Simply fill in the form below, and the download will start straight away
January 18, 2018
Now quite sure how to nail your text response essays? Then download our free mini-guide, where we break down the art of writing the perfect text-response essay into three comprehensive steps.
Click below to get your own copy today!
If you're not entirely sure what the GAT is, head on over to this blog to find out more about it and why it's important!
[Modified Video Transcription]
What's up?! I got 10/10 on my GAT, so I'm going to tell you how I got perfect marks in Task One of the GAT. I'm also going to share with you my essay so that you know exactly what you need to do when it comes to doing your GAT.
Here's a bit of information you need to know going into Task One, which is basically a Creative piece. Now, I've done a GAT video in the past, which I highly recommend you go and watch, because in that video I teach you essentially what you should be doing for the writing tasks and how you should organise your time in order for you to get the best possible marks in the GAT. No, you don't have to study for the GAT, but if you can do well in it, then you might as well because...you don't know….COVID might come back, you might need a derived score...you know what I mean? You just don't know what's going to happen so you might as well try to do your best and if this video helps you out with that, if you're willing to spend a few minutes doing it and yet bump up your marks heaps, it's definitely going to be worth it for you!
I learned all of my skills from my tutor at the time, who was a VCAA examiner, so this information comes directly to you from an examiner, so, you know, it's legit!
A lot of people get really confused when it comes to Task One because they think that it's just a whole bunch of information that's put in front of them and what they're supposed to do is just regurgitate the information that's there and package it into an essay somehow. But, as I've talked about in my previous video, the way that you do this is to write a Creative piece using the information that's in front of you - just trust me on this.
I know there's a lot of talk back and forth out there about how you should be doing Task One, but you can see (in the comment section of my other video) people who followed through with this Creative method and have done really well. Another reason I like this Creative approach is because it makes things easier for you. In the instructions, it says:
'Develop a piece of writing, presenting the main information in the material. You should not present an argument.’
So really what's left is (if it's not going to be persuasive) it either has to be an Expository, which is just like a normal Text Response essay, or it can be a Creative. A normal Text Response essay is going to be so boring for everyone out there - do a Creative instead! Why?! Because:
‘Your piece will be judged on:
So, what this means is if you're going to do a Text Response version of the information that's in front of you, the only way you can really do that is by regurgitating and just wrapping up similar pieces of information in one paragraph together. I don't know how you would do an Expository well, but if you take a Creative approach, it not only tests your organisational skills but also tests your understanding of the material as well.
What I mean by Creative piece is you can write a letter to the editor, you can write a diary entry, you can write an advertisement, you can write a brochure. There are just so many different types of Creative pieces you could use - the world is your oyster essentially. I'm going to talk you through how I did it for my particular GAT.
This one here is actually a trial GAT. We had an examiner come in and grade our marks for us so it's not my actual GAT, which I don't think you can get back, but it's the closest thing to it, so, we'll work with that.
We did a really old GAT. This is the 2004 (which is ages ago) General Achievement Test. Some of you might've been born around this time! That is nuts!! Anyway, the GAT has not changed over the past 10 or so years, or the past 20 years even, so don't feel like this is information that's not going to be helpful, because every single year it's the same type of instructions with a similar type of information that's given.
Here you can see that I've got an island and there are just bits of information. There's a legend, there's a scale, there are facilities, there is a temperature and a bird's eye view of the island itself.
If you look at this, how are you going to write a Text Response on this? It's going to be boring. So instead, what I did was I said:
'Dear Diary: We arrived in Amaroo Island this afternoon and the view of this place from the plane was amazing!'
When I was in the GAT itself, I would cross out the section (in this case the photo of the island) that I had covered just to see how much information I was able to pack into my piece and know that I wouldn't need to touch it again.
'Magnificent blue water sea, sandy white coast and huge amounts of great green trees! From the airport, we travelled by bus to our hotel where we will be staying for two nights. On the way, we stopped at a historical ruins site. One of the tour guides whom we bumped into told us the ruins have been found to be from 1854! We stayed there for an hour, then caught the bus back again to our hotel. We were extremely excited to explore the hotel and its surroundings, so Dad, Mum, George and I quickly unpacked our luggage and changed for the night. We decided to have dinner at a restaurant which turned out to serve delicious food. After dinner, we explored a shopping centre, galleries and even a museum which is called ‘Maritime Museum’. So many facilities in just one place! That took most of the night and we were all tired from a long day. Tomorrow we will be going swimming and camping outdoors for the night. I'm excited!'
You can see just in this one paragraph I've tried to pack in as much information as I can, but in a way that makes it interesting and fun. You'll notice that with my vocabulary it's not like I am this 50 study score achiever who’s writing exceptionally beautiful language and, I don't know, making this GAT piece something that it's not. I'm just giving them information, having fun with it, making it creative and as a result, I did well!
Alright, let's keep going.
