How can I ensure that I get into the top bands for my OCR GCSE English Literature essays?

Anyone can achieve top marks in their English Literature essays if they follow these simple steps. Essentially, all you have to do is reach the Assessment Objectives the exam board requires. For instance, AO1 is marked on your ability to write, AO2 is language analysis of relevant quotations from the text, AO3 is critic quotations and AO4 is context, which can be political, historical or social. And so, you will have to include all of these things to get into the top bands. If you manage to include all of the AOs in your introduction the examiner will be extremely impressed and it will allow for a very strong introduction.

            To begin, I would advise that you find the key themes from the texts and then pick out quotes, context and critics that apply to each theme. For instance, when writing an essay on heroism in Paradise Lost, you should learn key quotes, which refer to heroism and then learn critic quotes about the heroes of Paradise Lost. Examples of critic quotes include Hazlitt who believes that “Satan is the most heroic subject that was ever chosen for a poem”, Percy Shelly who argues that Satan is the “true hero” of Paradise Lost and Williams who recognises that “Adam’s desire to follow his heart is heroic”. Context could include the fact that Paradise Lost can be read as a political allegory as the events and characters in the epic poem reflect the political context of the time.

            When referencing quotes, make sure they link into your sentence and are relevant to what you are saying. Do not simply include them to gain marks, as it will be your analysis and your 'thoughtful' consideration of these quotes that will gain you the higher marks. Further, make sure your thoughts are closely linked to the text as a whole as this will get you top marks.

            To move into the highest bands, you will have to have original thoughts on the text. Do not just develop one idea but offer many ideas and think about the impact the writer intends to have.


1.     Pick out a relevant quotation.

2.     Analyse it.

3.     Develop 'thoughtful consideration' and 'perceptive' detail.

4.     Evaluate the impact of the scene or line.


I hope this helps and good luck in getting those top grades! 

Imogen G. GCSE English Literature tutor, GCSE Geography tutor, Uni Ad...

1 year ago

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