English & EAL

The Ultimate Guide to Year 10 English

Peggy Deng

November 2, 2021

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1. What do Year 10s Learn in English?

2. Year 10 English Curriculum Breakdown

3. Year 10 English Texts

4. How To Get Good Marks in Year 10 English?

1. What do Year 10s Learn in English?

Year 10 English is when the Pre-VCE year kicks in. Most schools will treat it as an opportunity to expose you to the VCE curriculum, but with Year 10 level texts. This means they’ll cover the same assessment tasks and begin teaching you the skills you need to have by the time you get to VCE.

Other schools will use this year to prepare students for the different English subjects that are offered at the VCE level, so they can decide by the end of the year. These may include VCE English/EAL, VCE Literature and VCE English Language.

For this blog, we’ll focus on the current Victorian Year 10 Curriculum (this will be updated as they change).

Similar to the VCE years (Year 11-12), most Year 10’s will be expected to complete the following assessment tasks:

  • Text Response
  • Comparative text response
  • Creative (with a written explanation)
  • Argument Analysis

Under each area of study, there will be key skills that you will need to learn to nail the accompanying assessment tasks.

Considering what you would have learnt in Year 9, Year 10 builds on those skills a bit further. Fundamentally, you would need to provide more detail whenever you’re expected to analyse evidence or provide an explanation and there will be specific essay structures your teacher will want you to follow. This may vary depending on your school.

Check out 'What should Year 9 students expect when they enter Year 10' for a more in depth breakdown of the Year 9 to 10 transition!

2. Year 10 English Curriculum Breakdown

Let’s break down each assessment task you’re expected to complete as mentioned above.

Watch our video What kind of assessments can you expect at a Year 10 level!

Text Response

Many Year 10 students will be introduced to the world of annotations when going through the text response unit. This is because the text will need to be understood inside out for you to score highly on the essay.

When you begin annotating your text, look for the following:

  • Key ideas explored by the author
  • Characterisation and character transformation
  • Social/Historical/Cultural/Political context
  • Stylistic features used by the author, such as symbolism, motifs, etc.
  • Words you don’t understand (and then define them)

To help you have a better understanding of your text, teachers will usually assign you comprehension questions about your text and that will be their way of easing you into writing analytical body paragraphs.

Examples of prompts you may receive for text response include:

  • ‘Night paints a vivid picture of a broken society in a broken place.’ Discuss.
  • ‘Holden’s critique of phonies in The Catcher in the Rye is his way of critiquing society.’ Do you agree?

As important as the keywords are in the prompt, you need to be able to identify the type of prompt you have chosen to answer. Similarly, you must take some time to familiarise yourself with the task words that commonly pop up in prompts.

Check out The Ultimate Guide to Text Response to get a more specific idea of HOW you can smash out this essay.

Comparative Text Response

This is oftentimes deemed to be the most difficult area of study students will complete in English. Instead of just interpreting and analysing one text, you’re now presented with two texts you will need to find common ideas and themes to discuss.

To get in the high-scoring range you will need to do the following to help you stand out from the rest of your classmates:

  • Constantly form links between the texts and the prompt you’re answering
  • Consistent and detailed comparison throughout the essay between the two texts
  • Be able to demonstrate a depth understanding of the texts
  • Refer back to the writer’s views and values (their intention/message to the reader)
  • Explore the different ideas expressed by the author
  • Examine HOW the author has created certain effects on the reader, taking into consideration their use of narrative and stylistic choices
  • Use relevant metalanguage

We also have The Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative to help you break down HOW you can best prepare for this assessment task.

If you would like to know the pros and cons of the different comparative essay structures you can follow, check out this blog.

Creative Task

This particular assessment will generally be based on the text you have studied with your class. It may be a collection of short stories, a novel, poems, etc. The majority of the time, teachers will expect you to pick one of the characters from the text and write an alternate plot for them while also mirroring the style of the original text

Sometimes, teachers will allow you to pick the story and character you get to focus on, other times, they’ll provide you with a list you can choose from. If you’re given free rein for this task, check out our creative ideas you can adopt.

A written explanation usually accompanies this assessment task as well. This is where you break down your creative task for your teacher, sharing with them your purpose for writing it the way you have. You will address your language choices, themes, literary devices used, intended audience, etc. This tends to be around 200 words in length. Here’s a blog that explains HOW you can write the best written explanation.

Some more creative writing resources to help you out with this assessment:

Argument Analysis

Mimicking the analysing argument essay you will need to complete in both Year 11 and Year 12, you will be expected to:

  • Demonstrate your understanding and knowledge of both written and visual features of persuasion in your analysis (this is where the intended effect of the writer comes into play)
  • Be able to identify and explain your assumptions with sophistication 
  • Show insightful knowledge of both explicit and implicit meaning within the texts
  • Prove that you know HOW language choices can influence the audience
  • Use relevant metalanguage (this may include persuasive devices, language or visual techniques)

Some schools like to pick a specific issue to focus on, for instance, social media. All of the articles and tasks they assign their students to analyse will then be focused on this issue. Other schools will expose their students to a variety of different issues. Either way, you will be exposed to a variety of persuasive material and forms, including opinion pieces, speech transcripts, editorials, cartoons, etc. This is elaborated on in The Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis.

