It all starts with you sitting down and committing to it. Don’t even dream of social media or games. Sit down and get real shit done. It’s time to be productive – start somewhere, anywhere (like now).
- It’s all about getting insight into how other people ace essay-writing and understanding literature. Read a lot of essays by other people – all top graded ones. Being on Quora and practising clear writing is a good way as well – it helped me.
- Terminology: You want a broad vocabulary to pick from, so best way to do it is research. I use general online essays for reference and wikipedia (the good ol’ sinner). Wikipedia has a lot of articles of literary traditions worldwide, especially old european (Shakespeare, John Donne, Milton, Prose, Poetry, Sonnets, etc.) and it also has the ‘suggested’ function by the end of an article to other related articles. Such an example could be: Memento mori – Wikipedia which references to Ars Moriendi, Ars Macabre, Ubi Sunt. Examples of their presences in literature can be found in Death Be Not Proud by John Donne, Sonnet 146 by Shakespeare and When I Have Fears by John Keats. From whatever you’ve been through in class – there will likely be a fancy corresponding term which carries history and traditions with it. You must remember these terms and apply them skillfully (when relevant). I assume you know how to analyse texts and relate them to modern and traditional society.
- Practice like you have an up-coming exam tomorrow all the time. You can’t write good if you’ve never done it before. Take some literature (can be according to your interest), analyse it, apply relevant knowledge to it – then write an essay expressing all these points. Remember you must know how to structure a proper essay – you can get creative, but if you suck: don’t okay. Be real with yourself.
All ESSAYS include:
- A topic sentence which essentially introduced the text in a single sentence with title, author and what it’s about – one sentence.
- An introductory paragraph introducing the text, author, relevant background knowledge for your analysis and interpretation. Then ends in one short sentence where you sum up approx. three points that you will go into. E.g. “…prosody such as enjambments, punctuation and imagery.”
Other functions could also be: foreshadowing, traditional context, form, meter, rhyme scheme, voltas, syllables, oxymorons, metaphors, similes, anaphora, etc. Know it, then own it.
- An analysis of the observed text; you can have many structures, but I suggest you either go with analysing from the first line (poetry) down, or by topic you’re going to discuss, referencing chronologically if you can.
- Then interpret what you have analyzed – while you do it. In each paragraph of analysis, you analyse something and explain why it is. What purpose does it serve. Can it be related to the author's life or the society it was written in (time)? and then on to next point you have to make. Just do that again and again, each time referring back a little and tying the points together. In the end all three literary devices should support your point, you mission with this essay.
- Conclude with tying together – you can sum up what you’ve been through, but don’t do too much repetition otherwise the essay will get boring. Tie it up and tell your audience (teacher) what all of these devices, functions and effects finalize into – does the burning house from a housewife’s perspective represent herself and her life, emulating her as a phoenix – to rise from the ashes? (Support: two words from last two lines of a poem “re-fit”, “re-form”… and automatically you complete the tricolon yourself: reborn.)
- End with one last strong line. Be overdramatic. “She is the phoenix reborn.”
- Get some smart books on this stuff. For poetry I recommend: Guide to poetry by Read up on authors or topics you been through, find out what else they write about, their most impactful life-events and how it or their society affected their literature. Know all the relevant authors out there. That story about Lis in The Forest or that biography on somebody is meaningless – it’s easy, but irrelevant. You want to know and have read big authors such as Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice, Emma, etc.), William Shakespeare (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Sonnet 55, 146, 147, 130, 73, etc.), Jonathhan Swift (Gullivers Travels), Lewis Carroll (Alices Adventures in Wonderland), Goerge Orwell (Animal Farm), Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird), William Blake (Songs of Innocence and Experience), etc. under your belt. Those. But more than read, you also want to understand what they are, do and the impact on history and literature that they’ve had.
- When writing you want to make sure you:
- Reflect on the material
- Show a development in your understanding of the text in regards to culture and context
- Show detailed knowledge, understanding and perception
- Appreciation of language, structure, technique and style – how they shape meaning
- That your ideas are persuasively organized and developed, integrating examples from the text
- That your language is clear and effective in conveying
- That you have accuracy in grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary
- That your register and style is effective and appropriate (if the text has nothing – it has nothing. Not all texts applies literary devices or hidden meanings.)
