theryecatcher
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Hello, I have just finished year 12 and I do OCR English Lit A Level. I am new to the British education system and I was not really used to studying literary texts in this much depth. I did adapt very well to sixth form and I have made plenty of resources for other elements of the A Level but I'm struggling to figure out how I should revise long novels like The Handmaid's Tale.

What I've been doing for my other texts like the plays we have is creating my own little revision notebook in which I go through the text, copy down quotes, write down context, and my own thoughts about the text. I thought about doing the same for The Handmaid's Tale but I realised that I already have so many annotations and context notes in the book itself that it seems kinda pointless copying it all on a different piece of paper. I don't want to waste time creating a study resource that I can go without because it's not that useful. So what I'm considering to do instead is to just keep the book as it is and let that be my main study resource. One other external thing I could do is make flashcards for context specifically.

Do you guys think this sounds alright? I'd just appreciate some advice from others who take this subject on how you revise stuff like this. Thanks!
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Englishteacher24
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I think transferring your annotations into another format can be a useful exercise for revising and organising your ideas in more constructive ways. I find that my annotations on a text tend to be all of the place and, in an essay, it would be unlikely that I would use all the notes I made.

At A-Level, you should think about getting the balance right between looking at the "big picture" of the novel and how ideas / themes, plot, and character are developed throughout as well as close analysis.

If I was organising my notes, I might consider compiling evidence about the presentation of a character or theme throughout a novel. In Jekyll and Hyde, for example, Jekyll is initially portrayed as a reputable gentleman but his character, especially by chapter 10, is revealed to be manipulative and dual. In Gatsby, the American Dream arguably seems achievable at the start, yet, by the end of the novel, the American Dream is more of an illusion. Being able to note changes and development within a novel is part of writing about it effectively.

You need to think about narrowing down the evidence you would use, considering how one quotation can be used in response to a multitude of questions. Do more with less.
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theryecatcher
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(Original post by Englishteacher24)
I think transferring your annotations into another format can be a useful exercise for revising and organising your ideas in more constructive ways. I find that my annotations on a text tend to be all of the place and, in an essay, it would be unlikely that I would use all the notes I made.

At A-Level, you should think about getting the balance right between looking at the "big picture" of the novel and how ideas / themes, plot, and character are developed throughout as well as close analysis.

If I was organising my notes, I might consider compiling evidence about the presentation of a character or theme throughout a novel. In Jekyll and Hyde, for example, Jekyll is initially portrayed as a reputable gentleman but his character, especially by chapter 10, is revealed to be manipulative and dual. In Gatsby, the American Dream arguably seems achievable at the start, yet, by the end of the novel, the American Dream is more of an illusion. Being able to note changes and development within a novel is part of writing about it effectively.

You need to think about narrowing down the evidence you would use, considering how one quotation can be used in response to a multitude of questions. Do more with less.
Thank you! I think what I will do is keep the book as it is, make context flashcards and use the notebooks for stuff more like you suggested, e.g. mindmaps for themes and stuff like that.
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