Do I need to memorise quotes for English GCSE?

With the new GCSE specifications released in 2015, most English Literature GCSE exams have now become closed-book exams.

But what does this mean?

This means that in your exam, you won’t have full access to your set texts which you have been studying all year and are being examined on. For some questions, you may be given a small extract in your exam to analyse, but you will not have the text in front of you to look for quotes.

This applies to both English literature and Language, even at A-level! This is a great skill to learn as it will definitely come in handy.

Get to know your exam board

When you are revising for English literature, you should make sure you know the texts you are studying in detail and whether your exam is open or closed book. This may vary by exam board (AQA, CCEA, Edexcel, Eduqas, OCR or WJEC).

This is important to know because the rules may differ slightly between exam boards, and even between individual papers! For example, the WJEC A level English literature drama section of the exam is closed book; however, the OCR GCSE English literature unit 4 exam is an open book paper.

Either way, you will need to read the text and different summaries of the story line, so you know the plot in depth.

But why do I need to memorise quotes?

Quotes are a vital element to your written responses in your English GCSE exams.

By using quotes, you are demonstrating that you have read the text and can carefully select evidence through the form of quotations, which are used to support your argument.

Learning plenty of quotations may seem like a mundane and boring task, but it’s really helpful to ensure you get the best grade in your English exams. The automatic memorisation of quotations helps to free up the working memory of students – this means they can make insightful interpretations and evaluate meaning more easily.

It’s not just about blindly memorising the words … you need to be able to understand the quotes. If you don’t even know what they mean, then it’s pointless trying to remember them! Make sure that you know where each quote comes in the narrative, who says it, and what the surrounding context of the quote is: who is speaking? Is it dialogue between characters or narrative observation? What is is describing? Why is it important to the text?

Get familiar with your texts

You will have read through your set texts once before in your class, but it’s always a good idea to try and go through them again if you have the chance. This will mean that the content of the text is fresher in your mind nearer to the exam.
If you’re restricted for time, or don’t have the book to hand – why not try and find some online resources?

The wonderful worldwide web has plenty of online revision tools which can help you learn the content of your set texts.

For example, you could watch the film version or stage adaptation of your text (if there is one). These can help you visualise the way a play may be staged and emphasise any themes the director may have highlighted for the audience that you might have overlooked when you read the text.
You could also try and find a plot summary of your book online. Many websites or videos will have small summaries which will be able to explain what happens, but you won’t need to read through the whole book again.

A great example of this is SparkNotes – it can be a saviour of your GCSE! Find the website here:

When you’re rereading your set text, make sure you’re jotting down some key things:
The main themes of the text

The main characters – you could always do a mind map of their journey and characteristics
What are the main events that happen in the text?

The introduction and conclusion – both are very important, and sometimes they may even mirror each other for dramatic effect!

Some good quotes which cover some themes/ characters – they could be useful in the exam!
It is also a good idea to review any footnotes included in your edition of the text as they can provide you with important contextual information and/or overviews of the text.

Next Steps
If you’ve re-read your text and know that for your exam you will have a closed book, then you know that you will need to begin memorising!

Even if you will have an open book exam, it’s still a good idea to try and learn have picked out some key quotes that may be useful, as it will make it easier to use them when you’re writing your written response in the exam.

See our article ‘How to memorise quotes’ to find out the best methods for memorisation.
Make fast progress with Tavistock Tutors!

English GCSE TutorsEnglish A-Level TutorsEnglish 11+ TutorsEnglish IB TutorsEnglish Tutors

Additional resources:

Checking Your Work: English GCSE
English Language GCSE Revision Tips
English Literature GCSE Revision Tips

Contact Akhilesh for more information.