'Dear Diary: Our second day began with the sunshine pouring into our rooms.'
That's just a nod to the temperature. It's not an explicit nod, it's more of an indirect nod.
‘George and I were very eager to go swimming and were pleased to find that the weather for the day was 28°C!'
There's the explicit inclusion of the information.
'I'm glad we came here in January rather than July when we were initially planning to holiday.'
Adding more information without just forcing it down the examiner’s throat.
'Our travel guide booklet states that it’s only a maximum temperature of 15°C! degrees in July! We wouldn't have gone swimming then, that's for sure. Mum and Dad decided that even though there was a safe swimming area near Gali in Gali Bay, we should go to Dolphin Bay and then to Marlin Bay to stay for the night.'
Here I'm just including Gali Bay because I wanted to, but I wanted to also talk about the other bays as well. I'm just trying to be creative in how to include this information. It's all embedded within my storyline so it doesn't feel like I'm spoon feeding my examiner piece after piece of information.
'We caught the bus again to Dolphin Bay and there were many families as there was a caravan park situated right by the bay! How convenient is that! When we were swimming, we could even see the Cape Dolphin lighthouse in the distance. Afterwards, we travelled to Marlin Bay via bus. Marlin Bay is right next to Amaroo National Park, and we've seen some kangaroos and koalas amidst the trees but we're not allowed into the park as it's a marine reserve boundary. Tomorrow we're heading back to Gali Hotel, playing some golf and going riding along the coast!'
I'm pretty much almost done! You see that my essay wasn't actually that long. It was only a page and a half (of handwriting), and yet I still got 10/10. I think it just goes to show how many people out there just don't know how to do a GAT, so you only need to do a fraction better in order for you to do exceptionally well in your GAT scores. To finish off my story:
'Dear Diary: Our final day at Amaroo! We woke up early, had breakfast which Mum cooked up and then headed back home.'
Here I'm also adding in pieces of information that aren't necessarily on the page that's been given to us. I just thought it'd be a nice touch to say this, you know, we woke up early, we had breakfast which Mum made - it just adds to the storytelling.
'We didn't do much during that morning, just had lunch at the Gali restaurant. Afterwards, however, we did lots! We hired bikes from the shopping centre and rode along Gali Bay to Moonlight Bay. It was tiring but the scenery was amazing! We spent most of the afternoon riding but got back to Gali at 4 o'clock and Dad headed out for some golf. George and I decided not to because we were drained from all our exercise already. This is our last night in Gali, I'll be sad to leave Amaroo Island.'
That's it! If you guys want to see how I got 10/10 in my second task. Make sure you leave a comment for me over on Youtube, like the video and I'll get another video/blog out for you guys. Thanks so much for watching (or reading) and I wish you guys all the best for the GAT.
We arrived in Amaroo Island this afternoon and the view of this place from the plane was amazing! Magnificent blue water sea, sandy white coast and huge amounts of great green trees! From the airport, we travelled by bus to our hotel where we will be staying for two nights. On the way, we stopped at a historical ruins site. One of the tour guides whom we bumped into told us the ruins have been found to be from 1854! We stayed there for an hour, then caught the bus back again to our hotel. We were extremely excited to explore the hotel and its surroundings, so Dad, Mum, George and I quickly unpacked our luggage and changed for the night. We decided to have dinner at a restaurant which turned out to serve delicious food. After dinner, we explored a shopping centre, galleries and even a museum which is called ‘Maritime Museum’. So many facilities in just one place! That took most of the night and we were all tired from a long day. Tomorrow we will be going swimming and camping outdoors for the night. I'm excited!
Our second day began with the sunshine pouring into our rooms. George and I were very eager to go swimming and were pleased to find that the weather for the day was 28°C! I'm glad we came here in January rather than July when we were initially planning to holiday. Our travel guide booklet states that it’s only a maximum temperature of 15°C! degrees in July! We wouldn't have gone swimming then, that's for sure. Mum and Dad decided that even though there was a safe swimming area near Gali in Gali Bay, we should go to Dolphin Bay and then to Marlin Bay to stay for the night. We caught the bus again to Dolphin Bay and there were many families as there was a caravan park situated right by the bay! How convenient is that! When we were swimming, we could even see the Cape Dolphin lighthouse in the distance. Afterwards, we travelled to Marlin Bay via bus. Marlin Bay is right next to Amaroo National Park, and we've seen some kangaroos and koalas amidst the trees but we're not allowed into the park as it's a marine reserve boundary. Tomorrow we're heading back to Gali Hotel, playing some golf and going riding along the coast!
Our final day at Amaroo! We woke up early, had breakfast which Mum cooked up and then headed back home. We didn't do much during that morning, just had lunch at the Gali restaurant. Afterwards, however, we did lots! We hired bikes from the shopping centre and rode along Gali Bay to Moonlight Bay. It was tiring but the scenery was amazing! We spent most of the afternoon riding but got back to Gali at 4 o'clock and Dad headed out for some golf. George and I decided not to because we were drained from all our exercise already. This is our last night in Gali, I'll be sad to leave Amaroo Island.
