Revision Guide – English Literature

(J352-01) Exploring modern and literary heritage texts
(J352-02) Exploring poetry and Shakespeare
EQUIPMENT REQUIRED: Black pen (and spare)

Topics to be revised

Section A (1 hour, 15 minutes): You will answer two questions on ‘An Inspector Calls’.
The first question (45 minutes) is a comparison of an extract from ‘AIC’ and an unseen extract from a play you will probably not know. You will be asked to compare how the extracts present a theme such as family relationships, love, power or another idea.
The second question (30 minutes) will ask you to explore “another moment” (event) where the same theme or characters are involved and how they are presented.

Section B (45 minutes): You will choose one question from two on Jekyll and Hyde.
The first question asks you to explore how a particular theme is presented in a printed extract and elsewhere in the novel. Choosing this question will mean you always have some language and structure to analyse in front of you. Don’t forget to write about other places in the novel you know about.
The second question does not have an extract to help you and asks you to write about a theme or character, referring to at least two places in the novel.

Revision and Exam Tips

  • You do not get to take the texts into your exams, so you must make sure you have banks of quotations and other information for each character and theme in the novel
  • You do not have to give long quotations but you will need to refer closely to the text, with short quotations which contain the correct meaning of the original words.
  • Copy key quotes from texts onto sticky notes and display them in your bedroom, bathroom, on the fridge, kettle, your Xbox…

Useful websites:

OCR website for sample papers, examples of candidate responses and examiner comments

GCSE Bitesize Links:

Mr Bruff videos for many texts you will study

An Inspector Calls

  • Get a copy of the text and re-read the play.
  • Make sure you are familiar with really important episodes. Like this one… “But just remember this. One Eva Smith has gone – but there are millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, with what we think and say and do. We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. Good night.”

Think about the language the inspector uses and the structure of the speech. How does it differ from normal conversation?
Why do you think Priestley has Goole speak like this at this stage of the play?

Annotate the speech, looking for the following:

  • Listing things in threes (a tricolon)
  • The use of contrasting pairs (e.g. ‘That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.’ Moon landing broadcast, 1969)
  • Use of personal pronouns (us, we, I, you) for a positive effect
  • Use of ‘them’ and ‘they’ to have a negative effect
  • Powerful words and phrases
  • The use of sentence length and pauses to create a rhythm.

What is the effect of the features you have identified? How would they make a member of the audience think or feel?

Jekyll and Hyde

Try a selection of these tasks to help you remember the themes, characters and plot of your novel:

  1. Create a timeline or flow-diagram of major events in your novel;
  2. Summarise the important events and other key features of each chapter on a series of flashcards;
  3. Make sure you have at least 6 quotations that tell readers something important about each major CHARACTER in your novel. Find 3 quotations for other, more minor characters;
  4. Make sure you have quotations that go with each important THEME of your novel;
  5. Go online and read what Sparknotes or other revision websites say about your novel;
  6. Don’t forget BBC Bitesize, which has notes and activities about 19th-century novels;
  7. Make mind-maps for the major themes of your novels. Include quotations, page references and important linked incidents. You might turn them into works of art or posters.
  8. Other themes are present, but here are examples: Man’s Dual Nature, Good and Evil, Secrets, Dangers of Science
  9. Select half a page to a page of your novel – perhaps featuring a major event or the introduction of a new character – and analyse closely the language used. How is the writer using language and structure (generally speaking, the order of things) to create ideas and feelings?

Paper 2

ROMEO AND JULIET – answer on this play only.

The question is split into two parts. You choose one to answer.

  • Question 4: an extract based question that asks you to compare a given extract to other moments in the play featuring the same character/theme. Answer this question if you are less confident with your knowledge of the play.
  • Example: 4) Explore how Mercutio’s attitude towards Tybalt and others influences events in the play. Refer to this extract from Act 3 Scene 1 and elsewhere in the play.
  • Question 5: a provocative question about a certain character/theme within the play, asking your opinion.
  • Example: 5) How and why do you think Juliet’s relationship with the Nurse changes? Explore at least two moments from the play to support your ideas.


