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December 23, 2017
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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!
So…you’ve just begun the school year and you’re feeling pretty excited about English. You’re determined to put aside all distractions this year and to only focus on studying, studying and studying. But…the minute you sit down at your desk, you find that your mind goes completely blank and that you are left only with one dreadful question: What now?
If this sounds all too familiar to you, you are definitely not alone. English can often make you feel like you don’t even know where to start. So, here is a quick guide that can help you to plan out your year, to break free from procrastination and to find some sparks of motivation when you feel like there is simply no road ahead.
This may seem like the most obvious step, but it can make all the difference when done thoughtfully and thoroughly. One thing that VCAA English examiners always look for when reading text responses is in-depth knowledge and understanding of the text, and the best way to develop and gain this knowledge is to read, read, and read again! Try to treat your text like a blank map, full of unexplored territories and winding roads that are there for you to uncover each time you read the text.
When you read your text for the first time, look out for the major roads and landmarks; the setting and premise, the plot, the characters, the broad ideas, the authorial voice and style etc. Once you’ve gotten a good grasp of the major elements of your text, read it again, and focus on adding more detail to your map; fleshing out characters, understanding their motives, understanding the author’s purpose, and underlining key quotations and particular passages that encompass a broader idea. If you’re a forgetful person like me, you might find it helpful to note down some key observations as you go and to create a summary you can always refer back to throughout the year.
While reading and rereading your text will definitely help you to know your text in and out, in order to fully tick the box of knowledge and understanding, it is also important to read around the text; to understand the context of when and why the text was written, for whom it was written, and the impact the text has had on both its original audience and its audience today. Especially for texts that are rooted in history, like The Women of Troy or Rear Window, understanding context and background information is essential in understanding the text itself. After all, Rear Window just wouldn’t be Rear Window if it weren’t for the McCarthyistic attitudes that were so prevalent at the time, and The Women of Troy would have been a far more different play had it not been written during wartime. Each text is a product of both its creator and its time, so make the effort to research the writer, playwright or filmmaker, and the historical, cultural, social and political context of your text.
When doing your research, it can be helpful to use a set of questions like the one below as a guideline, to ensure that the information you’re finding is always relevant.
Here’s where it gets a bit more difficult. Now that you’ve drawn out your map, and dotted it with various landmarks, rivers and roads, it is time to actually use your map to go somewhere; to make use of all the knowledge and background information you have gathered so that you can begin to analyse and dissect your text in greater detail. Studying a subject with as large of a cohort as VCE English can oftentimes mean that ideas are recycled and exams are repetitive, so in order to distinguish yourself from the pack, try to look for ways to craft your own original path; a view of the text that is distinctly your own, instead of following others. The best way to do this is to do a bit of thinking at home; to create your own original set of notes and observations and to spend time analysing each section of your text in greater detail than you may have done in class.
Constructing a notes table like the one below can help you greatly in sorting and fleshing out your ideas, and, when done consistently throughout the year, can save a lot of time and effort when it comes to studying for the exam!
So...you’ve made it all the way to your SAC. You may be feeling nervous at this point, even a little burnt out, but there is no need to worry. Studying for your SAC simply requires a bit of adjusting to your normal studying routine; changing it up so that instead of simply brainstorming ideas, you’re actually using these ideas in topic sentences, and instead of collating a list of quotes, you’re embedding these quotes into a practice paragraph. These are all examples of targeted study: taking all the information you’ve gathered on your text, all the notes you’ve made, and all the work you’ve done in class, and putting it into practice.
As an example, I've unpacked an essay prompt below using LSG’s THINK and EXECUTE strategy, a technique to help you write better VCE essays. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy, then check it out in How To Write A Killer Text Response.
Within the THINK strategy, we have 3 steps, or ABC. These ABC components are:
Step 1: Analyse
Step 2: Brainstorm
Step 3: Create a Plan
‘I ask you not to hate me. With the greatest reluctance / I must tell you the news…’
Euripides softens the brutality of the Greeks’ behaviour through his characterisation of Talthybius.
