Preparing for the Exam

Preparing for the Exam

Below are a number of important ideas that you should consider when preparing for your exam:

The examination is the day when you show your understanding of the play in relation to a specific question. There is a great deal that you can do in preparation for the exam.

Most obviously, you need to have read the play a number of times. This will help you consider the themes and issues relating to the play.

When you read the play it is important to try and imagine how the play would be portrayed. Many English students lose sight of the fact that Shakespeare wrote plays to be performed, not novels just to be read.

In the Shakespeare extract exam you are expected to analyse closely a specific extract from a play. It is absolutely no good having read all the latest published revision "cheat" booklets if it's the first time that you have read the extract.The examiner will spot this a mile off. Spend time reading the text. Reading through several times will help you.

A good starting point for your revision notes is writing act and scene summaries. Write a brief outline for each scene and each act. It is important to know where a scene fits in relation to the play as a whole.

Once you have a firm grip of the order of events you can then explore the character, themes and issues. An idea is to jot down the headings of themes and issues for each play.

For example:

The Tempest Act 3 Scene I

Characters: Miranda, Ferdinand, Prospero.

Themes: Parental Love, Control, Romantic Love, Reconciliation

Main Events: Miranda attempts to console Ferdinand in his entrapment. Without either realising, Prospero watches over this. The couple confess their love for one another. Ferdinand explains that he is happy to suffer because he does it for her. This love between the son of the King and his own daughter pleases Prospero.

When you enter the exam, read through the paper carefully and make sure that you are clear about which sections you need to answer and the amount of marks given to each question. Divide your time accordingly.

Before jumping into answering a question make sure you do all of the following:

  1. Read each question to decide which one you should anwer.
  2. Re-read the question you have chosen carefully.
  3. Write an essay plan.
  4. Remember to include a conclusion.

These points have been explained further in the Unseen Drama Topic.

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