TheHistoryNerd_
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Hi,
Year 12 here, I've just been assigned my first proper essay for A-level English literature that will be graded. I have done one before however, we only had to write an introduction and 2 paragraphs (although I did add a mini conclusion). I'm still awaiting feedback on that essay (it wasn't graded) but I should be getting that soon.

I'm going to be brutally honest - English literature terrifies me, I honestly feel like I'm terrible at writing essays (particularly at adding in "fancy" words if you will). Also, we haven't been taught or told how to actually write an A-level essay?? I have no idea how many paragraphs to include or anything like that and while I have been attempting to search for examples of A-level English literature essays online, I'm struggling to find any.

Any chance anybody could give me any top tips or instill any confidence in me? We also have to write it in timed conditions. Thanks!
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Sophiebxx
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(Original post by TheHistoryNerd_)
Hi,
Year 12 here, I've just been assigned my first proper essay for A-level English literature that will be graded. I have done one before however, we only had to write an introduction and 2 paragraphs (although I did add a mini conclusion). I'm still awaiting feedback on that essay (it wasn't graded) but I should be getting that soon.

I'm going to be brutally honest - English literature terrifies me, I honestly feel like I'm terrible at writing essays (particularly at adding in "fancy" words if you will). Also, we haven't been taught or told how to actually write an A-level essay?? I have no idea how many paragraphs to include or anything like that and while I have been attempting to search for examples of A-level English literature essays online, I'm struggling to find any.

Any chance anybody could give me any top tips or instill any confidence in me? We also have to write it in timed conditions. Thanks!
Hi!

It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous. A levels are a big step up from GCSE!
Firstly, I wouldn’t worry about adding ‘fancy’ words. It’s way better to be understood rather than trying to fit in fancy words for the sake of it. Keep reading outside of your set books, and your vocabulary will soon expand. I’m regards to fancy literary terms, memorise one/two a week. Then, find a random poem and practice locating and using them. That’s the best way to memorise and use these techniques confidently

In regards to the structure of your essay, keep it simple. For each paragraph you should have your point, evidence, explain, language analysis, context, criticism, refer back to question. Repeat that throughout your essay and make sure that your paragraphs don’t blend into one, big chunk of words.

Hope this helps!
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TheHistoryNerd_
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(Original post by Sophiebxx)
Hi!

It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous. A levels are a big step up from GCSE!
Firstly, I wouldn’t worry about adding ‘fancy’ words. It’s way better to be understood rather than trying to fit in fancy words for the sake of it. Keep reading outside of your set books, and your vocabulary will soon expand. I’m regards to fancy literary terms, memorise one/two a week. Then, find a random poem and practice locating and using them. That’s the best way to memorise and use these techniques confidently

In regards to the structure of your essay, keep it simple. For each paragraph you should have your point, evidence, explain, language analysis, context, criticism, refer back to question. Repeat that throughout your essay and make sure that your paragraphs don’t blend into one, big chunk of words.

Hope this helps!
Thanks for responding! I guess the problem is that due to me just starting the A-level, I probably won't get very high marks due to us not having been taught about criticism or any of that stuff that you have to include for certain AOS, that will be for the whole class though so I'll feel a little less downhearted haha. Can I ask how many paragraphs I should aim to do?
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shortgirl96
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Hi

Avoid all fancy words. In terms of the overall essay structure, go for simplicity. Use this method, identify, point, explain. Carry on reading as much as possible too. And make some notes which you can use for the essays. Have a handy essay plan to hand. Also refer back to the original question at all times so you know what to do. Pay careful attention to the number of marks. I would not worry unduly if I were you however. Use the number of marks as a loose guide upon which you can formulate a good response. Be positive. What are your predicted grades?
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Sophiebxx
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(Original post by TheHistoryNerd_)
Thanks for responding! I guess the problem is that due to me just starting the A-level, I probably won't get very high marks due to us not having been taught about criticism or any of that stuff that you have to include for certain AOS, that will be for the whole class though so I'll feel a little less downhearted haha. Can I ask how many paragraphs I should aim to do?
Usually, aim for four paragraphs. If you’re doing a comparative essay, it will be 6 or 8 smaller paragraphs.
We never even started to combine all of the AOs until the start of March, which wasn’t great considering lockdown... but don’t worry. I was getting C/D at the start of year 12, worked hard until I got an A for AS, and now I’m predicted an A* and applied to study English at Oxford. Everyone is bound to struggle at first, you’ll get there!
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TheHistoryNerd_
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(Original post by shortgirl96)
Hi

