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Revision Rules in Year 11 English

It sounds like a dirty word to most students!  Meaning “see it again”, revision might be a difficult concept for some students of English to grasp. Yes, it might seem that a subject largely – and possibly incorrectly – seen as “skills-based”, can be a thorny subject to learn again but that is exactly what the current Year 11 have been doing this term. Where are the facts to remember and recite, what are the steps to proving whatever it is Arthur Miller meant? It can be a minefield.

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With set literary texts and the approaches to them being so broad, it is essential for students to pin their revision down to what they don’t know or what they find troublesome. For some this will be knowing the text and, for others, it might be something more to do with the way in which essays can be done in timed conditions. I think there is a difference between active and passive revision and it’s the active revision that is needed in order to stimulate the thought process because, really, it’s the quality of the thinking that makes all the difference.

In Year 11, we recommend that after a second reading of the text, students work with questions that will get the brain working.  Making essay plans with quotations really highlights which parts of the text are still a little shaky and then the student can go into that aspect of the text, rereading and consulting the wealth of student-help sites each with their own quizzes and detailed interpretations.

In class we have been activating just this sort of revision where we attempt to identify what is not known and then drill into that to ensure that aspects of the writer’s craft is understood and that we can form lucid, cogent and coherent responses to them. Revision need not be the sluggish and mildly distressing activity much feared and loathed by students the world over, it can be a rich and rewarding experience that can build confidence and cement some of those ideas that drift around in the mind. As Edison said: “Opportunity is often missed because it dresses in overalls and looks like work.”

Mr Michael Watson
Head of English