1. What’s the Difference Between Year 9 English and Year 7/8 (Junior years)?
2. What Are You Expected To Cover in Year 9?
3. Assessments and Exams
4. How To Prepare for the Assessments and Exams
Did you know that when you finish high school and you decide to apply for a part time job, you’re expected to recite every single essay you’ve ever written word for word?
Alright, you got me, I’m kidding!
You may be wondering why is the subject English mandatory? What’s the point of it? When am I ever going to apply the skills I’ll learn in English in real life?
Yes, math, science and even humanities subjects may have more apparent skill transfer to careers like medicine, politics and engineering, but the soft skills that many employers are after these days (such as strong communication skills and confident presentation skills) will develop as you continue with your English studies. And yes, if you plan on being a business owner, these skills are all the more important!
Of course, post-high school won’t involve writing essays and responding to essay topics but they help you build your critical thinking, creativity and understanding intentions (why people do what they do).
These skills will be extremely valuable to you regardless of the path you choose to pursue in life.
Let’s get straight into the nitty gritty of things then...
1. What’s the Difference Between Year 9 English and Year 7/8?
Achievement standards in the Victorian Curriculum from Years 7-9 build upon each other, and the skills learnt during the junior years will be expanded on in Year 9.
In Year 7, students will be introduced to different text structures (novels, opinion pieces, editorials, speeches, etc.) and focus primarily on the audience, purpose and context of using these text structures.
You would have had the opportunity to:
- Explain ideas and issues explored in your texts (e.g. happiness, relationships, conflict, etc.)
- Begin looking at the implied meaning of evidence in your texts (this means forming your own interpretation of what you think the author is trying to say through characterising certain characters the way they are, or through the use of certain symbols, quotes, etc.)
The writing standard predominantly draws from:
- A mixture of your own personal knowledge and experiences
- Researched sources, such as news articles, reviews, etc.
- Your own analysis of the assigned texts (usually linking your analysis to a prompt)
Building on the grammatical and foundational writing skills taught in primary school, Year 7 students will need to apply them when writing and editing their work.
Year 8 English develops the students' critical thinking a bit more. You would have been expected to:
- Interpret assigned texts, 'questioning the reliability of sources of ideas and information' (know that some texts you will come across may be biased and only expose one side of the argument)
- Make judgments about the effectiveness of language choices used by creators
- Understand how specific and selective choices of language are used by creators for different effects and purposes (be able to explain your reasoning as to how the conventions of language features used by an author enhance their point of view)
Year 9 English takes the previous two years’ worth of skills even further. This year you will be expected to:
- Analyse the ways in which different 'text structures can be manipulated for effect'
- Evaluate and integrate ideas from your assigned texts to create your own interpretations
- Realise the importance of planning before writing as well as the need for the drafting process in order to produce A+ level work (an introduction to writing will be provided)
- Be exposed to a wider range of forms of text compared to the junior years which are mainly novels and films
- Extend your lists of vocabulary and techniques
2. What Are You Expected To Cover in Year 9?
One of the most important skills needed in English is being able to write an analytical essay. This entails presenting an argument about your prompt based on your assigned texts. To do this well, you will need to discuss characters, literary features, structure, themes and big ideas.
The point of the analytical essay is for you to demonstrate your ability to analyse the evidence you choose to incorporate into your essay while linking it back to the idea you’re exploring in the body paragraph. One way to approach this is to provide your own interpretation of evidence.
This will be elaborated on with examples below.
Structure is also just as important as the content when writing an English essay. Most of the time, particularly in Year 9, your teacher will provide you with a specific structure to follow. This tends to include:
- An introduction (100 words)
- 3x body paragraphs (200 words each)
- A conclusion (50-100 words)
The amount of detail you include in each of your paragraphs will increase over the years. Once you reach Year 12, your essay will sit roughly around the 1000 words mark. For now, try to aim to write around 800 words. Just remember that quality always supersedes quantity. Ensure that the 800 words you write have relevance and are not just word vomit on a page.
Think of the introduction as a to-do list. You can always refer back to it to remind yourself of the points you need to cover and it will keep you on track so you don’t sway from the prompt in your essay. Your introduction sets the scene for the reader. All you have to do is introduce your overall stance (contention) and your three main points (arguments) you want to unpack in the essay. In some cases, teachers would also prefer for you to add in an introduction to the text(s) you’re studying and provide some background information or an overview of the text’s social or historical context.
The Body Paragraph
The most important components of your essay are the body paragraphs. That is where the bulk of your marks will come from - your analysis! Different schools have different acronyms they may follow for their body paragraphs, but the most common one is TEEL.
- Topic Sentence
As you move up into Year 10, 11 and 12, many schools will extend the acronym to TEEEEEL, meaning that you will be expected to expand on the level and depth of your analysis.
Let’s break up TEEL a bit more…
‘T’ - Topic Sentence
Your topic sentence should support your stance (contention). Your contention should answer the prompt or topic, and your arguments (which form the basis for your topic sentences) should provide a reason for your stance. Because of this, your topic sentence should directly answer the prompt.
Examples of topic sentences include:
- 'Orwell indicates that for goals to be achieved, teamwork and cooperation among everyone involved will be necessary.' - taken from a Text Response Essay based on George Orwell’s Animal Farm
- The author portrays kindness and understanding as key factors that contribute to successful relationships.
‘E’ - Evidence
Most of the time, the evidence you embed into your body paragraphs will be in the form of quotes from the text. High scoring responses will also analyse evidence such as camera angles (film) or narrative conventions (novels).
Embedding quotes doesn’t always come easy to every student. Preferably, the quote you embed into your analysis will be no more than 10 words and no less than 2 words.
