Remember the days when you had to submit book reviews for your Nilam programmes in school? Well, what you'll be doing now at STPM level is more than just a simple "I give this story a 5 star" or "I will not read this story again" kind of review.

At this point, it is a matter of going deep and wide when you're presenting your answers. Say goodbye to objective and short structured answers.

We are now talking about 25% for one essay question which requires critical analysis and comprehensive understanding of literary texts ranging from poetry, short stories, plays and novels.

In other words, your essay needs to be TIP- TOP to impress the examiners

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How To Improve Your Essay Writing When You're Answering The Questions For STPM Literature in English?

Let's get down to business! Here are 3 practical tips to help you up your game in essay writing.

a) Deepen your understanding of the prescribed texts and literature theories through constant reading 

Nope, we are not talking about speed reading and skimming for the sake of completing the texts. You should spend more time to read the texts and pages carefully.

You can even highlight the texts and write questions and notes on them or in a separate notebook when something pops into your mind. Ask yourself what the texts imply and relate to the era, culture and background of what you're reading. Some of the questions you can note down is this:

What is the recurring theme and why is it relevant in today's society?

Be sure to also read up on various literary theories to develop your understanding of how culture, gender, historical contexts influence the writings that you are reading. This will help you to accurately identify and examine these issues that were mentioned in the excerpts of the writings.

b) Organize your essay structure with valid points plus textual evidence 

After deepening your understanding of the original texts and literary theories, you have to plan your writing. Read the essay question carefully to know what they are looking for and start with the basic structure.

Draft a brief introduction and start noting down the points and back them with textual evidence of the excerpts or the original texts that you have previously read. For instance, if you have noted down three points, make sure you have sufficient examples and elaboration from the text as you write your paragraphs. After that, you can summarize your points and conclude your essay.

tutoring essay english literature
Your English Literature tutor can guide you to write better essays.
Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

c) Do different types of questions and seek feedback from an experienced tutor 

Now it's the time to build your confidence and competence in essay writing. You have to attempt various questions to test your knowledge and see where you truly stand.

Having said that, it is best to let an amazing English Literature tutor grade your essays and sample exercises regularly.

Not sure where to look for one?

We've got the perfect solution for you! Just head to Superprof!

At Superprof, you can find tutors from diverse teaching backgrounds and experiences. Prefer to learn from a student tutor who has taken the STPM paper and offers an affordable hourly rate?

That's not a problem because you can find one easily with the effective filtering system at the Superprof website. All you need to do is just key in the subject and choose your physical location or opt for online lessons. You can then continue to adjust the tabs for the educational level, hourly rate (according to your maximum rate) and also response time of your tutors.

From there, you will be directed to a list of tutors that offer English Literature lessons according to your personal preferences. After browsing the tutors' profiles, you can then subscribe to a Student Pass to connect with the tutor and book your first lesson with him/her.

You can also read more on the latest examination format for STPM Literature in English here. 

What Are Some Books That You Can Refer To During Your Revision Process?

You can't take books away from a subject that revolves around written words, can't you?

As mentioned in the earlier paragraph, you have to read extensively on diverse topics that are literature-related.

Here are 4 solid book recommendations that many students and teachers approve of when it comes to studying English Literature.

a)The Language of Literature by Adrian Beard 

This book aims to help students when it comes to building their knowledge of contemporary texts. You'll learn various areas of literary study and language and master topics such as structure, shapes and patterns, genre and sub-genre, narrative and narrators, representing talk, metaphor and many more.

b) Mastering Poetry by Sara Thorne 

This book will enable you to look at poetry through an analytical lens. You will slowly get used to studying poetry the right way of making connections between content, language, structure and style.

c)The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare’s Comedies by Penny Gay

Shakespeare is a genius writer who is not only good at writing tragedies but comedies. Since you'll be studying Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare in your 2nd semester, this book will enlighten you on the significance of the characters and plots in Shakespeare's writings and why is it still relevant to our society today.

stpm english literature play
William Shakespeare is an icon of English Literature.
Photo by Mike from Pexels

d) Feminism in Literature: A Gale Critical Companion by Jessica Bomarito (Editor), Jeffrey W. Hunter (Editor) and Amy Hudock (Editor)

This is a must-have book for your final semester when you're studying the two novels. Both Pride and Prejudice and The Joy Luck Club were written by female authors and the main characters are also women.

Learning about feminists theory and how female characters were portrayed in literature throughout the years will give you some interesting insights when you're discussing the two novels when you're writing your essays during your exam.

You can also find more resources on past year papers of STPM Literature in English paper in this article.

What Are The Common Mistakes That Students Make During Their STPM Literature Of English Exams?

Every year, the Malaysian Examinations Council (MEC) will release a yearly report based on the students' performance in all the STPM subjects. Throughout the years, the examiners have pointed out some of the most common mistakes made by students for their STPM Literature of English papers throughout the semesters.

Here are some of them that you should pay attention to.

a) Writing the answers in the form of summaries without no critical analysis 

This is one of the most mentioned reasons why students tend to lose marks for their essays. The answers given tend to be shallow and repetitive without any concrete elaboration of analysis of the questions. For instance, the examiners pointed out the majority of students would only write about obvious happenings or character traits but will not go deep into the implications and lessons that were learnt from the prescribed texts. There is also a lack of application of literary terms when students are answering the questions.

b) Lack of understanding/misinterpretation of the literary terms asked in the questions 

The next common mistake that was pointed out was the lack of accuracy when students are answering the questions. The textual evidence in the essays was inaccurate because there was a gap between the student's comprehension of the question and what the question actually intended.

For example, past year question of Section C in the 2014 STPM Literature in English Paper 3. Students were asked to examine the narrative structure that was used by the author, Amy Tan in her book, The Joy Luck Club.

Instead, many students misunderstood the literary term ‘narrative structure’ with; for example, ‘narrative
technique’ and written inaccurate answers that are not related to the question.

c)Poor planning and organisation of essays due to lack of preparation 

When your essays simply lack coherence and structure, it only means two things.

Firstly, the examiners will give you a low mark because they cannot follow the thread of your argument in your writings.

Secondly, there is only superficial reading involved on your side. You can't just write well without truly understanding the literary texts and when you are familiarised with them.

The cliché rings true. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. 

So don't forget to read up on the prescribed texts throughout the semesters and also master the marking scheme of your STPM Literature in English paper.

Which Universities Can You Further Study In English Literature?

After taking your STPM Literature in English paper, you might be keen to pursue this field as an undergraduate or even postgraduate student later.

english literature stpm exam
The world of English Literature is fascinating and requires consistent critical reading if you intend to pursue a career in this industry.
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Here are three universities in Malaysia that offer programmes in English Literature studies.

a) University of Nottingham

  • Program name: English Language And Literature BA(Hons)
  • Duration of study: 3 years (full time)
  • Fee: RM35,100 per year

b) Management and Science University

  • Program name: Bachelor in English Language and Literature Studies (Honours)
  • Duration of study: 3 years (full time)
  • Fee: RM50,000- RM55,000

c) University of Malaya

  • Program name: Master of Arts (English Literature)
  • Course structure: Mixed mode/fully research
  • Fee: RM11,500

Some careers that you can consider venturing into upon graduation include media writer, journalist, author, lecturer and even screenwriter. But before that, you have to ace this subject by getting exceptional results for your STPM Literature in English paper.

If you wish to renew your mind, read. -Lailah Gifty Akita

 

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An avid reader and writer, Joycelyn loves the art of communication and is passionate about all kinds of media.