Eyup Ozcan
Eyup Ozcan
14:43 24 Feb 20
In the beginning of university terms I was struggling with a few assignments (statistics and research methods specifically). I had contacted many tutoring companies but non of them were able to meet my requirements i.e. some of them were just looking to get their money, some had conditions of how many session you could book and some didn't have the necessary qualifications that were suited for my needs.I had then found Tavistock tutors, they put me through with one of their best statistical tutors they had. I got an email straight away from her and we started working on the assignment and in a few sessions, the assignment was all up to date and I was ready to submit it with great confidence.Tavistock tutors is an amazing company that is worth the investment, they provide you with top class tutors, continuous support outside your lessons as well as being able to match you up with the correct tutor. whenever I need a tutor, all I do is message them on WhatsApp with my requirements and in a day or two, they've found me a perfect tutor.So far I've had great success with tutors in the fields of statistics and research methods as well as medicine related. Really happy with the services I've been given, don't be put of by the membership price, its worth it ;).read more
Muna Ali
Muna Ali
11:48 29 Jan 20
Great service, friendly staff and prompt customer service. Highly qualified selection of tutors and decent price for security and piece of mind.
natalie kanfer
natalie kanfer
15:32 21 Jan 20
By far the best tutoring agency I have ever worked with!
Melodie Argi
Melodie Argi
08:14 18 Oct 19
Tavistock tutors is by far the best tutor agency is London. The tutor selection is of the highest quality. Handpicked from the British intellectual elite in all sorts of disciplines. The staff is wonderfully helpful as well as being extremely attentive to more
Henry Smith
Henry Smith
22:27 17 Oct 19
I have been employed as a tutor with Tavistock Tutors for over 5 years. I tutor mathematics and also help people with job preparation for different career routes (cv, cover letter, interview preparation and online test prep). They are simply a wonderful team of individuals who work collectively and strive to deliver the best possible service to both clients and their tutors. They work doggedly to achieve results. They are particularly honest and their feedback to tutors on how to improve is tailored, concise and always highly constructive. Even after 5 yrs, they only put me forward as a tutor if they think I am the absolute best they can find otherwise they are honest with me and explain why I was not put forward. I think this transparency is a huge reason for their success and keeps the best tutors on their books for years. Their communication on what a client wants is also clinically precise and effective and the team go out of their way to provide potential interests/passions of the client to help the tutor prepare accordingly for the lessons and nurture that interaction. Simply the finest agency and I have tutored with some of the best. World-class tutors and utmost confidentiality with respect to their clientele. I cannot be happier to work for them, a dream job with a team whose capacity for kindness, empathy and boundless intellect never ceases to amaze me. Their work ethic inspires me to relentlessly push myself to be a better tutor with their encouragement and constructive more
Albert Tam
Albert Tam
20:50 17 Oct 19
Best tutors in London! Great experience and amazing customer service. Highly recommend, my tutors were all fantastic and a huge help. Really recommend Tavistock Tutors as I never had to worry about not getting the highest quality tutors unlike other agencies and online more
16:13 17 Oct 19
I’ve used Tavistock multiple times and they never disappoint!I used them for myself secondary school, whilst at university and even now whilst working. Their service is second to none as are their tutors.I highly recommend them to anyone looking to better themselves academically or more
13:22 06 Oct 19
Why most reviewers have one contribution, namely to the Tavistock Tutors?High standards ? Mate get a real job rather than living off other's qualifications.Reality Check(See photos attached - that is the owner “looking for me” 1.5 years after leaving London and while my name and photo was on first page of Tavistock Tutor website...)read more
Jonathan Aaron
Jonathan Aaron
16:39 01 Aug 19
Amazing experience, the tutor was reliable, knowledgeable and reasonably priced and the company was both professional and reliable. Definitely will be using them again!read more
David T
David T
16:34 01 Aug 19
I used Tavistock for some Corporate Finance and Financial Modelling training at my firm. They were extremely helpful and the trainer, Simon, was of top quality, experience and charged a fair price. Thank you!read more
Olivia Pluss
Olivia Pluss
11:05 13 Jun 19
I had a fantastic experience with my tutor Elena and Tavistock Tutors. They were very well organized and made the entire experience so seamless and easy for me. I passed my assignment with great marks and the experience was much less stressful than if I had tried to complete the assignment without Elena's more
J Mathews
J Mathews
11:27 22 May 19
My child used Glenda for HL biology. Glenda was outstanding. I would not hesitate to recommend her. Extremely intelligent, always prepared, knows how to teach/very helpful, and also just a nice person. Also, I would use Tavistock again for sure because we had such success with more
Alan Radford
Alan Radford
09:34 09 May 19
Tavistock Tutors were a delight to deal with, and highly professional at all times. They provided my daughter with an excellent tutor at very short notice - after my having approached them on a Thursday urgently requesting a tutor for that weekend. Tavistock Tutors immediately gave the matter their attention; they appreciated the urgency and responded quickly and efficiently, and helped to set my daughter up with exactly the right sort of tutor. Fantastic!read more
Sophie Taieb
Sophie Taieb
12:55 29 Mar 19
Very happy with Tavistock tutors services. They provide a wide range of tutors, from all backgrounds and for all types of needs. My uni son needed some help in research and methodology. We found a perfectly suited tutor in less than 3 days. He is very knowledgeable, punctual, open minded and brings the support needed to my son. I would definitely recommend Tavistock tutorsread more
Next Reviews

How to memorise quotes – (great for closed book exams!)

Memorising quotes can be a crucial element to your GCSE and A-level exams, so mastering the skill can be essential.Being able to use quotes in your written responses is a sure way to get marks for...

How to choose quotes to learn for English GCSE

We know that learning quotes for a closed-book exam can be daunting, difficult and boring – especially when you’ve already been studying the text for an entire year. In our article ‘Do I need ...

Context in English Literature – GCSE and A-level

How can I use context? How can I write about context in my essays?

What is context?

You may have read that your exams requite an understanding of the relationships between texts ...

Call Now Button