Unpack the keywords in the topic:
Contention: While Talthybius is used by Euripides to evoke some sympathy for the Greeks, ultimately, he serves to exacerbate the cruelty of the Greeks’ actions and the devastating consequences of their fall from a civilised, sacred people to a bestial, impulse-driven group of men.
Paragraph 1: Certainly, amongst his peers which are excoriated by Euripides for their cruel, unfeeling behaviour, Talthybius is depicted to be the most humane of the Greeks due to his conflicted nature, evoking sympathy amongst the audience, and reinstating some humanity to the Greeks’ otherwise sullied reputation.
We can also use the ABC steps here. For example:
'Like the mother bird to her plundered nest, my song has become a scream'
Demonstrates the dehumanisation of the Trojan women, and the heinous, beastly actions of the Greek men, who, like their 'war machine' description, have subverted all that is natural to become violent, and all that is beautiful to become grotesque
Embed the quote into a sentence, e.g.:
Euripides’ description of Hecuba as a 'mother bird' at her 'plundered nest' demonstrates the innately maternal nature of her character through animal imagery, while also emphasising the vulnerability of the Trojan women, who have been reduced to defenceless prey as a result of the Greeks’ predatory and beastly behaviour.
Planning essays and breaking down prompts/quotes are extremely time-efficient ways to approach your texts and SACs. Rather than slaving away for hours and hours writing full essays, these simpler forms of targeted study can and will save you the burnout and will get you feeling confident faster.
Only move on to writing a full practice essay or some practice paragraphs once you feel you have a good in-depth understanding of how to plan an essay and once you have already naturally memorised some important quotes that you can use in your essay (learn how to embed your quotes like a boss here). Remember, quality over quantity, so spend your time before your SAC revising thoughtfully and carefully, targeting your revision, and taking things slowly, rather than robotically churning out essay after essay.
The end of every VCE English journey is the highly anticipated, dreaded and feared English exam. Now, while you may be reading those words with a horror movie soundtrack playing in your mind, the English exam, despite being a gruelling 3 hours of essay-writing, really isn’t as horrific as it sounds. Preparing for it is also much less intense than you might think it to be, because essentially, from the very first time you read your text, you will have already begun preparing for the exam. All that is left to do before the English exam is to polish up on some of your weaknesses identified in your SACs, to look over all the notes and information you have gathered throughout the year, to freshen up on essay writing and essay planning, and to do a couple of practices, so that you can feel as ready as you can for the real thing.
In particular, I found that in the leadup to my English exam, studying with my friends and peers was not only a welcome stress reliever, but a really good way to expand my own knowledge by helping others and being helped myself. Having your peers review your essays and helping to give feedback on theirs is always an excellent way to improve your own essay-writing skills, and, a great way to provide good constructive criticism is to follow the GIQ rule (I’m not sure if this is a real rule…but it works!)
Hopefully, these tips will be able to help you out throughout the year in staying motivated and feeling okay about English! Remember, this is just here as a guide to help you, and not a strict regimen to follow, because everyone studies differently, and has different goals in English.
However, now that you have a clearer pathway and plan for learning your texts in-depth, what’s next? Well, it’s pretty important that you learn about the different areas of study so that you understand how you’ll actually apply all of your new-found text knowledge to each of your SACs and the exam. Our Ultimate Guide to Text Response and Ultimate Guide to Comparative give you a full rundown of what is required in these two areas of study (where you will have to learn specific texts) so I would highly recommend having a read!
For an overview of the EAL study design plus tips and tricks for reading comprehension, time management and more, check out The Ultimate Guide to EAL.
