Exam Technique in A-Level English
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Links from AS

The A2 English Literature course builds on the AS course; some of the assessment objectives are common between AS and A2 while others move the study on into new areas. Your study at A2 Level will require both greater breadth and depth founded firmly on your studies at AS Level.

What the examiners are looking for

Bear in mind that ‘examiners’ are not a special group of people who appear every year to mark examination scripts. The vast majority are teachers just like your own. In fact, some of your teachers may well be examiners. This means that they are well aware of the problems, worries and concerns that you can encounter. Bear in mind is that examiners do not devise questions to try to trick students. Everybody concerned with examining wants you to do as well as you are able and therefore the questions that you will face in the exam will have been designed to be as clear and unambiguous as possible. Here are some points to bear in mind.

  • Questions are rarely prescriptive – they are open so as to invite you to discuss the issues involved.
  • If the question contains some kind of proposition you are never expected to simply accept it – acceptance or rejection needs to be supported by evidence.
  • Read the question carefully and make sure that what you write answers what the question asks.
  • Do not paraphrase texts – you get no marks for re-telling the story.
  • Never use model or prepared answers. Certainly model answers can be useful to give you ideas or as part of your revision but never try to reproduce them as your own answer. Worse still, never try to ‘bend’ a question to suit an answer you have in mind.
  • Good answers are firmly based on informed analysis and close reference to your text.
  • Remember the technical aspects of your written work – technical inaccuracies can detract from your work and at worse obscure what you are wanting to say. You should note that: the quality of written communication is assessed in all assess-ment units where candidates are required to produce extended written material.

What skills will I need?

You will be tested through a series of assessment objectives. These assessment objectives clearly show the skills and abilities that you should have acquired through studying the course. The assessments will assess a candidates ability to:

  • AO1 Communicate clearly the knowledge, understanding and insight appropriate to literary study, using appropriate terminology and accurate and coherent written expression
  • AO2ii Respond with knowledge and understanding to literary texts of different types and periods, exploring and commenting on relationships and comparisons between literary texts
  • AO3 Show detailed understanding of the ways in which writers’ choices of form, structure and language shape meanings
  • AO4 Articulate independent opinions and judgements, informed by different interpretations of literary texts by other readers
  • AO5ii Evaluate the significance of cultural, historical and other contextual influences on literary texts and study. Your final A Level grade will depend on the extent to which you meet these assessment objectives.

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