Tips for Successful 2017 VCE English Language Course – LearnMate

VCE English Language Units 3/4 – Interactive Course
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English language – Top Tips for Success in 2017!

Note: the following article below was written by the amazing Spencer Rogers – one of LearnMate’s top English Language tutors. If you’re ever needing tutoring for English Language, Spencer will be able to help you. You can find his profile here:

The following advice is based on my experience as a student and a tutor. Whether you’re just starting the English Language, or cramming for you’re a test, you’ll succeed if you keep these principles in mind. At the end of each tip, I’ve provided a little checklist of skills you should ideally have before the end of year exam.

Good luck! 🙂

Tip 1: Learn the metalanguage

This is my top tip for all students. 99% of the questions you encounter will require you to use, or interpret, metalanguage terms.

I know it gets really tricky! It’s hard to remember the difference between collocation, connotation, and colloquialism. So the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll feel comfortable using them.

There are roughly 150 metalanguage terms in each year’s Study Design. If you set yourself the task to learn 5 words a day, you’ll know them all within a month. Refer to this article (link: to find a handy template for learning the metalanguage.

How to know you’ve mastered the metalanguage:

  • You can define and explain each metalanguage term, and provide examples.
  • You can identify examples of the metalanguage in a variety of texts.
  • You use metalanguage confidently, as a tool to express your ideas.

Tip 2: Read questions properly

Have you ever lost marks for misreading a question? It’s a common mistake to make, but it can be easily avoided.

When reading a question, look for the verb (this may require some mastery of Tip 1). Is it asking you to identify, analyse, explain, or discuss? Each of these verbs requires a different type of response.

Some questions will also tell you to refer to a specific subsystem or a line of text. Make sure you answer all components of the question to get full marks.

How to know you read questions properly:

  • You can infer exactly what a question is asking from you.
  • You can estimate how a question’s marks will be allocated, based on its wording.
  • You get full marks for your response to the question.

Tip 3: Learn how to write a good essay

To me, essay writing has 3 main components:

  • Information – know what you’re talking about.
  • Structure – put your ideas in a logical order.
  • Fluency – express your ideas in a pleasant, and grammatically correct, way.

There are many ways to get better at essay writing. Read your essays aloud to spot any issues with fluency. Plan lots of essays, even if you don’t end up writing them. Use a thesaurus to develop your vocabulary. Read examples of good essays, and work out what makes them good. Read examples of bad essays, and work out what makes them bad.

How to know you can write a good essay:

  • Your essay sounds good when you read it aloud.
  • You have a clear flow of ideas, from start to finish.
  • You use the essay to clearly and effectively display your knowledge.

Tip 4: Know what to expect during SACs

Schools are allowed to write and mark their own SACs. Some teachers do a great job of covering the core curriculum, while others set tasks that are completely irrelevant. Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done about this disparity.

My main advice for SACs is to listen carefully to your teacher. Find out how they like questions answered, and what their stances are on various social topics (e.g. political correctness, linguistic prescriptivism, or feminism). Tailor your answers to your teacher, because they’re the ones who will be marking you.

How to know you’ll ace a SAC:

  • You understand what your teacher likes, in terms of short answer questions, text analyses, essays, oral presentations, etc.
  • You know your teacher’s stances on social topics.
  • You know the dates, timing, and topics of all upcoming SACs.

Tip 5: Study effectively

My main tips are to do your homework, summarise your lessons, and test yourself regularly. Any extra work you do is entirely up to you because different people like to study in different ways. Find a way that works for you, and stick to it.

Testing yourself is important because it helps to develop your memory. There’s no point of having hundreds of pages of perfectly written notes if you can’t remember anything on the page!

Stay on track with your study by making a “To Do” list. Lots of students also like to make study schedules to help with their time management. If you manage your time well and study effectively, you won’t need to cram before a test, because you’ll know the content already.

How to know you’re studying well:

  • You remember topics you’ve studied previously.
  • You know what topics you need to learn/revise.
  • You rarely need to cram before a test.

Tip 6: Get help early

There’s no such thing as a “silly question”. Every question you ask improves your knowledge, and will almost certainly gain you some marks throughout the year.

Your tutors love to help you learn, so please don’t be afraid to pepper us with questions. I would rather my students ask hundreds of “silly” questions than make avoidable mistakes on a test.  I recommend writing down all the questions you have during the week. That way, you won’t forget to ask your tutor when you see them.

How to know you’re getting enough help:

  • You have a list of questions to ask your tutor or schoolteacher.
  • You have few, if any, gaps in your knowledge.
  • You feel comfortable asking “silly” questions.

Tip 7: Practice makes perfect

You won’t get things right the first time. Too many students stop trying when they find a topic difficult. But don’t give up! Pay close attention, ask questions, and think. You’ll get there eventually if you put in the effort.

You have an entire year to master the subject, so do a little bit of work each day. You’ll see that practice really does make perfect.

How to know you’ll be successful:

  • You do a little bit of work each day.
  • You view difficult topics as a rewarding puzzle or challenge, not a roadblock.
  • You work on your weak points until they become your strengths.

I will be running the most comprehensive head start a workshop for VCE English Language 3/4 these coming summer holidays. To find out more, please go here or here

Don’t miss out – my workshops always sell out every holiday – and I have got so much planned for you. Get a massive head start and feel confident in 2017!

LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

Tips for Successful 2017 VCE English Language Course – LearnMate

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