The listening tasks of the EAL exam are worth 20% of the total exam marks. Since this section was introduced to the exam fairly recently, limited past exam questions are available for students to practice. In my blog post EAL Listening Practice and Resources, I provide you with some awesome listening resources that you should definitely check out! And more importantly, I teach you a step-by-step approach for how to use those listening resources to help you better prepare for EAL listening. If you haven’t already read that blog post, go and check it out before coming back to this one so that you understand the steps we’re following.
Here we’ll be working through another exam-style practice to help us improve on the EAL listening section. We will be adopting the same strategies introduced in EAL Listening Practice and Resources. For more advice on how to boost your skills in the listening section, check out Tips on EAL Listening.
Use this link to access the audio clip that we’ll be using in this listening practice: Hospital Parking Fees - Classroom - BTN (abc.net.au)
Download this worksheet so that you can work through this listening task on your own too!
Develop a system that works well for you personally. For example, I usually underline the keywords that give me information on ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘where’, ‘when’. I highlight the speakers in the example below.
Step 1: Fill in the blanks and try to be aware of words you don’t quite ‘get’.
This is where you have the opportunity to fill in the blanks for the challenging words that you did not pick up in the first round. For example: petition, democratic, campaign, rare.
COMMON MISTAKE: check the spelling for ‘rare’, not ‘rear’
Step 2: Note down how the speakers convey their attitude, feeling, ideas, etc.
Let's take a look at this section of the audio clip:
GIDON: ‘It gives me a really good feeling to know that I've made a change, that change has happened. I think what I would like to say to all the other people, especially kids who want to start change, is that it really does sometimes seem impossible that someone that doesn't have a vote and who doesn't have as much democratic power really as adults do, I think what this has shown is that it really is possible to do these things that we still can affect our country and that small people can make great change.’
Here’s one way I analysed the delivery of the audio:
The cheerful and hopeful tone used to deliver the message that the change brings him ‘a really good feeling’ demonstrates Gidon’s approval of the change in parking fees. Furthermore, Gidon states this in a high pitch and fast pace, unveiling that he is pleased and satisfied about the reduction in hospital parking fees.
Step 3: Interaction between speakers.
This step does not apply to this particular audio clip since the audio/ video is a recount of the event rather than direct conversation between two or more speakers.
The transcript is available HERE.
Whilst reading through the transcript with the audio on, try and pick up any information that you missed in previous rounds of listening and also words that you might have spelt incorrectly.
Have a go at these VCAA-style questions that I wrote up, and then check out my sample answers to see how your own answers compare. You will probably notice that a lot of the information you gather from the ‘W’ words actually provides you with the answers to the majority of the questions here.
1. Gidon’s petition is about lowering the fee for parking in hospitals and putting a limit on how much the hospital can charge.
2. Gidon has a rare blood condition which means he visits the hospital quite regularly. Since his diagnosis, Gidon’s family paid more than ten thousand dollars just to visit the hospital.
3. When hospital parking fees are too expensive, patients will buy food and other necessities instead of going to the hospital. Thus, patients may not go to the hospital because parking is too expensive, these poor patients need to choose between paying parking fees and buying food.
4. Regular hospital attendants will receive a 90% discount on what they are currently paying.
5. Families, patients and carers for regular visitors of public hospitals.
COMMON MISTAKE: check the spelling for ‘carer’, not ‘career’ or ‘carrier’
6. Gidon is very happy and proud of the change in hospital fees. Gidon uses a cheerful and hopeful tone (1st mark) to deliver the message that the change brings him ‘a really good feeling’ and he feels ‘unbelievably proud’ that ‘small people can make great change’ (2nd mark). In addition, Gidon states this in a high pitch and fast pace, demonstrating that he is pleased and satisfied with the reduction in hospital parking fees (3rd mark).
I hope you found this guide handy! For further tips and tricks on tackling the EAL Listening Exam, check out How To ACE the EAL Listening Exam.