Rules to keep in mind when you incorporate a quote into your writing:
- Avoid using a quote to form the whole sentence.
- Don’t begin a sentence with a quote
- Single word quotes should rarely be used. They should only appear in your analysis if you’re exploring a unique, big idea that is conveyed by that one word.
- Use square brackets ‘[ ]’ if you want to change up the quote
It would be helpful to embed the quote into context first as this will help when you’re explaining its relevance to the idea you’re exploring in the body paragraph.
Parallels can be drawn to the ways in which the pigs in the farm have the role of organisers 'naturally [fall] upon' them. Here, the pigs are portrayed as 'the cleverest of the animals', suggesting that they are the leaders who make the decisions on behalf of everyone…
- taken from a Text Response Essay based on George Orwell’s Animal Farm
‘E’ - Explanation
Listing all the quotes you can memorise from the text is not going to get you the marks. You need to analyse the quotes you embed and share your interpretation of the meaning they add to the idea you’re exploring.
Similar to math, where you need to show all the steps to prove that you know how to get the right answer, in English, the ‘explanation’ section is your opportunity to do just that. You need to explain your thought process regarding how you have reached this conclusion or interpretation.
Can you pinpoint the differences between the low-scoring response and the high-scoring response below?
Big Brother’s lack of compassion is evident through its elimination of personal relationships between the Party members. A marriage is always refused 'if the couple concerned gave the impression of being physically attracted to one another'. This means that the institution of marriage has been manipulated to only serve Big Brother.
- taken from LSG’s How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide
The distortion of family relationships highlights the cruelty of Big Brother’s institution. Children are taught from an early age to be ‘spies’ for Big Brother. The children symbolise the eyes of Big Brother, as they are always watching members for 'any sign of betrayal to the Party'. Ironically, although Winston believes that 'another year, two years, and they (the children) will be watching (the mother) night and day for signs of unorthodox', it is shown soon after that the father, Parsons, is denounced for 'thoughtcrime'. ***Through this condemnation of their own father, the children also symbolise the destruction of family relationships in return for their loyalty to Big Brother. This unnerving vision of a complete disposal of relationships depicts how brutal a totalitarian society can be for its members in that the very fundamentals of human connection, such as love and family, are corrupted.***
- taken from LSG’s How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide*
***The ‘explanation’/analysis is located between the asterisks.
‘L’ - Link
The linking sentence is the last sentence of your body paragraph and it should always ‘link’ back to the main idea you have explored (topic sentence) as well as the prompt. Avoid merely rewording your topic sentence, and a hint to do this well is to refer to the creator’s intent.
- 'Ultimately, the loss and alteration of meaning within marriage and sex demonstrates how brutal a dystopian society can be for individuals, and as Orwell forewarns, can be the destruction of humanity itself.' - taken from LSG’s How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide
- 'Orwell cautions his readers to be wary of societies such as the Big Brother regime by portraying the cruelty of the Party’s actions.' - taken from LSG’s How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide
Check out our video, 'What do year 9s learn in English?' for a more in depth look at what's expected of you this year!
3. Year 9 Assessments and Exams
In Year 9, this is where you will gain exposure to an array of forms of texts, ranging from creative responses, speeches, analytical essays, film, poetry and persuasive pieces.
Throughout the year, you will study a range of different texts (the ones mentioned above) and the activities and assessment tasks you will receive will be based on these texts.
Generally, by the end of Year 9, you will have completed:
- A creative response,
- A persuasive essay (formatted as an opinion piece, editorial, or letter to the editor),
- An oral presentation about a particular issue,
- A film analysis, and/or
- An analytical essay based on a play, novel or poems
Throughout the year, you may receive different types of classwork, depending on your teacher. These may include:
- Group presentations
- Comprehension questions
- Practise essays/paragraphs
- And so much more!
4. How To Prepare for the Assessments and Exams in Year 9?
Practise, practise, practise!
One of our most common sayings at LSG is 'study smarter, not harder'. This means knowing where your weaknesses lie and doing what you must to improve upon them. Don’t stick to your comfort zone too much - allow yourself to do the unfamiliar enough times to make it familiar. This will also help you build confidence within yourself when you see the progress you make.
Here are a couple of tips for you to help you prepare for any upcoming assessments and exams like an A+ student:
Reading more than your assigned texts can help you improve your spelling, vocabulary and expression when writing! The more you read, the more knowledge you will gain about fluency and structure. I would recommend reading widely. This means not confining your reading to just purely manga, but also newspaper articles, novels, non-fiction texts, etc.
If you want to become an expert on the text you’re studying and stand out from the rest of your classmates when you get to essay writing, read more about your text. This can include reading up on the background of the author who wrote the text, investigating the social, historical and cultural context of the text. Study guides, interviews, reviews and sample high scoring essays around the text are also very helpful resources!
Drafting and Essay Feedback
Drafting and getting essay feedback is an important cycle to come back to for the remainder of your high school career.
Going back to what I have just said, practise is key to success in English. English is often deemed to be one of the most confusing subjects because many students claim it to be subjective and will often complain that they have no idea what they’re doing. Generally, this isn’t a good sign. We understand that it can be difficult to know whether you’re on the right track or not, but it’s important we don’t just sit there and wonder the whole time. We must also seek feedback from our teachers or tutors about ways we can improve our work.
Upon receiving feedback from our teachers or tutors, we can’t just stop there. We must also incorporate this feedback into our re-draft or finalised copy of the work. Any questions or confusion must be addressed during this stage so you know exactly what to do next time.
At LSG, we have high-quality tutors who have received the marks you’re after and can walk you through your high school English journey.
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!)