How I got my A1 in English

Osgur Murphy O Kane, past pupil of The Institute of Education, is currently studying Law and Business, Trinity College Dublin

Achieving an A1 in English does not require endless hours of study and reading. When studied efficiently and effectively it requires less of your study time than most other subjects and potentially offers greater reward. With regards to paper 1, it is essential to practice answering comprehensions in order to acquaint yourself with the style of question asked and, with practice, you will find a manner of answering questions that you are most comfortable and confident with. Read the questions before reading the comprehension.

This allows you to identify and underline relevant passages -  maximising time efficiency. The English exam is an intense and stressful experience where you will not enjoy the luxury of time. Concerning the development of your own writing style, you can only improve by actually writing. Set aside 20 minutes a week to write about something, anything, with the aim of finding a fluid and comfortable writing style. Be patient. Try to immerse yourself in current affairs as best you can as this will give you a huge advantage when it comes to answering qB and the essay style question. Practice answering these essay questions, they will improve over time.

With regards to paper 2, set aside half an hour each week to learn quotes. This is unavoidable. Once you have a wide range of quotes learnt off you will be able to answer any question with confidence. This will give you an essential platform to achieve high marks in poetry and single text questions. In comparative you must demonstrate a detailed understanding of the worlds of the texts and be able to identify the similarities and differences that exist between them in your comparisons.

Quotes are less important but to achieve high grades you must include several key quotes to demonstrate your knowledge of the texts. For each of the paper 2 questions it is essential to practice answering questions within time constraints. Most importantly you will have to structure your answers in several paragraphs that include quotes, topic development and a strict adherence to the question. Repeatedly referring back to the question helps anchor you  to the task at hand and ensures you don't lose marks for a lack of coherence. You should be careful not to describe the poem or text in question - discuss it strictly in relation to the question posed.


It is important to remember that a highly sophisticated, archaic vocabulary is not necessary to get an A1, and you should not attempt to unnecessarily force this into your writing style - it will lose its fluidity and appear obnoxious. However you should always look to broaden your vocabulary and develop your phrasing, and, with practice, you will have the potential to achieve very highly in English.