How to study for literature when you really don’t feel like studying for literature

Elly Twomey

July 23, 2016

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Let's all be honest here, Year 12 is endlessly tiring. Literature, for all its greatness, can also be endlessly tiring. Along with 3-4 other subjects, sometimes the idea of writing a practice piece, deeply analyzing the language of your text, or doing research into the context, views and values of the author are things you really, really don’t feel like doing.

Although these things are necessary and important, they’re also often difficult, taxing, and possibly not that interesting. Not too long before the Literature exam, my friend and I were texting, both feeling immense stress and guilt because we felt we hadn’t studied enough for the exam, but equally tired and unable to write any practice pieces. I’m sure many of you are very familiar with the paradox of not spending time studying because you are instead spending that time worrying about not studying.

However, there’s really no need to suddenly feel full of stress and anxiety when you have no motivation to do such work for Literature, that’s just wasted energy! Instead, accept that you’re going to have a little break from the serious stuff, and use that energy instead to improve your understanding and knowledge of your text (part of the exam criteria!!).

My friend and I decided we’d meet for coffee, and try and just discuss our exam texts together (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Dark Roots).

‘Bring paper and the books’ she texted me ‘I’ve got an idea’. And that idea was...

VCE Literature Charades

How to play:1. Find a friend2. Think a concept, character, quote, theme, literary device or anything really from one of your texts3. Forget about your dignity4. Act it out until your friend guesses5. Swap and repeat.And once people started to stare as we theatrically mimed things like ‘metaphor’ and ‘the albatross’ we decided to tone it down a little bit, leading to the invention of...

VCE Literature Pictionary

How to play:1. Find a friend2. Think of a concept, character, quote, theme, literary device (you get the idea)3. Keep your dignity intact!4. Start drawing the idea until your friend eventually guesses (warning: could lead to many failed attempts at drawing ‘foreshadowing’)5. Swap and repeat.

So I know this seems ridiculous but I swear, without even realizing it you’re getting to know your text so much better. There’ll be that moment in the exam room when all you’re thinking is ‘what on earth is that quote’, and suddenly you’ll remember how you’re friend fell off her chair trying to mime it. Either way, it’s a much more valuable use of time than worrying about not studying, especially because you’ll spend most of the time laughing.

If you’re alone, and you really don’t feel like studying for literature, but you still kind of have to study for literature… don’t despair! Find a place in your house where you wont be disturbed (or disturb anyone) and pretend you’re running an information session on your text. I used to record endless minutes of myself rambling about all different facets of my text, with no comprehensible structure, just trying to say and explain everything I knew about it. I would delete them almost straight away, but trust me, taking on the role of a teacher can be very fun, and when no ones watching, you can really just go for it. Things are much more likely to stay in your memory when you’ve explained them aloud, so you’ll be super prepared for your SACS!

Of course, it is beyond important to make sure you write as many practice pieces as you think you need to, and to work on tasks that may at times be ‘boring’, but if you want to avoid burning out try making studying a little fun!

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