English Literature GCSE – Revision tips

Preparing for your English Literature GCSE can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be.

Tavistock Tutors are here with some top tips to help you ace your way to a 9. With these revision tips, you should sail through and your work will stand out to the examiners !

Preparing for your English Language GCSE can be a scary time. But it doesn’t have to be.

Tavistock Tutors are here with some top tips to help you ace your way to a 9. With these revision tips, you should sail through the English language GCSE!

Traffic lights

At first all of your revision can seem so daunting – where do you even begin?

A handy tip to get you started is to use the traffic light colour coding system to work out where to begin your revision. Print out your specification and grab three different colour highlighters/pens/pencils. Go through your specification with each colour and rank them in how confident you feel.

Maybe you really enjoy one poem but you struggle with some others? Highlight your strengths in green, and highlight your weaknesses in red. In orange you can highlight those which need some more practice!

Once you have colour coded the different requirements of your English literature GCSE, you’ll be more clued up on what to prioritise.

Try to avoid staying in your comfort zone by just tackling green topics, instead start revising those topics that you’ve highlighted in red. This might be more scary at first, as you may feel less confident with this material – but covering your weak spots first will ensure that you have a well-rounded knowledge of the whole syllabus.

This will mean you’re more prepared for any scenario that could come your way in the exam!

Timetable your way to success

If you haven’t already done so, an essential revision tool for English language GCSE is a revision timetable.

You can do this however you’d like – there’s plenty online that have a basic framework, or if you prefer to jot things down, maybe you could get some coloured pens and make one yourself.

When preparing a revision timetable, a great idea is to schedule by week, and have slots for different parts of the day.

Make sure that schedule in breakfast, lunch and a snack in the afternoon to keep yourself going. It’s always a good idea to try and schedule in a small 5-minute break every hour when you can get up and move around!

You could even try to colour code your subjects so that each subject has a different colour, this should make it easier when viewing your timetable to distinguish what you should be doing for that allotted time.

Make sure that you’re not making an unrealistic or unattainable schedule, as you definitely won’t be able to stick to it. Make sure you get plenty of breaks and that you’re not exhausting yourself with revision. Research has shown that regular study breaks and getting enough sleep are really important in keeping your mind fresh in order to process the information you have revised.

Nothing ever goes entirely to plan, so it’s also a good idea to have some allotted time somewhere which can be used to go back over revision materials or to finish work that you didn’t get a chance to finish.


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Practise makes perfect

To feel as calm and confident as you can when you sit down to take the exam, plan as many past paper questions as you can. This will ensure you are familiar with exactly what the paper involves.

See our ‘English Literature GCSE past papers’ resource bank, where you can find all of the past papers for your exam board. There’s links to each exam board and also some useful top tips from Tavistock Tutors on how best to utilise your practice papers.

You could even try and do some practice papers in a timed environment so that you can get familiar with how much time to spend on each question. It’s important to remember that planning your written response is crucial, as it ensures that your response is clear in focus with clarity of communication and will also have a strong sense of purpose.

Stand out from the crowd

As one of thousands of students across the country taking the same exam paper, you need to make sure that you grab the examiner’s attention (for all the right reasons of course!).

A few simple ways to do this might be to plan different opening sections for both the fiction and non-fiction parts of the exam. For instance, in the fiction paper you could try to include a bold statement in your opening, to draw the reader’s attention in automatically.

Make sure that you use the MRS FORLAP technique to cover a vast range of literary techniques within your writing, which will demonstrate to your examiner that you have a good understanding of how to write effectively.

Language devices

To maximise your marks in the language paper, get familiar with plenty of language techniques which feature in both fiction and non-fiction. By visiting our ‘English GCSE Analysis toolkit’ and using the MRS FORLAP technique, you’ll have a checklist to hand.

When it comes to the exam, you will have a vast knowledge of literary techniques, and you’ll be able to use to correct vocabulary to successfully analyse the extracts.

Spice up your life with some variety!

Even superman can get bored of revising, so why not keep things interesting?

Scientific research has found that once you repeat something in three different ways, it’s more likely to stick in your memory. If you’re getting bored of writing monotonous notes, why not try something new?

Try reading over your class notes to go through the content, and then try and make exciting revision tools that are more exciting. By condensing your notes into different forms, you will be revising the material multiple times.

You could try and get creative by making a caricature of the characters from the novels you are studying. If you can draw (or, even if you can’t), use an A4 piece of paper to depict your character. If drawing isn’t your thing, print out a picture to label with quotes relevant to each character.

This will help cement the character’s journey in the novel and their specific role. It will also help you to organise your ideas ready for the exam.

If you’re a visual learner, try and get some colours involved by making a big mind-map. Once you’ve completed your masterpiece, try and turn it over and redraw it from memory – you’ll be surprised how much you remember!

Or maybe you learn better when you’re listening to something? There’s plenty of online resources which you can listen or watch to learn about how to improve your language skills. If you’ve got some spare time on your journey to school, why not download a podcast about your set novels, they can even provide you with some new ideas and insights!

Another great tip is creating a presentation which you can show to your guardian/ your dog/your Tavistock tutor/ or maybe just the wall?! By producing a presentation, you are actively seeking to inform the audience and you will simultaneously be reteaching yourself. If you read it aloud, it will stick in your memory even better!

By using all of these different techniques, you’ll be maximising your revision time and also making revision a little less boring!


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Poetry: the verse of life

Poetry can feel daunting to revise but stay calm, there are a few things you can do to make your life easier.

If possible, reread all of the poems again. You might be surprised at how little you remember some of them, so have a quick skim through to get familiar. Whilst you read them, write down the different themes that emerge; one poem might have the theme of love or tension, so write down all the themes that could be associated with that poem.

You could then create some lists or mind maps of which poems correspond to each theme, so that you can prepare which exams to write about if that theme comes up in your exam! It’s also important that you select evidence from the text to support your argument, so when you’re re-reading the poems, try and pick out some good quotes which you could mention.

Don’t forget to use the MRS FORLOP technique to pick out different literary devices which you can analyse!

And finally …don’t panic

Exam papers aren’t meant to be easy.

They’re designed to allow you to show us what you can do. Examiners are not trying to catch you out, they’re trying to help you achieve as many marks as possible. Use past papers and sample assessment materials to hone your skills before the exams.

If you answer the questions they ask in a calm and methodical way, and try your best, then no one can ask for anything more. Good Luck!

Additional resources:

English Literature GCSE Past Papers
English Resources: Great for GCSE and A-level
English Revision Guide

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