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Year 12

Hi, i’m starting year 12 next week, doing A levels in History, Politics, and English Literature and i’m hoping to go on to study law at university

I know in order to get the top grades in my subjects i need to go above and beyond and read around my subject, do more than just the bare minimum.

If anybody has any recommendations in terms of podcasts, websites, books, and anything like that for my subjects, then that would be great, general tips would also be appreciated.
Heya, incoming Cambridge undergrad here - I did those exact A-Levels and came out with 3A*s a few weeks ago :smile:

For English you’ll have to read a lot around the subject as the teaching is usually crap. My go-to resources are JSTOR, Cambridge Companions, Cambridge Uni Press, free online pdf articles, study guides from Amazon, Oxford podcasts, Yale Lectures, and In Our Time. If you’re doing Edexcel, I have notes and annotated poems that I can share. Connell Guides are also extremely useful and usually written my top university professors in a pithy and accessible form.

Start a quote bank for each of your texts where you fill in ideas over the year. I structured mine as quote in the first column, analysis in the second, and context (if applicable) in the third. Each box should have a solid amount of detail or it won’t be useful (my quote bank for my comparative prose texts reached 22,000 words in the end). You can find relevant articles online which include the quotes and airlift ideas over to your quote bank.

For History, they’ll likely give you one textbook. This won’t be enough. If you’re doing AQA, get the Cambridge textbook, the Oxford AQA textbook, and the SHP book (last is best). Familiarise yourself with relevant historians and borrow their books from the library or buy them second hand. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it will add flair to your essays and can supply some v nuanced arguments and some detailed stats.

To structure History (and Politics) essays, I usually did three themed paragraphs, starting with the weaker arg in the first half of the para and dismantling this with the stronger arg in the second half. You need a conceptual approach to access the top levels - eg if the Pol question is centred around the crisis of democracy your paras might be representation, participation, and scrutiny.

My main advice for Politics (if it’s Edexcel) is to drop it as soon as you can, lol. Almost everyone in my class regretted doing it (including me). It can be extremely dull (a stat memorising exercise), challenging, and very content heavy.

If you’re still adamant on doing it, my advice is to make essay plans as you go along. Other than that, having the most recent news examples in your essays is a must - so keep up to date. For ideologies, the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy is v useful.

To revise these subjects, essay plans are really the only way. Quote banks for English and flashcards for the others will help a lot, but essay plans should form the bedrock of your revision. Reading examiner reports and exemplar responses is also a must. Exemplar responses will show you structure, style etc whilst examiner reports will explicitly highlight what and what not to do. You can also mine ideas from these essays for English and add them to your quote bank :wink:

If you share exam boards, History topics, and texts for English, I can offer more specific advice, but atm I’d get going with reading the set texts (if you haven’t done so already) and acquainting yourself with the HisPol topics you’ll start next week.
Reply 2
Original post by Blue Guitar
Heya, incoming Cambridge undergrad here - I did those exact A-Levels and came out with 3A*s a few weeks ago :smile:

For English you’ll have to read a lot around the subject as the teaching is usually crap. My go-to resources are JSTOR, Cambridge Companions, Cambridge Uni Press, free online pdf articles, study guides from Amazon, Oxford podcasts, Yale Lectures, and In Our Time. If you’re doing Edexcel, I have notes and annotated poems that I can share. Connell Guides are also extremely useful and usually written my top university professors in a pithy and accessible form.

Start a quote bank for each of your texts where you fill in ideas over the year. I structured mine as quote in the first column, analysis in the second, and context (if applicable) in the third. Each box should have a solid amount of detail or it won’t be useful (my quote bank for my comparative prose texts reached 22,000 words in the end). You can find relevant articles online which include the quotes and airlift ideas over to your quote bank.

For History, they’ll likely give you one textbook. This won’t be enough. If you’re doing AQA, get the Cambridge textbook, the Oxford AQA textbook, and the SHP book (last is best). Familiarise yourself with relevant historians and borrow their books from the library or buy them second hand. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it will add flair to your essays and can supply some v nuanced arguments and some detailed stats.

To structure History (and Politics) essays, I usually did three themed paragraphs, starting with the weaker arg in the first half of the para and dismantling this with the stronger arg in the second half. You need a conceptual approach to access the top levels - eg if the Pol question is centred around the crisis of democracy your paras might be representation, participation, and scrutiny.