If you'd like more help, check out Why the GAT Matters and How To Use It To Your Advantage. It walks you though what's involved, why the GAT matters, the different tasks you'll need to complete and more!
VCE is a two-year journey which involves a high degree of academic and personal growth. Young adults experiencing these two years of life will encounter a number of challenges which, albeit rewarding, are nonetheless a cause of much anxiety and pressure. It is important to recognise that the process is, at the end of the day, a team effort – VCE students are as reliant on their teachers for learning material as they are upon their parents for support, just as they rely upon friends to offer an outlet of distraction and ease. As a parent, your fundamental role during your child’s years of VCE is to help him/her manage their time, stress and aspirations to ultimately reach their goals. The purpose of this article is to provide a tangible, how-to guide to fulfil a healthy parent-student relationship during VCE. The below strategies detail the importance of communication, teamwork and compromise as the three cornerstones necessary to achieve conjunctive family and academic success.
Communication is pivotal during Year 11 and 12. It is important to ensure that all members of your VCE team, whoever this may involve, remain on the same page. Miscommunication is a messy way to disrupt a streamlined VCE journey – continuous and multi-way communication allows you to take positive steps towards your child receiving the most stress-free experience. To adopt this approach within your own family:
It is easy to forget the purpose of VCE given the mayhem of it all. It is crucial to reassure your child that you are present as a support network and that you hold a stake in their journey. Rather than present their results as a source of positivity or negativity, create the perception that a healthy and committed approach to VCE is of the highest importance. If your child knows that your role is centred around their happiness and success, they will be more relaxed and willing to share their journey with you.
VCE is a long, tough effort. It is two years of high expectations and insurmountable workload which culminates in the endgame of a four-digit number. For a student undergoing VCE, it is difficult to remove yourself from this mindset. As a parent, remember to appreciate the small successes and the baby steps towards a more recognisable achievement. Even a little acknowledgement, such as praising consistent grades or offering a “Good work!” can remind your child that they are on the right track and that you are aware – and proud – of this.
VCE is often described as a rollercoaster. This is a metaphor which accurately summarises the highs and lows that are bound to accompany such an important stage of a young person’s life. It may be tricky to understand why your child may come home one day in seemingly ‘meh’ spirits and so forth. Regardless, these actions (or lack thereof) are designed to subtly inform you of their headspace and mindset at a particular time. If you can form a limited understanding of these cues, they will enable you to provide relevant solutions and/or support. For example, if your child is repeatedly answering to you with curt or brief responses, this may indicate that their mind is elsewhere, and they would appreciate the opportunity to study in quiet for some time. On the other hand, if work progress seems to slow down, a distraction and time-out from study may be necessary. Sometimes, just a brief chat about their day will make a significant difference to motivation levels.
Communication should flow freely between the classroom and your home. Remaining aware of how your child is progressing at school will give you the best ability to support them in a relevant and sustainable way, while also drawing attention to areas of improvement or growth and enabling you to respond to these developments appropriately. Parent-Teacher Interviews are a great way to keep in touch. Alternatively, a brief email every so often will inform your child’s teacher that you are committed to their progress and want consistent updates.
At the end of the day, VCE is a team effort! Without a doubt, your child’s work and dedication is the driving force, yet the role of parents, teachers, friends and others provides a crucial support network. It is important to maintain this vision and to acknowledge your place within this team. To implement this strategy yourself:
Basic, genuine attempts to form some understanding of what your child is learning will assure them of your stake within their academic journey. This discussion does not have to be profound – if your child is studying Biology, do not think it is essential for you to gain a strong understanding of the metabolic processes performed by animals, for example. It will never be necessary for you to be an expert at any VCE subject. Rather, simply encouraging your child to share their knowledge with you will contribute to their learning. Carrying on with the example of Biology, you can ask your child to briefly explain the stages of photosynthesis. This technique will result in a number of benefits; your child will be challenged to demonstrate their knowledge and thereby increase their own understanding, and you will find a source of discussion which fosters growth (both academically and emotionally) between yourself and your child.
It is easy for VCE students to attain a tunnel vision and lean towards route learning during the crunch point of their studies. Articulating your intrigue to learn about their studies will boost student engagement and remind your child that subjects can be extended beyond the classroom. Simply asking natural questions and/or clarifying content will demonstrate your stake in their progress and exemplify the team mindset which promotes cohesive growth. Just discussing your child’s English text with them will position him/her to articulate their ideas and, in turn, contribute to the level of analysis they are able to perform when writing an essay.
