LC English 2014
Key things to remember when revising Macbeth.
(a) The first – and most essential task of all – is to make sure that you know the play well: the chronology of events, the key moments/ scenes and the roles of the various characters. Continually revise the scene summaries that you have until you are confident that you know the play to the point that you can refer to it with ease when answering an exam question.
Some resources that wll help with your revision in this regard are the Macbeth in Monaghan series from RTE (20 mins at a time – take notes) and the series of short Showme analyses of key moments from SCCEnglish.ie.
(b) For exam preparation purposes, it is essential to have prepared a series of revision plans (i.e. detailed plans) that cover the main characters, relationships and themes; as well as the imagery in the play; and the appeal of the play for a modern audience. The idea of these is to distill down your knowledge to a single essential page. These will not only be crucial in the days leading up to the exam, but the information they contain in turn will form the foundation of any plan/answer in the exam itself. You can find samples of some of these plans here.
(c) Character questions are the most common questions that appear in the exam. Make sure that not only do you have a strong familiarity and relevant bank of quotes for each character, but also that you have a clear opinion on how you feel about the main characters. It is important that you can discuss the positive and negative aspects of a particular character, as well as being able to take a particular stance and back that view with relevant quotation and reference.
(d) When it comes to learning quotations there are two important factors to consider:
– Pick quotations that make important points about a character, or an aspect of the play. By learning a good selection of quotes from the play, you are not only giving yourself a wide variety of points that you can make, but it is also a very effective way of revising the important aspects of the play.
– Where possible pick quotes to learn that will make several possible points. These utility quotes may make a point about a character and a theme, as well as being useful if, for example, you intended to discuss imagery in the play. The key is to have enough utility quotes to cover the variety of question that might be asked. Obviously for this to work, it is essential that you are confident that you know clearly both what the quote means, and also what are the various points that the quote might make. For a list of important quotes including 40 essential quotes from Macbeth, click here.
(e) The advice below offers essential advice on what a top grade Leaving Cert answer on Macbeth will contain.
Twenty questions to consider when answering a question on Macbeth
1. Have I read the question carefully and underlined the key words?
2. Am I clear on what the question is actually asking me?
3. Have I come up with some alternatives to the key words?
4. Do I agree or disagree with the views expressed in the question? To what extent?
5. Have I used a brainstorm to generate 8 – 10 points that I can use in my answer?
6. Have I numbered these points/paragraphs so that they are in a logical order?
7. Have I assigned 2 -4 quotations per paragraph that I can use to back up the points that I make?
8. Have I included an opening paragraph that addresses the question in a general sense, as well as using the key word(s) from the question?
9. Have I included a topic sentence close to the beginning of each paragraph that makes clear the point that I intend to make in that paragraph?
10. Does each paragraph deal with one point comprehensively?
11. Is each point/paragraph relevant to the question asked?
12. Have I included 2 –4 quotations per point/paragraph in my answer?
13. Are the quotations/references used appropriately to back up the point that I am making?
14. Have I avoided needless irrelevant summarising of the play itself?
15. Have I used the key words from the question and/or their alternatives in the majority of paragraphs?
16. Have I made sure that each point/paragraph is clearly connected (through connecting words/ phrases/ sentences) with the question?
17. Have I included link words or sentences to connect the paragraphs where possible?
18. Have I referred to seeing the play being performed at any stage in my answer?
19. Have I included a closing paragraph where I’ve summarised the points I’ve made, as well as referred clearly back to the question; and concluded on a particular point of view in relation to the question?
20. Have I given clear evidence of personal engagement with the play throughout my answer and particularly in the closing paragraph?