Different schools will teach different analysis techniques. One of the most common ones includes the WHAT-HOW-WHY method. This will be applicable when you move into Year 11 and 12 English too.

Introductions for this particular essay are just as straightforward and can be quite formulaic. Check out our YouTube video on how to write an A+ language analysis introduction to learn the elements you need in an argument analysis introduction. If you’re curious about the writing process for the entire essay, then check out this video.

A lot of the time in Year 10, you will also be unpacking media advertisements. This will tie into the argument analysis area of study.

Here, you may be analysing HOW and WHY advertisements are created the way they are and the choices made by the creator to influence the specific target audience. Sometimes, you will also have the opportunity to create your own! If this is the case, you will also most likely write up a written explanation of around 200-300 words explaining the choices you have made.

3. Year 10 English Texts

As you would have read in The Ultimate Guide to Year 9 English, reading is one of the most important skills that need to be maintained as you progress through high school.

Here is a list of 10 texts many students at a Year 10 level may have read:

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

How many of these texts can you tick off the list? 

4. How To Get Good Marks in Year 10 English?

a) Knowing Where to Start

Of course, it’s important to acknowledge your strengths in English; however, to improve upon your marks and do even better, you will also need to fine-tune your weaknesses. Merely relying on strengths won’t be enough anymore. 

Identify the skills you need to improve and be specific!

For example, ‘I need to make my introductions shorter and simpler’ or ‘I will plan my essay more extensively so I will know which pieces of evidence will be relevant for each body paragraph.’

If this is the case, writing a million essays won’t get you to where you want to be. It would be inefficient and a waste of everyone’s time. Hone down your focus to one or two things, instead of every skill that falls under essay writing. 

Referring back to the above example, if you want to make your introductions shorter and simpler, read through a few sample high-scoring introductions and test them you can adopt for an introduction and know which one will work best for you. Or if your pain point is the planning process, compile different essay planning templates and use them in your essay planning so you can narrow down your options for different types of prompts.

This way, starting small will help you improve without overwhelming you so much. Check out How I Went From Average To A+ In High School English to get that boost of motivation and confidence before you embark on this learning journey.

As you do this, don’t forget to keep in mind the 7 Deadly (English Writing) Sins you should always avoid!

b) Work With Your Teacher

As we’ve explained in our Instagram post on the feedback loop, getting feedback for your essay or paragraph from your teacher and tutors will also help you improve much faster!

If you’re not familiar with the essay writing feedback loop process, it goes:

  • Step 1: Write a paragraph(s) or essay
  • Step 2: Get input on what works and fix what doesn’t (this input can come from your teacher and/or tutor)
  • Step 3: Redraft or write a new one to test your skills
  • Step 4: Repeat

Whether it’s just a plan, an introduction, a body paragraph or even a complete essay, taking the initiative to seek help from your teacher will provide you with clarity on what it is you need to be working on. This is crucial if you want to jump from a C grade to an A+. 

Each time you write a practise essay or paragraph, you should have a goal in mind so you know what you’re trying to improve upon. This way, you can cut down your workload and reduce study time!

I would recommend you do this as many times as necessary until you get that 10/10 essay so you can use it as a template or model essay in the future!

c) Write Under Timed Conditions

Even though a lot of the time in Year 10, teachers will be a bit more lenient so they’ll permit you to bring in a cheat sheet into the exam or assessment. However, that doesn’t always mean you’ll be able to finish on time, so it’ll serve you best to do some additional practise essays under timed conditions. 

Some things to look out for when you do practise writing timed essays or paragraphs:

  • Ensuring that your handwriting is legible 
  • Trial and error different types of planning methods to find which suits you best
  • Know the essay structure you want to adopt for the particular essay
  • Avoid ‘fluff’ (unnecessary details) and get straight to the core idea and analysis since that is where you’ll get the marks
  • Practise makes perfect! 

Here’s a YouTube video that details how you can go about writing 3 essays in 3 hours which you’ll eventually need to do!

At LSG, we have the most qualified tutors who have received the marks you’re after who can walk you through your high school English journey with you. 

What will we offer you?

  • Regular English advice and support (whether that is homework help, essay feedback or if you just want to go the extra mile and get ahead with your English studies)
  • A specialised LSG Signature Program that can cater to your goals and help you develop the knowledge and get all the consistent writing practise you need
  • Guidance as we work through the necessary writing skills and strategies that will get you the A+ you desire
  • Access to exclusive LSG resources that will save you time creating your own notes (planning and writing templates, sample high-scoring essays, and so much more!)

If you want more information on why you should pick us, check out our tutoring page. Otherwise, click here to express your interest today!

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