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GCSE, A Level and Beyond

GCSE and A Level Preparation


Preparing for public examinations doesn't need to be boring but you do need to know and practise various important techniques which I will teach you: 

  - essay planning;

  - choosing and analysing the appropriate quotations;

  - writing in clear, formal and correct English;

  - answering the question directly;

  - meeting all the assessment objectives; and

  - writing succinct essays in timed conditions.


I will also work on the texts with you so that you feel confident in your ideas and your appreciation of the novel, the poem or the play, rather than simply relying on notes that you have taken in class. Above all, I will show you that while you have to obey certain rules in order to do well in GCSEs and A levels, it is possible to really enjoy studying and preparing for these exams.


I have taught various different examination boards for both English and English Literature including Edexcel, AQA, OCR, WJEC,  iGCSE, and Cambridge International A levels as part of my experience of teaching at St Paul's, during my teaching practice at Dormers Wells High School and Woodhouse Sixth Form College, and as an English tutor. I keep up to date with examiners' reports and am in touch with former colleagues in order to provide the best advice possible: some examination boards like a personal subjective response to literary texts, for instance, while others don't like to see the word 'I' in an essay. If I don't know the answer to such dilemmas myself I can find out easily.

​In May 2015, Cambridge University Press published an A level guide for students doing AQA English Literature Specification B, which I have taught. The guide includes an essay by me on the construction of literary taste: you can get an idea of my approach to critical theory from this short piece!

Please note that I do not provide help with drafts of coursework. Students are only allowed to receive limited help from their classroom teachers. I believe in adhering to good practice and am ethically bound to not help students more than they are allowed to be helped. I will also provide limited help on specific essays set by classroom teachers; instead I will set my own and we will work with those.


University, including Oxbridge Entry and beyond


Some of you will be going on to study English at university. I have worked extensively with students applying to university to read English, including Oxford and Cambridge. I cannot promise you a place at the university of your choice, but if I feel your aspirations are appropriate for your ability, I will help you prepare your UCAS form, discuss your reading, and give you mock interviews. So far, all my students have got places at Oxbridge or their chosen university. And once you get in to university, you might like the odd extra lesson because you just haven't had quite enough time on Geoffrey Chaucer or John Donne or Toni Morrison. I taught undergraduates at Oxford University for a number of years, both in invidual tutorials and in seminars, so I am well-placed to give you a few extra tips for university essays and exams.

From the moment I had my first lesson with Sophie I clicked with her limitless energy, interest in and enthusiasm for English, which really rubbed off on me. It is completely cliché and equally true to say that she pours her all into teaching and pushing students, through passing over her own experience and passion for words. When I first met her, Sophie introduced me to the two versions of 'Ozymandias', and planted an image in my head of the "vast and trunkless legs of stone" standing in the desert where she had stood on holiday with her mum. I've never met someone who can fit more into an hour, and make you come away on a high, mind buzzing with questions such as what really constitutes "good literature"; and she isn't soft on answers - we've had heated debates and discussions as a result of both being in strong disagreement with each other! Thanks to Sophie, literature is now not just books singled out to study, but a web of interlinking cultures and socio-historic backgrounds and events, with authors having conversations through their works across time. She won't let you leave without some of her love for English rubbing off on you.

Student with whom who I worked on her GCSEs, A Levels, and Oxbridge entry; who got a First from Oxford in English in 2020; and who completed teacher training in July 2023 (to be an English teacher!)

Dear Dr Breese, I want to sincerely thank you for being an inspiring teacher. I have learnt so much from you, both inside and outside the classroom, most of all how to nurture and revel in a joyous relationship with literature. You have helped me to find my own voice in writing and to appreciate others' in reading. It is difficult to convey how much your teaching has meant to me in a small card like this, but I hope very much that we can stay in touch... 


Former student from St Paul's Girls' School

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