Avoid all fancy words. In terms of the overall essay structure, go for simplicity. Use this method, identify, point, explain. Carry on reading as much as possible too. And make some notes which you can use for the essays. Have a handy essay plan to hand. Also refer back to the original question at all times so you know what to do. Pay careful attention to the number of marks. I would not worry unduly if I were you however. Use the number of marks as a loose guide upon which you can formulate a good response. Be positive. What are your predicted grades?
Thanks for the response! I actually don't have any predicted grades yet as we're only a few weeks into the actual course and this will be the first marked essay. I guess it's probably best for me to just try my best and since it is the first essay it's probably expected that my grade won't be amazing, as I don't yet know what the examiner's want at A-level (however this will be hard for me to actually take as a high-achiever if you get me?)
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TheHistoryNerd_
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(Original post by Sophiebxx)
Usually, aim for four paragraphs. If you’re doing a comparative essay, it will be 6 or 8 smaller paragraphs.
We never even started to combine all of the AOs until the start of March, which wasn’t great considering lockdown... but don’t worry. I was getting C/D at the start of year 12, worked hard until I got an A for AS, and now I’m predicted an A* and applied to study English at Oxford. Everyone is bound to struggle at first, you’ll get there!
Wow, that's impressive! I wish you the absolute best of luck with your Oxford application! I actually do history as well and I'm currently thinking about applying for Oxford for history in the future. Your response has really reassured me that if you put in hard-work your grades will reflect it and I think I needed that! Thank you so much
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Zoeamelia04
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I'm in the same position as you. I'm taking History, English lit and Psychology. In all honesty, I'm doing awful in all three. We have an assessment week next week and I am terrifieddddd! Completely unprepared... I feel your pain. What books are you doing for it?
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TheHistoryNerd_
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(Original post by Zoeamelia04)
I'm in the same position as you. I'm taking History, English lit and Psychology. In all honesty, I'm doing awful in all three. We have an assessment week next week and I am terrifieddddd! Completely unprepared... I feel your pain. What books are you doing for it?
Hi there! We're doing very similar options in that case then haha, I nearly took the same as you, as I was gonna take 4 (one of them being psychology) but I ended up taking 3: history, English lit and Spanish! Perhaps adding a language into the mix was a bit intense but it's pretty fun. I'm studying AQA the aspects of tragedy, so I'm studying 'Othello' and 'Death of A Salesman' for it. How about you?
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Quick-use
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cheerleader, if you have a few minutes to spare, maybe you could offer some advice? You have so much experience with this course and have done really well. :hat2:
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Zoeamelia04
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(Original post by TheHistoryNerd_)
Hi there! We're doing very similar options in that case then haha, I nearly took the same as you, as I was gonna take 4 (one of them being psychology) but I ended up taking 3: history, English lit and Spanish! Perhaps adding a language into the mix was a bit intense but it's pretty fun. I'm studying AQA the aspects of tragedy, so I'm studying 'Othello' and 'Death of A Salesman' for it. How about you?
So I will be doing Othello in year 13. I'm currently doing for Drama 'A streetcar named desire' and for prose and 19th-century comparison books we are doing 'A thousand splendid suns' and 'Tess of the d'urbervilles'. What're you doing in history?
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TheHistoryNerd_
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(Original post by Zoeamelia04)
So I will be doing Othello in year 13. I'm currently doing for Drama 'A streetcar named desire' and for prose and 19th-century comparison books we are doing 'A thousand splendid suns' and 'Tess of the d'urbervilles'. What're you doing in history?
Ooh, they're quite niche books! For year 13 English lit I think I'm doing 'Harvest' and A Doll's House'.
For history, I'm studying the Tudors and the Russian Revolution and they're both pretty interesting, although Russian history is quite confusing! What topics are you studying in history?
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