How to Prepare for the VCE English Exam (Last Minute Advice from a 50-Scorer)

October 10, 2020joelleva

Studying for a subject like English can seem like a massive task, and is very tempting to leave to the last minute! I’m here to reassure you that if you study intelligently, you don’t need to put in the same number of hours that go into many other subjects. There are actually heaps of easy things you can do, which result in dramatic improvement:

  1. Read the VCAA past examiner reports! These are filled with advice straight from the Chief Examiner, and often have some great examples of student responses the examiners like. (While you’re there, check out the 2017 Sample exam. As the 2017 study design is new, this is the only available full VCAA-approved exam available to you.)
  2. Plan responses for lots of sample topics (Text Response and Comparative) instead of writing out essay after essay. This will prepare you for the panic of an exam scenario when you get a topic you have never seen before.
  3. Redraft previous essays. The best ideas come from development over time, not simply writing quantity over quality on new topics over and over again.
  4. Get outside advice on your essays. This might be from a sibling, parent, teacher, tutor; anyone you trust to give you honest advice! The truth is that after you’ve been working on an essay for a while, you lose your fresh perspective, which is why it’s important not to hide your essays away for no one else to see.
  5. Reread or re-watch your texts. Knowing these inside out is invaluable, and you never know what might stick in your mind and come in handy later…
  6. If you find that timing is not a problem, type up your practice essays. No point tiring yourself out for no reason!
  7. If you’re determined to do lots of sample exams, practice doing them at the time of day of the English exam. This gets your body used to sitting still (for three hours!) at that precise time, which will not feel natural! It could give you that slight edge, which is all you need in VCE to separate yourself.

Good luck and happy studying!

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