Exam Date and Essay Structures

Exam Date and Essay Structures

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 article for July, which will discuss structuring your essays. Essays are the most common way that Unit 4 is assessed, and section C of your exam is also an essay, which is worth 40% of your mark for the exam (30 marks out of 75).

Before discussing essays, I would like to quickly alert you to the fact that the VCAA have released the exam timetable for this year, and the English Language exam is on Thursday November 12, at 2:00pm. This is just two days after the core English exam, so it is very early in the exam period. The exam timetable can be found here: https://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/administration/Key-dates/Pages/VCE-exam-timetable.aspx

With that out of the way, I will now move onto discussing how to structure essays. Many English Language students do not enjoy writing essays, especially when they commence the subject. Essays do not entail responding to a text and basing your entire response on a text provided (unlike sections A and B), although that does not mean you can roll out a pre-prepared essay, regardless of the prompts. Assessors can pick a pre-written essay from a mile away, and an essay that does not answer the question is the fastest route to receiving zero for section C, short of leaving it blank. Furthermore, another thing that makes essays different from the other two sections on the exam is the fact that they have a defined structure, of an introduction, body paragraphs, and finally a conclusion. These paragraphs will be the subject of the rest of the article.

Introductions:

The introduction is extremely important to your essay, as it is the first thing that the examiner will read. Furthermore, most examiners say that they can tell a student’s mark (within one or two marks) based on the introduction, and a good introduction will put the assessor in a more positive frame of mind about your work, thus making them more likely to find the positive elements in your essay (therefore finding more marks for you).

There are different ways that people write introductions, although the general structure that I prefer to use is 1-2 sentences introducing the topic and your stance on it (how much you use depends on the topic and how much explanation of the prompt is needed), a sentence on what each body paragraph will be, and finally a sentence tying up your introduction and linking it back to the essay prompt.

Additionally, your introduction should be just that, an introduction. It is not a place to put substantive explanations or examples, it should be introducing what you will be writing about and your stance on it.

Body paragraphs (usually you would write around 3):

Even though assessors usually have a very strong idea of your mark after reading your introduction, most of the marks lie in the body of the essay, which is where you will discuss the substantive material of your essay.

These paragraphs probably have the most defined structure, as you are expected to follow the TEEL structure (Topic sentence, Evidence & Explanation, Link back to topic).

The topic sentence needs to be fairly short and should introduce what the paragraph will talk about, in relation to the prompt, and the link sentence should link the paragraph back to the prompt. Neither of these should contain the substance of your argument.

Your evidence and explanations are where your substantive arguments lie. Your evidence and explanation will probably look something like:

  • Point
  • Example(s)
  • How example(s) prove the point

Most likely, you will have 2-4 of these in each body paragraph. You need real world examples in your essays (I have discussed the importance of examples in multiple previous articles), and you must also reference at least one of the stimuli provided alongside the prompt, at some point throughout your essay.

Conclusion:

In English Language, the conclusion is very short. The conclusion is probably only 2-3 sentences, restating your contention and the points you have made. Further, assessors like seeing a bit of, “food for thought,” in your final sentence, be it a quote or a statement that is something to think about beyond the essay. Conversely, assessors do not like seeing phrases such as, “in conclusion,” when commencing your conclusion, so avoid them.

Despite being short, having a conclusion is important for your essay, as not having one means that the essay is incomplete, and you will lose marks for a well structured essay.

Anyway, I hope that this article proves helpful and I will have another one for you in August.

If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: An Overview of Formal Language, Topic and Floor Management in Conversations and An Overview of Face Needs and Prestige.


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Exam Date and Essay Structures