The examiners want you to spend about 45 minutes on your ‘Romeo and Juliet’ question. That is quite a long time, so you have time to read the question very carefully first. What exactly are they asking you? They will not just want an analysis of the extract. You must:

  • use what you find in the extract to answer the particular question;
  • write about somewhere else in the play – about as much time as you spend on the extract.
  • bring in some context.

Read the question carefully and then read and start annotating the extract, bearing in mind what it is the examiners want you to write about.
You can afford to spend the first 15 minutes of your hour annotating, thinking and planning.
Where else in the play will be good to write about in relation to the theme or character you have been asked to explore?

Extract question

  • This question is more straightforward as you are given 50% of the quotes you will need.
  • Read the question to ensure you know what the focus for your answer is.
  • Write a brief introduction (no more than a sentence) addressing the question, e.g. Mercutio’s relationships to other character have a big impact on the play; this can be seen with both his friendships and his enemies.
  • Every paragraph should focus on responding to the question, e.g. how Mercutio has a significant influence within the play.
  • Identify two features within the extract (ideally one focusing on language and one on structure) that tell us something about the character/theme within the question. Write one PETAL paragraph on each.
  • Choose a quotation that you can remember involving the same character or theme from elsewhere in the play. Write a PETAL paragraph exploring how this quote is either similar or different to the presentation of the theme/character in the extract.
  • Try to repeat the previous step, selecting another quotation that you can remember involving the same character or theme from elsewhere in the play. Write a PETAL paragraph exploring how this quote is either similar or different to the presentation of the theme/character in the extract.
  • For each point that you make, try to link it to context. Consider how the historic/cultural setting of Shakespeare’s plays affects the characters’ behaviour.

Non-extract question

  • This question is more challenging but it gives you more freedom to discuss something you are interested in.
  • Read the question to ensure you know what the focus for your answer is.
  • Write a brief introduction (no more than a sentence) addressing the question, e.g. Juliet’s changing relationship with the Nurse reflects her changing character, and how she develops from an innocent child to a more independent young woman.
  • Every paragraph should focus on responding to the question, e.g. how and why Juliet’s relationship with the Nurse changes.
  • Identify two separate moments within the play that tell us something about the character/theme within the question. For each moment you will need two quotes (ideally one language and one structure point for each).
  • Write two PETAL paragraphs focusing on your first moment within the play. Link to context as you do this.
  • Write two further PETAL paragraphs focusing on your second moment, linking to context as you write. Comment on the order of the moments; how do they relate to each other? How do they show the development of the plot?


You need to have memorised quotes from the text to use in your essay.

REVISION: Know the plot of the play really well. This doesn’t mean reading the whole thing again; find a good summary online and learn the key events of each scene in order. This will help you with the extract question; even if you can’t work out all the language, you will know where in the play these events take place.
REVISION: Revise key characters in detail: Romeo; Juliet; Tybalt; Mercutio; Nurse; Friar Laurence; Lord Capulet; Paris. You should know quotes (no more than 5 per character, but they should cover a range of themes), key events, and themes for each.
REVISION: Use spiderquotes in your revision. The quote, technique/terminology and effect should all come as a package.
REVISION: Memorise terminology. You will need to recognise techniques being used in the extract and use the correct terminology to identify them.
IN THE EXAM: When you analyse the extract during the exam, identify one interesting language feature and one interesting structural feature. This will be enough to form an essay. Don’t worry about working out what every single line means; as long as you have an overall understanding of what is happening and what relationship the characters involved have (summaries of the play will help with this), you will have enough knowledge to be able to find features to discuss.
IN THE EXAM: Include context wherever possible. You could consider the following: the importance of family honour; the influence of Catholicism; violence in 14th century Italian society; power and gender; parents’ control over their children; arranged marriages.

There are two types of context to consider, and you should write about both:

  1. How audiences in Shakespeare’s time and today might differ in their reactions to what they are seeing and hearing.
  2. How the characters’ situation in the play affects their behaviour in relation to what you are writing about.

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