Insight writer and English teacher Claire Warr discusses what you should be doing now to start preparing for your VCE English Exam. This post is the second of two parts; click here to catch up on Part 1.
The VCE English exam is approximately two months away and, while you may still have assessment tasks to complete for Term 3, it is time to start preparing your examination material. This preparation time is about organising, collating, planning and condensing all of your notes and resources to identify areas that require further attention, and to consolidate your understanding of existing knowledge and ideas.
Creating and developing
Read through your notes, class tasks, activities and essays, and start to create and develop specialised vocabulary inventories for each text and for the argument and language analysis task. In Sections A and B you may have a novel, a play, a memoir or a film, and it is important that you know the text-specific metalanguage appropriate for each genre.
Develop an inventory, or even a mind-map, that specifically itemises terms for each text. See examples below.
- Novel: narrative arc; narrative elements; authorial voice; first-, second- or third-person perspective; direct speech; indirect speech; characterisation; setting; themes; language; imagery; social and cultural context; plot; climax; denouement; resolution; symbols; motifs; literary devices; language devices; time …
- Play: act; scene; stage direction; dialogue; setting; costumes; sets; timing; context; lighting; music; mood; pace; rhythm; interaction; climax; rising tension; soundscape; sub-plots …
- Film: scene; shot; mise en scène; lighting; costumes; setting; cinematography; close-up; medium shot; long shot; editing; cuts; crosscutting; flashback; diegetic and non-diegetic sound; soundtrack …
Make sure you know the denotation (dictionary meaning) of each of these terms, as well as how each is utilised within the text itself. If you are not sure of the terms, now is the time to pinpoint definitions and examples of each one in your specific text/s.
This can also be useful for the argument and language analysis task (Section C on the exam). Insight’s English Year 12 has a useful list of argumentative approaches and structures, and persuasive techniques (pp.180–5). Identify key terms on an A3 (or larger) sheet of paper, and colour-code them according to your level of knowledge. If you are sure about a range of techniques and approaches, list them in blue or green, then denote the approaches or persuasive techniques that require further attention in red or yellow. This should provide you with a clear picture of what you have achieved so far, as well as a precise vision of what you still need to do.
You should still be reading letters to the editor, editorial opinions and feature articles, and viewing visuals in newspapers and online publications. These provide opportunities for you to pinpoint particular arguments and persuasive techniques, as well as to hone your analytical skills with photos, cartoons, graphs, charts and specific iconography. A flick through the newspaper is a reliable test of your ability to analyse a visual on the spot and determine the tone and contention of an image. If you are struggling with the content of a visual, you should be able to determine quickly and efficiently what you need to concentrate on in the coming weeks. This will provide you with a specific focal point to check with your teachers, study groups and peers before the term holidays and practice exams begin.
If you can manage these tasks before the term comes to an end you should have a keen awareness of your existing knowledge and understanding, as well as a clearer picture of where you need to dedicate specific time and effort to prepare for the English exam.
Need help preparing for the English exam? Purchase our English Exam Guides by Robert Beardwood and Melanie Napthine. Our 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 or the English Exam Guides: Areas of Study 1 & 2 Value Pack comes with 64 FREE high-level sample essays.