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AQA A Level English Literature Guide to LITB3 Section A: Text & Genres Exam Techniques

Steve Campsall | Wednesday May 15, 2013

Categories: Hot Entries, Shakespeare, Shakespeare's Plays, Writing, Drama Analysis, Essays, Literary Analysis, Persuasive Writing, Poetry Analysis, Prose Analysis, Rhetoric Analysis, Speech Analysis, AQA A Level English Literature B, LITB3, KS5 Archive, AQA A Level

  • Throughout this guide, a past exam-style question based on the play Macbeth has been used to illustrate ideas, but these have been written in a way that will allow you easily to transfer the idea to any other exam text, whether another ‘Gothic’ text or Pastoral.
  • To achieve a high grade in your exam answer, one major precondition exists:
    • That you know your text well.

If that condition has been met, through classroom and personal study along with research via the Internet or other study guides, then this guide should help you achieve the other preconditions, that you are able to demonstrate your knowledge of the text in an essay that ticks each of the four ‘Assessment Objectives’ boxes against which your grade will be judged. 

Exam Technique | LITB3 Section A

1. Beginning Your Answer

The first thing we read in any text is always important; it sets a psychological ‘mind-set’ that tends to persist. This is especially so in something as subjective as English Literature where there are no ‘right’ answers. In English there are only views and opinions based on interpretations or readings of texts.

So, the opening of your essay is important. There are ways that will create the sort of impact that causes the examiner right from the go to think that the essay might turn out to be a top grade response. This guide offers one such way.

How can you do this? Write confidently. Attack the question immediately and do so directly. An excellent way to do this is to offer a summary of your response, stated ‘in a nutshell’. This means writing in that opening paragraph, a succinct overview. Knowing how to create an effective overview is, without doubt, a useful skill to have. It will be important that you understand how to do it and to have practised and hopefully mastered the technique well before exam day.

What exactly is an overview? It’s a succinct statement of your ‘over[all]view’, that is, of your ‘take on’ and...

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