A tutor performs the unique role of a mentor, friend and teacher who has the exclusive ability to provide one-on-one support. A tutor can further your child’s skills in a focused and familiar environment, sustaining growth throughout the year and tackling gaps in understanding as soon as these concerns arise. Ultimately, a tutor is an invaluable addition to your child’s VCE team! Lisa's Study Guides provides a one-of-a-kind, specialised tutoring service which offers a wealth of curated resources, 24/7 support and lessons with the state’s most high-performing recent graduates. To find out more about what Lisa's Study Guides can do for you, click here.
VCE is a period of significant change and it is important to remain flexible. By acknowledging the importance of focused study time, you can adjust your family’s schedule to meet the requirements of each individual. Encouraging your child to demonstrate two-way communication and positive habits, such as informing you of upcoming commitments, will ensure that compromise can occur in a swift and agreeable fashion. The following advice will contribute to healthy negotiation within your home:
It is inevitable that Year 11 and 12 are going to require intense focus and a dedication, on your child’s part, to his/her studies. Designating specific study blocks is a good way to ensure that you highlight the importance of routine and consistent study. Despite this fact, it can be difficult to come to terms with the reality of such change. During VCE, it is unlikely that your child will have the ability to sustainably divide their time in a way which is familiar to you. This shift may be significant or subtle depending on the consistency of your child’s study habits, their non-scholarly commitments and a range of other factors. Regardless, it is important to remain adaptable and understand that your child’s response to VCE is a natural reaction to the major change involved.
VCE is often unpredictable and assignments can arise out of the blue. Workloads may be relatively easy-going one moment, before three new assessments come up the next school day and suddenly extra work is required. While it is helpful to theoretically organise family time or outings, it may eventuate that these plans are not always compatible with your child’s schedule. Try postponing events where necessary and approach the situation with a neutral attitude – reassuring your child that Thursday is as good as Tuesday to catch the latest Marvel flick will buoy their spirits and link these events to positive emotions.
Settling for an option which disgruntles yourself, your Year 11/12 student or other members of your family is an unsustainable way to manage family expectations during VCE. While it may not be ideal to find a day of the week which is suitable for everyone, or if it looks like cancelling is the easier option, keep in mind the potential repercussions that these decisions may have. Due to its limited nature, time spent as a family is especially precious when a child is undergoing VCE. Reaching mutually agreeable solutions is the best way to meet both family and school needs and will have a significant impact on morale in the long term.
It may be useful to organise your family’s priorities and represent these ideals in an accessible timetable. Doing so will ensure that your needs as a family are met without the potential for certain elements to be overlooked and inform family members in advance of upcoming plans. Organise your standard week by priority and create a tangible, week-to-week routine like illustrated:
VCE is an undoubtedly testing stage for a student and their family – yet, it does not have to be overwhelming. Successful navigation through Year 11 and 12 will occur as the result of a cohesive relationship between a student and his/her support network. As a parent, your role is centred around support. Offering your child the confidence of your time, patience and effort will make a world of difference to their morale and, in turn, results. Simple family adjustments, as listed above, will contribute to the sustained growth between yourself and your child. Implementing these strategies and anchoring your focus on the themes of communication, teamwork and compromise will ensure that your family’s VCE experience occurs smoothly.
Although clarity in expression takes priority, employing sophisticated vocabulary will win you major points with the examiner. Essays with a (healthy) level of adornment tend to demonstrate greater control of language and insight, giving the piece a perceptive and erudite aspect. Nevertheless, trying to employ new vocabulary seamlessly in your essay can be tough- rather than swapping random words in and out of your essay post-mortem, adapting your vocabulary bank to your own writing style can make the process a lot less jarring.
Finding the right bank for you
The conditions of your vocabulary bank should be suited to your specific needs. A focus on a need or theme enables more visible connections within the vocabulary bank. Having those connections will make it easier to 'memorise' new terms. Instead of compiling a dense 20-page glossary, try breaking your vocabulary bank up into smaller, specific sections.
For example, if you're hoping to find new verbs to express the author's intention:
The author argues
The author shows
The author criticises
The author supports
contends, asserts, posits, proffers…
Branch off 'shows' (Neutral tone):
demonstrates, exposes, elucidates, delineates, explicates…
Branch off 'criticises' (Negative tone):
condemns, denigrates, lampoons, parodies…
Branch off 'supports' (Positive tone):
praises, endorses, exalts, lauds…
From storage to use
After clarifying their definitions, try using some of your new words in a sentence or a paragraph, relating to either your texts or language analysis. You can also extend your vocabulary bank by adapting the words to different sentence structures:
The author criticises the superficiality of our consumerist culture.
The author condemns the superficiality of our consumerist culture.
In a condemnatory tone, the author delineates the ostentation of our consumerist culture.
The author argues that gender is an arbitrary concept.
The author asserts that gender is an arbitrary concept.
Asserting that gender is an arbitrary concept, the author explicates the categorist nature of human understanding.