We'd all love to hear and learn from those who have been our VCE shoes before, especially when you've cut out some hours of your sleep to study, or had your head stuck in your books for over 3 hours at a time - getting some real advice would give you that buzz of inspiration and motivation right?! Well, that's exactly what we've done for you in our latest YouTube video release. Enjoy this interview with three of VCE Study Guides' brightest tutors - you can get to know them better, and also hear the advice they have for you, from regrets to study techniques. Some of your budding questions may be answered as they were asked typical questions students usually have for past high achievers!
If you are interested in tutoring with us, you are welcome to discover more on our tutoring mantra here. Gone are the days where you would sit down with an outdated tutor for a bland hour of tutoring. At VCE Study Guides, we take pride in our innovative and interactive teaching approach. We possess the unique skill of transforming VCE tutoring into an engaging and fun learning space (as strange and incomprehensible as it may seem!) with a great vibe so that even our students feel excited and keen to learn!
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.
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.
Quotations, better known by their abbreviation ‘quotes’, are a form of evidence used in VCE essays. Using quotations in essays helps to demonstrate your knowledge of the text, and provides solid evidence for your arguments. The discussion on quotations in this study guide can be applied to all three areas of study in the VCAA English course which have been explained in detail in our Ultimate Guides to VCE Text Response, Comparative and Language Analysis.
A quotation is the repetition of a group of words taken from a text by someone other than the original author. The punctuation mark used to indicate a repetition of another author’s work is presented through quotation marks. These quotation marks are illustrated by inverted commas, either single inverted commas (‘ ’) or double inverted commas (“ ”). There is no general rule in Australia regarding which type of inverted comma you must use for quotations. Single inverted commas are preferred in Australia as they follow the British standard. The American standard involves styling quotations with the double inverted comma. You can choose either style, just be consistent in your essays.
The usage of quotations in essays demonstrates:
However, quotations must be used correctly, otherwise you risk (and these frequent mistakes will be discussed in detail later):
How You Integrate a Quote into an Essay Depends on Three Factors:
As you discuss ideas in a paragraph, quotes should be added to develop these ideas further. A quote should add insight into your argument; therefore, it is imperative that the quote you choose relates intrinsically to your discussion. This is dependent on which aspect of the text you are discussing, for example:
Never quote just for the sake of quoting. Quotations can be irrelevant if a student merely adds in quotes as ‘sentence fillers’. Throwing in quotations just to make your essay appear more sophisticated will only be more damaging if the quotation does not adequately reinforce or expand on your contention. Conversely, an essay with no quotations will not achieve many marks either.
A quotation should never tell the story for you. Quotations are a ‘support’ system, much like a back up for your ideas and arguments. Thus, you must be selective in how much you want to quote. Generally speaking, the absolute minimum is three quotes per paragraph but you should not overload your paragraphs either. Overcrowding your essay with too many quotations will lead to failure to develop your ideas, as well as your work appearing too convoluted for your assessor. Remember that the essay is your piece of work and should consist mainly of your own ideas and thoughts.
The word ‘evaporates’, used to characterise money and happiness intends to instill the idea that happiness as a result of money is only temporary. (VCAA ‘Can Money Buy Happiness’ Language Analysis)
Single worded quotations can often leave the largest impression on the assessor. This is because you are able to demonstrate that you can focus on one word and develop an entire idea around it.
Sunil Badami ‘still found it hard to tie my Indian appearance to my Australian feeling', showing that for Sunil, his culture was not Indian, but Australian due to his upbringing. (Sticks and Stones and Such-like, Sunil Badami in Growing Up Asian in Australia)
A phrase quotation is the most common quotation length you will use in essays.
