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Answering Macbeth - A Single Text guide.

April 25, 2016

Answering Macbeth: A Single Text guide.

A guide to answering Macbeth on the Single Text question in school

60 marks – Every 4 marks is 1%....Lets make sure that you get the maximum here.

Most students take a Shakespearean text and this year it is Shakespeare’s tragedy “Macbeth”. 

“Nought's had, all's spent,
Where our desire is got without content;
'Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy” Lady Macbeth

On paper 2, the Single Text question is the second highest scoring question in terms of marks. It offers 60 marks to students and with careful preparation you should be able to maximise these 60 marks in your favour.
Planning and studying for your “Macbeth” answer are the first steps.

1. Firstly, in planning for any potential questions you must ensure that you have a detailed knowledge of the play and key scenes with key quotes. Get your hands on a great set of notes that give a detailed summary of the play here.


iRevise.com also provide free quick notes and iRevise.com also provide free videos of the five Acts


It is essential that you know the play in great detail, the key scenes and events. The examiner must get a sense of this from your answer, a lack of detailed reference or quotes will easily be recognised, however it is easy to rectify.

2. Know your quotes. Interestingly the Chief Examiner had a point to make about using quotes

“Quotations were used liberally, but not always accurately or judiciously”

In other words, if you want your answer to benefit from quotes and gain you marks.

  • Choose your quotes wisely
  • Use them appropriately
  • Know them correctly

We have made good use of quotes throughout the notes on iRevise.com; however, you can tailor them to suit your own opinions in relation to various characters and themes or issues.

3. Make a checklist. I would advise making a list of important events/ themes/ characters and having a key quote for each.

Many quotes will overlap and while you may think this is a long list of quotes it is actually very manageable. You can use the index of our notes.


4. iRevise.com Macbeth notes are a good guide to what areas you should cover in planning and studying for this question


However, this is purely your preparation, any answer you write on “Macbeth” will involve analysis, NOT a summary of the events of the play

5. Form your OWN opinion. The examiner will be correcting a lot of exam scripts, you want yours to stand out, not read like a set of learned off information, therefore form your own opinion, and give it.

Remember that your opinion is valid once it is well supported by reference or quotation. It is a good idea to consider how you feel about the main characters and why, tease this idea out for yourself and form your opinions this way. While there are lots of notes available on the different characters and issues in the play, you do not have to agree with all of them.

Offer a balanced argument in your response, this will have the added effect of making your answer much more personal and stand out from the rest of the answers that the examiner is correcting that day. There are a range of notes on the themes and characters here which are a good basis for forming your own opinions. Use these as a good starting point from which to build your ideas and opinions.

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