Breaking down the VCE Literature exam criteria

Elly Twomey

September 1, 2016


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Once you have finished all your Literature SACs for the year, all that is left is a 2 hour and 15 minute exam that will play a major part in determining your end of year study score. It seems extremely daunting, and because many of the SACs differ from the exam task, you may be feeling a bit nervous or confused about what exactly the exam entails.

In describing the task, the exam paper states:

For each of your selected texts, you must use one or more of the passages as the basis for a discussion of that text.

In your pieces of writing, refer in detail to the passage or passages and the texts. You may include minor references to other texts.

Therefore, you must write two close analysis pieces on the exam, one on each of your chosen texts. You must use the three passages included on the exam to explore and analyse the text as a whole. Most of your piece should be analysis of what is in front of you in the exam, but you must also use evidence from outside the passages, to demonstrate your knowledge and connection with the text.

The exam will be marked against a criterion that differs from any of your SACs (although it is quite similar to your close analysis SAC). Therefore it is imperative to understand the criteria you will be marked on before beginning to study for the Literature exam, and especially before you try some practice exams. They are as follows, and can be found on the VCAA Literature exam page.

Understanding of the text demonstrated in a relevant and plausible interpretation

This criteria relates to your ability to show your comprehension of the text. The examiner will be noting whether the concepts, ideas and themes in the text are understood. They will assess your interpretation of the text, and whether it is relevant and fair in relation to the meaning in the text

Ability to write expressively and coherently to present an interpretation

Literature is a writing subject, therefore this criteria asks that you write with fluency, an expressive vocabulary and clarity. Your piece must also be a coherent, unified work that clearly articulates your discussion and interpretation of the passages and text as a whole. This criteria can also relate to your use of grammar, punctuation and spelling as the clarity of your piece can be threatened if these are not used correctly.

Understanding of how views and values may be suggested in the text

You must demonstrate an ability to identify, discuss and analyze the views and values within the text. You must be able to support your discussion with evidence from the text

Analysis of how key passages and/or moments in the text contribute to an interpretation

Your ability to analyse the three passages, as well as the text as a whole, and draw an interpretation from them. Examiners will be looking to see that you can use set material and the whole text as a basis for discussion. 

Analysis of the features of a text and how they contribute to an interpretation

This criteria determines that you must identify factors including metalanguage, specific language and authorial techniques, and discuss how they create meaning. Remember that this is literature, so discussing the different elements used to construct a text (character, plot, setting, motifs, symbols” is imperative.

Analysis and close reading of textual details to support a coherent and detailed interpretation of the text

This criteria determines that you need to use evidence from the text (including quotes) in order to aid a logical and comprehensive interpretation of the text. Examiners will be looking at your ability to look deeply into smaller authorial choices, and how they create meaning.

Best of luck!

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