A Bright Idea for how to study English Texts

One question we get asked a lot is: how do I study my English Texts?
Well, our English tutor James has laid it all out here for you.

Many English students experience a common challenge remembering the key themes, characters, and quotes from the texts they are studying. This can be a problem for essay writing and exam revision, as you can feel like you must familiarise yourself with the text all over again.

Not so, as there are several great memory recollection strategies to go in your study toolbox, to help you remember key themes for all English texts. From Romeo and Juliet (don’t confuse lust for love) to Rear Window (what goes on behind closed doors?) to Jasper Jones (growing up can be challenging but is ultimately worth it), and so on. Here are some effective memory recollection strategies to put in your study toolbox:

Have fun with the text

When it comes to English studies, the more you enjoy the text, the better your chances of recollecting its most important moments. Just because you are studying something from an analytical perspective does not mean you cannot have fun with it. Further, this actually increases your chances of remembering it.
How do you have fun when you study an English text? An effective strategy is to write some creative exercises on it, from the perspective of key characters. For example, a fun way to really get into Romeo and Juliet, is to write a letter from one of the characters.
Use a prompt such as:
“From the perspective of Romeo’s best friend, write a letter Romeo trying to convince him that Juliet is not worth his time, and that there are better romantic prospects out there.”

An exercise such as this helps you get inside the characters’ thoughts. Try to feel what they are feeling, and write something in a way that you feel they would express themselves. Write several creative pieces such as this, from the perspective of different characters. This will help you get inside their heads, better understand them, and develop a deeper understanding of the text. All of which will help you better remember it.

Challenge yourself by writing an essay arguing a point you disagree with

Many students struggle with analysing a text that they feel they do not personally relate to. Often texts have themes they do not like reading about or agree with. One of the most important things when it comes to remembering and English texts you study is understanding that you do not have to personally agree with the text’s main ideas, but you do need to understand them.

Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Rear Window explores many themes. One of which could arguably be that people should mind their own business and not get involved in the affairs of others. When studying a challenging text such as this, many students struggle to remember some of the key ideas. Mostly because they may feel as though they disagree with them.
If you are a community-minded person, you may feel as though a sense of belonging and togetherness is important across all neighbourhoods.

Step out of your comfort zone

So then, a good challenge to help you remember the key themes, ideas, and quotes from this text is to write an essay that has a prompt arguing a point of view you personally disagree with, such as “Hitchcock’s Rear Window shows us the dangers of getting involved in other people’s affairs, and why it is better to mind your own business. Discuss.”

The fact that you disagree with this point of view is an effective strategy for working at remembering the text. This is because you will have to analyse it from perspectives you disagree with, research ideas that you do not personally hold, and then write about them from the perspective of someone who agrees with these ideas. In the end, you better understand the challenging themes of the text, improve your knowledge of the characters and their motivations, and remember key ideas. Strategies such as these are effective for both structured essay writing and exam revision.

Recite key ideas over and over

The more you go over a text, the better your understanding of it will be. When it comes to remembering the important ideas of English texts you study, it is effective to break them down into a chart with key ideas. This chart can be used as memory aids to help you remember the crucial parts of a text. An effective strategy when studying a text is to write a list comprising of:

Central characters:
Their role in the story:
What themes they relate to:
An effective quote about them:

For example, when studying Jasper Jones, you could write up something like:

Character: Jasper Jones.
Role in story: dual protagonist, a kind-hearted teenager who tries to solve his girlfriend’s apparent murder.
Themes: The harmful effects of rumours and bad reputation, looking beyond surface appearances, racism, prejudice, friendship, family.
Quote and related theme:Jasper Jones has a terrible reputation in Corrigan. He’s a Thief, a Liar, A Thug, a Truant. He’s lazy and unreliable. He’s a feral and an orphan, or as good as. (Themes: The harmful effects of rumours and bad reputation, looking beyond surface appearances.)

By breaking it down into these key points, you will be able to remember the text’s main ideas better. These small points can act as memory aids to help you remember the larger overall story and themes. For example, as the character of Jasper strongly relates to the theme of friendship, by associating him with this theme, you will be able to remember his role in the story better and the other characters he is involved with.

Write down this key information for the main characters of the text you are studying, and go over it at least once a day. This will help you remember this crucial information.

Colour code and immediately write down key quotes

If you are reading a text and come across a quote that you feel is relevant, write it down. By relevant we mean, that it says something important about the themes and ideas of the text, or its characters. When you have found one immediately highlight it in texta or a coloured pen¸ to help you remember it. Then, write it down somewhere else, and, as discussed above, write down a theme the quote references or relates to. Further, don’t fall into the trap of not highlighting it now because you “will do it later.”

This is a huge mistake many students make, because ‘later’ on they will watch a movie, chat with friends, and so on, and completely forget about the quote they were going to highlight, and why it is important and relevant to the text. Do it the moment you see the quote, to maximise your chances of recalling it, and its importance to the text.

Contact us for more information

Our specialist English tutors have a whole range of strategies, tips, and tricks to help students remember a text. If you would like some help remembering the key themes of the text you are studying, the importance of a certain character, or anything else related to this, please contact Evergreen Tutoring Services today. Don’t forget to remember the importance of this process.

Or call us on 0409 083 909

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