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How can I revise for a closed book English exam, do I need to learn the whole book?

One of the biggest worries for students taking A Level English Literature is that most of the exams are closed book, meaning that you cannot have a copy of the text in the exam with you.

This does mean that you do have to be very familiar with your chosen texts but it certain does not mean learning it word for word.

The most effective thing to do is to learn quotes which can be picked apart, which imply several different reading rather than just one. If you learn quotes like this for example then the quote will be more applicable to a range of exam responses, not just for one particular theme.

When learning a quote, learn the quote with it's analysis, treat them as a pair. This includes language analysis as well, a key part to a successful exam response but one which is often omitted. To just simply state that a certain quote is a simile or a metaphor, or uses alliteration for example is not enough. When analysing a quote in terms of language you must state what effect the chosen technique has. For example, what does it make the reader feel? Or can this technique be related to the context of production of reception of the given text?

For more advice on structuring sucessful exam responses to the closed book exams, book a session with me and we can talk through the golden rules of essay writing in exam.... Once you have learnt some quotes and their analysis that is! Remember, every point must be backed up by sufficient evidence from the text otherwise it is not valid.

Hannah S. A Level English Literature tutor, GCSE English Literature t...

2 years ago

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


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Degree: Comparative Literature with Classical Civilisation (Bachelors) - Glasgow University

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English Literature
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“Hello! I'm Giulia, a tutor in English and Italian literature and language, currently studying for a MSt Modern Languages (Italian) at the University of Oxford.”

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Hannah S.

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Degree: English and German (Bachelors) - Warwick University

Subjects offered:English Literature, German+ 2 more

English Literature
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English Language

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