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July 31, 2016
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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.
I’m sure a lot of you are sitting at home right now, excited but nervous about the year ahead. Let me be honest with you: year 12 is going to be tough. You’re only going to get out what you put in. There’s going to be stress and drama and unexpected turns. There’ll be long hours at the library and even more hours locked away in your room. But there’s also going to be fun and craziness and excitement. I know it’s a cliché, but this year truly is a marathon rather than a sprint, and you have to pace yourself. I know kids who went out way too hard and way too fast and by the middle of the year were completely burnt out. You want to be feeling fresh and ready by the time September comes around. There were a few things that really helped me to stay focused and sane during my final year of school, and I’d like to share them here with you. For me, these 6 factors were essential for staying happy and healthy, and they undoubtedly helped me to fulfil my potential during the VCE.
1. Routine – Have a solid, planned-out routine set up early in the year. Work out how much time you have outside of school and extra-curricular commitments. Schedule time each day for homework, study, revision. Schedule exercise, time with friends, and relaxation time for yourself. And after all that make sure you have still have time for a solid 8 hours of sleep! It’s important to make adjustments and revise your schedule if you find that it isn’t working out. I would suggest that sleep and relaxation time are two of the most important things on your timetable, so try not to cut them out! A regular routine will help keep you on track and make it easier to hit deadlines with minimal stress. It will also assist you in cutting out procrastination! If you’re ever overly stressed or feel like you need time off, it’s alright to take a night off! Just commit to it and really take the whole night off. Don’t think about work at all. Otherwise you’ll still be stressing and you won’t be able to properly relax.
2. Exercise – I cannot stress enough how important regular exercise can be for a VCE student. Given all the time spent on homework and study, I know it can sometimes seem difficult to squeeze anything else in. Trust me though, if you just find 30 minutes a day to go for a run, ride your bike, have a swim, play footy or whatever you like to do, you’ll be so much better for it. Your head will be clearer, you’ll have more focus, and you’ll be so much more productive in your study time. Exercise allows you to just shut your brain off and take some time out for yourself. It allows you to spend all that pent up energy that comes from sitting in the classroom all day. A tired body will mean a much better sleep too! It’s just 30 minutes. Drag yourself out of bed a little earlier in the morning, or schedule some time as soon as you get home from school. I promise you won’t regret it!
3. Sleep – Sleep is one of the key factors in having a good final school year. I know it can be tempting to pull all-nighters, cramming as much information into your head before SACs, exams and the like. This kind of thing can actually be counter-productive though. I’ll concede that sometimes it might be necessary to stay up late to get things done, but if you manage your time well there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get a decent amount of sleep each night. I needed at least 8 hours a night to function properly; whatever your number is, make it a priority to get a solid sleep. Give yourself a cut-off point and stick to it. Just put your books away once it gets to a certain time. Studying on late into the night when you’re super tired can be a waste of time – the information is probably not really sticking in your head. Just stop and continue on the next day when you’re fresh and ready to learn again. I found it useful to take about 30 minutes before bed, just to chill out and unwind before you sleep. Watch TV, read a book, whatever you like to do to relax. Your head will be clear, and you’ll be able to get to sleep a lot quicker.
4. Socialising – Make sure you still find time to hang out with your friends during the year. Remember that you’re all going through the same thing, and you help each other out just by chatting and sharing your problems and stresses. Try to spend time outside during recess and lunch; don’t go to the library to cram in extra study unless you really need to! Taking time out to talk to your mates will be a lot more beneficial in the long run. Organise to catch up with friends outside of school too. There should be plenty of eighteenth birthday parties this year, so take the night off and go have fun. Don’t worry, you definitely have the time!
