Blog Students Study Tips How to Do Well in your English Literature Class

How to Do Well in your English Literature Class

It so happens that nearly all students in Singapore detest the English Literature classes. There are numerous essays to write, plays, books, and poems to read and be interpreted. Not to mention lengthy classes and lectures – the list is endless.

But, what can you do to ensure you prepare well for English Literature exams? With determination, a positive attitude, and hard work, you will perform well on the subject.

Below are some guidelines on how to pull through English Lit classes, and also get good grades. Let’s dive in!

Find Out What You Should Read

Find out material you will be studying throughout the school year. Ask the professors or teachers, or check the class syllabus when it is available. Prepare a list of all the material you will be studying this year.

Have an English Literature class notebook. Divide it into different parts, like have a list of poems, a list of prose pieces, and one for dramas. With such a list, you will be able to monitor your progress and it will also be helpful for when you are revising for exams.

Read More

Once you confirm what you are to study, either borrow or buy textbooks and then start reading. Ensure you read also during your spare time. When possible, commit 30 minutes each day to read your class books and poems.

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How can you motivate yourself to get through this? Consider rewarding yourself each time you complete reading a selection. While you read the book, you will start formulating ideas and understanding of the material. Also, you will pick up important quotes which may be given as textual proof in future essays.

Take Notes

Notes are very important in a student’s life; particularly those taking English Literature. Have at least 2 notebooks: one can for taking class notes, and the second for making notes as you study. For the ‘study’ notebook write any interesting data you may notice as you read the books. Note words that you consider to be good to use in exams or future essays.

Write quotes from analysis of the study materials. Have lists of themes, characters, and the used literary tools. Note some key background information about the writer and ways that will impact their work.

Online Study Guides

This is an additional resource for English Literature student. This is in addition to the course books. Sites like Cliffnotes, Sparknotes, Jiffynotes among others were particularly made to assist students to understand their course material better. These guides are full of literary material, and offer information on just about any poems, books, and plays imaginable.

How can the online study guides help you? The information you get from the online study guides will help you understand your course book material better. This will also show in your class participation and the essays you write.

Have Study Groups

Having study groups will be very useful for all school subjects. Try to have a group of about seven classmates. The whole idea of the study group is for students to help one another in understanding and revising together. Also, members are to share any knowledge and information that they may have.

Normally, study groups member each gives and receives info, thus everyone will benefit. Remember, all the group members have a common goal, therefore do not hesitate to share knowledge and information.

Ask Questions

When you aren’t certain about something, you can ask the teacher or a classmate. How else will you learn if you don’t ask questions? Even when the question appears dumb, don’t hesitate to seek help. Better you ask questions and have the answer immediately than to not know the answer only to end up writing wrong information in your essay. Ask your teacher for essay writing tips, and how you can better your writing style. The teacher will be happy to give some pointers t help you perform better.

Do additional research

While studying English Lit, you cannot solely depend on your class note or textbooks for information. From time to time, you will need to do additional research so that you fully understand the circumstances of the book. Fortunately, with technology, you won’t need to visit the library for research work.

Read summaries from excerpts, articles, watch documentaries, historians, and sociologists, and pose questions online. Attend special lectures which relate to the material you’re currently studying. Again, note the factors that could have influenced the writer’s selection of subject matter.

Watch plays and movies

Sometimes, it’s not enough to read to fully interpret the material, especially when it’s a play. One way to help you understand it better would be to watch the film or theatre version! As you are watching, make sure you note anything that sticks out or will seem important.

By watching a visual re-enactment of a play or book will help you recall important scenes. Additionally, it helps you remember that plays are meant to be performed before an audience and not remain as words on pieces of paper.

Know your jargon

In English lit, language plays a big role: in reading, writing, and text discussions. You will encounter certain tools and words that are generally linked to this subject. Literary jargon includes words like ‘narrator’, ‘protagonist’, ‘antagonist’, ‘denouement’ etc. Knowing and using such words will help you in understanding the reading material. For example, rather than writing ‘the main character’, write ‘the protagonist’. This makes make an essay sound more professional, and probably will earn you some extra marks.

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Prove your point

Always support what you write using textual evidence – provide examples from the play or book that influence your views. Don’t simply write that you trust something – give proof!

When you’re asked to list important themes and ideas in a text, write instances that led you to that conclusion. When asked for your view on a given character, give at least four clear examples from the passage. This will definitely earn extra points as it indicates that you understand the material, and know how you can apply it if needed.


Though English Literature is accompanied by numerous essays to write, plays, books, and poems to read and be interpreted. With determination, a positive attitude, and hard work, you will do well in the exams. By following the above-mentioned tips, you will tackle the essays easily.

Above tips are extremely useful to do well in your Literature exams. More on how to tackle your exams that require essay writing, you may like these articles:

How To Structure An English Literature Essay For Singapore A-Levels
Star Tips For Scoring Economics Essays In Your A-Levels


Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.