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Exam Preparation Week 5

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

Key moments – how to use them in your essays!

Hello everybody and welcome to our 5th week of English Connect blog! This week’s post will be centred around how to identify the key moments in the text and use these as the basis for your evidence in your essay response.

Key moments are a great way to remember your quotes. I found it difficult to remember a random assortment of quotes from all across a text that were organised by theme, because there wasn’t a strong link for me to remember them by.

In the exam, I found my thought process would turn to:

Idea- oh wait, what was that thing in the text when this character did/said…

To work with this mental process, I would turn to KEY SCENES! This way, I would be remembering the ideas, significance of this scene and quotes associated with this scene that I could use to back up my ideas all in one go!

How to identify key moments:

Key moments tend to be the events in the text that stick out to you and that you remember well. They are often:

  • Conversations between characters that unveil secrets/insight into themselves and others

  • Plot twists

  • Character deaths

  • Discoveries

  • Moments that link strongly to an idea (feminism, memories, class conflict etc)

  • The end of the text (where the plot is resolved – is this resolution more satisfying or bittersweet, and why?)

Pertinent quotes:

After identifying key scenes, it’s a great idea to then pick out the most pertinent quotes from these moments. Pertinent, or important quotes, are the best quotes that are actually worth memorising. I found that in my quote banks, sometimes I had 3 or 4 quotes that proved the same point. It wasn’t a good use of my time to remember all of these – pick the best one!

Armed with my pertinent quotes and key moments, I would then turn to writing scene paragraphs!

Scene paragraphs:

Writing paragraphs based on scene, rather than theme, allowed me to go deep into the analysis of character decisions and motivations, and subsequently form a strong interpretation of these – which is what the examiners are after!

I would set up my notes like so:

Coming back to key themes (ie love, belonging, loss) is still absolutely important, I would just use them to categorise my key scenes.

The beauty of these key moment paragraphs is that they also allow you to practice writing out and embedding as many quotes as possible – and practicing your writing is key! So, if you have a spare half an hour – have a go at writing out a key scene paragraph with your text in front of you to practice writing!

Here is a sample of how I used this table in my own notes:

Text: The Golden Age

Have a question?

In the final weeks before exams Mirella will be hosting 2 Live Q&A sessions to help everyone get fully prepared for exams. If you have a question on how to best get prepared, have been stuck on an exam question or want to clarify an area of content send it through here, and Mirella might answer it live!

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