- Make flashcards of material to remind yourself what you must know (can’t forget), to recap at home, on your way to school or in breaks. The more you practice them, the more you will retain it. Also make them of all terms, literary devices, relevant traditions and other you can make use of or must remember. Use them regularly. You can practice your handwriting in different fonts for this too 🙂
- You want to discuss what you learn or think about literature on platforms or with your peers. Talk with friends or whichever nerds you have in class – typically, if you hang with them, whatever they have will be passed on to you too (like if they discuss something relevant, find something important online or have good tips etc.) Otherwise, Quora here is good. You can shape a question and give some pointers/suggestions of what you may think and ask people to give you more tips or elaborate – you can find platforms for these things as well.
Otherwise, it is important to do your best to try and stay motivated – if you don’t study at least one or two hours per day (not including weekends) you can’t do good. You can have talent and have good memory, but it will only take you so far without work. Practice can be done on something more fun and of interest to you over the boring stuff. In the end however – it all comes down to doing it. A lot of studying is psychology and you want to prime yourself for your best possible form. Persistence and believing that if you try hard enough you will make it – growth mindset. You can if you want it enough – remind yourself what the alternatives will be if you can’t motivate yourself (less freedom in latter life or whatever you may want to achieve with your education, life quality? When you turn 50 you want to be proud of your life achievement and the effort you put into yourself).
Fuel yourself whichever way works best and be mindful of yourself. Don’t procrastinate, eliminate your distractions, clean regularly (gets you into the structuring and focusing), exercise and – work. Eat right at the right times.
Sit in the kitchen or somewhere where you can’t exactly relax enough to doze off (couch, bed, comfy chair). Go to cafés or public libraries, groan, and do it. Bring your bohemian herbal tea and pc charger. Hoard off their books while you’re at it. Once you get comfortable you stop focusing and begin to relax. Don’t want that.
& now, while you’re at it – go do some literary corrections on your explanation of question 🙂 #Practice
There are two kinds of math. Math where you’re asked to work out something and show it – and math that has twisted, dark, coded questions that ask you for something simple (if even) but won’t just give it to you – you have to decipher it. Make sure you work out both right.
I suggest you start by finding past exam papers and working on them – if none are online, ask your teacher for some or do them from other schooling programmes like SAT, AP and IB. Practice those and figure out which questions you have no idea how to finish and figure out which topic they belong to. Once that is done and something has been listed/mapped out, start studying them in either your book or online (youtube videos etc.).
Write notecards for the most important points you catch – and NOT the ones you already know, but the ones you didn’t know and were surprised about or know that you will forget (because you did before maybe). THOSE are the ones you want to note down to practice later.
Then do past exams again and again, see if you get better, find markschemes if possible to grade yourself, practice and ask online or research for whatever you can’t understand from the book or in class. Keep a score of your performance and see how it goes.
- Reading, videos and flashcards. It’s all about remembering all those terms and how they apply, how they affect each other and what tricky alternatives that exists.
- Watch short videos summing up or explaining something shortly and see what your know or don’t know. Read in your book, study the material by cross-referencing online sources too and note them down.
Take crap notes for just reminding yourself as you learn (cause just hearing it once won’t stick) – and make real notecards to write it down beautifully. The crap notes should always be written in your natural handwriting – makes you remember better. Practice them and again, find past exam papers to practice. Practice, grade yourself with mark-schemes and keep track of your record. If there’s anything you wonder about out of genuine curiosity – ASK IT! Here on Quora if anything – I do 🙂 Don’t miss the opportunity to mix anything with interest to you.
Read your biology book – and try to do it while practising old exams – find out what it is you don’t know.
Then practise and memorise whatever material you must know. Find out what the exam requires of you by looking at the markscheme and prepare yourself according to that.
Use Mnemonics such as Did King Phillip Classically Order a Fair Green Salad(?) for the taxonomical order of species (Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species) for example. Do that for everything and always make them yourself. It makes it stick better if you’re the one working for it.