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best way of studying eng lit?

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I am taking the eng lit hl course and i was wondering what the best ways of going about this course are, in order to get good grades. we're reading and discussing the books and making notes, but I'm not sure how i can improve my structure in essays etc. (we aren't writing many in class) any ideas?

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It is a VERY broad question. But I'll say right off the bat: if you are primarily concerned with "good grades" then you are off to a bad start.

It will be more conducive to think (perhaps you already meant this) about "becoming a better reader and thinker of literature." Good grades are likely to follow naturally.

The rest of your question is about schooling. Learning techniques are not necessarily the same as doing well in literature/language studies.

If you are game, then read Robert Scholes' delicious "Textual Power" in conjunction with your class learning. Every uni library will have this. The first few chapters will be especially insightful for any lit. student. Reading him is a bit like watching Sister Wendy or Simon Schama talk about art (check out Schama on YouTube: Power of Art, Caravaggio). You won't come away untouched.

Essay-Writing: There is tons on the market about essay writing, but I have found Palgrave study editions decent enough. "How to Study ..." http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=646731.... And there is plenty already in the curriculum guide about how to approach Lit. study and writing. If you understand this, then there is little more you really need. Literature is not about doing school, it is about being a certain kind of thinker. Trying to walk in another pair of shoes feels highly artificial in the beginning, but once you accept and absorb the strange ways of thinking for that discipline, it will all feel second nature. Then you start believing in it all. And start walking the walk and talking the talk. Ever picked out a kindergarten teacher from a crowd? That's what I mean. ;)

Edited by Blackcurrant
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Well, I believe that the best way to improve your writing skills and etc. is just to do as many practice essays as possible. You can simply just take any poem (even better if from the English Literature course companion book), time 2 hours, and analyse it and write about it. Ask your teacher to then grade it and give feedback.

Really, to improve you need time to build on your analysis and writing skills. Read a lot and show that you have insight into what you are talking about!

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When you start IB it's pretty normal to feel like you're getting nowhere in English, and that you have absolutely no idea what is going on, or how to structure what you're writing.

If you want to do well, it isn't enough to just write essays/commentaries just when your teacher is telling you to, especially if this isn't very often! Rather, try and search out questions from past exams and work on answering those in your own time, as extra 'home work' to get as much feedback on your work. Then give these to your teacher to get their feedback, and if you're able to, a grade. Write down what they have said about what you can improve on, and then meet with them to discuss where exactly it is you're going wrong, and what you can do instead, next time. The more practice you do, the better you will become. I would have to agree with Blackcurrant in that as you start to understand more and your ability to analyse improves- your grades will too. Grades come with understanding, and knowing what the task is requiring of you :)

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The best advice I can think of, is USE YOUR TEACHERS!

In the end they are the ones who (hopefully) have the most experience with how the IB marks things and likes things done. Write extra essays based on previous exam questions and get your teacher to mark them. Ask them to give you loads of feedback, and if you're unsure about anything they've said ask them to clarify. They can help you get better at essay structure and interpreting questions.

Good luck!

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