How to revise for mock exams

Reading Time: 5 minutes Whether you call them mock exams or trial exams (nothing reassures you it’s low-stakes like calling it a trial, right?!), whether they’re before Christmas or after, chances are if you’re a GCSE or  A-Level student you’ll have practice exams coming up soon. And in many schools, you’ll have them a couple of times a year. Mock exams. The full experience of walking into a hall, finding your seat number, remembering to bring a clear pencil case and water bottle in case you’ve scribbled some physics formulae on the inside. They can be hard and they can be stressful. But they …

How to write comparison essays in an exam

Reading Time: 7 minutes When you start writing essays this seems really complicated, but breaking it down can help. Remember these two simple facts: 1. Comparison means similarities and differences 2. Comparison means there has to be some link or connection The similarity, specifically literature and English Language, can be either technical – looking at a way of writing, for example a specific use of metaphor – or thematic – the way a similar idea is represented. Ideally the comparison is knitted together, so interwoven that you can’t pull one text apart from the other. That’s the ideal, but there are some ways to …

Learning quotations for English: is it really necessary?

Reading Time: 5 minutes Quotation or close reference? With closed book exams at GCSE and A-Level it’s easy to think that memorising lots of quotations is the way to go. It’s something concrete, solid to learn, and feels like you know a lot. But can you use them? I’ve written elsewhere about how and what to revise, and it’s also worth remembering that the assessment objective for analysis includes close reference, as well as form and structure – not just language. During the revision season, it’s a good idea to focus on detailed understanding of form, structure and micro-quotations, rather than trying to memorise whole poems …

How do I revise for English? Where to start, and a revision schedule.

Reading Time: 5 minutes As a teacher, I’m asked this almost constantly in the run-up to exams. There is a perception that English is a “skills subject” and therefore much more difficult to revise for compared to, say Biology or History. Although there’s a great deal of skill involved, there is a lot of knowledge needed for English exams; the “skill section” is in putting it all into practice.  I’m not sure if the question is a misunderstanding of this, or a sense of being overwhelmed with where to begin. I think it’s sometimes the latter, and so in this post I’ll look at a …

Drama/poetry pre-1900 – over 60 sample questions

Reading Time: 1 minute

The below pdf includes over 60 example questions for the OCR A-Level paper on poetry and drama pre-1900, specifically the poetry/drama question. Although my students are studying Christina Rossetti and the Duchess of Malfi, I’ve formatted this so it’s in the form of statemetn/question which could be applied to any comparative texts.

OCR A Level essay questions 2017