How to get an A* in English

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Today’s post is by @sisterxct. They have shared with us how to revise effectively for English! With so much to learn this really is worth a read because their revision tips meant that they smashed their exams and know you can too!

@sisterxct share their revision techniques for English and how to ace it!

How to revise for English

Hello! Some of you might know me as one half of @sisterxct but for those who don’t, my sister and I are both Instagram bloggers documenting our day to day lives and school routines.

I’ve been kindly asked to write a blog on revision techniques for English by the absolutely amazing Adapt (did you spot the alliteration there?).

For me, English has always been a passion of mine but as for the other half of @sisterxct, not so much, so here are a few of our tips:

English Literature

Know your texts

Know your texts inside and out. Make sure to remember the key contextual information alongside the analysis to key quotes that correspond to prominent themes.

Of course, make sure you know the plot and what occurs in what order. This may be a technique that the writer uses to establish tension or suspense through perhaps drip-feeding the reader the information and withholding key aspects of the play or novel.

english 1

Photo by @sisterxct.

Key quote cards

As many of you know, there are endless quotes to revise when it comes to English, especially the poems!

One technique of mine is to use mini-study cards, which can be purchased anywhere and are a very useful tool for memorising quotes. Just like flashcards, write the quote on one side of the study card and on the other write the analysis and key context that corresponds to the quote.

If you are struggling with analysis for your novels or poems, my two go-to YouTubers would be Stacey Reay and Mr Bruff.

Every night, just before bed or just after waking up, take a look at your study cards and test yourself. Look at the quote and try remembering the analysis from the other side, or another way would be to read the analysis and try to match the quote that correlates to it.

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Photo by @sisterxct.

Character & theme profiles

For me, character and theme profiles have been a great help due to the fact that in an exam, they are most likely to ask you to write about a character and their change or presentation, or how a key theme has been presented throughout the poem, novel or play.

For example, the 2018 AQA English Literature Paper 2 question for An Inspector Calls was:

How far does Priestley present Eric as a character who changes his attitudes towards himself and others during the play?


How does Priestley explore the importance of social class in An Inspector Calls?

Prior to this exam, if you had created a character profile on Eric with key quotes and ideas, you would be fully equipped to combat this question during your exam and equally, if you had created a theme profile for social class, you would be ready to start this essay.

Essay questions

Essay questions and practice essays are your best friends!

Without practice, you would not have the skills required to piece the essay together, despite the fact that you have attained the knowledge and contextual information for the essay question.

In this case, make sure you take a look at the past paper questions and practice them under timed conditions. Make sure you complete the essays under timed conditions because when writing freely, you will get carried away in making it the best essay possible and although this is what you are aiming for, writing under timed conditions will pressurise you into writing more at a better quality.

After finishing this essay, make sure to go back and read it and add extra details that you may not have been able to add due to the time conditions but in another colour.

A week or two weeks later, come back to this same essay question and rewrite it. This will allow you to not only remember the analysis for the essay question but also to develop your analysis as you move on.

When needing help piecing an essay together, check out Mr Salles who creates YouTube videos on how to write essays on different novels, poems and plays.

English Language

Many of you would have come across someone saying “I can’t revise for English Language” and honestly, I was one of them but English Language is probably the most important aspect of English that you can revise for.

Practice papers

Practice papers are very very important!

English Language is just a matter of practice. Make sure to sit all the past papers for English Language under timed conditions so you are familiar with the wording of the questions and the type of answer the examiners are looking for.

english 3

Photo by @sisterxct.

Unknown sources

When reading a book, magazine or article, I know it might sound a bit strange but stop and try to ask yourself similar questions to the questions from the exam paper for example:

What are 4 pieces of information we learn about one of the characters or what type of language does the writer use to convey a certain feeling?

These small, daily tasks and questions you set yourself build your skills for the upcoming exam where you will be able to adapt your skills and easily identify the language features. You will be accustomed to the type of questions the exam board will be asking.

Use the AQA English Language Papers for practice or if you are not following the AQA exam board, it is still worthwhile completing other exam papers but all other exam boards do have their past papers posted on their site so make sure to check them out.


If your notes and revision are not organised, your mind will not be in the right place to function.

Make sure your desk is clean and tidy before you start your revision or head to your local library to catch some peace and quiet whilst working.

If English is not your strongest subject at the moment, make it!

Possess a positive mindset and go for it; you’ve got nothing to lose.

Thank you so much to Adapt for providing us with this platform to share our tips and we are hugely grateful for those who have read this blog. Thank you very much!

What is Adapt, and how does it help you manage your time and revision?

Adapt is a brand new app which creates a personalised, exam specific timetable for you, for free. Not only can you add revision to your calendar, but your homework, topic tests, and any other task you want to do! There are so many exciting features to discover.

Feel better about your revision today by using Adapt- the app that knows all your exam dates, all the topics you need to learn, and creates your perfect revision timetable for you. Oh, and don’t worry, if you miss a topic it will reschedule it for you! So, you are getting everything done without guilt, stress, or countless hours of planning!

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