5. Family – It’s also important to communicate with your family during this year. Don’t shut them out! It’s easy to get angry or frustrated with family members during your VCE. It will be a lot more beneficial for you (and for them) if you let them in rather than pushing them away. Sit down for half an hour each night to have a family dinner and just chat about what you’re studying. Try explaining a concept or an idea or book you’re working with. Give your parents, siblings, grandparents (anyone!) copies of your essay drafts to read. Even if they’re just proof-reading, it’ll have a positive impact on your work and will allow your family to better understand what VCE is all about. Put your timetable and after-school schedule up on the fridge so that everyone knows when you need to be left alone and when they can chat with you. The support of your family can be invaluable, especially when it comes down to the crunch at the end of the year. You might be surprised just how much your family can help.
6. Fun – Just try to enjoy it! When you look back on your VCE, it will hopefully be filled with fond memories. I can honestly say that year 12 was one of the best years of my life so far, despite a lot of stress and drama and everything else that came with it. Get involved with school sport, music, drama, whatever you love to do. Those extra-curricular activities are where you’ll make some of the best memories. I don’t know what it is about year 12, but everyone just seems to become closer. It’s like the VCE is this common enemy, and students band together to take it down. Cliques and groups don’t seem to matter so much; the whole year level is just brought together by this shared experience. The year is going to go so fast. If you can, try to just stop from time to time and let it all sink in. There’ll be so much going on – both good and bad. Try to just enjoy this challenging and rewarding year!
Ok, let’s be honest here. I’m not one to be easily motivated to do things. I’m what you call a part-time-verging-on-full-time procrastinator. Hell, if procrastinating was a career, I’d be rich by now!
But alas, there’s no time left in these last critical months of high school to sit back while you put even the smallest of tasks off because you can’t be stuffed. There’s always that one project, that one piece of writing, that one homework task that you just can’t bring yourself to sit down and do. That’s when you soon discover that you’ve got to find a teensy-tiny ounce of hope and drive in you to complete the unwanted task. Oh, what’s that called again? Ah yes!
So how does one find that motivation to plough through lists of work, practice SACs and exam papers, and write yet another language analysis without going insane?
Well, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I’ve always thought admirably of those top 99+ ATAR achievers in my school, the students that score 50s in each subject and the brightest kids in the state that appear on the front of newspapers come mid-December each year. It baffled me for so long that they appeared SO motivated to do all this work! How do they keep pushing themselves? How do they not lose confidence along the way? How do they stay focused for the entire Year 12? And I’ll let you in on a little secret… you can be one of them! Just find the motivation technique that empowers and energises YOU!
Motivation is SUCH a personal matter. It is 110% crucial if you plan on doing well for your final years of school, and once you discover what gets your engine roaring, it’s an invaluable tool you’ll need and keep for life.
Perhaps the most ‘obvious’ motivation for doing well in Year 12 is to get acceptance into your preferred University course, TAFE course, or other career or study pathway. But that’s not enough, in my humble opinion. Plenty of students start off Year 12 with such a great mind frame for the first few weeks or months, and then struggle to keep up the good work. You need to keep your goal as close to mind as possible. Don’t just have a 4-digit figure in the back of your mind or glued onto a pin board. Visualise what it looks like when you’re walking into your dream course, discovering your passion, meeting new people that feel as passionate about what they’re learning as you. Where will your dreams take you? Hold on to those images in your mind. They are pure gold.
If you feel like everything in Year 12 isn’t worth the stress and the effort, think of the holiday that greets you after finishing high school. For some, you might be trekking off overseas for 4 months or even spending a few days at Schoolies! Imagine where you could be in only a few months’ time. What will you be doing, where will you be relaxing, who will you be socialising with, how far will you be travelling? If you give your final year all you got, that break will feel even more rewarding.
Another technique I tried isn’t for everyone, and those that exercise it should do so with caution… but I motivated myself using the big fat F-word: FAILURE. I was emotionally invested in my subjects, so that if I felt that I wasn’t improving my scales, my oral comprehension, or my writing to the standard that I desired, then I would feel like I had failed my teachers. I respected them not only for their expertise, but for their faith and constant encouragement they showed for their students. A healthy dose of nerves and stress is okay, as it can spur you on even more to work harder, persevere and impress.
