In my school it is said that it is very hard to score an A+ in Literature , but i would like to break the norm. How can i do so?I would also like to know ALL the methods on how to answer the...

In my school it is said that it is very hard to score an A+ in Literature , but i would like to break the norm. How can i do so?

I would also like to know ALL the methods on how to answer the questions.For questions on poem analysis, essays on short stories, anything... ALL ARE WELCOME!!!! =)

Expert Answers
clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Is it a test you are looking to pass with an A+, or the class?

I ask because it could make a difference.  I think the first post is great advice on how to pass an English exam - especially one of the essay variety.  But if it is a class you are looking to pass, you should probably sit down and ask your teacher exactly what you need to do.  I would consider myself a pretty awesome English teacher (ever so humbly - one of the best, really) and I certainly always considered myself a pretty awesome English student, but in 10 or 15 college English classes, I think I only made 3 A's.  All three were with professors I had taken before.  Knowing how the professor taught and graded were key.

If it is simply an exam you must pass (which is what it sounds like), then certainly you can find out the format of the test in advance, know what types of material and questions will be on it.  I highly encourage you totake a few practice exams, see how you score, then re-cover the areas you are most weak in.  Remember though, test mastery is not subject mastery - necessarily.

I applaud your desire to "break the norm" but I think you should hear that many of the most interesting and successful people in the world were not "A+" students.  And in my experience, most of the A+ students are good students, but not necessarily good thinkers, nor especially interesting.  "Break the norm" by being the best you can be - but be interesting.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the easiest and best ways to become a perceptive and analytical reader is to read copiously works of literature and professional criticisms [found in college libraries or through the virtual library].  Reading the classics, of course, introduces and reintroduces one to those recurring themes that are prevalent in works that are examined in literature classes.   (Reading also teaches one language skills and vocabulary.)

After becoming well acquainted with such themes, one can often make analogies and comparisons between various works.  And, reading professional essays that have been written on such works provide the student with excellent models of analysis.  Often there will be an idea in these criticisms that will spark a fresh one in the reader him/herself.

No artist, no musician has ever become accomplished without both talent and practice.  Why should it be any different in another fine art such as literature?

lfawley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is definitely an echo in this thread, but it is an echo that offers you sound advice. Read, read, and read some more! That would be my advice to you. Read not only the primary text (whatever you have been assigned, be it a poem, short story, or novel) and then read about the author, read criticism about the work, research each piece of literature with as much detail as you would research a paper for any other class. Formulate a variety of possible thesis statements about the piece, and then research them. Ask questions of yourself about the work and then answer them. Go above and beyond what is required of you, and then be sure that anything you turn in is PERFECT with regard to grammar, structure, and citations in the correct format (APA or MLA) as applicable. Essentially, you need to become an expert on every work that you read. This will stand you out as a scholar, not just a student attending the class!

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lots of good advice here that I can only echo. You need to remember that English is not like Science or Math where you can score 100% in a test. Writing an essay just isn't the same! The best thing you can do is try to work on understanding the criteria your teachers use to mark your work - they should be willing to share this with you, so you can understand the difference between an A+ and an A piece of work. Then, the biggest advice is to read, read and read. And then read some more. Wide reading helps you encounter a variety of texts with which you can practice your analytical skillis. As you read more, try to draw comparisons between these different texts.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is very important that you stay focused, pay attention, take good notes, and study. Also, if you do not understand something, make sure that you ask your teacher for help. That's what they are there for. You can also check to see if your teacher offers any study groups.

swimma-logan | Student

It's, read, and read some more. I HIGHLY recommend the book How to Read Literature Like a Professor. It's exactly what it sounds like. It teaches you to read analytically for those themes which are being echoed in this thread.

swimma-logan | Student

Well, I don't mean to be rude, but if you plan on getting a near perfect score in a difficult English class, you should start with good grammar, punctuation, and sentence construction; "For questions on poem analysis, essays on short stories, anything... ALL ARE WELCOME!!!! =)" is not a sentence. It is nigh on impossible to know all of the methods, because language is so symbolic, ergo it is highly subject to interpretation. No offense intended, but I hope there is not a composition portion to the class.

In order to effectively analyze a piece of quality literature, you must be able to produce one yourself. If you are unskilled in the art of writing, you cannot fully appreciate the subtle rhetorical strategies, or the finespun syntactical patterns. If these minute nuances escape you, I fear you shan't attain your desired A+. Practice your writing, and master the language.

roopz10 | Student

THANK YOU ALL SOOOOO MUCH for giving me all these tips.. At Ms.Droark(the 2nd post) i love the way you described the methods of which i should use in the paper . But in the case of literary terms is there a limit to the amount of terms i can use? And i know that it is good to remember some quotes from the text which we are studying , but as i am doing Romeo and Juliet, which lines should i remember that will keep me on the safe side???

At Ms.Clairewait (3rd post) in this case i am the one seeking to pass with an A+ and not the class.I will do as you say and ask my english lit. teacher about the format of my paper and thank you for the uplifting comment on how A+ students are not necessarily interesting or good thinkers. As i am more social than studious....

Once again thank you.!!!! Any more posts are always welcome....:]

droark | Student

Literature and the arts are not like math or science. When you are producing an analysis or writing a paper or even simply answering questions in class the answers you are producing are subjective. Because of this the "perfect" paper is often said to be unattainable. All the way through my college English classes I had several professors who never gave any higher than a 98%; you could have always have analyzed something a little further or connected other ideas or even simply expressed your ideas better. Literary analysis is a process that is never complete. The reason for this is that there is always room for improvement. Once you understand this you can move further to producing the "excellent" or those 98% papers.

The biggest thing that sets the excellent analysis apart from the adequate analysis is how thorough you are. Sometimes it would be more effective to spend 5 pages analysing a single quotation or line from a poem than to spend 10 pages trying to talk about a whole work. A thorough analysis is an explanation of ideas that leaves your reader with no further questions at the end.

Also, an excellent analysis shows unique thought. You did not simply regurgitate the words your teacher told you or quote outside sources: you have done your own thinking about the topic and presenting new ideas that you created and will explain using what your teacher said and outside sources. In the academic world this is called "furthering the scholarship" and is what post-grad students seek to do in writing a dissertation. Now, as a high school student you are not expected to come up with something entirely new and revolutionary that no one has ever seen before, but you are expected to take what was discussed and assigned in class, think about it, and make a thesis that shows you put different ideas together to create something more than just what could be demonstrated on a multiple choice test.

Finally, but not least of all, spelling and grammar are very important in an excellent paper. It took me through four years of college to really understand why it really mattered if a spelled a little word wrong here or there or missed a comma because the reader can understand typo's, right? Well, the reason this is so important is because the reader shouldn't have to read around your mistakes. If you spell something wrong or punctuate a sentence in a confusing way the reader is not actually reading what you intended to say.

What it really comes down to is the excellent paper is all about the reader: answering all the readers questions, presenting the reader with new ideas to ponder and saying to the reader exactly what you want to say.