Consolidating Unit 3 English

Consolidating Unit 3 English

This week, English teacher and Insight writer Melanie Flower outlines how you can consolidate all your Unit 3 material so that it’s ready for exam preparation.

Many of you studying Year 12 English will have finished Unit 3 and are starting to prepare for Unit 4. It is very easy to become so involved with the new texts for this final coursework unit that you unthinkingly put your Unit 3 notes away. However, it is important to remember that the end-of-year exam will cover the whole year; throwing Unit 3 aside at this stage can make it much more difficult to prepare for the final hurdle later in the year. Now is the ideal time to prepare your notes and other materials so that you are ready to launch straight into revision when the time comes.

Below are some things you should do to finalise your Unit 3 studies.

1. Make sure you have everything

This may seem obvious, but during the revision period teachers are inundated with student requests for copies of notes, summaries and other materials that were presented throughout the year. Ideally you have managed to keep up to date with board notes, and have filed away all of the handouts and other materials associated with your English studies so far. It can be useful to work on this with a friend, so that you can combine your notes. Fill in any gaps by photocopying or writing out any missing notes. Your goal is to have a complete set of notes on each of the texts you have studied, ready for your revision.

2. Annotate and/or summarise your notes

Once you are sure you have everything, read over your notes and make annotations. If your thoughts on a character or theme have developed since you wrote the original notes, add this information in. Don’t assume that you will retain all of your ideas – there is a lot more to learn before the end of the year, and you may not remember that brilliant connection you made unless you jot it down. Find a system of annotation that works for you. Some useful strategies include:

  • affixing sticky notes to add extra information
  • using coloured highlighters to help sort and classify information
  • writing shorthand notes in the margins
  • underlining key words and phrases.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. The more you work with your notes and the deeper your engagement in this process now, the more knowledge and understanding you are likely to retain.

3. Complete any incomplete tasks

Remember that character summary you didn’t quite finish? The quote bank that only includes the obvious quotes you found in the study guide? The list of persuasive techniques and tone words that could be more detailed? Now is the time to finish these off, before you get too involved in completing similar tasks for the next text. Fill in the missing details while the information is still fresh in your mind – in October you will be grateful for detailed and thorough notes.

4. Review any feedback

It can be very tempting to check the score you received for an essay and then file it away, sometimes never to be seen again; instead, make sure you look at the feedback you have received for your Unit 3 work, and make a note of any areas that need improvement. Can you see any recurring issues? For example, is using sophisticated vocabulary a challenge, or are your conclusions letting you down? Write down these key areas and keep the list somewhere prominent – this will act as a reminder to focus on these aspects when you are working on Unit 4 tasks.

5. Schedule some revision into your routine

Revising can be a daunting prospect, and it is even more intimidating if you are trying to do it all in the final days before your exam. Try to spend some time each week going over your Unit 3 notes so that the information is still fresh in your mind at the end of the year. Continuous revision does not have to be arduous, and does not have to take a lot of time. Write key quotes on cue cards, rewrite and improve paragraphs from previous essays, create practice essay topics and complete essay plans for a variety of topics. You can also write practice essays under timed conditions. If you are not sure where to start, ask your teacher for suggestions.

6. Keep reading

The more you read, the more exposure you have to language and vocabulary. You should aim to read regularly, drawing on a variety of text types. Reading narrative texts helps to develop fluency in your writing and broaden your vocabulary, and can also provide some relaxation. Opinion pieces and newspapers can give you an opportunity to review argument structure and persuasive techniques, while critical essays can provide background and analysis for the texts you are studying.


If you prepare your Unit 3 notes carefully now, you will save a lot of time during the revision period, and you will be able to start revising straight away. You do not want to be chasing up incomplete notes or struggling to recall basic information at the end of the year. Your future self will thank you for any time you put into preparing and organising your notes now, and you can approach the final exams knowing that you have everything ready for productive and purposeful revision.


Starting to think about exam preparation? Purchase our English Exam Guides by Robert Beardwood and Melanie Napthine. The English Exam Guides provide students with revision strategies and activities to prepare them for the VCE English exam. From time management during the exam to proofreading responses, Insight’s English Exam Guides cover all the knowledge and skills required for success in the English exam.

Any purchase of the English Exam Guide: Area of Study 1 comes with 64 FREE high-level sample essays.

English Exam Guides are produced by Insight Publications, an independent Australian educational publisher.


Photo credit: Thomas Bethge/shutterstock

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