The multitudes of deaths surrounding Anna began to take its toll on her, burdening her with guilt as ‘sometimes, if I walked the main street of the village in the evening, I felt the press of their ghosts. I realised then that I had begun to step small and carry myself all hunched, keeping my arms at my sides and my elbows tucked, as if to leave room for them.’ (Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks)
Long quotations comprise of more than one sentence – avoid using them as evidence. Your assessor will not mark you highly if the bulk of your paragraphs consists of long quotations. You should aim to keep your quotations to less than 2 lines on an A4 writing page. If you have a long quotation you wish to use, be selective. Choose only the important phrases or key words, and remove the remaining sentence by replacing it with an ellipsis (…).
Here is the same example again, with the student using ellipsis:
The multitudes of deaths surrounding Anna began to take its toll on her, burdening her with guilt as she felt ‘the press of their ghosts…[and] begun to step small and carry myself all hunched…as if to leave room for them.’ (Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks)
In this case, we have deleted: ‘sometimes, if I walked the main street of the village in the evening’ and ‘I realised then that I had’ by using an ellipsis – a part of the quotation that is not missed because it does not represent the essence of the student’s argument. You would have noticed that a square bracket ([ ]) was used. This will be discussed in detail under Blending Quotes.
You must never take the original author’s words and use them in your essay without inserting them in quotation marks. Failure to do so leads to ‘plagiarism’ or cheating. Plagiarism occurs when you take someone else’s work and pass it off as your own. You must make sure that you use quotation marks whenever you use evidence from your text.
The following is plagiarism:
Even a single flicker of the eyes could be mistaken for the essential crime that contained all other crimes in itself – thought crime. (1984, George Orwell)
Using quotation marks however, avoids plagiarism:
Even ‘a single flicker of the eyes’ could be mistaken for ‘the essential crime that contained all other crimes in itself – thought crime.’ (1984, George Orwell)
There are serious consequences for plagiarism. VCAA will penalise students for plagiarism. VCAA uses statistical analysis to compare a student’s work with their General Achievement Test (GAT), and if the cross-referencing indicates that the student is achieving unexpectedly high results with their schoolwork, the student’s school will be notified and consequential actions will be taken.
Plagiarism should not be confused with:
You should always aim to interweave quotations into your sentences in order to achieve good flow and enhanced readability of your essay. Below is a good example of blending in quotations:
John Proctor deals with his own inner conflict as he is burdened with guilt and shame of his past adulterous actions. Yet during the climatic ending of the play, Proctor honours his principles as he rejects signing a false confession. This situation where Proctor is confronted to ‘sign [himself] to lies’ is a stark epiphany, for he finally acknowledges that he does have ‘some shred of goodness.’ (The Crucible, Arthur Miller)
There are three main methods in how you can blend quotations into an essay:
Broken sentences are a common mistake made when students aim to integrate quotations into their sentences. Below are examples of broken sentences due to poor integration of a quotation:
‘Solitary as an oyster’. Scrooge is illustrated as a person who is isolated in his own sphere. (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)
Never write a sentence consisting of only a quotation. This does not add insight into your argument, nor does it achieve good flow or readability.
Scrooge, ‘solitary as an oyster’, is illustrated as a person who is isolated in his own sphere. (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)
This example is better, however the sentence is still difficult to read. In order to blend quotations into your sentences, try adding in words that will help merge the quotation and your own words together:
Described as being as ‘solitary as an oyster’, Scrooge is illustrated as a person who is isolated in his own sphere. (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)
Scrooge is depicted as a person who is ‘solitary as an oyster’, illustrating that he is isolated in his own sphere. (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)
Tip: If you remove the quotation marks, the sentence should still make sense.
These are used when you need to modify the original writer’s words so that the quotation will blend into your essay. This is usually done to:
Authors sometimes write in past (looked), present (look) or future tense (will look). Depending on how you approach your essay, you may choose to write with one of the three tenses. Since your tense may not always match the author’s, you will need to alter particular words.
