We all know the feeling: you’ve spent months teaching Romeo and Juliet to your Year 11s. They’ve acted out passages, created character cards, summarised scenes and written essays. They should know everything there is to know about the star-cross’d lovers. And then, when you’re just weeks from the exam, a student asks, “which one was Mercutio again?”. This is where a good GCSE Romeo and Juliet revision guide becomes not only desirable – it’s essential.
It’s the sort of head-in-hands moment that occurs in every classroom as exams loom near. Texts which were once so thoroughly studied that students knew them better than the lyrics to a Taylor Swift song have disappeared from their heads in a fume of sighs. And you, the beleaguered teacher, have to somehow re-ignite their memories before the GCSE English Literature exam. O rude unthankfulness!
So what would you look for when teaching students how to revise Romeo and Juliet? GCSE syllabi differ, obviously, but they all require certain basics of textual knowledge. At one of those head-brickwall moments, I mentally composed my wishlist for the ultimate GCSE Romeo and Juliet revision guide. And here it is:
The most important for thing for me is Romeo and Juliet exam questions and answers. I find sample answers to be one of the most effective ways to teach students about how to approach exam questions. By seeing where others have made mistakes, or, conversely, where others have excelled, students know how to burn bright themselves.
Key Themes and Context
Next, I’d have to say that a comprehensive summary and discussion of themes found in Romeo and Juliet is essential. And the themes shouldn’t be viewed in isolation, they should come with a detailed discussion of the social and historical context of Romeo and Juliet. After all, where Shakespeare lays his scene is an important part of AO3.
The bane of every student’s life is learning quotations for exams, and it can be hard to decide which are the most important. So the most significant Romeo and Juliet quotes, together with a discussion of their relevance, is essential. Otherwise, just like the Nurse, your students will end up in a rambling mess of imprecise anecdotes.
And, of course, to avoid that confusion about Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet character information is a must. The play’s two households may be alike in dignity but that can be a problem when students are trying to remember who’s who. A handy reminder of who does what and when is great for students while they’re recapping.
Students are going to watch Luhrmann’s film – of course they are. And rightly so: it’s a cinematic masterpiece. But for a more detailed plot summary of the violent delights and violent ends of the play, they should be able to turn to a dependable revision guide.
Key Language Terms
Finally, I’ve always thought revision guides should include a list of useful vocabulary for students to use when analysing language. A sort of word bank to prompt them when writing practice essays. After all, although a rose by any other word would smell as sweet, examiners tend to be a bit less forgiving when it comes to vocabulary.
So there it is: my wishlist for a Romeo and Juliet revision guide. And, because I am lucky enough to work at Beyond, I got my wish granted. I rubbed the magic lamp, and the office genies swung into action.
We’ve produced a comprehensive revision guide for GCSE grades 1-9. It’s written by experienced teachers based on what they know works in the classroom. It’s beautifully illustrated with captivating drawings and skilfully designed to be engaging and enticing. It’s got a comprehensive plot summary, detailed character outlines, questions for discussion, contextual information, practice exam questions, sample answers and a huge list of useful terms. It’s even interactive, so students can click through it with ease, skipping from characters to key terms at the click of a button.
The Romeo and Juliet Revision Guide
So here it is, in all its glory: The Beyond English Romeo and Juliet GCSE Revision Guide. Did my heart love till now?