How To Revise For A-Level English Literature?

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Written By Dr Shane McKeown

Are you dreading revising for your A-Level English Literature exams? Don’t worry, I’m here to help.

Revision doesn’t have to be a chore; with my tips and tricks, you can make it an enjoyable experience that will give you the freedom of confidence in yourself as an independent learner.

English literature is often seen as intimidating but it’s all about unlocking the secrets behind the text and learning how to interpret them.

With my guidance, you’ll discover just how accessible these texts can be – so let’s get started!

Planning Your Revision Strategy

Revising for A-Level English Literature can seem daunting and overwhelming but, with the right strategy, you’ll be well on your way to getting good results.

Time management is essential when it comes to revising: create a schedule that works for you, breaking down what topics need to be covered and how much time needs to be spent on each one. This will help keep you focused and organised so that nothing gets forgotten or left until the last minute.

Note taking is also important; as you read through texts take notes of key points that are relevant to whatever topic you’re studying – this will make them easier to refer back to when it’s time to sit the exam.

To supplement note taking, creating mind maps or diagrams can help structure ideas in a more visual way; they often contain far fewer words than traditional notes, making them great for quick revision sessions or if there’s not enough time in the day.

Also, don’t forget about practice papers! Spending some time completing these is an excellent way of gaining insight into what sort of questions may appear on the actual exam paper – plus it gives you valuable experience answering questions under timed conditions which should give your confidence a boost come test day.

So get planning your revision strategy now and reap the rewards!

Developing An Understanding Of The Text

Now that you have a plan for your revision strategy, the next step is to develop an understanding of the text.

Close reading and literary criticism are essential tools to unlock the complexities of literature. Through close reading, it’s possible to explore structural elements such as characters, themes and tone; this can also be used to uncover deeper meanings within the text.

Literary criticism involves interpreting works in relation to other texts and broader contexts – this helps us relate what we read back to our own lives.

To gain a full appreciation of English Literature, here are 3 steps you can take:

  • Make notes on each chapter or section while you’re reading the text – don’t just skim over it!

  • Research any unfamiliar words or references online – this will help you understand more deeply

  • Rewrite important quotes from the book in your own words – summarizing key concepts will help them stick in your memory

Having taken these steps, you should feel confident enough to answer questions related to structure, language and context with ease during exams. You may even find yourself enjoying analyzing literature through various lenses and gaining a newfound appreciation for how authors use their craft.

Identifying Key Themes And Motifs

When revising for A-Level English Literature, it is important to identify key themes and motifs in the text. This can often be done through analysis of intertextuality – looking at how two or more texts may share similar ideas or literary devices. By doing this you will gain a better understanding of the literature and how its different parts are connected.

To help with identification of these themes and motifs, consider the images used throughout the text as well as any patterns that emerge from the characters’ words and actions.

Think about what each character represents symbolically and why they behave in certain ways; this could reveal something significant about their place within the narrative.

Additionally, pay attention to repeated language which can serve to emphasise particular points being made by an author or speaker.

With practice, you should become adept at recognising recurring elements which will aid your revision process significantly.

Applying Analytical Tools To The Text

Close reading techniques are a great way to get the most out of your text – it involves looking at language and structure to unpack the meaning and context of the piece.

To understand literary devices, you need to be able to recognise them in the text and interpret the effect it has on the reader.

Symbols can often be used to represent something in the text, so it’s important to look out for them and see what underlying message the author is trying to communicate.

With these tools, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of the text and be able to write about it in an insightful way.

Let’s take a closer look at them.

Close Reading Techniques

As a tutor of A-level English Literature, I’m always looking for ways to help my students get the most out of their texts. The first and perhaps most important tool an analytical student can use is close reading techniques; exploring symbolism and analysing structure. By taking a deeper dive into these elements, you’ll be able to better understand the author’s intent and gain a greater appreciation for their work.

When it comes to exploring symbolism in literature, take your time to consider what each object or character represents within the text. As you read through the passage, make notes on any symbols that stand out as particularly noteworthy.