Original sentence: ‘…puts his arm around Lewis’ shoulder’ (Cosi, Louis Nowra)
Upon seeing Lewis upset, Roy attempts to cheer him up by ‘put[ting] his arm around Lewis’ shoulder’. (Cosi, Louis Nowra)
The author may write in a first (I, we), second (you) or third person (he, she, they) narrative. Since you will usually write from an outsider’s point of view, you will refer to characters in third person. Thus, it is necessary to replace first and second person pronouns with third person pronouns. Alternatively, you can replace first and second person pronouns with the character’s name.
The original sentence: ‘Only now can I recognise the scene for what it was: a confessional, a privilege that I, through selfishness and sensual addiction, failed to accept…’ (Maestro, Peter Goldsworthy)
When Keller was finally ready to share his brutal past with Paul, the latter disregarded the maestro, as he was too immersed in his own adolescent interests. However, upon reflection, Paul realises that ‘only now can [he] recognise the scene for what it was: a confessional, a privilege that [he], through selfishness and sensual addiction, failed to accept’. (Maestro, Peter Goldsworthy)
Sometimes, it may be necessary to insert your own words in square brackets so that the quotation will be coherent when incorporated into your sentences.
The original sentence: ‘His heels glow.’ (Ransom, David Malouf)
Achilles, like Priam, feels a sense of refreshment as highlighted by ‘his heels [which] glow.’ (Ransom, David Malouf)
It is important to maintain proper grammar while weaving in quotations. The question is: does the punctuation go inside or outside the final quotation mark?
The rule is: If the quoted words end with a full stop (or comma), then the full stop goes inside the quotation marks. If the quoted words do not end with a full stop, then the full stop goes outside the quotation marks.
Original sentence: 'Sagitty’s old place plus another hundred acres that went from the head waters of Darkey Creek all the way down to the river.’ (The Secret River, Kate Grenville)
During the past decade, Thornhill became the wealthiest man in the area, owning ‘Sagitty’s old place plus another hundred acres that went from the head waters of Darkey Creek all the way down to the river.’ (The Secret River, Kate Grenville)
During the past decade, Thornhill became the wealthiest man in the area, owning ‘Sagitty’s old place plus another hundred acres’. (The Secret River, Kate Grenville)
When including the title of the text in an essay, use single quotation marks.
Directed by Elia Kazan, ‘On The Waterfront’ unveils the widespread corruption among longshoremen working at New Jersey docks. (On The Waterfront, Elia Kazan)
Alternatively, you can underline the title of the text instead of using single quotation marks. Many teachers and examiners prefer this option.
When you quote the author who is quoting someone else, then you will need to switch between single and double quotation marks. You firstly need to enclose the author’s words in single quotation marks, and then enclose the words they quote in double quotation marks. If you're following the American standard, you'll need to do this the opposite way - that is, using double quotation marks for the author's words and and then single quotation marks for the quote. We recommend sticking to the preferred Australian style though, which is single and then double.
Original sentence: ‘…something bitter and stringy, too difficult to swallow. “It’s just that – I – um, I hate it…It’s too – it’s too Indian!”’ (Sticks and Stones and Such-like, Sunil Badami in Growing Up Asian in Australia)
Sunil’s unusual name leads him to believe that it is ‘…something bitter and stringy, too difficult to swallow. “It’s just that – I – um, I hate it…It’s too – it’s too Indian!”’ (Sticks and Stones and Such-like, Sunil Badami in Growing Up Asian in Australia)
As you can see, the student has quoted the author’s words in single quotation marks. The dialogue used by the author is surrounded by double quotation marks. This demonstrates that the dialogue used in the text still belongs to the author.
When you wish to express irony, you use quotation marks to illustrate that the implied meaning of the actual word or phrase is different to the normal meaning.
As a young girl, Elaine is a victim of Mrs Smeath and her so called ‘friends’. Her father’s interest in insects and her mother’s lack of housework presents Elaine as an easy bullying target for other girls her age who are fit to fulfill Toronto’s social norms. (Cat’s Eye, Margaret Atwood)
In this case, ‘friends’ is written in inverted commas to indicate that Elaine’s peers are not truly her friends but are in fact, bullies.
