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  VCE English Studies
  • Revise your work regularly.
  • When learning new knowledge and skills, spend time reviewing the day's lesson and complete practice tasks.
  • Engage in on-going note-taking summaries for your study of texts and Context / Theme.
  • Create short summaries of the plot, main characters and themes and values of your text. Organise them into sections under the following headings: • plot characters • setting • structure • themes • stylistic features • values.
  • Memorise several short quotations.
  • Use concept maps to capture information. Using colour will help you to retain key facts.
  • When engaged in extended tasks, break down the task into small parts and complete one part each night or every second night.
  • Follow your teacher's advice when learning about effective study strategies and time management for specific tasks.
  • Many of the English websites set for course study provide a range of tips and guidelines – use these.
  • This Students page contains a range of strategies and tips (e.g. text study, oral presentation, etc.).
  • Further tips are provided below.

Examination Tips

Know what your examination paper will consist of

  • Your teacher will tell you what the examination paper will contain.
  • A couple of weeks prior to the exam, sample exam papers will be available from your English teacher that you can use for practice.
  • Year 12 examination papers are prescribed by VCAA. In addition to the sample papers on provided by your teacher, students can download past exam papers from the VCAA website.
Length of examination:
  • You will be told how long the exam will be.
  • Year 9 & 10: 75 minutes plus 15 minutes reading time.
  • Year 11: Sem 1— 90 minutes plus 15 minutes reading time. Sem 2 — 120 minutes plus 15 minutes reading time.
  • Year 12: 3 hours plus 15 minutes reading time.
Reading time: Use this time (15 minutes) to:
  • Read through the paper – very carefully.
  • Don't forget to read the instructions as they contain important information.
  • Select the topics or prompts you will write on (if you are given a choice).
  • If the paper consist only of a passage or passages (e.g. language analysis) use the reading time to read through the passages several times.
  • If the paper consists of multiple questions, read through them all; then spend time reading and re-reading the set passages.
How much time will you need for each answer?
  • Check to see if each answer will have the same mark allocation. If so, then give the same amount of time to each answer.
  • If not, then spend the most time on the answer worth the most marks, and allocate time for the other questions accordingly.
Editing and Proof-reading time:
  • Aim to leave five to ten minutes at the end of the examination to quickly read back over your answers and correct any obvious problems or mistakes.
Handwriting & Write with a Biro
  • Write neatly and legibly. You do not want to be penalised if the examiners can't read your handwriting.
  • When you make an error, rule a line through the word or phrase – don't scribble.
  • You must complete the examination paper using a blue biro or felt tip pen. Do not use pencil.
Text Response — Preparation prior to the exam
  • Re-read your text.
  • Create short summaries of the plot, main characters and themes and values of your text. Organise them into sections under the following headings:
    • characters • setting • plot • structure • themes • stylistic features • values
  • Memorise several short quotations.
  • Use concept maps to capture information. Using colour will help you to retain key facts.
  • Write practice plans. Choose a topic and give yourself ten minutes to write an introductory paragraph, an outline of four to five body paragraphs (each with a topic sentence and a list of supporting arguments / examples / evidence and a conclusion
  • Practice writing complete essays under test conditions.
  • You should have ample topics on the text from your class worksheets. If you have misplaced these, check the essay topics page on the text's website.
Text Response — In the examination
  • If you have a choice of topics, choose the one you feel most confident answering.
  • Read the question carefully. Underline key words.
  • Underline titles of novels, plays and films; put titles of individual poems or short stories in inverted commas (quotation marks)
    " Your essay must clearly respond to the topic.
  • Use textual evidence from the text as well as appropriate quotations to illustrate main ideas.
  • Use appropriate metalanguage for writing about the text and appropriate adjectives for discussing the characters and themes, etc.
  • In essence, follow the ‘golden rule’:
    Present a clear line of argument in response to the topic in your introduction.
    Present a logically connected and well organised piece of writing as follows:
    • INTRODUCTION: respond to all parts of the topic and set up your line of argument.
    • BODY. Develop your line of argument, interweaving textual elements you have carefully selected for relevance as evidence in support of your view.
    • Remember TEEL:
    T = TOPIC sentence of the paragraph; the next point in your argument
    E = EXPLANATION of the way in which your points address the topic
    E = EVIDENCE from the text to support the views you are presenting
    L = LINKS with both the overall contention/argument you are developing and the topic and links into the next paragraph
    • CONCLUSION: Restate your contention, summarise your argument and the evidence, and show you have resolved the topic.

