Insight writer and English teacher Claire Warr gives some tips and strategies for using the holiday period to prepare for your VCE English exam. This post is the second of two parts; click here to catch up on Part 1.
Preparing for Section C
When preparing for your Section C response, it is important to remember the specific task instruction in the examination:
Write an analysis of the ways in which argument and written and visual language are used to try to persuade others to share the point of view presented.
An important term in this instruction is ‘try’. At no point in your response should you definitively state that the audience has been persuaded to agree with a point of view – we have no way of knowing this. What we can consider is how readers/viewers have been positioned to consider a particular argument through the use of specific persuasive techniques and visuals.
Before undertaking a practice exam or task, look carefully at the background information presented in the box directly below the description of the task. It explains the context of the task material and can identify key information not mentioned in the text itself. Start your revision by making some predictions, based on your reading of the background material, about the following:
- What is the broad issue being considered in the text?
- Which group or point of view on the issue is the author of the text likely to represent?
- What views and opinions are they likely to consider or support?
- Who is the target audience?
- Which persuasive devices or arguments are likely to convince this particular audience?
- Why would these be persuasive?
If there is more than one text, repeat the above for each.
Once you have read the text or texts, check to see if your predictions are correct. The quicker you can do this, the better; you have a limited amount of reading time in the exam, so efficiency is important.
The task material usually spans two pages. There will be a range of arguments presented, a significant number of persuasive devices, and a number of visual elements such as photographs, graphics, headings, banners and logos to consider. You cannot possibly address every argument and every persuasive device, so you need to select your focus carefully. There are a few things to remember here.
- Focus on the arguments and persuasive techniques you understand well. There is no point drawing the examiner’s attention to what you do not know and cannot analyse successfully in the response.
- Do not refer to a persuasive technique that you cannot discuss in terms of its intended effect on the audience.
- Do not simply describe or paraphrase what the writer is saying.
- Do not try to cover everything – it is impossible!
It is a good idea to practise annotating persuasive texts, as being able to do this quickly in the exam will help you to write a clear, effective analysis. While reading articles, you should:
- highlight an argument in blue and locate two or three persuasive devices that support it
- highlight the next key argument in yellow, along with the two or three persuasive devices that support it.
Follow these steps until you have run out of arguments or highlighters.
Spend time over the holidays honing this skill. You will improve quickly and will begin to see the benefits of your highlighting – the arrangement of the colours can help you with determining the order and content of your body paragraphs.
Revision is about reviewing what you know and improving on it. Time is of the essence in the Section C task and your annotating skills will determine how quickly and effectively you write an analysis of argument and persuasive language
Need help preparing for the English exam? Make sure you purchase the VCE English SAC & Exam Guide by Robert Beardwood and Melanie Napthine. The Guide includes revision strategies and activities to help you prepare for the VCE English exam. From time management to proofreading responses, Insight’s VCE English SAC & Exam Guide covers all the knowledge and skills required for success in the English exam.
If you’re looking for resources to help you prepare for Section C of the exam, check out our Practice Questions for English Section C. At just $5.95 per set of 3 or 4 scenarios with sample responses, the Practice Questions are perfect for reinforcing knowledge and skills, and will help you develop confidence and proficiency in analysing argument and persuasive language.
Photo credit: Roman Kraft via Unsplash