My main advice for Politics (if it’s Edexcel) is to drop it as soon as you can, lol. Almost everyone in my class regretted doing it (including me). It can be extremely dull (a stat memorising exercise), challenging, and very content heavy.

If you’re still adamant on doing it, my advice is to make essay plans as you go along. Other than that, having the most recent news examples in your essays is a must - so keep up to date. For ideologies, the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy is v useful.

To revise these subjects, essay plans are really the only way. Quote banks for English and flashcards for the others will help a lot, but essay plans should form the bedrock of your revision. Reading examiner reports and exemplar responses is also a must. Exemplar responses will show you structure, style etc whilst examiner reports will explicitly highlight what and what not to do. You can also mine ideas from these essays for English and add them to your quote bank :wink:

If you share exam boards, History topics, and texts for English, I can offer more specific advice, but atm I’d get going with reading the set texts (if you haven’t done so already) and acquainting yourself with the HisPol topics you’ll start next week.

thank you so much for your advice, this is very helpful, thank you 😊 i do in fact do edexcel politics but my sixth form doesn’t allow me to do more than 3 subjects unless ur doing something like further maths along with a level maths and there’s not another subject i’d really want to swap it out with. I don’t tend to struggle too much with memorising stats but obviously A level is going to have significantly more content than i’m used to so i can’t be sure that it’ll stay that way.

English lit and History are both AQA and in History we do Tudors, democracy and nazism; Germany and then our coursework is going to be about civil rights in America and in English lit we’re studying elements of social and political protest and aspects of tragedy. For social and political protest we’re studying the kite runner, a doll’s house and songs of innocence and experience by william blake. For tragedy, we’re doing othello, death of a salesman and selection of keats’ poetry.

Our suggested preparation for September was to read the kite runner, which i’ve done, but i’m probably gonna have to watch the film as well
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by 17orourkel
thank you so much for your advice, this is very helpful, thank you 😊 i do in fact do edexcel politics but my sixth form doesn’t allow me to do more than 3 subjects unless ur doing something like further maths along with a level maths and there’s not another subject i’d really want to swap it out with. I don’t tend to struggle too much with memorising stats but obviously A level is going to have significantly more content than i’m used to so i can’t be sure that it’ll stay that way.

English lit and History are both AQA and in History we do Tudors, democracy and nazism; Germany and then our coursework is going to be about civil rights in America and in English lit we’re studying elements of social and political protest and aspects of tragedy. For social and political protest we’re studying the kite runner, a doll’s house and songs of innocence and experience by william blake. For tragedy, we’re doing othello, death of a salesman and selection of keats’ poetry.

Our suggested preparation for September was to read the kite runner, which i’ve done, but i’m probably gonna have to watch the film as well


Great, I did those exact topics for History. For Tudors, you’ll start with Henry VII - I read a book by Richard Rex and some stuff by Christine Carpenter when prepping for essays - this isn’t really necessary, but helps with stats, arguments and the jump to a more sophisticated writing style.

You’ll likely spend a term on HVII, then the rest of the year on HVIII. Once you start Term 2, Elton is the go-to for HVIII, but John Guy is also v good and Morrisby has written a great essay on Cromwell’s revolution in government. Lucy Wooding helps with stuff on religion.

You want to approach each chapter with essay questions in mind. Eg with HVII’s foreign policy, you need to return to the question of how successful he was, and what his main aims were (this would take the form of a named factor, such as ‘To what extent was trade the main aim of HVII’s foreign policy?’). The Oxford AQA textbook provides a helpful, if basic, narrative, but is useless read alone - so, as I said, you need a triangulation of the three textbooks + relevant historians and their stats + arguments.

For D&N, the SHP textbook is absolutely essential as the Oxford one is sh*te. Once you read Richard Evans (his Reich trilogy is absolutely essential imo) you realise that the textbook writers essentially condensed his three books into a simplified down version, copying his stats (and, for some reason, eliding much of the key info in his texts). Thorough detail is essential as D&N is your ‘depth’ topic (Tudors is breadth) so you’ll be marked down for lacking specificity. Lmk if you want more specific advice or resources for either (I have typed notes and essay plans + full mark essays across two years.

I got 40/40 on coursework for civil rights so I can share useful textbooks and historians etc but you’ll only start it next year.