Using convoluted expressions can be fun or exasperating! Whilst demonstrating extensive vocabulary may raise your mark, the key is to ensure harmony between your words and your understanding.
The majority, yes the majority of your peers this year will hire tutors for extra assistance in their studies. It's perfectly understandable since VCE is only getting more and more competitive, and students are looking for that edge that will set them apart from others! If you are a student who is currently looking for that one ideal tutor in whatever subject it may be, then this guide is for you. You might be in the same situation as I was a few years ago, someone who has gone through so many tutors that you can't even keep count. And why is that? Probably because you simply weren't satisfied with them. And you know what?
Let me tell you now, there is definitely that perfect tutor who is: knowledgeable, passionate, highly regarded, and someone who strives to help you succeed in VCE! Let's have a look at a few factors that you should take into consideration when looking for the best tutor for you:
1. Just because a tutor didn't get a study score of 50, don't overlook them.
A study score of 50 means that this person has fantastic English skills - we can't deny that. However, teaching a subject is very different to learning it. To be able to communicate well with a student, recognise their strengths and weaknesses, and cater tutoring sessions to suit you so that you achieve the most benefit is more important than simply being top of the class.
2. Tuition class structure.
Next, you need to consider whether the tutor's teaching method matches well with your preferred way of learning. There are tuition schools which often follow a strict syllabus structure week by week. Other tutors are more flexible with a 'we-will-focus-on-what-you'd-like-to-focus-on' approach. Which one do you prefer?
3. Assistance inside and outside of classes.
To put it plainly, tutoring is a highly paid job, which means that some people are only in it for the money. You want to find a tutor who will be more than happy to go that extra mile to ensure that you can benefit as much as possible from their tutoring. Are they willing to help you outside of class sessions through email or text messages? Are they happy to organise extra tutoring sessions if you need? Will they do extra work on the side so they can be adequately prepared for your next session? This year I taught an EAL student who particularly struggled with certain grammar and sentence structures. Since I had less experience in teaching EAL, I spent my own private time deciphering out the best way to teach him, and how he could overcome these challenges. Try to find a tutor who isn't just in the business for the money, but puts you, the student as their first priority.
4. Cost $$$.
Let's be honest. How much you will pay a tutor is also a major consideration. Generally, the higher the price, the more credentials that tutor has. Many VCE teachers are going for $100+ an hour, and that value is increasing! Also find out, what else apart from tutoring will you get? Will you be offered extra resources (study guides, A+ essays and more), can you contact your tutor outside of tutoring hours, will you receive reports on your progress? It's not enough now to simply have one hour of tutoring each week, you should be looking for tutors who will go that extra mile for you.
'Freshness' is basically my way of asking, how up-to-date is the tutor with the current syllabus? Some tutors only teach what they studied in school, continue to use the same resources and provide the same advice year after year. It's a good idea to seek a tutor who actively aims to upgrade their knowledge and resources each year. This shows how staying relevant is important to them, and demonstrates that their ability to cater to their students' needs is a priority. However, it is important to keep in mind that just because a tutor is 10 years out of school, doesn't mean that they're not up-to-date. This goes both ways - a tutor who is 2 years out of school may seem current because they've only just graduated, yet if they haven't spent the time to learn the new syllabus changes, then that speaks for itself!
Tutors with personality are always a big bonus. Tutor personality plays a major role in how effectively they communicate with you, as the student. Have you noticed how some of your favourite teachers are probably your favourite because of their great personality and how they use that to teach? By making class fun, it helps to stimulate your interest and encourages your curiosity to learn. So you can see how a tutor who is enthusiastic and passionate in their teaching will make you want to be a better student too!
Under no circumstances should you hire a tutor to do your homework for you! Nor should that tutor offer to write you an essay in return for compensation. In Year 11 Literature, my tutor told me she would write an essay for me, which I understood as writing an essay then showing it to me the week after. What I didn't realise was that the next week, she presented me with the essay, and told me I had to pay for it. Because I was quite shy, I didn't say anything and took her essay. But I didn't feel right using her work and after that, I stopped attending her sessions because I felt too uncomfortable. A good tutor is well aware of their part in helping you with your studies. They know that the best way for you to improve is to support you, not encourage you to copy their work. Remember that in the end, when you're sitting in that SAC or exam hall, you only have yourself to rely on. In the end, I did show my Literature teacher both copies, my own and my tutor's (I did explain to her that the second essay was not my own), and asked her if she could grade both. How ironic, because my essay had actually scored a higher mark than my tutors!
The best form of credentials for any tutor is word-of-mouth. Hearing that a tutor is good at what they do from others is always a sure sign that you're choosing somebody right. If you are recommended somebody, then they're probably worth looking into. If you are feeling out of the loop, start asking family and friends if they know anybody they could recommend you. Another form of credentials is a tutor's success stories. As a tutor, I often boast my own teaching successes rather than my own study score. I achieved 45 in my English studies and while tutoring over the past 6 years, I've actually facilitated several students to gain higher marks than myself! Now that I'm proud of!
