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Exam Preparation Week 7

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

Exam time management strategies!

Hello everyone, and welcome to another week of the English Connect blog! Hopefully, the previous posts have given you tangible advice on your writing! Today, we will be turning towards exam time management strategies, and some techniques you can turn to in order to get the most of the 3 hours.

Firstly, let’s set the scene for the exam!

Tip 1: Make sure you know your way around the exam booklets! Remember, all of the texts on the English text list are in that booklet so take note of the contents page and locate your texts! Also note what number your text is, as you will have to specify this in a box at the top of your essay in the answer booklet.

Tip 2: If you think you’ll need another exam booklet, plan for this in reading time! Ask your teacher about the standard protocols for this, though generally this is done during reading time by asking a supervisor. The booklets are similar in size and line width to the GAT booklet that you would be quite familiar with. It’s unlikely that you will need another one, but the option is there if you need!

Tip 3: PLAN!!! It is far better to spend 5 minutes before starting each essay jotting out your contention and arguments, rather than pausing mid-writing only for the minutes tick by…

This was my personal model for planning:

1. Highlight key terms in the question and define them

2. Create a contention using the stance/extension model

3. Break down the topic into 3 questions that use the key terms. These become your body paragraphs!

I personally practiced planning a whole slew of essay topics based on any topic I could find online or my teachers would provide me with. This way, I was ready to attack and plan the topic on the day, and could likely borrow from the bank of arguments I had already made!

Tip 4: Remember your dictionary! You have access to this during reading and writing time, and it can be extremely useful for jogging your memory on the meanings and associations a word holds, especially one of the key terms that appears in the essay topic. Don’t be afraid to look things up!

Tip 5: Think about how much time you will plan to spend on each section of the exam. Evaluate how you performed in a practice exam and make adjustments.

Personally, my time break down looked like this:

Reading time: Section A – 2 mins Section B – 2 mins Section C – 11 mins

55 mins: Section C (capitalise on your reading time and launch straight into Section C after you have spent a long time reading it!)

55 mins: Section B/A ( I personally did B first because it is the more difficult essay)

55 mins: Section B/A

Remainder of the time (15 mins) is devoted to planning.

Tip 6: Put your quotes everywhere. Put up posters on our bedroom wall, in front of your desk, even on the toilet door and the fridge! Optimise your ‘subconscious’ revision time by immersing yourself in it while you go about your everyday activities – it will save you precious time that you might need for other subjects and other practice exams!

Tip 7: Try not to passively read study guides and practice essays. After reading any bit of supplementary English material, even if it was my teachers own feedback, I would write out at least one sentence that puts that skill/idea into writing. This was a small, cumulative building block that I could easily build upon without feeling like there was too much work. However, it forced me to be active in my revision in a small but meaningful way!

Quick tips to improve your writing!

Hello everyone, and welcome to our penultimate edition of the weekly Connect English blog! We all know that there is not really such a thing as a ‘quick hack’, but there are some useful things we can add to our writing to quickly improve the flow, coherence and expression! Here are some of the tips that have worked in my experience.

1. Section C – to quickly add in analysis, use the Tone Adverb + Language Analysis Verb formula. I would make a list of all different types of tone words as adverbs (forcefully, rationally etc) and language analysis verbs (indicates, outlines, underpins) and join them together for rapid fire analysis!

2. Section C - The words ‘evokes’ and ‘invokes’ were particularly useful in my writing to elevate the specificity of my writing – try them out! For example: ‘The imagery of the burning trees invokes a strong sense of worry and urgency in the reader, leading them to proactively think about their complicity in taking care of the environment.’

3. Sections A and B analyse the form of your texts! Tell the examiner what the effect the texts have, and how the way in which the message is delivered is unique to a play, novel or film etc. For example, films can convey messages with other senses – through sight and sound. This might create an atmosphere that indicates how we, as viewers, are led to interpret an event. In novels, the ability for the narrative perspective to flit between different characters’ heads might indicate universality.

4. Section A and B – if in doubt with how to find your 3 body paragraphs, think in terms of the beginning, middle and end of the text. Identify the key idea that the topic is asking you to discuss, and consider why it exists, how it exists, and if by the end of the text, does it prevail or is it replaced with something else? This also has the advantage of giving the examiner a greater sense of your textual knowledge as you are able to analyse what appears to be the narrative text. As well as this, you show the natural evolution of a character or an idea through the course of the narrative.

5. All sections - If you cannot bring yourself to write out another essay – the burnout is real – simply plan a topic! This can be a quick and effective way to cover a lot of thematic ground and practice using your reading time well. Use the first few minutes of writing time also to get down a plan – it is better to spend the time at the beginning of the essay knowing exactly what you want to stay, rather than getting stuck halfway through and wasting too much time stressing out and thinking!

6. Section C – VCAA past papers indicate a trend of always looking towards community issues, rather than social issues. Take a look at some local regional newspapers to get an idea of some community issues, and the types of language techniques you would use in response to them.

As always, I hope these tips are useful to you and happy writing!

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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