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A Teacher’s Guide to OCR AS Unit F661 Section B: Prose

Paul Merrell | Wednesday December 11, 2013

Categories: Hot Entries, Prose, Jane Eyre, The Turn of the Screw, Writing, Analytical Writing, Prose Analysis, OCR A Level English Literature, F661, KS5 Archive, OCR A Level

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Introduction

Of the two parts of the F661 examination, I think this is the Section most likely to keep your pupils awake at night (and that’s not only because OCR seems to have opted for a range of Gothic texts to in this latest incarnation of the specification!) After all, in its current manifestation, the Prose section of the exam contains some complex novels with some pretty difficult themes and issues to consider.

Interestingly, despite this, OCR note that it is this section of the examination – as opposed to the Poetry - which is the one on which pupils are more likely to do well. I would suggest that this is because the questions are ones that are more readily familiar to students that have undertaken the various versions of GCSE English Lit. Whereas the Poetry question is something new, requiring a different set of skills and approaches to that pupils may have had to utilise before in an examination room, the Prose question feels more like the sort of thing they have done before: choice of two questions - one generally theme based, one character based – write for an hour. And go . . .

Indeed, in preparing pupils for the recent Summer examination, I went through all the past questions for the last four years for the Prose questions for F661 and put together a list of all the themes that had been selected (and noted when a character based question came up). I encouraged pupils keen to be as prepared as possible, to try all of these out in connection with their own novel – especially, I think the settings of the novel are an especially fruitful area of study . . .see OCR Past Themes for ALL Prose Questions.docx in Associated Resources. The key message here, though, is that it is really not that difficult at all to spot the patterns OCR use in their questions. For a comparison, you can find the Poetry version of this in the Associated Resources, see OCR Past Themes for ALL Poetry Questions.docx....


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