Most importantly, don't settle. If there's something you're unhappy about your tutor, firstly speak to your tutor about it. Your tutor is there to help you and if they're not interested in adapting to how you'd like to learn, then perhaps they're not the tutor for you. There are so many different tutors out there, with so many different approaches to tutoring that you're bound to find the right person!
At Lisa's Study Guides, we take pride in our specialised VCE English (EAL, Literature, and English Language) tutoring service. We have a small, select team of tutors who have achieved study scores of 45 and above (the top 2% of their year level). All tutors have been especially selected because of their fantastic personality and ability to hone in on students' strengths and weaknesses, and cater tutoring sessions to optimise student results. We also ensure that we are up-to-date with any study design changes, so that we can stay on top of the VCE game. If you're interested in finding out more, check out our private tutoring page here!
How many times have you told yourself, "I'm going to start doing this, "once I graduate from high school."
For me, I had a long list of things I wanted to start doing once I finished year 12.
We've all been there, because our priority in year 12 is doing assessments and exams. We have this romanticized version of what reality will look like after high school. All those things that you had put off, all those things that you'd promise yourself that you would do, the time has come. Whether that be catching up with long lost friends, whether that be joining the gym and getting fit again, or starting to read books again, especially for pleasure now that you don't have to read for school. Except boo, I won't get to read Lisa's amazing blog's and study guides. I'll start picking up my hobby of dancing again, I'll start doing this, I'll start doing that, but then usually, this happens. Once I marathon "Terrace House", then I'll look at gym memberships.
The main message I want you to take away is, you're always going to find excuses for the things that you really want to do. It took me an additional six years until I started reading again after high school.
As soon as I started uni, I started making up excuses, "Ah, I've got uni, I'm busy making friends, "I'm busy going to uni parties." It wasn't until I actually finished uni that I started picking up my hobby of reading. Same thing with dancing, I stopped dancing before I went into VCE, before my final years of high school, so that I could focus on my exams, but I wanted to get back into it. But it took me another three years until I got back into that.
So my question to you is, how long is it going to take you before you commit to doing that thing that you really want to do, and becoming the person that you want to be? This is something that we have to battle with throughout our entire lives. It's the same case for me with this particular YouTube channel. It's taken me almost two years to figure out what I want to do with this channel, how to break away from just English, so I can focus on more millennial based topics, like this video, offering advice about the things that I've learned throughout my 20's and impart them onto you.
So if you're in year 12, I'd absolutely love it if you stuck around to watch the next few videos that will be coming out. I'll be basing topics on things like university experiences, how to land your first job outside of high school, what else, productivity hacks, and all the things that will help prepare you for the world that's out there, and be the best version of yourself. Congratulations to you because you're nearing the end of the year and you're so close to sitting your exams. I hope that everything that I've done this year has been able to help you, and nourish you, and nurture you to become a better student who is ready to kick some ass.
Since it's not time to say bye yet, I'll say see you soon.
The General Achievement Test (GAT) is a 3 hour assessment based on your general knowledge ranging from English, mathematics and humanity topics. The general vibe seen from the majority of VCE students is that they aren’t really too sure why they have to take part in this ‘exam’ and as a result, most have little care for it. However, the GAT is an important component in the VCE assessment process. Let’s see why:
Have you ever talked to your friend from another school and realised how unfair it was that their SAC length for the same assessment was twice the amount of time you had for your SAC? Or that perhaps they received the English prompt a week prior to the SAC, rather than during the SAC like you did? Well, this type of this discrepancy can be compensated by the GAT as it helps to eliminate any biases from school to school. This means that ultimately, when SAC marks contribute to your overall study score, you can be sure that your grades have been fairly compared to all other VCE students across the state. This also means that as a whole cohort, the students undertaking VCE at your school should all try to do their best because a better outcome will reflect better on the school’s grading system.
All end-of-year papers are checked twice by two different assessors who independently give you a score for your exam. Now if they both give you a similar score then great, your exam has been marked. If not, a third assessor will then look at your exam in order to reach an agreement. Then, there is a last check against your GAT mark. If it so happens that your exam mark is much lower than what your GAT mark anticipated you to obtain – in other words, if you received a high GAT mark which demonstrates your strong skills in English, mathematics, science or humanities depending on the subject in question, then the paper will be reassessed again. So, if you do well in the GAT and receive an excellent score and for some reason you under-perform in the exam, then the GAT mark can help lift up your score. If your GAT mark is relatively low, then it probably can’t help you, despite you receiving an unexpected low exam grade. Thus, the GAT mark will only ever help you, it can never bring your mark down. That’s another reason why you should try to do well.
