Exams are fast approaching, which is a very scary concept because if you’re like me, you’re very much not ready (but also super looking forward to getting them out of the way!). After my poll on instagram last night had a majority vote for this post, I decided that today I’d help you with all your revision needs and provide you with all my tips and tricks to revise English Lit. I think it’s a really difficult subject, but it’s definitely my favourite one and I actually quite enjoy revising for it! I’ll share with you how I revise both texts and poetry (on a GCSE level) and answer some of the questions I’ve got over instagram at the end!
HOW I REVISE TEXTS:
I do three texts for GCSE; Romeo & Juliet, Jekyll and Hyde and Lord of the Flies. Romeo and Juliet is definitely my favourite, and I really hate Jekyll and Hyde, however I revise all three in the exact same way.
The first thing you have to do multiple times when revising English lit is read the texts! This is the most important thing, as it’s the only way you’ll fully grasp the actual story and series of events, and it’ll also help you to remember quotes. Watching films/plays that are about your texts is useful, but don’t rely on them completely as they’re usually really different to the texts.
The second thing I do is make a text overview. This is a really condensed version of what goes on in each chapter, just so you know which characters come into play and when, and what events happen and when. It’s important to know the chronology of the text when you’re writing an essay in the exam as you’ll sound more fluent.
Then I get onto making mindmaps! This is the main way that I revise English Lit. I make a mindmap on every character in the text, making notes around these headings: character analysis (where I talk about the character themselves, relationships with other characters and how they impact the text e.g. any deaths, significant events etc), key quotes (exactly as it sounds – useful quotes to remember for the exam. I always cite where they’re from in the text and do a little bit of analysis) and finally, how does this character fit into the themes of the play (this is really important in case you’re asked a themed based question in the exam as you can extend into characters then too). I stick these mindmaps up on my wall. As you can see in the picture below, I have quite a few for Romeo and Juliet however I’ve also got an A3 poster about context on there too and my mindmap for Lord and Lady Capulet is more notes focusing on them at certain parts of the play, but more often than not it follows the structure above.
I also make notes on themes. I prefer to do just lined paper notes on these, but I go on every theme of the text and write detailed notes, how they effect characters and any quotes relevant to the themes. I keep these in a folder as opposed to on my wall, as it just seems way easier (although I do find having the mindmaps on my wall really useful to revise from as I’m constantly seeing them).
The final thing I do to revise texts, other than constantly reading over my revision materials again and again and reading the text as many times as possible, is to make key quote cards for characters and also writing a bit of analysis on them. I also write if they’re related to any themes of the text too. I then say these out loud (even if it makes you seem like a bit of a moron!) over and over to try learn them for the exam.
REVISION GUIDES/AIDS I LIKE TO USE FOR MY TEXTS:
Of course I have a copy of each of the texts and they’re annotated to high heaven, but I use some other materials to aid my revision such as apps and revision guides.
- CGP Text Guides – these are really good for a basic overview of the text and some basic points on characters and themes, but they are quite simplified. They’re good as a starting point, but there are others I’d recommend more.
- Collins Snap Revision Guides – These little A5 books are revision guides that delve into the text a little deeper and gives you summaries of all the chapters, there are pages on every character, theme and a part which focuses on the exam with some practice questions.
- Litcharts – this is an app I discovered recently but it’s got all my GCSE texts on and more and it’s super useful for revising on the go, or giving you a description of a character to help you in making mindmaps. It shows themes throughout the text and it’s free!
HOW I REVISE POEMS:
I study the AQA Poetry Anthology and do the poems from the Conflict and Power section. These poems focus more on war, the power of people and the environment. I find that using the SCITTLES acronym to revise them is really useful, as it helps you get a condensed version of all the points of the poem and any devices.
S – summary of the poem
C – context
I – intention of the writer
T – techniques
T – themes
L – langauge
E – effect on the reader
S – structure
I have one of these for every poem, and that’s mainly how I revise. I also have tried to learn as many quotes as possible, even if they’re only two words long, from the poems, and some of the shorter poems I have even managed to memorise (London is a great one to memorise because the rhythm is so catchy) which I’m hoping will come in handy for the exam. Any poems I don’t understand/haven’t got many ideas for, I’ll usually go to Mr Bruff on youtube, or Mr Salles (he also does some good lord of the flies videos, which are very difficult to find on youtube!) to get some ideas. I annotate my anthology to the point where I can barely see the poem and read over my annotations regularly. Doing practice questions is also really useful to get into a comparative style too for the poems, as I find I often have lots of ideas but I tend to put them onto paper in a really unorganised way!
I thought I’d answer some questions about English Lit that I got on instagram to make this post a little more interesting!
‘Romeo and Juliet is the worst play ever written.’ How far do you agree with this statement? Use examples to support your answer.
Honestly, I’m not in the mood to write an anti-romeo and juliet essay right now, but I will say this; it’s rather boring and gets on my nerves with the whole repetitive love stuff throughout, but maybe that’s because I’ve read the play too many times. It’s my favourite of the texts that I study (but I do study completely boring texts soooo) but by no means do I actually enjoy it. I think studying texts so in depth kind of ruins them to be honest.
What’s your favourite poem/text you study and why?
My favourite text is Romeo & Juliet simply because I really hate my other two. My favourite poem is probably The Prelude by William Wordsworth, I have quite a bit to say for that one, otherwise I really like London.
I hope you enjoyed this post since loads of people requested it on instagram. If you didn’t know (which you probably don’t), I started a studyblr on Tumblr – you can follow it here, and I’m trying to post the work I do every day on the runup to GCSEs so I’m pretty active there. I’m also following back most studyblrs, I’d love it if you checked it out!