Year 12 is not a sprint, it is truly a marathon. The best part is, you’re almost there! But if you keep your eyes on the prize and let your friends, family and teachers hand you those water bottles and towels, you can take each part as it comes. It’s not going to be easy, but if you stick to a plan and give it all you’ve got with no regrets, reaching that finish line will be the best feeling in the world!
I’d like to leave you with this. Make the most of year 12. Know that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get the marks you were hoping for. But don’t come out at the end thinking that you could’ve done more. Give it your all, remember the points above, and you’ll be satisfied in the fact that you couldn’t have done any better. Honestly, no matter how important your ATAR seems right now, it won’t matter at all once you get to uni. What really matters is knowing that you gave it all you could, and that you filled your year with fun memories alongside all that study. You won’t remember the hours in the library or those spent locked away in your room. You’ll remember chatting with your mates in the library during free period, or mucking around on the oval at lunchtime. Remember to make time for the important things!
Fact: The VCE is a competition.
Fact: There are so many brilliant minds out there with vocabularies that can wow the pants off examiners in seconds.
Fact: We have all felt intimidated at some stage of this race by these kids, but here’s the craziest fact of them all….
Fact: You can be one of them.
Do you really believe that the top VCE students, you know, those 99.95 geniuses out there, study religiously for 6-8 hours a day and feel totally motivated to work 24/7?
I used to think that these kiddos were on auto pilot - robots that never had difficulty remembering a quote, never struggled to find their next point in an analytical essay, could always find the energy to write another piece for their teacher to correct. It was as though these students weren’t real, but now that I have had a personal experience at tackling the VCE, I think that anyone can appear to be this ‘amazing’ in English, simply by following one piece of advice: changing your attitude towards studying.
There are no magic tricks, no gimmicks, and no simpler way to put this. If you want to see real results, you need a new perspective on not just English, but all subjects - start “wanting” to study. Today.
So how does this epic VCE competition - full of thousands of students - set apart the very top end students as opposed to the, well, only great students? I’m a firm believer in that your attitude towards your studies will always be indicative of how well you will perform in this race. So don’t start changing what, when or how much you study, make changes to how you study!
Easier said than done, right? Try me. Start by immersing yourself in English (or any subject for that matter) so that you can start to enjoy learning about it. For instance, go to a book club for context, debate the pros and cons of a character’s personality as if they are actually real, and watch the movie adaptation of the book you are studying etc.
Try to find as many avenues as possible that will allow you to enjoy writing an essay, even by taking baby steps. Why not start playing around with an imaginative story about your favourite TV show just to get the hang of creative writing before you hand in an imaginative essay tailored to your study requirements? Once you change that attitude from “I ‘need’ to write this” to “I ‘want’ to and ‘would like to’ improve on this” you will see an enormous shift in results, self-satisfaction and confidence! Don’t be daunted by a difficult topic in the text response section – view it as a way of “showing off” to the examiners; take your time planning about how much depth you can put into your response and make it a challenge to rise beyond expectations as opposed to meeting the bare minimum and providing a mediocre response.
So c’mon! Dive right into the deep end and throw yourself into your studies. You don’t need to take out a mortgage, nor a fancy exercise book with fluffy pink pens. You only need to pack your positive attitude.
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!
We all know that to be successful at English we need to have decent vocabulary. Any essay can risk sounding bland and monotonous if you can only express your ideas using a limited span of words. Mixing up your essay with some interesting words will:
1. improve your expression,
2. capture your marker’s interest, and
3. impress your marker.
However, a word of caution – don’t be too determined to drown your essay with vocabulary, since you – get ready for this – risk your essay resonating utterly verbose and obstructing readability for the adjudicator (or in normal terms, you risk your essay sounding overly wordy which will therefore decrease the ease and flow when reading your essay). Remember that simple is best, but sprinkling with some vocabulary will definitely spice up your essay!
How do you go about obtaining a better vocabulary?
Although it's important to improve your vocabulary, students often get the wrong impression. You're not improving your vocabulary to sound smarter, but to optimise your ability to use the right word to express your ideas clearly. Find out more about this in the blog post - Why big words can make you look dumber.
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!
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