Analyzing structure means going beyond simply understanding the plot – look at how paragraphs are organized, what kind of language is used, and where characters fall in terms of power dynamics. All of this will give you insight into the underlying themes present in the piece and allow you to form more complex arguments about its meaning.

With practice, you can unlock even more secrets hidden between the lines!

Examining Literary Devices

Once you’ve grasped the symbolism and structure of a text, it’s time to turn your attention to other literary devices.

Examining the language used by an author can be extremely useful in understanding their ideas more fully.

Pay special attention to metaphors, similes, allusions and imagery; these will help you build up a clearer picture of what they are trying to convey.

Additionally, look at how tone shifts throughout the passage, as this will give you great insight into character motivation and further themes present within the work.

By taking some extra time to dig deeper into literature with analytical tools like close reading, exploring symbolism and examining literary devices, you’ll gain invaluable knowledge that will enrich your appreciation for any text!

Interpreting Symbols

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the symbolism and structure of a text, let’s take a look at how to interpret those symbols.

Figurative language such as metaphors, similes, allusions and imagery allow us to explore deeper into an author’s ideas – they can help provide powerful insights into character motivation and uncover additional themes within the work.

When analyzing these elements be sure to consider the tone shifts throughout the passage; this will give you great insight into what certain characters are trying to communicate.

By using analytical tools like close reading and understanding literary devices we can gain valuable knowledge that will broaden our appreciation for any given piece of literature!

Practicing Exam Questions

Achieving success in A-Level English Literature often requires the dedicated and methodical approach of a true scholar. Having applied analytical tools to your chosen texts, it is now time to put those skills into practice through exam questions. Like an artisan polishing their craft, we must hone our knowledge so that come examination day all will be ready for the challenge ahead.

Let us begin with practicing techniques; as a tutor I recommend breaking up sample questions into manageable chunks and rewarding yourself after each one. This could take the form of taking a break or engaging in some physical activity – whatever works best for you! Also, make sure to double check any sections you are unsure about. Finally, never underestimate the power of timed essays and mock exams; this can provide vital experience when preparing for the real thing.

Now let’s move on to considering sample questions; these should become increasingly difficult over time as confidence grows around certain topics. Whilst focusing on key question types such as comparison/contrast, character analysis and wider contextual understanding, attempt to answer without reliance upon pre-learned material – instead draw upon evidence from within texts studied during revision sessions.

Moreover, where possible have another set of eyes review answers before submission just to ensure accuracy and detail is not overlooked. And remember: even if mistakes are made they offer valuable learning opportunities which ought to be embraced rather than avoided.

Maintaining Motivation And Focusing On Self-Care

Revising for A-Level English Literature can be a daunting task. It’s important to stay organized and set achievable goals if you want to succeed in the exam.

To keep yourself motivated, break down larger tasks into smaller ones – this way, every step towards your goal will feel like an accomplishment. Additionally, rewarding yourself with treats or activities that you enjoy after completing each milestone is a great way to maintain motivation.

Take regular breaks throughout the revision process; it’s better to work smarter than harder! Make sure not to overwork yourself by allowing time for hobbies and other restorative activities such as exercising or spending time outdoors.

Self-care is essential during times of stress; being kind to yourself goes a long way when studying for any exam. Remember that although this moment may seem overwhelming now, eventually all of your effort will pay off once you get the results you deserve.


Revising for A-Level English Literature can be daunting, but with a well thought out plan and the right approach it can also be a rewarding experience.

To ensure success in your exams, you need to:

  • Understand the text thoroughly
  • Identify key themes and motifs
  • Practice answering exam questions
  • Stay motivated throughout the revision process

As an experienced tutor, I know that by taking these steps you will develop not only subject knowledge but also analytical skills which are invaluable both inside and outside of academia.

So don’t let anxiety stop you from realising your potential – embrace the challenge and make sure to take care of yourself along the way!

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