I didn’t do AQA English, but I do have some essays on Songs of Innocence, Keats (mainly the Odes, which I’m guessing you’ll study if it’s part of tragedy), and Othello (my A-Level Shakespeare text). They’re university level but you should be able to get a sense of the main arguments. Lmk if you’d like them :smile:
Reply 4
Original post by Blue Guitar
Great, I did those exact topics for History. For Tudors, you’ll start with Henry VII - I read a book by Richard Rex and some stuff by Christine Carpenter when prepping for essays - this isn’t really necessary, but helps with stats, arguments and the jump to a more sophisticated writing style.

You’ll likely spend a term on HVII, then the rest of the year on HVIII. Once you start Term 2, Elton is the go-to for HVIII, but John Guy is also v good and Morrisby has written a great essay on Cromwell’s revolution in government. Lucy Wooding helps with stuff on religion.

You want to approach each chapter with essay questions in mind. Eg with HVII’s foreign policy, you need to return to the question of how successful he was, and what his main aims were (this would take the form of a named factor, such as ‘To what extent was trade the main aim of HVII’s foreign policy?’). The Oxford AQA textbook provides a helpful, if basic, narrative, but is useless read alone - so, as I said, you need a triangulation of the three textbooks + relevant historians and their stats + arguments.

For D&N, the SHP textbook is absolutely essential as the Oxford one is sh*te. Once you read Richard Evans (his Reich trilogy is absolutely essential imo) you realise that the textbook writers essentially condensed his three books into a simplified down version, copying his stats (and, for some reason, eliding much of the key info in his texts). Thorough detail is essential as D&N is your ‘depth’ topic (Tudors is breadth) so you’ll be marked down for lacking specificity. Lmk if you want more specific advice or resources for either (I have typed notes and essay plans + full mark essays across two years.

I got 40/40 on coursework for civil rights so I can share useful textbooks and historians etc but you’ll only start it next year.

I didn’t do AQA English, but I do have some essays on Songs of Innocence, Keats (mainly the Odes, which I’m guessing you’ll study if it’s part of tragedy), and Othello (my A-Level Shakespeare text). They’re university level but you should be able to get a sense of the main arguments. Lmk if you’d like them :smile:


thank you so much, and yes i wouldn’t mind the resources for both english lit and history if that’s okay 😊
Reply 5
Original post by 17orourkel
thank you so much for your advice, this is very helpful, thank you 😊 i do in fact do edexcel politics but my sixth form doesn’t allow me to do more than 3 subjects unless ur doing something like further maths along with a level maths and there’s not another subject i’d really want to swap it out with. I don’t tend to struggle too much with memorising stats but obviously A level is going to have significantly more content than i’m used to so i can’t be sure that it’ll stay that way.

English lit and History are both AQA and in History we do Tudors, democracy and nazism; Germany and then our coursework is going to be about civil rights in America and in English lit we’re studying elements of social and political protest and aspects of tragedy. For social and political protest we’re studying the kite runner, a doll’s house and songs of innocence and experience by william blake. For tragedy, we’re doing othello, death of a salesman and selection of keats’ poetry.

Our suggested preparation for September was to read the kite runner, which i’ve done, but i’m probably gonna have to watch the film as well

We do the exact same topics for History (except for coursework)! How are you finding them so far? Henry VII is a lot more interesting to learn about than I thought he would be, and I love the first topic in the Germany course so much!! :biggrin:
Original post by Blue Guitar
Heya, incoming Cambridge undergrad here - I did those exact A-Levels and came out with 3A*s a few weeks ago :smile:

For English you’ll have to read a lot around the subject as the teaching is usually crap. My go-to resources are JSTOR, Cambridge Companions, Cambridge Uni Press, free online pdf articles, study guides from Amazon, Oxford podcasts, Yale Lectures, and In Our Time. If you’re doing Edexcel, I have notes and annotated poems that I can share. Connell Guides are also extremely useful and usually written my top university professors in a pithy and accessible form.

Start a quote bank for each of your texts where you fill in ideas over the year. I structured mine as quote in the first column, analysis in the second, and context (if applicable) in the third. Each box should have a solid amount of detail or it won’t be useful (my quote bank for my comparative prose texts reached 22,000 words in the end). You can find relevant articles online which include the quotes and airlift ideas over to your quote bank.

For History, they’ll likely give you one textbook. This won’t be enough. If you’re doing AQA, get the Cambridge textbook, the Oxford AQA textbook, and the SHP book (last is best). Familiarise yourself with relevant historians and borrow their books from the library or buy them second hand. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it will add flair to your essays and can supply some v nuanced arguments and some detailed stats.

