The Choices You Have to Make in the AQA Literature Paper 2 Exam


Hello everybody, welcome to today’s video! As if learning one modern text, 15 poems and
being ready to analyse two unseen poems isn’t enough, the AQA English Literature Paper 2
exam also requires you to make two crucial choices: your choice of question in Section
A, and your choice of comparative poem in Section B. In this video I’ll give you some advice
on how to make the best choices. Now let’s start by looking at Section A.
Most people study ‘An Inspector Calls’ for this section, so I will use some sample
questions for that text as an example in this video, but the same applies no matter what
text you study. You will be presented with two questions on
your modern prose or drama text, and you will need to choose one to answer. So the first
question is: how do I choose which question to answer? It is human nature to have a gut reaction
to the questions. Let me show you what I mean. Let’s look at these two: How does Priestley use the character of Sheila
Birling to explore ideas about gender in An Inspector Calls? How does Priestley explore the importance
of time in An Inspector Calls? OK, so your gut reaction here might be that
the first question is the hardest – it’s restrictive, it’s very narrowly focused,
because it’s not just about Sheila and it’s not just about gender, it’s about how Sheila
is used to present gender. These tightly focused questions do put some people off. Some people
like them. Others are put off by them. The second question on time is more open – you
could write about a number of different things there. But my advice is don’t just assume
your gut reaction was right, and start writing your answer. Stop and pause and think. You
might have one good idea for one of the questions that springs to mind, but one idea is not
enough for a full answer. This is a 2 hr 15 minute exam, worth a total
of 96 marks. That means you should spend around 1.5 minutes per mark available. So something
like 50 minutes on Section A, 40 minutes on Section B and 45 minutes on Section C. Now
if you’re going to be spending 50 minutes on this question, even allowing 5 minutes
to check your technical accuracy at the end for those 4 marks awarded for Spelling punctuation
and grammar, you’re going to need more than one good idea to write about. So I personally would recommend you ignore
that gut reaction to the questions and give yourself just 30 seconds or so to think through
each question. Think about what you know about the question. Think about the points you could
make. If you feel confident on both, which question would allow you to make your most
sophisticated points? Which question would allow you to present a conceptualised response
– a line of argument, a hypothesis which you can explore throughout your answer? So for me, I’d look at this question on
Sheila and gender, and pretty quickly I’d realise that there’s a great answer I could
write here, despite my first impressions. I’d look at society’s expectations of
women being different to society’s expectations of men, as presented through Sheila. How at
first she is presented as immature – her reference to her parents as ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’
infantilises her, she is presented as materialistic, looking at the engagement ring ‘admiringly’.
I’d perhaps draw out the wider message of women being treated differently to men, looking
at Priestley’s message of inequality that we see throughout the play. I’d bring
in some context about attitudes to women as well. But of course Sheila changes throughout the
play, and by the end refers to Mrs Birling as ‘mother’ – two simple words there:
(‘mummy / mother’) which symbolise that change. I’d explore how by the end she has
taken on not only the message of the inspector but also his words – she mirrors his language
of “fire, and blood and anguish” when he’s left, and her sentences grow in length
from the beginning of the play to the end and again link to Priestley’s message of
how we are members of one body, we are responsible for each other’ and being members of that
one body that includes different genders. Priestley is arguing that the inequality experienced
by women is unjust. How any inequality is unjust is pretty much the whole message of
the play, isn’t it? With the time question, I might write the choice to set the play at a different
time to when it was written and why that matters, and how the play takes place in one continual
time frame, but I’d get the sense that my points would be more disjointed and not as
conceputalised as the gender question. So for me, I’d choose the first question. And once you make your choice, you want to
stick to it. There’s nothing worse than wasting 15 minutes on a question before realising
it’s not the one for you. Once you’ve chosen your question, stick to it, write out
a plan (I go through why you should do that in my ‘final tips’ video from a couple
of days ago) and then write your answer. And just to say: the plan is for your benefit.
It doesn’t have to be written neatly in full sentences and that kind of thing – here’s
an example from a 2018 paper. This is a full marks paper. Their plan is messy: they’re writing in abbreviations, they’re writing in single words, and it’s all over the place. But it’s for their benefit and it did what it’s supposed to do: it enabled them to think, plan and order their thoughts. And just to
say, this student put a line through their plan. You don’t gave to do that – you can
do it if you feel better doing that but you don’t have to. And then get writing. I’m not going to go
over how you should write your answer in this video. Check out my Literature Paper 2 playlist
for more advice on that. OK let’s move on to Section B. In Section B you have another choice to make.
You’re presented with one poem and asked to compare it to a different poem. Let me
show you how I would personally choose that second poem, with a sample question from power
and conflict: ‘Compare how poets present the reality of
war in Charge of the Light Brigade and one other poem’ OK, so the first thing I would do here is
read through and annotate the named poem. Not annotate everything I remember about it,
but anything I remember, or even see for the first time, that seems to be significant in
light of the question about the reality of war. So I might immediately remember the repeated
refrain, and how this poem is a ballad. How a ballad is a form of poetry used to present
a message which should be remembered, and in this poem there are really two messages:
number one: the bravery of the soldiers in the face of suffering at the hands of a more
powerful enemy, and number two: the mistakes which led to their unnecessary deaths. So
I would think about how the reality of war is that there is great bravery involved in
the face of suffering, but also that the need for that suffering is in itself questionable. I might pick up the Biblical imagery of the
valley of death, linking to Psalm 23, the psalm of David, and again think about the
great bravery of the soldiers who, like David, took on the David vs Goliath style battle
here, against a foe where they were quite clearly the underdogs, and suffered terribly
as a result. And I might pick out that line ‘someone
had blundered’, and think about how this line breaks the use of dactylic dimeter, to
draw emphasis to the blunder – the mistake which led to this pointless massacre. And on it goes. So I’d have a strong grasp
on the question – the reality of war is that it demands great bravery from those involved
as they face unimaginable suffering, but is ultimately unnecessary. And then, with that
in mind, I would think about my second poem. Now the names of the poems are printed in
the question paper, so I would literally go through one by one and think about which poem
would make a good comparison in light of the question I’m being asked. So Ozymandias, no – it’s not about war
London, no And on you go. And in this case I might choose
‘Exposure’ – it definitely points out the suffering of the soldiers, who suffer
not at the hands of a great armed enemy, but at the hands of the weather, with the ‘iced
east winds that knife us’. But there’s also a second similarity: the bravery and
suffering is pointless, because nothing happens. The way each stanza builds up structurally
but then is anti climactic at the end shows that. And by the way, all of these points I’m
mentioning about the poems are covered in my poetry analysis videos: I’ve made videos
on every poem so take a look at those. So the point is simple: don’t just rush
in. Give yourself some time to think about your question in Section A and your second
poem in Section B. I’ve not even mentioned Section C, unseen poetry in this video, but
I do have three videos on that in my Literature Paper 2 playlist. If you found this video useful please do subscribe
to the channel.

