Exam Advice, English Language and Beyond

October 7, 2021joelleva

Summary: This article gives advice on exam preparation and strategy, with most of it being generally applicable, although it framed through English Language and some of it is subject specific. 

This article will focus on some general exam preparation advice for the month leading up to your English Language exam, as well as some time management strategies, and my next one will focus more so on final tips for the day or so prior, and when you are actually in the exam room. 


I will be pretty terse here, because I’m sure most of you don’t need to be told to do practice exams, and to get feedback on them, so you know where you need to improve (and if you did need to be told, you now have been ). 

The biggest strategy that I can really give you is to expose yourself to as much language as possible. Get as many examples into your brain as possible, as contemporary Australian examples are the best way of proving your point (and getting good marks) in essays. 

Further, exposure to language, and picking out key features, also helps with your ability to spot the key features you need to be able to identify and explain in sections A and B, so have a look at the language in the world around you, and see what you can get out of it. 

Beyond language exposure and example mining, make sure that you feel comfortable writing the three distinct sections of the exam under timed conditions so that you know you can get the exam done in time. 

Time management

Note: I have written a full article dedicated to time management in the exam, which you can find here: Time Management in the English Language Exam | Learnmate Tutoring.

As you may have already discovered in trial exams, which most of you will have done by the time of publication, the English Language exam is a time crunch. It has a well-deserved reputation as being one of the more challenging exams to finish, due to the amount that you need to write, in a very limited time. 

This means that reading time is crucial. Pick and plan your essay (first thing you do), read the texts for sections A and B (and start thinking about how you put your commentary together), and have a look at the questions for section A, which is where I strongly recommend devoting a majority of your reading time. The reason for this is that you can start formulating responses to your short answer questions and can save some time by dealing with them quick, fast, and in a hurry (whilst writing with sufficient detail and precision to get the marks, obviously). 

Beyond that, I recommend doing the exam in the order it is given to you, and if you want a rough time management plan, see below: 

1 minute: Planning essay and memory dumping things you are concerned about forgetting

20 minutes: Section A (including annotation) (effective use of reading time will enable you save some time in this stage)

45 minutes: Section B (including annotation) (you can cut this short if pushed for time, as you do not need a conclusion. Consequently, it’s also the easiest thing to add to if you finish earlier than expecting)

50 minutes: Section C (including annotation (not that you need much annotating for section C))

4 minutes: Editing (this is really important, as spelling and grammar are crucial to your mark as this is an English subject) 

Anyway, I hope that this article has helped you, and I will have another article for you in the next couple of weeks. You’re nearly at the end, so finish strong and then enjoy your time off. 


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