How to get an A in AQA english literature A-level?

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I got a C in august, 4 marks off a B. My teacher says that anybody who did not get an A must resit.
So any tips for getting an A in the AS exam?

Posted Tue 17th September, 2013 @ 17:01 by Abokoma

3 Answers

  • 1 vote

There aren't any golden tips or rules for getting an A in any particular subject. Especially with something like English Literature it is even harder to say what must go into your essays to get that A, as well as because it is based on your interpretation and ideas that you write about.

Although I did my AS English Lit exam via EDEXCEL and got an A, I think that these tips can get you an A with AQA as well:

1) Planning

 It is crucial that you plan your answer in the exam. Although I personally didn't do this but now I realise that if I did this in my exam, I would've not stopped to THINK about what I should write. When you're planning, make sure that you write the exam title on the top of the page that you're planning the answer. When you've written the title, break it down and highlight/circle the most important words in the question. This will make it much easier to focus your answer on the question and you won't drift off talking about everything you know about a specific novel/poem. 

When you're planning, the question will normally ask you subtly whether you agree or disagree with the statement. Make sure you state concretely your position in the argument. From there, make a list of all the arguments that will agree with you and all the arguments that don't agree. You will need to justify your argument throughout your essay, and by justifying, it means that you know and accept different viewpoints from yourself and that you're able to analyse/judge other arguments.

2) Paragraphing

When you set our your essay, make sure you aim for at least this:

- Introduction (1 para)

- 3 paragraphs for your argument

- 3 paragraphs against your argument

-Conclusion (1 para)

Introduction- you need to state briefly what you're writing about, defragment your question ( re-write the question and answer it) and state the provenance of the novel/poem that is relevant to the question.

Your other 6 paragraphs- you must always start these paragraphs in a clear and concise manner, and you must end these paragraphs summarising what you have just said. (I can't expand any further because your question was too vague.)

Conclusion- this must summarise your entire essay. It is no good to just regurgitate what you have written in just 2-3 sentences. You must expand on all the arguments that you have used and make a THOUGHT OUT judgement based on the strengths/weaknesses of yours and the other arguments.

3) Time-keeping

Make sure that your eye is on the clock constantly. When you are planning, make sure that you plan everything briefly and NOT IN DETAIL as this will waste your time, remember, the examiner doesn't care how detailed or pretty your plan looks, you will not get any marks for it. When you plan your paragraphs, write down approximately how much time you want/need to spend on it. This way, when you look over your plan to recover the information that your mind has so wanted to release, there's guidance as to how much you should be spending. This will also make your brain and your hands work faster in order to attain that goalpost that you've said for that specific paragraph.

4) Writing tips

Make sure that you write in a CLEAR and CONCISE manner. This simply means that you write in a manner which is not ambiguous and that the examiner can clearly understand what you are writing about. With your planning, you should've already made all your arguments/responses focused on the question so there is no question of you drifting off and writing about something else irrelevant.

Always use EXAMPLES. This will really help if you don't know what to write about. Examples are a goldmine for getting those high-end marks. These will show that you have the knowledge and is willing to exemplify this in your answer.  In each of your paragraphs, make sure you use at least 2-3 examples. Also, when you are using examples, don't just copy everything from a passage. Embed it in your answer. By this, I mean to write your own sentence but use ''quotations'' with ideas from the passage that you are wanting to write about. In addition, don't worry about writing what chapter/page you are getting the passage from, the examiner wants to see how you are using the novel to justify your argument. Examples are a medium for expressing your knowledge, and the examiner will not mark you down if you do not indicate where it is from. It is only necesssary to do this if the passage you are writing from is a contrast to a different paragraph a similar/different quote and/or the paragraph is significant because of irony or of other importance.

Answered Thu 19th September, 2013 @ 10:40 by TheLiterary
Edited by TheLiterary on Thu 10th October, 2013 @ 21:44
  • 0 votes


Thanks for the detailed paragraphs. I think i'm going to go back to the texts and make additional ideas and interpretations to add to my notes from last year.

Within AQA there is only one debate question but the rest are quite straightforward, I guess its about making sure your writing is concise, detailed etc...

I just really want to hit the top band! Are you currently studying A2 Englsih Literature?

Answered Fri 20th September, 2013 @ 23:04 by Abokoma
  • 0 votes

Yes, I currently study A2 English Literature with EDEXCEL. I apologise for replying so late! 

Answered Thu 10th October, 2013 @ 21:42 by TheLiterary