When revising for any subject, procrastination can often come into play. This can often be even worse for English language as you may be wondering what you’re supposed to revise. However, especially with A-Levels, revision is an absolute must for surviving your exams. All in all, this means that you’re going to need some good revision tips to help you keep that procrastination at bay and to help you revise effectively.
Continue reading to learn how best to revise for A-Level English Language from an actual A-Level English Language student. This article will be useful to you, if you struggle to revise by giving you revision methods and tips.
Table of Contents
How can you revise for A-Level English Language?
There are a vast range of revision methods that different people use to study for different subjects. While I will definitely not be able to cover them all, this section will hopefully provide you with a handful of suggestions from which you can get a better idea on how to revise yourself.
Keep reading the following sections for the best ways to revise for A-Level English Language.
How can you past papers to revise for A-Level English Language?
Revising by using past papers isn’t a shiny new revision method. In fact, if you look up revision techniques, such as this article or this article from Think Student, you will probably find past papers featured. While this may make you feel that past papers are an overrated revision method, it is actually the opposite.
Using past papers is such a commonly recommended revision method as it is considered one of the best. In fact, in this Think Student article, it is ranked as one of the top 10.
This is because it prepares you more directly for the exam you’re going to take. Which is the entire purpose of revision.
Using past papers is especially good for A-Level English Language. This is mainly because the A-Level is a lot of writing and so doing a past paper can help you to get used to writing so much in a short space of time.
This can increase the speed you write at during the exam, which can help you to finish the paper and write a more developed answer. For more ways to write faster during exams, check out this Think Student article.
How can you use practice texts to revise for A-Level English Language?
A-Level English Language is all about analysing the English language. This is especially as the first assessment objective (AO1) is about appropriately analysing language. This is true no matter what exam board your course is with as assessment objectives are set by Ofqual and so are the same for all exam boards.
You can learn more about this and the A-Level English Language assessment objective, here on the AQA website.
As analysing texts is so important for A-Level English Language, you need to make sure that you are practising your analysing skills. While you can do this via past papers or the texts that come with them, this can be limiting. This is because while doing past papers is a great revision method it can also be very time consuming, and you may find that there is a limited amount of them that you can do.
Instead, you can pretty much use any non-fiction texts that you come across. This can be anything from an online blog post to the product description on an ice cream tub. I would recommend finding shorter texts or only using sections of texts.
When using these practice texts, you can first go through labelling the different language levels from word classes to types of sentences. Then you should also try to pick out the key themes or representations and begin analysing.
What does it mean to analyse a text in A-Level English Language?
In this article, we’ve already proven the importance of analysis for A-Level English Language. However, if it has never been broken down properly for you, you may be wondering what it actually means to analyse a text.
According to this page from the Cambridge dictionary, to analyse means to examine something in detail in order to discover more about it. A more scientific definition is to examine something by splitting it into parts to discover what it is or contains.
While these two definitions of analyse are normally used in different contexts, they can both be applied to the analysis of a text in A-Level English Language. This is especially as you need to examine your texts in detail and split them into parts to do this.
When thinking about splitting up a text, you may think about the paragraphing or maybe even the sentences that the text is already sectioned into. However, in order to analyse in A-Level English Language, you need to be able to split the text into the different language levels.
How do you analyse a text in A-Level English Language?
To properly revise for A-Level English Language, knowing what it really means to analyse is an absolute. Now that we’ve established what it is, you also need to know how to do it.
According to the Cambridge University Press (AQA approved) textbook, there are 6 language levels for the A-Level. These are lexis and semantics, grammar, phonetics, phonology and prosodics, graphology, pragmatics and discourse.
To analyse properly, you will need to identify the correct language level by using the correct specific terminology. Then you will need to explore how this specific terminology, such as a type of sentence or verb, creates meaning and multiple interpretations.
You will then need to link this to context, this is of both the text as a whole but also the social, technological and historical contexts that is related to the text. Then you will need to link back to the point of your paragraph and use this analysis to prove it.
For example, you may identify a conditional clause, which comes under the language level of grammar. As conditional clauses have a depending factor, this could imply uncertainty. This could suggest that the person who wrote the text is uncertain, this may mean that they are unsure of themself.
Alternatively, it could mean that they aren’t in control of the situation. You would then need to link this to what is going on in the text and at the time it was written to try and suggest reasons for them to be uncertain. You would then link this back to how you think this person is using the text to represent themself.
How can you use mind maps to revise for A-Level English Language?
Mind maps can be a great revision method as they allow you to put different concepts that all relate to a larger topic in one place. They can be colourful, and you may even want to include diagrams or drawings to help it all come together a bit more. To learn more about making an effective mind map, check out this Think Student guide.
Mind maps can be great for A-Level English Language especially as there are so many different parts that can all be connected. This is especially due to the different researchers and theories that can either support each other or entirely contradict. Having all of these ideas in one place can help you to associate them with each other, which can help you to remember them better in your exams.
Another way to use mind maps is to use them to plan essay questions. While this is mostly for the AQA course as one of the questions is more generalised rather than being solely based of unseen data or texts, you can also use mind maps to partially plan essays with unseen data. This is because you are probably familiar with the style of questions and if you regularly do past papers, you may even be able to have a logical guess of what may come up.
To plan an essay using a mind map, you would do the same as with any ordinary mind map and put the key concepts related to the essay question in one place. The only difference is that you would order them in terms of where you would put them in your essay as well as drawing links between the concepts in relation to whatever you essay is about.
How can you use flash cards to revise for A-Level English Language?
Flash cards are another tried and tested revision method, that are talked about a lot. The idea of using flash cards is to keep your content in both your long term and short-term memories through active recall. Active recall is a process where you have to actively stimulate your brain to remember information.
Certain aspects of the A-Level English Language course are pretty content heavy, so using flash cards can be a great way to keep all of this content in your memory.
With flash cards you don’t have a lot of space to put everything down. This forces you to condense what you have learnt and summarise the key points. This can make it even easier to remember all the important points.
On top of that, revising with a condensed summary of key linguistic theories, concepts and research, can make your exam answers better. This is because they are more likely to be straight to the point, which can make it more coherent.
Flash card revision can be done in different ways. You may want to actually make them yourself using some paper or specific flash cards.
However, you can also make your own flash card set online. To do so, you may want to use apps or websites, such as Quizlet or Anki. If you want to learn more about these sites, click on their respective links.
To learn how to make effective flash cards, check out this Think Student article.