VCE English Exam: Text Response Revision

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Area of Study 1: Reading and RespondingExam Revision

Whats required?You need to demonstrate your understanding of:the ideas, characters and themes constructed by the author and presented in the text;the way the author uses structures, features and conventions to construct meaning;how to prepare, construct and support a response to a text in an essay form.

Whats required?You need to be able to use:appropriate textual evidence to support your response;appropriate metalanguage to discuss the textual features in your response;expressive, fluent and coherent writing including the conventions of spelling, punctuation and syntax of Standard Australian English.

Revising the TextMake notes on the following:SettingStructureNarration and Point of ViewLanguage and Writing StyleFilm TechniquesCharacterThemes

Choice: Brooklyn or MaboLook at:Main characters (how they were portrayed and their development in the text Minor characters (their purpose/function in the text)The role of the setting/s (both time and place)ThemesWriting techniques and why they were used.Look at:Main characters (how they were portrayed and their development in the text)Minor characters (their purpose/function in the text)The role of the setting/s (both time and place)ThemesFilmic techniques and why they were used.


Revising the TextAll the areas listed inter-relate.E.g.The setting may have influenced a characters development or they may not fit in to the place they find themselves.ORA narrative structure that includes lots of flashbacks may be highlighting particular themes or issues via the flashbacks.

Think about why the text was constructed the way it was.

1 Hour to Write the Essay No MoreIt is important to practise writing to the 1 hour time limit.Dont go over the time you are robbing yourself of marks in the other sections.It doesnt matter how good your text response essay is it can only get 20 marks.It will affect your overall mark more if you dont leave adequate time to complete all tasks fully.

Approaching Essay TopicsUnderstanding an essay topic is crucial to developing a relevant response.There are five aspects to consider when looking at a topic:Common Topic formatCommon Instruction TerminologyKey Words and PhrasesRewriting the topicThe Scope of the Topic

By Dr Jennifer Minter, Brooklyn: a home a place divided, (VCE Studies Notes:English Works)

To get high-scoring marks in text response, you must be as analytical and insightful as possible, and in particular, refer to the authors literary devices and intentions.

Toibins literary devices are subtle and often deceptive. He writes with a great deal of ambiguity and irony.

Revising Essay TopicsCOMMON TOPIC FORMATSThere are three common topic formats:A statement on the text followed by a task instruction. For example: Brooklyn depicts the immigrant experience as essentially defined by loss and regret. Discuss.A direct quote followed by a task instruction or question. For example:"His saying that he loved her frightened her, made her feel that that this was the only life she was going to have, a life spent away from home. How does Toibin express the migrant experience in Brooklyn ?A direct question on an aspect of the text:How does Toibin show the difficulties Eilis faces in her decision making?

Approaching Essay Topics

Instruction Terminology Understand Instructions.Discuss what does this require?Debate, question or explain a topic, giving evidence, reasons and explanations for and/or against the topic.Do you agree? Present your own interpretation of the topic, giving evidence, reasons and explanations etc.How?Explain, outline or describe the ways in which the text illustrated the topic by drawing on textual evidence, structures and features and metalanguage.Why?:Explain reasons to support the idea represented in the topic.

Approaching Essay Topics

Key words and phrases definitions and synonymsIdentify key words, phrases, terminology and concepts in the topic.Use a dictionary to clarify your understanding of these terms.Come up with a list of synonyms for the key words and phrases (this will help you avoid constantly repeating the same words)Quotes identify the context of a quote if it is in the topic and consider what the significance is.

Approaching Essay TopicsRewriting the Topic - ParaphrasingWrite a simple paraphrase of the topic by directly substituting key words and phrases with your own vocabulary or list of synonyms. Write a paraphrase of the topic by reversing the statement and using your own words.

Approaching Essay TopicsScope of the Topic identifying the focusAsk yourself: In order to answer this topic what do I have to think and write about?Your answer should consider the following: Character/s development and/or relationshipsThemes or issuesThe authors views and valuesThe use of structures, features and/or conventions

Revising Contentions

A contention is your point of view, stance, position or argument in response to a topic. Generally there are four positions you can take:Yes: complete agreementYes, however...: partial agreement, presentation of other considerations in relation to the topic.No: complete disagreement, presentation of alternative view on the topic.No, however...: part disagreement with the topic; presentation of other considerations in relation to the topic.