1. Does the quote blend into my sentence?
2. Does my sentence still make sense?
3. Is it too convoluted for my readers to understand?
4. Did I use the correct grammar?
Tip One: Do not go onto Google and type in 'Good quotes for X text', because this is not going to work. These type of quotes are generally the most famous and the most popular quotes because, yes they are good quotes, but does that necessarily mean that it's going to be a good quote in your essay? Probably not. But why? Well, it's because these quotes are the most likely to be overused by students - absolutely every single person who has studied this text before you, and probably every single person who will study this text after you. You want to be unique and original. So, how are you going to find those 'good quotes'? Recognise which quotes are constantly being used and blacklist them. Quotes are constantly used in study guides are generally the ones that will be overused by students. Once you eliminate these quotes, you can then go on to find potentially more subtle quotes that are just as good as the more popular or famous ones.
Tip Two: Re-read the book. There is nothing wrong with you going ahead and finding your own quotes. You don't need to find quotes that already exist online or in study guides. Go and find whatever gels with you and whatever you feel like has a lot of meaning to it. I had a friend back in high school who was studying a book by Charles Dickens. I haven't read the book myself, but there was a character who couldn't pronounce the letter S, or he had a lisp of some sort. What my friend did was he found this one word where, throughout the entire book, the guy with the lisp only ever said the S one time and that was a massive thing. So, he used that. This is something that is really unique and original. So, go ahead and try to find your own quotes.
Tip Three: Realise that good quotes do not necessarily have to come from the main character. Yes, the main character does often have good quotes associated with whatever they're saying, but just know that you do have minor characters who can say something really relevant and have a really good point too. Their quote is going to be just as strong in your essay as a main character's quote, which will probably be overused and overdone by so many other students.
Tip Four: Develop a new interpretation of a famous or popular quote. Most of the time, the really popular quotes are analysed in very much the same way. But if you can offer a new insight into why it's being said or offer a different interpretation, then this is automatically going to create a really good quote that's going to offer a refreshing point of view.
For example, if we look at The Great Gatsby, one of the most famous quotes that is constantly being used is, 'He found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass.' What most people will do is they will analyse the part about the 'grotesque thing a rose', because that's the most significant part of the quote that stands out. But what you could do instead, is focus on a section of that quote, for example the 'raw'. Why is the word raw being used? How does the word raw contribute extra meaning to this particular quote? This way you're honing in on a particular section of the quote and really trying to offer something new. This automatically allows you to investigate the quote in a new light.
Tip Five: Just remember that the best quotes do not have to be one sentence long. Some of the best quotes tend to be really short phrases or even just one particular word. Teachers actually love it when you can get rid of the excess words that are unnecessary in the sentence, and just hone in on a particular phrase or a particular word to offer an analysis. And also, that way, when you spend so much time analysing and offering insight into such a short phrase or one sentence, it shows how knowledgeable you are about the text and that you don't need to rely on lots and lots of evidence in order to prove your point.
Those are my five quick tips on how to find good quotes from your texts!
Need more help with quotes? Learn about 5 Ways You're Using Quotes Wrong.
Resources for texts mentioned/referenced in this blog post:
When I look back at Year 12 and compare it with my life now, I realise that the times in my life when I have grown the most are also the times when my future was uncertain. It's been almost five years since I left secondary school, and I'm about to graduate again, at the end of this year, hopefully with an Honours degree firmly under my belt. What I’ve noticed is that some of the nervousness and insecurity I'm feeling now are my 'old friends' that I got to know very well several years ago.
