Short Answer Sections and Summer Holiday Advice

Short Answer Sections and Summer Holiday Advice

This article has been written by Liam McAlary, a Years 7 – 12, VCE Legal Studies and VCE English Language Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Liam then please check out his page here.

Hello everyone, here is my last article for 2019, which will discuss short answer sections and the forthcoming summer holidays.


Short answer sections (Section A of the exam)

As you may be aware, the unit and 4 English Language exam has 3 sections. The first of these sections is worth 15 of the 75 marks available and is a series of short answer questions about a given text. Moreover, these short answer sections are commonly used for SACs, especially in Unit 3 (which focuses on the nature and function of formal and informal language). Short answer sections are typically 4-6 questions, and relate to a text provided, usually requiring you to discuss an array of features of the text. Consequently, knowing metalanguage and how to apply it correctly is especially crucial to doing this section well, and numerous assessment reports have mentioned that deficiencies in a student’s knowledge of metalanguage are exposed in short answer sections (Please note that according to the 2018 assessment report, there is often a correlation between poorly done short answer sections and doing poorly with the rest of the exam, as you put into the examiner’s head that you do not know what you are talking about). Moreover, as well as knowing metalanguage and being able to use it (there is usually a question that specifically requires metalanguage to be used), you also need to be proficient at identifying language features and discussing why they have been used, in the specific text. Assessors do not like generic responses that simply identify a feature and provide a generic purpose, they want specificity. Further, make sure that you know which features come under which subsystem. You can use the metalanguage list on pages 17-18 of the study design (the study design is linked at the end of the article) to get a guide on what to put where.

Additionally, it is important to include sufficient detail in your answers to short answer questions, although it is equally important that you do not write too much, as the exam (and potentially SACs) can be a challenge to finish, so you do not want to spend time writing more than necessary, wasting time for no marks.

Further, it is also important to mention that short answer questions often relate to certain line numbers (see question 2 of 2017 as an example), so make sure that if that is the case, your responses relate to features within those lines (any discussion of those features outside of those lines will simply not be marked).

Summer holidays:

When you are reading this article, your summer holidays will either be imminent or will potentially have already started. I have written previously about how to utilise school holidays, so I will keep this section very brief. The summer holidays will be different for different students, depending on what preliminary work they have done at school, and what they have subsequently been assigned to do over the holidays. My advice would be to (if you can) get as much of the work done quickly and get it out of the way, so you can properly relax and enjoy your well deserved (and much needed) summer break. Further, if you feel that you may want a tutor for English Language, it may be worth engaging one for a lesson or two over the summer, in order to see how you work with a particular tutor (and potentially getting a bit of a head start).

Finally, enjoy your summer break and use it as a chance to recharge your batteries, because year 12 is taxing and you will need all the energy you can muster.

Anyway, I hope this article has been helpful, and that you enjoy your summer break.

If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: Discussion and Examples of Language Varying to Reflect Identity, Comparing Australian English to American and British Englishes and Transitioning in to Units 3 and 4

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Short Answer Sections and Summer Holiday Advice