Exam Preparation Advice for 2020 (Part 1)

Exam Preparation Advice for 2020 (Part 1)

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 guys, I hope that you are all going well during these times, and are ready to return to school for classes in just over a week, although you will be back next week to do the GAT and potentially other assessments depending on what your school wants to do. Given that you will have most likely finished covering all the substantive content, and the exam is on November 12, I thought I would use this article to discuss exam preparation for exams. This article will have a more general focus, with reference to the English Language exam, whereas my next article will really hone in on the English Language exam and doing that paper.

It is important to note that exam preparation is quite personal, and what works for one person may not work for others, although some things are especially effective.

One of the most important pieces of advice I have is to look at your exam timetable as early as possible, so you can build your timetable around that and prioritise your exam study accordingly. The English Language exam is one of the first exams in the exam period, so it is worth doing more preparation for that as opposed to your later exams, as you can continue to prepare for them after the English Language exam, but you cannot prepare for the English Language exam once you have sat it. This is not saying to neglect or ignore your other subjects, however it is worth prioritising your English Language (and other early exams) initially. This is especially true for English Language, as it is your English subject, which must count in your top 4 for calculating your aggregate (and consequently your ATAR).

Moreover, if your school runs trial exams (which you may well have already sat by the time you read this), they are a terrific opportunity to see where you are at and what skills and knowledge you need to work on over the next few weeks, in the lead up to your real exam. My advice (and this is somewhat a matter of personal preference) is to not do an excessive amount of revision for these, as I found them to be an exceptional means of exposing my gaps in knowledge and skill. This is especially true for English Language, where the exam has three distinct sections, with three distinct skills required, and the knowledge required overlaps, but does differ. Consequently, the trial exams are a terrific way of pinpointing areas where you feel weaker, so you can focus more of your revision on those areas.

Furthermore, as I am sure has been drilled into you extensively already, but practice exams are probably the most effective way to prepare for the exam. Initially, do them with your notes and without a time limit, before putting away the notes, and subsequently starting to time yourself completing the exam, and simulating exam conditions. Knowing that you can finish the exam in time is really good for your confidence, especially the English Language exam, which is difficult to finish (in my next article, I will discuss time management for the exam).

Finally, a more English Language specific tip which I may discuss more in my next article. This tip is examples, which I have discussed extensively before. Make sure that you have a bank of contemporary AUSTRALIAN examples that evidence the points you may need to make in your essays and that you can explain well in relation to your points. These examples can come from anywhere, be it politics (ministers have websites with their transcripts), the media, social media, your work, school, and even your socialising (from home and maintaining your physical distance). Even though it has not been good for much else, 2020 has been a goldmine for examples with the language surrounding COVID-19 epidemic (I say epidemic as I am specifically referring to what has happened in Australia) being particularly useful.

Anyway, I hope this has helped you and I will have another article for you next month, with a much more specific focus on the English Language exam.


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Exam Preparation Advice for 2020 (Part 1)