…because why not quote Biggie during exam season?
‘Nadège, I wanna create dope things and live off of my creations.’ My friend said to me the other night. ‘I’m not sure,’ I said. ‘I don’t think it’s about getting paid off your creations, I think it’s about getting paid off your vibration.’
Abundance is effortless. What you do can bring in money, but the way you are attracts wealth. Through clumsy money errors, I have learnt a lot about money in the last year; I have learned that it’s not so much about how much you have, it’s about how you use what you have. When it comes to studying, like money and many things, it’s about the way you do it. Which is why my approach to education is inherently playful.
On weekdays I tutor young women who have fallen through the cracks of mainstream education. Currently, I guide them through GCSE’s in English (language and literature), Maths, Science, Art (design and photography) and Spanish.I wrote tips for my student to help her prepare for her English Literature exams she will sit in a fortnight and I’d like to share what I wrote with you…
1. Post-it. Everywhere
Those small sheets of paper that find themselves everywhere? Plain at front, sticky at back? Use them. Find quotes from all of the texts you are studying (for example, Macbeth, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Christmas Carol, your poetry anthology). On the side facing you, write the quote (something short enough to roll of your tongue), on the sticky side write the name of the speaker and where it is found in the text.
Here’s the crucial part; write a minimum of 10 quotes per text (one quote per poem in your anthology) and stick them everywhere. Yes. Everywhere. What objects do you use frequently? Post-it In-line with your face on your mirror, maybe. Or wrapped around the handle of your comb. What place do you run to when you come home, and where do your eyes first wander when you wake up? Drop post-its there like you are dropping blossoms. Each time you go to this place or pick this object, consciously read the quote out loud, until it is crystallised in your subconscious mind.
Note: My students have found it useful to colour co-ordinate their post-it notes and pens according to the text in question (for example, Macbeth quotes written in red, A Christmas Carol quotes written in blue, so on and so forth). Imagine it’s a game and you are shooting targets. See if you can guess what post it is located where, who the speaker of the quote is, and where it is located in the text.
Find a chapter, scene or poem that you feel less confident about. Read it over, when doing so underline and highlight. Make notes on what occurred, who was in it, and interesting language features. What semantic field was used? How was the protagonist and other characters in the scene or stave portrayed? If poetry or Shakespeare, what metre was it written in? Does the poem comprise of rhyming couplets? Quatrains? Octaves? Find out, make note.
3. Seek new poetry:
In the UK AQA GCSE English Literature syllabus, students must compare a poem they have already studied with an ‘unseen poem’. Consequently, your inference and analysis game needs to be sharp. Poets are alluring, and they say a lot by not saying very much. Do background checks on the authors in your anthology, search for more of their work, it will give you a sense of their style and who they are, this will help you write more fluently about them in your exam.
4. Use your resources:
The tools are that you have at the tips of your fingers? Unparalleled. Your smartphone, the internet, books, apps, libraries. If you dig deep enough, you will find questions similar to the ones you will be asked in your exam. Find them and do them. Again and again, and again and again, and when you think you’ve done enough, do one more- for luck.
5. Spelling, grammar and structure:
Some of us struggle a little more with spelling and grammar and for those of us who are dyslexic, I know it can be difficult to wrap your head around the formalities of punctuation, so you’ve got to be slick. If the question is:
‘Some readers consider the final scene in which both Romeo and Juliet die to be triumphant. In addition to the families being reconciled, how is the final scene triumphant?’
An examiner will not forgive you if you spell the word ‘triumphant’ incorrectly. If there is a word, phrase or sentence that you are unsure of and it is already spelt out for you on your question paper, copy it! If you forget to plan your essay before you start (as my students often do) write it out when you remember- the examiner will never know.
6. Have fun with it!
When you wrap your study inside a creative activity it feels different. What I often do with my students to help them familiarise themselves with characters is play ‘Guess Who’. We each choose a character (this can be from a novel, play or even a poem) write the character down on a piece of paper, place it on the others forehead, and we have to guess by asking questions that can only be answered with the words yes or no. Ask the kind of questions that require your opponent to understand the character intimately.
And that’s all I got. Wishing students all over every success in their exams.