Top Selective School Graduate’s Tips on Writing Feature Articles for Selective and Scholarship ExamsNovember 25, 2023
JP English Student Successes: How Andy scored 99.95 ATAR and Band 6 in English AdvancedJanuary 17, 2024
Jarrod attended lessons at JP English since Year 10 and scored a 99.35 ATAR, 95/100 for HSC English Advanced , and ranked top 5 at North Sydney Boys in Senior School English. Here are his tips:
Amongst my friends, peers and classmates it wouldn’t be a popular opinion to say that English Advanced was an easy subject – in fact almost the polar opposite! Ranging from having to write four separate essays for four different modules, in addition to fitting in short-answer practices and refining creative writing ideas, Year 12 English is no easy feat. However, at the end of the day it boils down to having the right preparation habits, exam technique and mindset to make English Advanced become easier.
- After receiving the new texts we would be studying as a school, I would first do some background research on the novel’s historical context and social values
- Mindmap: After gaining these general ideas, I would begin drawing a mind map of key themes that pertain to the text’s significance
- Drafts: Around 6-7 weeks before the date of my English assessment, I would begin drafting an essay that I would hand into my JP tutors to help identify which ideas I should place more emphasis on to answer the question, and continually refine the essay up until the exam date.
- Past Papers: Instead of tiring myself out by completing full papers, I would focus on bringing out a list of questions related to my text and practice only adapting my pre-written thesis and topic sentences, to ensure I wouldn’t be stumped on the exam day.
Apart from purely preparing for your exam day by writing and memorising countless drafts of pre-written essays, it eventually boils down to how well you can perform under time-pressure conditions and what you inevitably demonstrate on the writing booklets that are marked.
SHORT ANSWER Response Tips
- Answer the Question! Though it may seem straightforward, this is one of the most common pitfalls that my JP tutors stressed as a point of emphasis within my short answer responses.
- For example, if the question is asking about how the emotion of grief is expressed throughout a text, It is not clear enough to purely identify the emotion – there must be a clear explanation of the emotion that demonstrates a cause and effect relationship
- When quoting from texts (poems, non-fiction extracts) you do not need to make your quotes too long – use ellipses to paraphrase and identify the important parts that are relevant to your analysis to help maintain clarity and save you time!
- During reading time, first look at the mark count and then the question. The mark count will determine how thoroughly you need to read the text, and how many pieces of evidence you should be collecting throughout your response.
- Clear Argumentative Flow: This is one thing in particular my JP tutors emphasised as a common problem in many of my short-answers. Two easy ways to lose marks is through specificity and evaluation. The way in which you structure your responses should be extremely precise and clear towards the marker, in addition to the significance of your analysis points in relation to the question, thesis and rubric!
A few tips for Creative Writing (MODULE C)
- Ideas: Coming up with ideas for Module C is often the most difficult part of creative writing, and the best way to do this is by reflecting upon a situation experience that has personally impacted you as an individual; there is no point writing from the perspective of someone who has completely differing values to you
- Form: Markers always favour innovation in Module C – to stand out from the rest of your cohort, it would be a good idea to continually experiment with different structures and forms; non-linear, circular, fragmentation, diptych, etc.
- Key Ideas: Despite the difficulty of predicting the question on the day, there are a few common ideas that you can link your story to – storytelling, reading, belonging etc.
Mindset towards English
During Year 12, it is very common to experience setbacks or unexpected, disappointing marks that will have you doubting your own personal English ability. Thinking back on my experiences in Year 12, I recall a specific instance in which I received a poor mark in my Task 1 short answer exam. However, it is most important that you reflect on the mark not by the number, but the feedback alongside your essay to ensure that you adapt your writing style to suit what the markers are seeking.
It can be extremely easy to feel as if English is “subjective” or the marks that you have been given are based on luck after a poor performance, but the most important part of English is reflecting on how you can develop a more concise and clear writing style, and progress your arguments in such a way that markers will favour your essays over others. From the network of supportive JP tutors, I was able to gain invaluable verbal and written feedback on my essays, and score extremely highly within the other Modules and HSC!