Higher – Last Minute Revision

Over the Easter holidays: the least you should have done is re-read the texts and glanced over your notes. This creates a good basis for your serious revision later. Memory is built up very effectively in layers so that every time you go over something it reinforces and adds to the last revision.

The lead up to the exam: Serious revision is not ‘reading over’ nor is it ‘copying out’. Absorption into the brain is necessary and this requires you to actively memorise material.

Critical Essay

1. Prepare all 3 genres thoroughly. Do not rely on poetry as an option.

2. Know what you might be asked. (see below)

3. Revise with questions in mind.

4. Memorise important quotations.

5. Practise writing essays in 45 minutes.

(This will build your confidence and consolidate your revision. )


1. Know the exact title of the play and the playwright’s name. (Don’t laugh!)

Learn to spell “playwright”.

2. Understand and be able to use the following terms:

conflict, climax, denouement, set, staging, monologue, dialogue, character, theme, audience, soliloquy

3. Be prepared to answer questions on the following:

v character (creation of), character relationships

v conflict, tension, structure, climax

v a key scene, opening scene

v theme and how it is developed

v staging (set, music, lighting props) as relevant

v significance of title

v all of the above in relation to each other


1. Know the exact title of the novel and the author’s name. Learn to spell


2. Understand and be able to use the following terms:

main / minor character, theme, setting, structure, symbolism, plot

3. Be prepared to answer questions about:

Character (main/ minor) relationships & influences

v theme

v setting

v structure (avoid story-telling)

v symbolism / fable / allegory

v significance of the title

v all of the above in relation to each other


N.B. Poetry questions are very specific, which makes them particularly

difficult. There may well be NO poetry questions that relate to the poems you

have studied in class. You have been warned.

1. Know the exact title of the poems and the name of the poet(s). (Don’t laugh!)

Learn to spell these and the names of poetic techniques accurately. Know

whether your poem has a specific form (sonnet, ode, ballad, concrete, haiku,

dramatic monologue etc.) or whether it is rather a narrative poem, prosaic in


2. Understand and be able to use the following terms (as relevant to your


imagery, figure of speech, simile, metaphor, personification, alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, word/lexical choice, stanza, structure, form, enjambment, rhyme, rhythm, paradox, oxymoron, irony, emotive language, theme


Quotation must be accurate!

4. Be prepared to answer the following types of question:

v relationship between form and content (style and ideas) etc.

v key lines / beginning / ending/ in relation to the rest of the poem

v comparison or contrast between two poems (by the same poet or on

v the same theme)

v imagery and its impact on theme / the reader

The Exam

1. Get a good night’s sleep. The most you should do the night before is think about everything you know, calmly and logically. It should all be in your brain now so avoid desperately reading notes.

2. Don’t try to swot up anything in the morning over breakfast. If you don’t know it by now, you never will.

3. Arrive in plenty of time, knowing your seat and candidate numbers. Have a few pens ready and wear a watch!

4. Read through all the possibilities in each section and choose the best two overall. Generally, specific, narrow questions are better than vague, open ones.

5. Once you have chosen, draw up a brief, skeleton plan for the first and get writing. Ensure that you allow equal time for each essay. Unfinished work is unlikely to pass.

6. Answer the question, the whole question and nothing but the question.

Remember that the second sentence in the task tells you what to do. Use topic sentences to provide a clear structure and show the examiner how relevant your work is. RELEVANCE IS CRUCIAL!!!

7. Don’t try to regurgitate a previous essay. Tasks will not be worded exactly like previous practices so your essay can’t be either – even if the task is very similar.

8. Finally, technical accuracy is important. Check your work, looking carefully at spelling, sentences and paragraphing. Ensure that quotation marks have been used correctly. Check your apostrophes and whether words like ‘however’ have been written correctly.

e.g. The word itself is not emotive. However, its impact is.

The word “caught”, however, is not emotive in itself.

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