Forming your ContentionFence sitting is discouraged as it gives the impression of uncertainty, lack of knowledge and lack of focus.Once you have considered what the question is asking, form your overall opinion of the topic.Your contention should be clearly expressed in one sentence.If you use different vocabulary to the words in the essay topic, make sure that it means the same thing.

Practise Time!

For the following topics identify:Topic formatInstruction TerminologyKey Words and PhrasesRewrite the topicConsider the Scope of the topic.

Perkins Eddie Mabo is ultimately incapable of shaping his own identity. Do you agree?The characters weaknesses are never truly resolved in Mabo. Discuss.

Practise Time!Now establish your position on one of the topics below and write your contention in one sentence.

Perkins Eddie Mabo is ultimately incapable of shaping his own identity. Do you agree?

The characters weaknesses are never truly resolved in Mabo. Discuss.

Planning Your EssayAfter you have understood the topic and formed your contention, you have to plan your knowledge into a well structured and detailed text response essay.The essay plan is your first draft or roadmap to writing an effective, focused text response essay under pressure.

Planning Your EssayWhat an essay plan should include:Statement of contentionOutline main points or reasons for contentionIdeas should be organised in sequential, logical order, indicating paragraphs.Brief description of key evidence for each main point.You should aim to have 3 to 5 main points, one per body paragraph.

Planning Your EssayUse standard essay format and TEEL

Practise Time!Lets plan the essays weve begun.

Perkins Eddie Mabo is ultimately incapable of shaping his own identity. Do you agree?

The characters weaknesses are never truly resolved in Mabo. Discuss.

Writing IntroductionsThe introduction must be relevant, focused and convincing. The basic introduction should immediately establish the contention and may include the main points that will be presented (in order)There are a number of features that you can include in your introduction, though not all will be appropriate for every essay.

Writing IntroductionsFeatures of an introduction:A sentence introducing the author and text in relation to the topic.In the novel, Brooklyn, Colm Toibin explores... [outline key theme/idea]A clear sentence stating your contention in relation to the topic.At the centre of the text is the idea that [contention]. An outline of the main points (useful, but not essential)This is revealed through [first point]. Additionally [second point]. Finally [third point] also supports [contention]

Writing IntroductionsInformation contextualising the text in relation to the topic.Toibins novel acts to alert his readers to the dangers of ...etcContextualising a quote that is part of the topic.Through the character, Tony, Toibin expresses his own view that [quote from topic]In the introduction you could make use of: key words, phrases, synonyms, metalanguage sophisticated explanation of key terms and concepts (NOT dictionary definitions)

Writing IntroductionsHow easily can you write an introduction for the question youve begun?

Writing the BodyThe body is the meat in your sandwich. It is where you show the extent of your knowledge of the text in relation to the topic. The body should develop the central contention from beginning to end.Overall, you should aim for 600 words for this section 3 body paragraphs (possibly 4).USE TEEL: especially the TTopic Sentence: state an idea that relates to the essay topic, do not describe a character or scene from the text.Evidence: quotes, paraphrases, brief descriptionsExplanation: elaborate on how the evidence relates to the topic and the main point of the paragraph.Link: Concluding sentence to the paragraph, making sure that everything youve written relates to the TS and the overall contention.Also relate each new paragraph to the previous idea.


Writing the ConclusionThe conclusion is essentially a restatement of your contention and summary of the main points.Make sure you use different wording to your introduction.Make sure you link to the topic and contention.No new ideas.Dont ask rhetorical questions.You could a make a statement about the relevance of the text to the wider world.

Style Pointers

Using QuotesQuotes must be relevant to the point, and clearly punctuated with quotation marks.StyleTitle of the Text: Use capitals for each word and underline: Mabo, BrooklynUse the author/directors full name in your first reference to them, then their surname.Use a formal style and tone.

Style PointersWrite in the present tense when referring to the text. Do not self-reference (I or me). Use one.Do not refer to the reader as you (e.g. This makes you feel like...) use the reader.Write fluent sentences by using linking words, commas, semicolons or colons accurately.Avoid overusing key terms, descriptive or linking words.

PracticeThe more essays you plan and write, the more ideas you have explored and the more quickly youll be able to respond to exam and essay topics.


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