Comparative Text Response — In the examination

  • Thoroughly analyse the topic (or set of quotations if these are set as a topic) working out the main theme and brainstorm the ideas and issues related to the theme
    analyse what the themes, ideas and issues are and,
    analyse how they are conveyed in both texts
    look for similarities and/or differences in the texts
  • Make sure you address the ideas contained in the topic (or set of quotations).
  • Make sure you analyse how they are conveyed through each text’s construction (e.g. structure, settings, narrative point of view, language, symbols and imagery, characterisation)
  • Be sure to devote each body paragraph to one key idea (or main point) and explore that idea in depth and detail, comparing and contrasting it against the set texts.
  • To support your key idea, provide textual detail / evidence from the texts in the form of examples and quotations Be sure to compare and contrast.
  • Use appropriate metalanguage; vary your vocabulary; take care with your expression and proofread your work thoroughly.
  • Structure your essay in a logical way, using linking words and phrases to ensure your essay has cohesion.
  • Make sure that you construct complex comparative phrases and sentences when comparing and contrasting the ideas and the texts.
Writing in Context / Theme Study — Preparation prior to the exam
  • During the year or the semester you would have studied one selected text. In addition, you would have also read supplementary texts such as short stories, poems, articles, extracts from novels, and films.
  • You would have completed several pieces of writing in response to a prompt or topic or other stimulus material, drawing on the selected text and ideas developed on the Context / Theme throughout the semester.
  • If you haven't already done so, create short summaries of the Context or Theme and relevant ideas from the texts and supplementary readings as well as your own ideas. Organise these into sections under the following headings: • main ideas of Context / Theme • your ideas • ideas from set text o ideas from supplementary texts
  • Memorise several short quotations.
  • Use concept maps to capture information. Using colour will help you to retain key facts.
  • Re-read your selected text
  • Revise the ideas in your Context / Theme and from your text.
  • Re-read past pieces you have written and use feedback from your teacher to improve your work.
  • Read pieces your classmates have written and exchange feedback.
  • Most importantly, write as much as you can on different prompts or topics.
Writing in Context / Theme Study — In the exam
  • Use the reading time to consider the prompt carefully. Think about how you can respond to it with originality and to demonstrate your knowledge and engagement with the texts in the Context / Theme and the ideas suggested by it.
  • Engagement with the ideas of the text relevant to the Context / Theme and the prompt / topic is essential.
  • Use a range of ideas from the Context / Theme including ideas from other texts, recent or historical events, sources of information and so on.
  • Begin by planning or outlining your decisions about style, audience, purpose and form. List your main ideas and/or arguments.
  • Ensure you are covering all requirements of the task and that you have responded thoroughly to the prompt.
  • Ensure your writing is appropriate to audience and purpose.
  • Ensure you are using interesting, varied and appropriate language.
  • Make sure you focus on discussing and developing the ‘big ideas’ of the Context / Theme and not the set texts.
  • Use the set texts to support and illustrate the key ideas you are discussing and developing, showing how they support or offer differing perspectives to the topic/prompt.
  • Make sure that you construct complex comparative phrases and sentences when comparing and contrasting the ideas and the texts.

Analysing Persuasive Argument and Language — Preparation prior to the exam

  • During the year you would have engaged in a variety of activities to develop the knowledge and skills for undertaking this task. You will have built up an extensive glossary of persuasive devices and metalanguage as well as a word bank of analytical vocabulary to use when writing your analysis.
  • Throughout the semester you would have completed several pieces of argument and language analysis tasks in response to both written and visual material.
  • Using persuasive pieces such as recent newspaper articles, practice identifying the main contention, the main arguments and supporting arguments, the tone and at least five persuasive devices in each article.
  • Remember to use PEE to help you remember the most important step in analysing persuasive argument and language – discussing how it positions and affect the reader:
    P = Persuasive arguments and language. Identify the key arguments and analyse how they aim to reason with and persuade the intended audience. Identify examples of persuasive language, e.g. generalization, inclusive language, rhetorical question, exaggeration and how these work to position the audience.
    E = Example. Give clear examples of the arguments, language or technique used in the print and visual material.
    E = Effect. Explain the intended effects on the audience and how they are positioned.
Analysing Persuasive Argument and Language— In the exam
  • You will most likely be asked to write a language analysis on either a given media text, a speech, a web page, or a letter. It will also include a visual element, such as a cartoon, photograph, graph or illustration.
  • In your language analysis it is a good idea to include:
    — a brief introduction stating the main contention, the source of the text and the tone of the text and
    — three or four paragraphs that show how persuasive argument and language are used to persuade the audience to agree with the writer's or speaker's point of view
  • It is important to:
    — show that you can use the appropriate metalanguage by identifying persuasive language by their correct names
    — explain the effect on the reader of key arguments and persuasive language you identify
    — conclude your analysis appropriately - perhaps by discussing the writer's or speaker's overall approach, or discussing the overall method of persuasion.
  • Better responses consider the context, audience and origins of the article or material given, as well as shifts in tone.
  • You must address how and why the arguments and language are persuasive – even if the arguments may not be reasonable, consider the writer or speaker's purpose and intended effect.
  • Consider the material as a whole and don't just examine persuasive techniques one after the other in isolation from the rest of the article.
  • Use quotations selectively and include them in a sentence - avoid leaving a quotation as a whole sentence on its own.
  • Don't simply describe the visual material; analyse how it works to persuade the audience. Discuss it in relation to key arguments from the print material.
  • Make sure that you construct complex comparative phrases and sentences when comparing and contrasting the two or more print and visual texts.
Editing and revising your answers
  • Aim to finish with around five to ten minutes to spare.
  • Year 12 students should allow at least ten minutes for each section of the examination paper.
  • This gives you time to go back over your answers and check for errors or ways to improve your work. Use this checklist as a guide:
    — Read through each answer and make sure it flows well.
    — Make sure no words are omitted. Make sure each answer is finished.
    — Check spelling, punctuation and grammar. Check that quotations are enclosed with inverted commas (quotation marks).
    — Check that you have used paragraphs in each piece of writing.
    — Check that you have used linking words between paragraphs.
    — For short answer questions, check that you have answered questions in complete sentences.
    — See if you can use better vocabulary.
Last up-dated 14 November, 2016
Website constructed and maintained by G. Marotous, 2004
© George Marotous. Melbourne High School English Faculty