1. I don’t believe it’s possible to stress explicitly enough that your students should go into the examination with a clear sense of which genre they studied (aren’t they all ‘books?’) and which of the ‘books’ they studied are legitimate ones to use in the Paper 2 exam. Invent a game, create a rap, whatever it takes (and it takes a lot) to ensure they don’t choose the wrong genre or use the wrong works and incur the penalties that go into effect this May session. The ‘parts’ of the syllabus may be blazingly clear to you; in my experience they are not so to all of our students.
2. Find a way to get behind the music that rules their heads and send the message: “Read the question, answer the question.” One common strategy for students is to find ‘the word’ in the question: character, conflict, uncertainty, plot, suspense, etc. and create their strategy immediately, without stopping to see what the particular angle a question about these familiar concepts is using in their exam this session. Try to convince them to LOOK.
3. Be sure students remember that the demand for comparison is in Descriptor B at all levels. I’m sure you have conveyed this, taught this, practiced this. But it’s important to remind them– maybe read the criterion out loud in the days just before the exam? And upper level marks can be gained for doing some evaluation of the success of the compared works. This does not have to be either magisterial or profound. Making it explicit can do their performance a lot of good. Students can venture into a proposal at the opening of their essay (‘Williams surely advances a more rounded presentation of women in his play than does Miller, even as (the question:) he creates compelling dramatic portrayals of the tension between major and minor characters.” They can touch on moments where the writing is more and less effective throughout the essay, or include some evaluation of the the effect of the work on them as persons at the end or return to something like the presentation of women, as above. For your best students, surely it poses an interesting challenge.