How Do I Do Well if I HATE the English Texts That I Am Studying?
I know that exact feeling; the feeling of giving up before it has even started. Some lucky students fall in love at first sight with their texts while some unfortunate students dread having to spend a whole year analysing their texts. If you resonate with the latter, you have probably already given up on English, or maybe you’re trying your best to stay optimistic. English is hard, but what makes it harder is when you know you hate the texts that you are studying, so how can I do well in English if I hate the texts that I have to study? Whether you hate reading and analysing texts or you just hate the specific text that you have to study, here is a guide on how to make studying and reading your texts more enjoyable!
We’ve all said it before, “I’ll just read it later” or “I’ll read it right before school starts” and in the end, it all leads to the same conclusion of us never actually reading the text and by the time our SACs roll around, we ‘study’ by reading summaries of our texts and try memorising the most popular quotes.
Do I Really Have To Read the Text?
The bad news is yes, it is highly recommended that you read your texts! (I know it can be tempting to just read chapter summaries but trust me, I have tried writing an essay without reading the text and it went very badly). However, the good news is using LSG’s ideal approach to your English texts, you may only need to read your texts a minimum of three times. In fact, if you make use of your first reading, you probably won’t have to personally read the text again! During this first reading, take your time, don’t try to binge read the entire text in a night as there is a high chance that you will not be following the plot and you’re just reading for the sake of finishing the text. There’s no need to start annotating the text during this first reading as you will most likely have a collective second reading in class where your teacher will go over the whole text in more detail by highlighting significant sections of your text. This first reading is simply for you to familiarise yourself with the text and what you will be handling during the year. However, if you still have trouble understanding your texts, LSG has a plethora of resources such as free text-specific blogs and affordable text guides that you can check out!
How Do I Find the Motivation To Read My Texts?
Some common reasons why we might procrastinate reading our texts are the sheer volume of pages we need to read; having a short attention span and; being a more visual learner. If this is the case, there are many ways to increase your motivation to read or watch your texts!
- If the text is a play (e.g. The Crucible by Arthur Miller), watch the play while reading the script. Not only will this help you understand the stage directions in the script, but it can also help with understanding the plot if you are a more visual learner.
- If the text has a film adaptation (e.g. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote or The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham), watch the film adaptation first! Knowing major plot twists and spoilers can make reading your text feel faster as you already know what is going to happen. Watching film adaptations can also help allow you to picture the plot easily and help immerse yourself into the setting and the world of the text (however, do take care when doing this as you are only analysing the text you have been allocated, not the adaptations!)
- If the text is a film (e.g. Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock), try to find a trailer of the film or find short clips from the film rather than watching the entire movie in one sitting; watching these cuts and suspenseful scenes may spark your curiosity which is likely to increase your interest towards wanting to watch the movie. Scheduling a movie night with friends and family is also a great way to make watching the film more fun.
- If the text is a collection of poems (e.g. William Wordsworth Poems selected by Seamus Heaney by William Wordsworth), listen to the poem while reading the poem. Not only will this help you to embody the poet’s mind, but it can also help you recognise the rhyming schemes and rhythm patterns that may not be noticeable at first glance.
How Do I Make Reading My Texts More Enjoyable?
- Create goals: Space it out, we do not want to get burnt out! Organise goals and do not attempt to read the book all within a night! For example, you could aim to read one chapter a day. Not only will this hold you accountable, but it will also make reading less daunting and overwhelming.
- Rewards: Who doesn’t love rewards? Reward yourself after reaching your reading goals, this could be as simple as taking a break after reading or reading a book that you like.
- Audiobooks: When you don’t feel like physically reading, download audiobooks of your texts and listen to them while you’re commuting or while you’re doing your chores.
- Environment: Create the perfect reading atmosphere! This is quite subjective, however, if you’re struggling to find this niche, here is a step-by-step guide to ‘romanticise’ reading:
- Put your devices away! If you’re opting to read an ebook, you can also turn your notifications off. We do not want to be distracted and procrastinate!
- Find a comfortable place to sit with good lighting.
- If you’re in the mood for a sensory experience, light a scented candle or make your favourite beverage to sip along while you are reading.
