Month 1: Journey to Becoming an AQA AS Level English Literature Superachiever

Okay, I just threw a jumble of long words on the screen, hoping that the general impression is that ‘I’m going to try my best to do well in AS level English this year, and I’m sharing how I plan to do that’. Read on if you think this could be useful! And if you’re one of my readers sitting there thinking you’re not interested in reading exam help, stick with me because I’ll still be posting book reviews and all the other wonderful, literature-y things I can think of.

Great gatsby, atonement and othello
My AS level English Literature course books..and, er, my melodramatic photography

DISCLAIMER: I’ve only just started AS levels, so this is me sharing a journey, not expert advice. I’m only trying to be a superachiever on my terms (which is striving for an A, the top grade at AS level). We’ll see where I actually get 🙂

First of all, I have to make sure I’m not getting my head in the clouds and get the bare minimum done. This week and a bit of the next, the to-do list is:

  1. Finish reading Atonement by 16th Sept
  2. Finish reading Anna Karenina by 23rd Sept/ other coursebooks
  3. Do a baseline test on Sunday 17th (Unseen poetry and prose)

This week was an introduction to English Lit. We did:

  • Literary theories (Marxism, Psychoanalytical etc.)

My personal revision plan:


1. Get an excerpt from each chapter of Atonement I’ve read so far and analyse (trying to guide it with my learning about literary theories as far as possible.) This could also prep me for my baseline test as well as general revision.

2. Use OneNote to do the above. OneNote is a software that my school is really promoting this year, and I do see a lot of merit in it. You can use this for English Lit to add notes alongside the online text of your coursebook, add voice recordings or even tables/drawings.

3. Go over the AOs for Unseen Poetry and Prose questions

4. Familiarise myself with example answers and annotate them with AOs

4. Revise key vocabulary for analysing my texts

5. We were handed out some random poems to analyse in terms of language, structure, and form: called ‘Lineage’ (what even is this poem about?) and the more awkward, ‘Blackberry Picking’. RESEARCH WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THESE. Also, fully annotate an excerpt (handed out in class) from Great Gatsby.


1. Doing Cornell notes, although a bit of hassle, are helping me become more inquisitive about what I’m learning e.g. How can I apply literary theory to Atonement, my most important upcoming set text to study? (see above)


Anagnorisis: Point at which the hero realises his mistakes before his death

Impersonalisation: A technique used by authors to create ambiguity 


Quoting my teacher, ambiguity is a key feature of modernist writing (see the last line of The Great Gatsby)

There you go, intro to AS level English done. Watch this space because I will be updating this post as the weeks go by, and we are borne ceaselessly onwards into exams. Not why I do this blog, but that’s how the system goes 🙂

Keep reading and read-joicing,