over again.
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arabiannights_
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Hi! so I'm in year 13 and I do AQA English Literature option A: Rebecca and Love Through The Ages pre-1900 poetry anthology, Measure for Measure, Unseen poetry, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Color Purple. I've always loved English Literature as you're able to develop your critical and analytical skills. It is much more 'free' than gcse English lit, especially as there's not really a set structure when writing essays - you develop your own style! In terms of workload, my school was a little bit intense but it worked in our favour. We had essays every week for homework which they gave feedback for everytime and we had midterms and end of unit/topic assessments which again, we received feedback for. Some of our homeworks included group tasks which to be honest, everyone just does their own thing and hands it in. For Rebecca and A Streetcar Named Desire, we had to read them over the winter break so studying the content was pretty easy during class. I agree that English Lit is not as intense as other subjects, especially History (my friends always complain about it!) I also did AQA sociology because I did it for gcse and as much as the content and discussions are extremely interesting, I hated the different question structures, especially the 10 markers because there's different 10 markers so it's easy to answer it completely wrong and lose marks. The exam structure was completely different to gcse and I didn't research into it as much as I should have so I regret not doing that. There's SO MUCH THEORY/THEORISTS to remember for sociology, the students that stand out in exams are the ones who can link/evaluate ideas using more than two or more theorists in one paragraph. Each school teaches how to approach a question differently (obviously) so our teacher taught us to use two theorists in each of our paragraphs so it became quite a lot to handle tbh (I mean she did mark for AQA so I guess she knows what she's talking about?) I suggest going through what content your school teaches for sociology/history/philosophy and research it all so you don't make a decision while you're still hesitant. Also, so many people end up changing subjects in the first few weeks, months even, of year 12 so don't worry too much about whether you have chosen the right subject for you.
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absolutelysprout
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i did aqa b and studied crime also! i did atonement, othello, oliver twist, rime of the ancient mariner, death of a salesman and tess of the d'urbervilles. content wise i wouldn't say a level english lit was difficult, but exam technique for me was a struggle. the essays i found a much harder standard compared to gcse, but maybe that's because at gcse it somehow came naturally to me :dontknow: make sure you're regularly reading and revising your texts because even though they're not ridiculously difficult to understand your knowledge of them needs to be solid, even if you're doing open book exams as you don't want to be flicking through the text for quotes!!

not only is your recall of a text's events important, but also your understanding and how this can be applied to the exam question. a level exams to me demanded very good time management compared to gcse. get used to the structure of exam questions and what they ask for- i cannot reiterate enough how important it is you're doing practice essays throughout the year. your exam technique needs to be strong and you need to know what your weaknesses and strengths are so these can be worked on. i didn't get a lot of homework personally, but there's always work you can be doing for english lit

take a level english lit if you think you'd enjoy it. my reading habits have changed a lot since i started the course but if you have an interest in the texts and are willing to commit to the subject you should be fine.
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