Dylan N has been attending tutoring lessons at JP English since Year 8 and has since gotten excellent marks to enable his transfer from Chatswood High School to North Sydney Boys High School, as well as achieving 100% in every English school assessment at North Sydney Boys this year! This is what he has to say:
It’s English class again and your teacher gives you your exam results back. You sigh in disbelief; you don’t receive the A grade you wanted. But you shrug it off, reassuring yourself by believing that junior English marks don’t matter.
This is the type of person that you do not want to be. But if this resembles you, do not worry! Here are some tips that I have learnt through my own experiences which have inevitably helped me achieve perfect grades in my English essays.
“English is hard”.
This is what at least 80% of my fellow peers, as well as myself, had believed in the past two years alone. However, brainwashing yourself into believing that English is ‘subjective’ and despising the subject as a whole already affects your performance before you even take your exam, as it leaves you unwilling to learn and improve from your mistakes.
At the beginning of this year, I decided to approach English open-mindedly, and I chose to believe that everyone had the ability to improve and achieve better grades. I advise you to take pride and confidence in the work that you produce, and the results will follow. Even if you do not achieve the grades you desire in a particular exam, that is totally fine, but make sure to utilise the opportunity to reflect on all the mistakes you have made, and be motivated to correct them in the future.
You might have heard this a lot from your past English teachers at school: “Read more books!”
And I completely agree with them.
The regular practice of reading books will help you improve your essay and creative writing skills. But how?
Reading various texts written by numerous authors not only will expose you to new ideas to deepen your knowledge, but will also enhance your vocabulary and improve your grammar and sentence structure skills necessary in essay writing and creative writing.
ANSWERING THE QUESTION
You have been given your exam notification, but you do not know where to start. What are you going to do?
Taught early at JP English, the first thing that I always do when writing a response to an exam question is highlight the key words in the question and figure out what concepts were needed to discuss.
Once you understand what is being exactly asked, write a thesis for your essay which answers this question, in relation to the text provided. Make sure to include key words in your thesis!
Most essays (not all) will require a strict, ordered and logical structure to adhere to.
In the Introduction, you should have:
– 1st Sentence – Thesis that answers the question
– 2nd Sentence – Introduction to texts: author, text type, name of text, year of publication
– 3rd Sentence – Introduction to main ideas explored which are relevant to the question
Following your introduction, you should have three body paragraphs, typically written in the PEEL Structure.
After you have written your body paragraphs, write a conclusion (2-3 sentences) which reoutlines the main ideas discussed in your body paragraphs. Make sure you do not include any ideas in your conclusion that have not been discussed in your body paragraphs.
It is best to complete and refine your essay one week to 4 days prior to your in-class exam, as this leaves enough time for you to memorise. Repetition is key to memorising essays, and is most effective when you write/type paragraphs at a time. As well, I have spoken my essays aloud and listened to mp3 text-to-speech files of my essays when I had spare time to help myself memorise. However, it is recommended to practice writing with a pen on paper to memorise your essay, as this replicates the conditions which you will face when sitting your exam.
If you have an unseen question exam, make sure to tweak your thesis and adjust your topic sentences to answer the question appropriately. As well, make sure to adapt the analysis of your quotes and utilise relevant key words to ensure that you answer the question effectively. Remember, even if you manage to memorise your whole essay, if what you have written doesn’t answer the provided question, you will not receive the marks that you deserve.
I highly recommend joining JP English as early as possible, as they have taught me how to write effective analytical responses to given texts and provided questions from the very start of high school.
Classes at JP English are extremely constructive as they expose you to a variety of texts and questions which you can respond to and familiarise with. At the end of each booklet, there are provided sample exemplars to the previous week’s booklet questions, which are useful when learning how to structure your own responses in critical, concise and fluid manner. You are also able to receive feedback and proof checks from tutors for your school assignments. Finally, at the end of each term, you will write an analytical response and a creative piece for the termly exam to be marked by your tutor, which is helpful if you want to get familiar at producing analytical and imaginative responses under exam conditions.