How to revise for English?

Thursday 11 April 2019

How do you revise for English? 

This is a question most English teachers have heard, probably most years, as many students seem to find it hard to see English as a subject that they can revise for in the same way that they study for other, more content-based subjects.  This is an inherently good thing, I think, as it suggests English teachers are successful in encouraging students to see the subject in broader terms: they associate it with reading, writing, creativity, discussion, inquiry and collaboration - i.e. learning -  rather than an exam-driven, Gradgrindesque quest for "facts and calculations." 

However, this also means that English can feature low on students' list of priorities when it comes to revision and exam preparation, and the reality is we do need to prepare them for examinations that test their knowledge, understanding and skills.  Therefore, it is important to address these perceptions about English directly and regualrly so that students know that they can and should revise for the subject, and so that they have a range of strategies that guide them in doing this effectively.  

For those of us in May schools, we are now at the point where classes are coming to a close and students will soon go off on examination leave, so now is the time we need to be reminding students about strategies they can use to revise for the subject.  As such, now also seems a good time to point you in the direction of the many resources on the Inthinking Literature site that can help you guide your students when it comes to revising effectively in the weeks leading up to the exams:

General Revision

The recently added Revision ideas page includes a slideshow with tips for revising Paper 1 and Paper 2, as well as a few more general revision tips.

For helping students with their language, look at the pages on Synonyms for analysis and The Language Criterion.  

Sentence - Phrase - Word is a thinking routine taken from the book Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church and Karin Morrison, which can work well as a strategy for looking at Paper 1 extracts or extracts from set texts.  

Although in the Part 2 section, The IOC: a student guide to literary art includes pages on literary techniques that can be used for revision. 

Paper 1 Revision

The section Paper 1: the basics includes a range of pages about this examination.  Useful pages for revision purposes include: 

10 Tips for Paper 1

Annotating texts 

Reading unseen passages 

Properties of language 

The Commentary: a rough guide 

Choosing the passage 

The section Mini-texts to go has a range of texts that could be used for paper 1 practice.  

For past papers and sample answers go to the Marking Paper 1 section

Paper 2 Revision

The section  Part 3 Genres is designed to support study and preparation for paper 2, including pages on each genre and the literary conventions of each genre.

The page Revising literary works includes a range of ideas for the study of set texts.  

if your chosen genre is novels or plays, the page Revising Set Texts through Characters outlines a collaborative strategy focused on characters.

The page Preparing to answer a Paper 2 exam question also includes a slideshow and notes about preparing for this examination.

The  Essay Writing section includes pages with guidance on structure, writing good paragraphs, using quotations and writing introuctions and conclusions. 

The 4 C’s, adapted for Literature is a visible thinking strategy that can be used to revise key sections from set texts. 

For past papers and sample answers go to the Marking Paper 2  section.


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