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 to memorise quotes for English GCSE?’ we talk about the importance of learning quotes for closed-book exams, and why it’s necessary. This is the case for most English Literature GCSE exams, whether you’re with AQA, OCR or any other examination board!

It’s an essential task for closed book exams, kas examiners will be looking for a thorough understanding of the whole text, and you need to demonstrate that by giving evidence straight from the text itself.

But Tavistock Tutors are here to help.

Where to find the best quotes?

If you’ve read our article ‘do I need to memorise quotes for English GCSE?’ then you’ll know the importance of rereading your set texts.

When you were going thorugh your set text again, or looking through summary versions online, be sure to jot down any quotes which stand out to you – they could be useful later!
Another place to find great quotes is within your exercise book and notes – It’s the best revision resource you have! Look back through your notes and essays. Make a list of the quotes you’ve used often – there’s a reason you keep coming back to them.

What is the ideal quote?

Quotes to remember should be short, multi-significant and, unsurprisingly, memorable.
Short: a good essay integrates quotes and ensures the quote doesn’t distract the sentence from the point you’re making. If you just copy out a large chunk of text, it won’t show the examiner that you have carefully selected the quote as evidence. Short quotes are also a lot easier to remember, so no more than a sentence ideally.

Don’t underestimate the single words!

A selection of individual words from a novel can give just as interesting an impression as a sentence-long quote. And often if you’re choosing them from across the text, it can show a good mastery of the whole work. For each character or theme, make a quick list of the key words associated with them.

Multi-significant: It’s a good idea to know which different themes your set texts contain, as you may be asked a question on them in your exam. Thus, it’s always helpful to memorise lots of different quotes or a few which you can pull apart and apply to several different questions and themes.
Another good idea is using colour co-ordination to represent different themes in your notes. For example, red can symbolise love, death or sexuality.

Memorable: there’s no point choosing a long-winded quote you can’t remember. When you’re under pressure in an exam you want a quote you can pick off the top of your head. 

There could many different reasons why something is memorable. You could try and have 2 quotes for each character, as this attachment will help to keep them in your mind.

If you’re trying to memorise a quote from one of Shakespeare’s plays, it might be useful to choose one which rhymes as you’re more likely to remember it, or if you’re studying the Gothic, choose a quote which stands out to you for being particularly bloody and dark.

If you want some extra help, why not choose one of our amazing expert tutors, who will be able to focus on your progress thorugh a one-to-one basis. They will be able to go through your set texts with you and pick out some amazing quotes. Find your perfect tutor today!

Memorising quotes
So once you’ve chosen your ‘killer quotes’, now you need to memorise them.

Everyone has a different preferred learning style but, as with learning a language, little and often is the key. If you know that you learn things fast by making flashcards, then go for it! But if you need some inspiration, or want to try a new method, then read our article ‘How to memorise quotes’.

Another technique you can try is look at past exam questions and when brainstorming how you would approach the question, attach a quote(s) to each point. This is a great way to practice applying your memorised quotes.

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Additional resources:

How to Memorise Quotes: Great for Closed Book Exams
Do I Need to Memorise Quotes for English GCSE?
English GCSE Analysis Toolkit


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