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.

Read More ...

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.

Read More ...

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.

Read More ...

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).

Read More ...

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

Read More ...

Revision tips for the holidays: Part 2

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.

Read More ...

Revision tips for the holidays: Part 1

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

Study schedule

The Term 3 holidays are here and, while you may feel there is an inordinate amount of exam preparation to complete, it is important to create a study schedule for the holidays that incorporates breaks. Studying for more than 12 hours a day in the lead-up to exams will soon prove exhausting and unproductive.

I suggest working to the school-day schedule. Work on English in the morning, take a short break, undertake further tasks until an hour-long lunchbreak, and study through until the end of the school day. In the afternoon, enjoy some physical activity. Playing sport or even taking a walk will help to consolidate your day’s learning. Your brain is like every other organ in your body: it needs to rest, recuperate and repair before you require it to work to capacity again the next day and into the coming weeks.

Read More ...

EAL: Preparing for the listening comprehension task

Insight writer and EAL teacher Michael E Daniel discusses preparing for the EAL listening comprehension task.

The listening comprehension component of the examination will test your understanding of spoken texts and will be the first task you undertake in the examination. You will have to listen to two or three texts. The total length of the texts is likely to be approximately 10 to 12 minutes.

There is a range of things you can do to prepare for the listening comprehension task. Since listening comprehension is about how well you understand a spoken text, the most effective preparation is to practise listening to aural texts as much as possible. Every time you talk with another person and listen to what they are saying, you are in fact developing your listening and comprehension skills. It is best to practice with aural texts rather than audio-visual texts (such as TV programs or YouTube videos) because when you watch an audio-visual text you are interpreting the meaning of the text largely from visual cues.

Read More ...


Insight Text Guide author Anica Boulanger-Mashberg discusses Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet

There are plenty of reasons why Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet (1991) remains one of Australia’s most loved contemporary novels (it hit the top of the list in ABC TV’s First Tuesday Book Club’s survey of ‘10 Aussie Books to Read Before You Die’ in 2012, the National Year of Reading). So how do you translate this diehard national adoration to an enthusiastic and productive academic study?

Yes, it’s one of the longer texts on the VCAA set lists – an epic domestic journey – and that can be overwhelming for students. But it’s a rewarding read, not a slog, and the length and breadth of Cloudstreet means there are so many directions in which students might choose to take their interpretation of the novel. Any one of the text’s features – including character, style, structure, narrative voice, and historical and cultural setting – provides enough textual evidence to support a really in-depth exploration of how Winton constructs meaning in his authorial choices, and by combining any mix of these, a whole new set of investigations becomes available. For instance the narrative framing, formed by the intrusion of Fish’s first-person perspective throughout, welcomes discussions about how narrative point of view influences our understanding of events. When paired with an investigation of the magic-realist style of much of the narrative (particularly Fish and Quick’s experiences), this gives students plenty to think about in terms of how symbolism constructs the reality of the characters and how this reveals underlying authorial beliefs and values. For example, despite the epic difficulties both the Lamb and the Pickles families experience throughout, one of the novel’s strong themes is that family is one of the most important things of all. This is reiterated in symbolism as well as structural elements, such as Quick and Rose’s ultimate return to Cloudstreet, bringing a circular closure to the narrative.

Read More ...

What you should start doing now to prepare for your English exam: Part 2

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.

Read More ...