How to Revise for GCSE English Lit/Lang

As exams approach, giving students a growing sickening weight to their hearts, the importance of revision remains absolute. However, ‘you can’t revise for English really,’ has been a common retort for English teachers, up and down the country, to hear from their Year 11 students. These students risk jeopardising their English grade with a dangerously cavalier approach… Don’t be one of them!

Ways to revise:

1) Over familiarity with set texts

Know that text like the back of your hand. Read it forwards, backwards, upside down and inside out. Characters, quotations, and settings should be disturbing every waking thought and unconscious dream… Make those texts your closest buddy. Even if you can take your text into the exam, you do not want to be wasting time rifling through the chapters/acts searching for that perfect quotation.

2) Know your terminology

All those complicated and tricky to spell terms, that you use to analyse language, structure and form, are essential to a sophisticated response. Learn the terms and their definitions in groupings such as: sound (alliteration etc), language (exaggeration etc), imagery (metaphor etc), movement (pace etc), structure (stanza etc) (SLIMS). Revise with a friend and test each other.

3) Practise your writing techniques

As well as knowing what the words mean, you also need to be able to apply them to your own writing. You should know which techniques make your descriptive writing colourful and varied, or your explanations clear and insightful. Leading up to the exam, maybe keep a journal, writing short passages about your actions and thoughts using a variation of techniques. Also, try to spot how other writers use techniques within their writing, do they do it successfully? This will nurture your critical eye and an analytical frame of mind.

4) Practise essay questions

You know which texts you will be tested on (especially if you have an anthology for Language or Literature) so be forewarned and forearmed. Test your self with past questions from previous papers, get them from your teacher if necessary. Also, remember to try and keep to the time allocated to the question. This will mean that when the exam comes, you will feel confident and well prepared when others will be quivering at the knees.

5) Read… Anything!

The Language exam will test you on your ability to interpret non-fiction, fiction and media texts: so get reading. While waiting in the dentist’s, look around you at all those cheesy adverts selling you the latest miracle toothbrush… What language is being used to persuade you to go out and part with a handsome amount of money for an all singing and dancing toothbrush? What colours and images are being employed to dazzle you? Always be analysing.

So there it is… Good Luck!