- If it helps, you can pretend that you’re reading at an aesthetic library, or your favourite café, or a serene park…the options are endless.
It can be even harder to find the motivation to study for the texts that you hate as you’re probably looking for ways to limit the amount of physical contact you make with the text or ways to save time and study less for English but still do well in the subject.
How Do I Save Time When Reviewing and Writing Notes on My Texts?
Tip 1: Write Notes Based on Themes, Writing Style & Characters Instead of Chronologically
Often, students will take notes chronologically based on each chapter, however, this is not helpful at all. In your SACs and exam, you will not be writing paragraphs based on each chapter, instead, you will likely be given one of the five types of essay prompts that require an in-depth understanding of the themes, writing style (such as symbols and motifs) and characters of the text. Therefore, I recommend writing down notes and quotes based on themes, specific writing techniques and characters.
For example, before class, you could create a separate notes page on each prominent theme of the text. When your teacher highlights significant sections of the text, you could then write down these notes into the relative theme document. For comparative texts, you can also create a comparison table based on overlapping themes which will allow you to view the comparisons more easily. If you’re a visual learner, colour coding your notes according to different themes or characters can make it easier to find later on when reviewing your notes. If you do this from the start, you will spend less time re-reading the text and organising your notes which will hopefully reduce the amount of time you spend studying.
Tip 2: Write Down Page Numbers Next to Quotes and Notes
No, you do not have to memorise page numbers for your final exam or SACs, however, writing down page numbers will help you save time when reviewing your notes as you can just flip over to the page rather than having to re-read the text to find the specific quote or notes. It may seem rather annoying having to write down the page numbers all the time, however, your future self will thank you!
How Can I Find the Motivation To Write on the Text That I Hate?
Tip 1: Find Out What You Hate and Like About the Text
We all experience writer’s block, especially when we have no passion for the text we are studying. However, assuming you have read the text, you would probably have unique opinions on the text. Firstly, find out what you hate about the text.
- Do you hate a specific character in the text? Why do you hate this character?
- Do you hate the writing style? What is it about the writing style that you hate?
- Is there a specific theme you felt the text did not address properly?
- Was there a specific scene or part of the text that frustrated you?
Once you find out what you hate about the text, find an essay prompt related to the topic you hate and practice writing an essay about it! Use this as a chance to lowkey rant, discuss or debate about the topic. Not only will this help you develop your inner author voice, but it will also provide you with inspiration to write. On the other hand, you can also find out what you like about the text (hopefully, you don’t hate everything about the text) and practice writing on a topic related to this. For example, I hated studying The Crucible due to the portrayal of women in the text. However, when analysing the text, I realised that the portrayal of women in the text was simply a reflection of the conservative and insular society of Salem which became a theme that I liked discussing.
Tip 2: Put the Text in Context
Keep in mind that the texts that you have been allocated all have a specific aim and purpose such as serving political commentary about a significant historical event, critiquing a specific characteristic of conservative communities or simply a discussion about human nature. Throughout the text, there will be many literary techniques, characters and events that will be used to bring these significant themes to life. Therefore, regardless of whether you like the plot of the text or not, the themes that you will be studying may be more of interest to you. If this is the case, researching the background and the world of the text may help you gain a deeper understanding of these themes which is likely to increase your motivation to write as you will be able to apply your knowledge about the text such as quotes, characters and events to these themes.
Tip 3: Utilise Your Strengths
By focusing on your strengths, you are likely to increase your confidence and consequently, your motivation to write! Therefore, if you are an expert at analysing literary techniques, or if you have mastered writing about characters, use these strengths when you are writing. Not only will playing at your strengths make writing less difficult, it may also help overshadow your weaknesses.
Overall, whether writing essays is your strong suit or not, LSG has many general essay writing tips (for example, check out this guide on essay planning). I also recommend checking out some of the comprehensive LSG guides such as How To Write A Killer Text Response and How To Write A Killer Comparative which may give you a head start on writing your essays.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many choices in English and it is quite likely that you will end up with a text that you dislike. However, it is still possible to do well in English while studying texts you hate! Hopefully, these tips can make reading and studying your texts much more enjoyable and consequently, make your English experience much more pleasant. Endure the pain now and you'll be finished before you know it!