Something that I'm sure you're aware of by now is that generally, feeling uncertain about your future just feels plain bad. While I enjoy being challenged and find novel experiences rewarding, not knowing what my next steps will be tends to make me feel anxious. I'm not alone, either. According to the Harvard Business Review, one of the top reasons why people resist change is because we hate it when we feel like we can't control where our lives are heading. I'd always like to think that I am the ‘master of my fate' and the 'captain of my soul', to quote the Victorian era poet William Ernest Henley (you know this poem well if you're studying Invictus this year), but it doesn't always feel like I am.
For those of you currently going through Year 12, you might be experiencing some of these emotions: worry, fear, insecurity - the list goes on. You might not have any idea of the career you'd like to have after you finish your education. You might not have any idea what course you'd like to get into if you are thinking of going to university, or you might not have decided which one you want to attend. It's likely that you're wondering if the ATAR you'll receive in December will be good enough to get you a course offer.
For the first two points, I'll tell you a secret - very few people are truly certain about what they want to do 'when they grow up'. I would describe secondary education as linear; you progress gradually from Year 7 to Year 12, and as you get closer to finishing school, you are given more freedom to choose which subjects you do.
Tertiary education is most certainly NOT linear. I can confidently say that most of the people I've met at uni have changed courses at least once, swapped unis, failed subjects, changed their majors, or decided that uni wasn't for them and left to pursue other things. If they did follow the 'usual path', they've often chosen a career that has very little to do with what they studied (my lovely employer Lisa is a perfect example!). There is a huge amount of flexibility available to tertiary students, and nowadays most universities make it a priority to offer high-quality advice to students, both present and future, about all kinds of things. Open days are a great way to access this advice, but don't be scared to approach these services on your own. Universities love potential students and love encouraging them to come on board by answering their questions!
Now, about the last point, I'd like to emphasise that ATAR stands for 'Australian Tertiary Admissions Ranking' - emphasis on the word 'Ranking'. The number you receive at the end of the year represents your scores compared to the scores of the rest of the state, and it is NOT a mark out of 100. Essentially, this means that there are two things that go into this ranking: your performance, and everyone else's performance. Which of these can you control? If it's the second one, maybe pay a visit to the Avengers, they might have a spot for you in the MCU. Bad jokes aside, the most realistic approach to take towards your ATAR is simply to do the best that you can and accept any resulting outcome. I'd also recommend visiting the VCAA website to look at their resources explaining how the ATAR is calculated to clear up any confusion you may have.
It's all very well for me to try to talk down your worries, after all, I've been through them already. The future always becomes easier to handle once it's safely in the past, and I know that right now, nothing can fully take away the uncertainties you feel in the face of an unknown factor. With that said, though, here are some strategies you can employ to help you deal with turbulence in a productive way.
Try a new hobby, talk to someone you've never approached before, try a new food. The more frequently you put yourself in unfamiliar situations, no matter how minor, the better you get at handling them. I am not a naturally extroverted person, and I've found this extremely helpful for networking and job hunting.
We often barrel through life desperately trying to avoid feeling emotions that don't make us feel good, but a rich and full life involves a full spectrum of experiences besides happiness. The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living by Russ Harris is where I learned this, and it's a fantastic, easy-to-read book with lots of useful exercises to help you come to terms with the reality that humans are not meant to be happy all the time.
I might seem like I'm contradicting my last two suggestions, but I'd argue that this is the most crucial point. Up to this point, I've been focusing on day-to-day anxieties, the worries you'd expect any young person on the cusp of their future to feel. There's a big difference between that and the kind of feeling that can completely put you out of action or prevent you from going about your daily life. Sacrificing your mental health for academic success in Year 12 or career opportunities later in life is not a good idea (and that's putting it mildly). Keep your family and friends close to you and take advantage of professional help if you need it.
Whichever methods you use to deal with uncertainty, from one unsure student to another, I can assure you that stressful periods of life can help you become a stronger, wiser and more resilient version of yourself. It's a big fat cliché, but life really does go on, and as my mum and dad would tell me, "All you can do is your best, and that's all we can ask of you.".
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