100 Replies to “The Choices You Have to Make in the AQA Literature Paper 2 Exam

  1. Yes this exam is over, but check out my videos on the upcoming English Language exams:

    AQA English Language Paper 1 : https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqGFsWf-P-cAlttmXkEvJXCxqT-ZzFqAN
    AQA English Language Paper 2: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqGFsWf-P-cB-GSeqYup7PXId4pbldQVq

  2. Mr Bruff you are the man! The rap you made actually helped me so much, cheers

  3. I actually had already read the unseen poem. My teacher did it in class as an unseen poem. I see this as a win

  4. Lmao I didnโ€™t even know there were 2 questions and I just answered the first one I saw bc I was too busy checking what poem it was

  5. they say to remember 15 poems yet i only remember about 3 and i only needed 1 of them today. what a waste it would have been

  6. Is it just me that left the war photographer poem ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ. That's the only question I left out though ๐Ÿ˜‚

  7. I'm only here because this video is trending. Exams, 10 years later, still give me anxiety. But I survived! And you all will too ๐Ÿ™‚ now get off YouTube and revise!

  8. I didnโ€™t even revise but that paper was some godly stuff. Everyone was so gassed about the exam afterwards lol

  9. The Inspector Calls questions were: How does Priestley present the affects of selfishness in the play and How does Sheila learn lessons about herself and society in the play? Conflict Poetry was Compare how the affects of war is explored in War Photographer and one other poem in the anthology?

  10. Hi Sir, I completed my English literature paper 2 today ! It went really well, thanks for all the tips and advice ! ๐Ÿ˜

  11. This is just a nice reminder that my teacher said "i'ld be lucky to get a 5" and I came out with a 9

    I didn't revise

  12. Todayโ€™s paper was sooo good omg
    You donโ€™t understand how happy I was to see war photographer as the poem and the DNA question was amazing Iโ€™m so happyyy ๐Ÿ˜‚โค๏ธ๐Ÿ˜Š
    How was you exam ????

  13. Lords knows how much sleep deficit these GCSEs have left me in. That being said, I'd say that today's exam was an easy grade 8. We did DNA and love and relationships, which was relatively easy to understand. And it's not just me, but over half of the students who did the exam with me wrote over 12 pages (sides). Good luck in your exams everyone!

  14. โค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œโ™‹โ™‹โ™‹ ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’”๐ŸŒŽ๐Ÿ’”๐ŸŒŽ

    Based on love alone. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die in our place. Then on the third day rose Him from the dead.

    Now, though Jesus Christ alone. God has granted us the free gift of eternal life. He will save and heal you, if you ask Him.

  15. Trending on youtube clearly shows that Mr bruff is the saviour for all year 11 student who sat their gcse today. This is what we do at last minute.
    Edit: I hope all of your exam for literature went really well cz mine didn't. Good luck for other exams especially maths and language let's smash it together and show the exam board our power on what we can do which most of them are even clueless about it.

  16. If youโ€™re feeling stressed right now, for whatever reason, just remember this:
    We never have to look at English Literature ever again.

    So, relax. Youโ€™re free for now.

  17. Donโ€™t worry guys I did GCSE last year and for this paper I did like 5-8 pages overall for the whole paper 2 and I got a B

  18. The two questions were answerable and that was the problem 4 me. I didnโ€™t know which one to go for

  19. I remember watching this guy the night before my English exam – ended up securing a 7 with his advice after nearly no revision! Itโ€™s never too late to start revising, just try to get as much of what he says remembered and you should do great!

  20. When so many people are watching this because of there lit exam making it trending ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

  21. I spent half an hour thinking I had one hour less than I did have. I answered every question in an hour and 15 minutes, then realised my mistake and had a nervous breakdown, before writing about 5 sentences and the time went halfway through writing the fifth one.

  22. I was so hyped it was โ€˜War Photographerโ€™ and the Blood Brothers was about money ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ

  23. MrBruff I forgot thank you for all your videos and books which helped me pass my English exam- I was relieved after passing them exam, since then never opened any english book ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

  24. Wait, do we actually get the both poems for section b or its just here. Cuz if we do i'll write atleast ten paragraghs!!!

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