Five Ways to Deal with English Block

English is one of those subjects where students do sometimes feel as though they have reached a plateau. When they seem to be getting the same marks on every piece of work, it can feel very frustrating. This perceived lack of progress can even make students start to disengage from the subject, deciding that there is no point in trying. Here are five suggestions for students to try when English block seems to be setting in.

  1. Drop the revision guides. When students are looking for additional support and inspiration, study guides can feel like a natural place to look. However, whilst they cover core skills and ideas, they also lack the subtlety that students need in order to achieve higher grades. It means that students produce a regurgitation of pre learnt notes and ideas, rather than original insights. Students are better off sometimes rereading the text itself, and thinking about their own interpretations and insights. 
  2. Stop looking for formulas – English is a subject that tends to resist attempts to use formulae, since the core skills of analysis and evaluation do not really work this way. Whilst approaches such as PEE are very useful for introducing students to analysis work, they do not lend themselves to more sophisticated analysis. Top level students do not worry so much about the formula, but instead are led by their evidence and the effect of the writer’s techniques. 
  3. Make it multimodal – Use some other resources in order to help you discover a different perspective on the text. For example, if you are studying a Shakespeare play, try watching a theatre production recording or a film adaptation. Look at the story through a pair of fresh eyes and think about how others interpret the text. 
  4. Make it multisensory – Bring in some different strategies for planning and presenting your learning. Reflect on whether your current methods are actually working effectively for you, or if a fresh approach might help. For example, you could try using post-it notes to plan an essay, or record your ideas verbally on your phone. Using images can also help with revision and creativity for some students, especially since 65% of us identify us visual learners. 
  5. Trust the process – I often think improving in English is a bit like learning to drive a car. You tend to stay at the same level for a while, and it can be tempting to think you are not making any progress. However, it is often when you feel like giving up that you are closest to a breakthrough. English does take time to see improvement, and students do need to trust that it will all come together in the end. 

If you would like further English support for your child, Bright Sky Tutoring has limited availability for one to one and small group tutoring. To find out more, get in touch at

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