Taking literature exam? Here are some tips


My son is taking literature exams soon and doesn’t seem to be familiar with the texts. He has never been a big reader and is in a real panic: SMCP

To excel in literature-based exams, you need to be familiar with the set texts and the themes they explore. Some students cling to the belief that reading the literary works is unnecessary and potted summaries contain all the information they will ever need. There is a place for these summaries in the bigger study plan, but a sole reliance on them is unlikely to lead to top grades. The first step is to read the texts and make sure that your son has a good grasp of plot, themes and characters. Typical public examination set texts will include poetry, a novel and a play.

It is extremely challenging to study a work without annotating, so hard copies are fundamental. He will have studied passages from the texts during class and you can normally see which extracts have been covered from margin notes and highlights. Typically, these will be key passages which illustrate a relationship or theme. Also, collect any handouts, class notes and past exam papers he might have and buy a copy of York Notes (or similar) for each text.

Your secret weapon in this battle is audio books. Get hold of an unabridged copy of the book and play. If possible, get hold of recordings of the poetry – YouTube can be useful, as can the Poetry Foundation poetryfoundation.org

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