Some students apply for a DES when they experience hardship during their VCE exam period such as personal trauma or an accident. In such situations, the GAT is compared with their exam mark to see whether or not the student demonstrated their full potential or if they under-performed because of their current situation. Again, if the student received a lower exam mark but has a high GAT score, it can mean that perhaps the student didn’t do as well as they could have, and thus, their grade may be boosted upwards. Many students believe that they are immune to anything happening to them before or during the exams, but you never know. You may as well take advantage of what VCAA is offering you – basically a ticket to a better ATAR if you’re ever in need.
Now knowing all this, it is often said that there is no preparation required for the GAT. Of course, if you are the type who would like to fit in some practice before the real thing, then have a look at the GAT archive available on the VCAA website. While you may not need to ‘study’ for the GAT, it is definitely worth knowing how you can best approach the examination in order to maximise your score outcome.
In Part 1 above we discussed why it’s important to aim for your best in the GAT, so now we’ll discuss how you can actually go about doing this. As you know, there are two writing components in the GAT – Writing Tasks 1 and 2, as well as 70 multiple choice questions (MCQ). This post will break down both the writing components and offer you handy tips on how you should approach these tasks in order to maximise your GAT score and potentially increase your overall ATAR.
VCAA suggests 30 minutes for both Writing Tasks 1 and 2 leaving the remainder of your time for 70 multiple choice questions. If you are happy with this approach then by all means go for it. However, considering that English is definitely in your top 4 subjects that contribute significantly to your ATAR, it is worth investing more of your time on the Writing Tasks. Generally, most students spend around 1 minute per multiple choice question which should therefore, only take around 70 minutes to complete the MCQ section. If we bear in mind that some MCQs will be more complex than others, say we dedicate an extra 20 minutes for MCQ, meaning that you should complete the whole MCQ section in around the 90 minutes mark. This means that you can spare an extra 45 minutes for both Writing Tasks, which is definitely worth the investment since you’ll have the chance to write more thoughtful and lengthy pieces. Strategically, this is a good approach for any student studying an English subject – which is well, everyone.
Writing Task 1 usually presents you with one or several images along with an abundance of information about a particular topic – don’t be surprised if you don’t know much or anything in regards to the topic chosen either. Over the past few years, content that has popped up in the GAT includes Mt. Everest, wolves, the ocean and more. Below is an image of what you should expect:
'Consider the information on these two pages. Develop a piece of writing presenting the main information in the material. You should not present an argument. Your piece will be judged on:
• how well you organise and present your understanding of the material,
• your ability to communicate the information effectively, and
• how clearly you express yourself.'
To write a creative piece utilising the information available in Writing Task 1. When students read the instructions, they find that it is rather vague and therefore, they aren’t too sure on how to tackle the writing piece. The worst thing to do, which unfortunately a lot of students fall into the trap of doing, is to simply write a long-winded essay literally regurgitating the information from the GAT sheet. Instead, in order to demonstrate fantastic organisational skills and ‘communicate the information effectively’, you should aim to create something unique and interesting – for example, for the 2013 GAT on the topic of radios, you could take on a radio host persona or perhaps the persona of someone working behind the scenes at the radio station. This will be an excellent way of executing your writing piece.
Over on my post, Reading My 10/10 Marked CREATIVE GAT Essay | Part 1, I show you exactly how I approached Task One in my trial GAT. I scored a 10/10 and show you my full essay, so I recommend taking a look!
Want to watch this advice? See this video below:
Writing Task 2 consists of four statements on a contentious issue. Some of the issues raised in the past have included: are the elderly wiser than the young?, Who are our heroes?, Whether or not material possessions leads to happiness and more. Below is an example from the 2013 GAT:
'Consider the statements below. Based on one or more of the statements, develop a piece of writing presenting your point of view. Your piece of writing will be judged on:
• the extent to which you develop your point of view in a reasonable and convincing way, and
• how effectively you express yourself.'
To write a persuasive piece debating the topic using one or more of the statements to support your opinion. This means that you can either choose to focus on one of the statements and base your entire contention on that one statement, or alternatively, choose two or more statements as a basis for different arguments (if you wanted to write from a more balanced point of view). Options on how to present the piece include: opinion article, speech, blog post, etc. Remember to include language techniques such as rhetorical questions and inclusive language, as this is expected in a persuasive piece. It’s also a good idea to include examples from current affairs, events or people in history, or even your own personal experiences to add some extra flavour to your piece.
Remember that the GAT can only help you improve your VCE mark, it can never bring you down – so make the effort and try your best! Good luck!
To be honest, my entire Year 12 felt like a longwinded mass of trial and error. One week I ate hot chips for lunch for five days in a row. Once I spent a free double period watching ‘1 HOUR of AMAZING HQ SPACE VIDEO’ (twice over) on one YouTube tab, while ‘2-Hours Epic Music Mix’ played in the background. Crying for no apparent reason became somewhat of a hobby. I would be lying if I said I was some extremely disciplined, studious pupil who wrote my ATAR goal above my desk or slept with it under my pillow. However, despite the constant feelings that I wasn’t doing enough, that I had no self-control in making myself study, and that at any point I could completely burn out and betray my high expectations, I managed to score better than I ever let myself imagine.