To structure History (and Politics) essays, I usually did three themed paragraphs, starting with the weaker arg in the first half of the para and dismantling this with the stronger arg in the second half. You need a conceptual approach to access the top levels - eg if the Pol question is centred around the crisis of democracy your paras might be representation, participation, and scrutiny.

My main advice for Politics (if it’s Edexcel) is to drop it as soon as you can, lol. Almost everyone in my class regretted doing it (including me). It can be extremely dull (a stat memorising exercise), challenging, and very content heavy.

If you’re still adamant on doing it, my advice is to make essay plans as you go along. Other than that, having the most recent news examples in your essays is a must - so keep up to date. For ideologies, the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy is v useful.

To revise these subjects, essay plans are really the only way. Quote banks for English and flashcards for the others will help a lot, but essay plans should form the bedrock of your revision. Reading examiner reports and exemplar responses is also a must. Exemplar responses will show you structure, style etc whilst examiner reports will explicitly highlight what and what not to do. You can also mine ideas from these essays for English and add them to your quote bank :wink:

If you share exam boards, History topics, and texts for English, I can offer more specific advice, but atm I’d get going with reading the set texts (if you haven’t done so already) and acquainting yourself with the HisPol topics you’ll start next week.

can you give advice for making flashcards and essay arguments for politics and history?? I'm starting now
Reply 7
Hi, i just had my two induction days and we haven’t started on any content yet. I start college officially tomorrow and i’m finally on my timetable so i’ll update u after my first lesson :smile: i’m happy you’re enjoying it that’s a good sign for me lmao
Reply 8
Original post by 17orourkel
Hi, i just had my two induction days and we haven’t started on any content yet. I start college officially tomorrow and i’m finally on my timetable so i’ll update u after my first lesson :smile: i’m happy you’re enjoying it that’s a good sign for me lmao

I hope you have a good first day! :h:
Original post by Blue Guitar
Great, I did those exact topics for History. For Tudors, you’ll start with Henry VII - I read a book by Richard Rex and some stuff by Christine Carpenter when prepping for essays - this isn’t really necessary, but helps with stats, arguments and the jump to a more sophisticated writing style.

You’ll likely spend a term on HVII, then the rest of the year on HVIII. Once you start Term 2, Elton is the go-to for HVIII, but John Guy is also v good and Morrisby has written a great essay on Cromwell’s revolution in government. Lucy Wooding helps with stuff on religion.

You want to approach each chapter with essay questions in mind. Eg with HVII’s foreign policy, you need to return to the question of how successful he was, and what his main aims were (this would take the form of a named factor, such as ‘To what extent was trade the main aim of HVII’s foreign policy?’). The Oxford AQA textbook provides a helpful, if basic, narrative, but is useless read alone - so, as I said, you need a triangulation of the three textbooks + relevant historians and their stats + arguments.

For D&N, the SHP textbook is absolutely essential as the Oxford one is sh*te. Once you read Richard Evans (his Reich trilogy is absolutely essential imo) you realise that the textbook writers essentially condensed his three books into a simplified down version, copying his stats (and, for some reason, eliding much of the key info in his texts). Thorough detail is essential as D&N is your ‘depth’ topic (Tudors is breadth) so you’ll be marked down for lacking specificity. Lmk if you want more specific advice or resources for either (I have typed notes and essay plans + full mark essays across two years.

I got 40/40 on coursework for civil rights so I can share useful textbooks and historians etc but you’ll only start it next year.

I didn’t do AQA English, but I do have some essays on Songs of Innocence, Keats (mainly the Odes, which I’m guessing you’ll study if it’s part of tragedy), and Othello (my A-Level Shakespeare text). They’re university level but you should be able to get a sense of the main arguments. Lmk if you’d like them :smile:

Hi,

I'm doing my history coursework on civil rights. I'm focusing on MLK, JFK and Malcolm X in the 1960s.
If you wouldn't mind, I'd love to know what historians and textbooks you used.

Thanks :smile:
Original post by VioIeta
We do the exact same topics for History (except for coursework)! How are you finding them so far? Henry VII is a lot more interesting to learn about than I thought he would be, and I love the first topic in the Germany course so much!! :biggrin:

hi!! i’m nearly onto my third week now at A level and i’ve been enjoying it very much! we’ve started with germany first and a lot of it is things that i covered in gcse history, just in more depth! it’s much easier to get homework done and feel motivated when i’m doing a subject i enjoy 😊

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