How to best prepare for Year 12 English during the summer break

Insight writer and English teacher Kate Macdonell gives tips on what students going into Year 12 can do over the summer holidays to prepare for the year ahead.


It is tempting to use the coming summer holidays to relax, have fun and recover from the demands of Year 11. Although it is important to recharge, it is also wise to do some preparatory work for Year 12 English during the break. Below is a list of the kinds of preparation you will want to do in order to ready yourself for the rigours of Year 12 English.

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The final countdown: Stress-free advice for the VCE English exam

Insight writer and English teacher Claire Warr gives some advice on how to make the most of your final weekend of preparation before the VCE English exam without getting too stressed out.

The 2018 VCE English exam will be held on Wednesday 1 November, only five days from now. It is important that you try to stay calm and relaxed during these last few days. With that in mind, here are ten stress-free things you can do to prepare for your end-of-year exam.

1. Take stock of what you have already achieved and what you still need to do.

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Seven survival tips for the English Language exam

Insight writer and English Language teacher Rebecca Swain gives some tips and strategies to help prepare you for your upcoming VCE English Language exam.

English Language is a fascinating and, at times, daunting subject and its examination is no different. Following these seven tips will ensure you are confident and well prepared for what lies ahead.

1. Understand the exam. Your exam will be in three parts: short-answer responses to questions about a text or texts (20%), an analytical commentary about a text or texts (40%) and an essay in response to an aspect of contemporary linguistics (40%). One of the best things you can do is to access the past examinations and examination reports freely available on the VCAA website. While the past papers will give you material to practise with, the reports will provide you with a snapshot of common pitfalls and a strong sense of what the examiners will be looking for when they read your paper.

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Section A practice essays: Pumping your writing muscles

Insight writer and English teacher Claire Warr gives some tips and strategies to get your writing skills into shape for Section A of your VCE English Exam.

Staring at a blank page is not conducive to inspiring a coherent and fluent response to a specific essay topic. Instead of contemplating the entire response, break it down into smaller chunks. While you will only have 60 minutes to plan, write, and proofread your response in the exam, preparing and practising is more important than time limits at present. Try the following tips for building your writing muscles before attempting an entire response within the time limit.

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Insight Text Guide author Anica Boulanger-Mashberg discusses Euripides’ Medea.

Medea is as powerful now – though in altered ways – as it was over two thousand years ago when it was written, and this is an excellent reason to offer students the opportunity to study it. Unlike a contemporary novel or film, which they might pick up and enjoy by themselves outside of school, a classical text like Medea might only be encountered by students if it is set for study. Allowing students to explore a text and even a genre that they might not otherwise easily come across can give them the inspiration and confidence to seek out other challenging texts throughout their academic career and beyond.

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Comparing texts: Tips for Section B

Insight writer and English teacher Claire Warr gives some tips and strategies for using the holiday period to prepare for your VCE English Exam.

The key words in the Section B examination instruction are ‘analyse’ and ‘how’. To analyse means to examine, consider and evaluate. These are all verbs – they imply doing and action – so effective responses will actively compare and contrast the two texts. An evaluation or analysis also suggests that you need to come to an understanding or conclusion about the issues and ideas presented in the texts. But what precisely do we evaluate or analyse? We analyse the different ways in which authors, playwrights, biographers and filmmakers tell us their story – this is the ‘how’ of the exam question. Some students will explain or summarise the narrative and hope that this is analysis: a very easy mistake to make, especially under time pressure in an exam. It is important to analyse in your response, rather than simply listing, explaining or describing.

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Preparing for the VCE Literature examination

Literature teacher and Insight writer Melinda Allsop discusses how to prepare for the Literature exam.

Exam success has much to do with confidence – confidence that you can tackle the exam tasks in the time available, confidence that you know your texts thoroughly, and confidence that you have something worthwhile to say about them. This blog post aims to give you direction as you prepare for the Literature exam, as well as some practical revision strategies that will build your confidence and skills.

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Measure for Measure

Insight Text Guide author Anica Boulanger-Mashberg discusses William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure

Don’t be overwhelmed by the fact that Measure for Measure is considered one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’ – those which are not easily classifiable by classical generic conventions of comedy or tragedy. Rather than being a ‘problem’, this can be seen as an ‘opportunity’, since it frees analysis from constraints of genre, instead opening up possibilities of discussion and investigation that enter the text from various other points and pathways, such as the themes, ideas and characters (all better suited to VCAA curriculum study than approaches limited by formal or structural elements).

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EAL: Preparing for Section C – Argument and persuasive language

EAL teacher and Insight writer Michael E Daniel discusses preparing for Section C of the EAL exam.

Section C of the paper is worth 40% of the total marks for the exam; therefore, you should allow approximately 70 minutes to complete it. This section of the exam requires you to complete two tasks or questions. Question 1 requires you to answer a series of short-answer questions. Question 2 requires you to write an extended written analysis. Questions 1 and 2 are each worth ten marks.

Question 1

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