I wish I could give you a step-by-step, foolproof guide on how to achieve ‘ATAR goals’, but if I could, I’d probably just use it to get rich. What I can do, is tell you how I coped when the pressure and the ambition and the sheer magnitude of the content you need to know, becomes too much.
1. Expectations are probably not reality
Like many who are facing Year 12, the summer before I started, I was absolutely terrified. Images of long nights glued to my desk filled me with dread, and I looked at the extensive content of my subjects with great fear. With the high ATAR hopes that a lot of you have, I expected a lot from myself, that I didn’t exactly achieve.
Expectation: Exercise Regularly
Reality: Went on two runs throughout the year and got puffed after 500 metres, both times.
Expectation: Watch less TV
Reality: Six seasons of Gossip Girl, three seasons of Orange is the New Black, five seasons of Parks and Recreations, and a billion episodes of the Simpsons.
Expectation: Study constantly: after school and weekends.
Reality: Admittedly, I spent a lot of time studying, but I also spent a lot of time drinking coffee with friends and sleeping until 1pm.
Ultimately I had to learn that extreme self-pressure would not do any good, and setting impossible goals would only lead to guilt and the feeling of failure. Remember that you aren’t going to meet every goal, or be constantly successful, but one promise you should really keep is to be kind to yourself, even when you don’t meet the mark.
2. ‘Heck no Fridays’
Sick of the constant feeling of guilt when I spent long periods of time binge watching Netflix instead of studying for an upcoming English SAC, I decided I needed to create a real, carefree, lengthy break that I could depend on each week. And so I decided that I would no longer study on Saturdays. The name is not imperative, but I’m a sucker for alliteration ;).
It’s a bold move to cut that much time out of your study timetable, but after a week of classes and afternoon spent at the desk, it can be necessary. Having a routine afternoon where I knew I couldn’t study at all meant that I didn’t feel guilty about it, and thus could truly rest.
3. Study outside the box
Two nights before my Literature exam you could find me sitting at my local cafe with my best mate drinking coffee and playing charades. Before Year 12, the idea of doing that would have seemed like I was giving up, like I wasn’t putting in the effort and that I should be studiously writing practice essay upon practice essay.
However, at a certain point, it doesn’t help just repeating your usual study techniques, or repeatedly doing practice exams. One of the best ways to retain information, and better understand concepts, is to learn them in an interesting way. Therefore, playing silly games based off our Literature texts was both enjoyable, and super helpful for the exam.
4. Five minutes… just five minutes.
Throughout the year there’ll almost definitely be days when you come home from school and stare at your desk like you’d rather sit anywhere else in the world. There’ll be moments where you stare at a blank page for twenty minutes having lost all control of the English language. There’ll be free periods when the idea of doing a practice SAC is so repulsive that you reconsider all future goals and ambitions. When you feel like you can’t study, but you’re in a moment where you really, really have to (five SACS in one week), try the five minute trick.
Say you are trying to write a practice English essay, but you are completely blank. Set a timer on your phone for five minutes. In that five minutes, force yourself to write anything. Even if you don’t use grammar, even if you make no sense, even if your sentences aren’t real sentences, just write whatever you can about the topic. Generally, when the five minutes are up, you have either though of enough ideas and have gained enough motivation to keep going, or can at least say you did five minutes.
There’s no be-all, end-all, Year 12 advice, but I think many would agree that the best thing you can do is stay positive, and try and see the funny side of all the screw ups and let downs that are bound to happen, while appreciating yourself for all that you will achieve.
Can you believe that the eagerly awaited July holidays are finally here? It’s a bit scary to think that this marks the half-way point until end of year exams. We all know that the VCE year travels on too quickly, leaving us feeling that there is always too little time, and too much to do! As time ticks away and end-of-year exams draw closer, it is important to make efficient use out of your mid-year holidays. Listed below are 5 ideas that you might like to take onboard:
Depending on how you like to study, your approach to these holidays may be different to others. However, the take home message is to ensure you have a well-deserved break while still maintaining a healthy level of study. These few weeks can really make a difference in your VCE studies, so do what you think will help you improve the most. That’s all today, enjoy your holidays!
Power-up your learning with free essay topics, downloadable word banks, and updates on the latest VCE strategies.
Copyright © Lisa's Study Guides. All Rights Reserved.
The VCAA does not endorse and is not affiliated with Lisa's Study Guides or vcestudyguides.com. The VCAA provides the only official, up to date versions of VCAA publications and information about courses including the VCE. VCE® is a registered trademark of the VCAA.