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What makes the difference between a "good" exam essay and an "excellent" one?

In both AS and A2 papers, a good exam essay will be characterised by a competent understanding of the key points in the chosen texts, as well as a good overall answer to the question. The analysis is likely to be secure, with an appreciation of relevant context and critical background. The argument will be clear and developed.

An excellent answer, which may receive grades equivalent to the level of A at AS and A/A* at A2 level, generally meets the following criteria. The answer will be detailed and exploratory, whilst always answering the question set. The response might challenge the assertions of the question as its basis of forming an argument. The analysis of the text(s) will be probing, developed and insightful. Its focus will be extremely clear, and the line of argument will be tightly controlled throughout the essay. The essay will appreciate and interpret some critical debate. The essay will use contextual information as a means to strengthen the argument and the essay as a whole. The answer will usually have a sense of flair and the argument will be very convincing.

Ben S. A Level English Language tutor, GCSE English Language tutor, A...

4 months ago

Answered by Ben, an A Level English Literature tutor with MyTutor

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Eilish L.

Degree: English (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered: English Literature, Philosophy and Ethics+ 2 more

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Degree: English Literature (Doctorate) - Cambridge University

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“About Me I'm Kate, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, studying English Literature.  I'm passionate about all things literary, particularly poetry and the modern novel.  My not-so-secret love is children's literature - my u...”

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Hester T.

Degree: English Language and Literature (Bachelors) - Oxford, St Edmund Hall University

Subjects offered: English Literature, English+ 2 more

English Literature
English
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“I am studying English at Oxford University. I come from a family of teachers and since I was 14 I taught kids the flute, later on I tutored students for GCSE English and I've also helped friends (and my little sisters and their friends)...”

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Ben S.

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Degree: Modern Languages (Masters) - Oxford, St Hugh's College University

Subjects offered: English Literature, French+ 3 more

English Literature
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English Language
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“I am a passionate reader and linguist, and I have recently graduated from The University of Warwick with a BA (with Honours) in English and French, and I am an incoming Master's student atThe University of Oxford, and will read Modern ...”

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