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Revision Guide – English Literature

1. Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel
2. Modern Texts and Poetry
Paper 1: 1 hour 45 minutes
Paper 2: 2 hours 15 minutes
EQUIPMENT REQUIRED: Black pen (and spare) and highlighters
WEBSITE LINK: AQA | GCSE | English Literature | Specification at a glance

Topics to be revised

Paper 1 40% of GCSE (spend 15 minutes reading the printed extracts on the exam paper)
Section A (45 minutes): Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet

  • Close analysis of a printed extract from Romeo and Juliet in line with the question focus (themes, characters or ideas)
  • You will also be expected to link the question to another place in the play.
  • Analysis of language and structure, and how Shakespeare has utilized these elements in order to create meanings.
  • Exploration of the effects of language, structure and characterization on the audience.
  • Understanding of the contextual influences impacting the play or Shakespeare.

Section B (45 minutes): 19th Century Novel (either A Christmas Carol, or The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde)

  • You will need to answer the question on the text you have studied, ignoring other options.
  • You will read an extract from the novel you have studied and then answer a question related to the events, ideas or characters within it.
  • You will also have to explore similar ideas in another place from the novel.
  • Exploration of the effects of language, structure and characterization on the readers.
  • Understanding of the contextual influences impacting the writing of the text, or its reception.

Paper 2 (60% of GCSE)

Section A (Modern Texts – An Inspector Calls)

  • You will answer one question from a choice of two on this play. One question will be about an idea or theme, and the other will be about a character.
  • You will be expected to show good understanding of the whole text.
  • You will need to explore language and structure to help support your ideas about how meanings have been created.

Section B: Anthology Poetry (Power and Conflict)

  • Answer one question on the Power and Conflict cluster of poetry. One poem will be printed for you, and this is the poem that you need to analyse, whilst also comparing it to another poem of your choice
  • You will need to examine the ways poets use language and structural methods to convey their points about a given issue or idea.

Section C: Unseen Poetry

  • Two questions – one of 24 marks and one of 8 marks – on previously unseen poems.
  • The first question tests your ability to answer in detail on one unseen poem (24 marks) in response to a given question.
  • The second question (8 marks) requires you to compare the first unseen poem to a second unseen poem on a given subject.

Revision and Exam Tips

  1. Read as much fiction as you can
  2. Re-read your exam texts several times – not just once in class.
  3. Practise reciting speeches and quotations from the texts
  4. Practise your writing under timed conditions.
  5. Read a range of different poets. Look some up on YouTube and watch them performing their works.
  6. Brush up on your spelling, punctuation and grammar
  7. Answer previous exam questions
  8. Start revising early
  9. Flood your world with quotations
  10. Take online Literature quizzes for your texts
  11. Know the key moments from the plays and novel really well

Useful websites:

AQA website for sample papers, examples of candidate responses and examiner comments
AQA | GCSE | English Literature | Assessment resources

GCSE Bitesize Links: GCSE English Literature – AQA – BBC Bitesize

News websites including:
BBC News website
The Guardian website
Daily Mail website
Telegraph website
Mr Bruff videos –

Exam Hints

  • Read the questions carefully so that you answer on the correct source and address the focus of the question – answer the question you are given, not the question you’d like to answer!
  • Use short quotations from the sources
  • Always explain meaningfully and don’t say vague things such as “the writer has done this for effect”
  • Always use WHAT/HOW/WHY paragraphs
  • Follow the bullet-points and make sure you have written a brief plan for each question you are going to answer.

Download a printable version here

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