Do you get exam panic? You're not alone. In this post, we show you how to prepare so you can ace your next Year 9 English assessment.
The perfect response.
Whether it be an essay, a short answer test, a creative piece, a viva voce, a reflection or a listening task, producing the perfect response is something you CAN do.
We want to help you create that perfect response, the one that gets the 20/20 and is spoken about as an example in class.
So, we’re giving you our best Year 9 English exam skills!
In this post we discuss:
Exam skills are the combination of simple and effective techniques which help you achieve all the outcomes required to get an A, consistently, for all your English exams.
Good exam skills, developed early, can form the foundation of good study practices for senior years. They provide you with a method for tackling exams, help you do better and score better marks and save you time during the exam.
Exam skills can be broken down into four categories:
If you are able to master these four categories of exam skills, you are sure to do well in your next test!
Understanding is an extremely broad exam skill which can be broken down into three parts. Let us look at each part and how to master it.
The first two parts of this exam skill are done before the exam, with the third part occurring during the exam.
Step 1: Understanding the module
The first part of understanding is having a strong grasp of what the module is asking of you.
To do this, read the key outcomes you need to tick off to achieve an A for that module. After you have done that, highlight key things that are asked of you in the module outline.
If a statement is unclear or you are unsure about the difference between a B and an A outcome- ask a tutor or teacher.
The questions you will be asked in the exam will come from the module. Start your study by going over the module and its key outcomes, so you know what to look out for whilst reading the text and subsequently answering the question.
Step 2: Understanding the text
A common mistake made by students is that they read the summary of the text online, or mindlessly write notes without understanding what is actually being taught. DON’T!
Well, when they sit down to revise and prepare for the exam, they spend 80% of the time trying to understand the text and not enough time practising different questions.
Thus, when studying the text with your tutor or teacher, follow the following steps:
Doing this will save you time and is a way of ensuring active learning.
Step 3: Understanding the question
Finally, you are in the exam, it is reading time and you need to tackle the question.
Don’t just read the question in the reading time- understand it.
Following these steps in your reading time will allow you to prepare a starting point for the questions and answer it succinctly. It will avoid writing a generic answer and help you not run out of time.
Reading time is over. It is time to start writing. Do not start writing your response straight away.
As a general rule, in a 40 minute exam, spend 3-4 minutes planning your answer by connecting ideas so they link directly to the question.
In Stage 4, we tackled topics at a very surface level and could get away with writing only about what we think. However, this doesn’t work anymore. You need to engage critically with the question and the text.
Engaging critically with the text: before the exam
Think about the following questions when reading the text and writing notes before the exam:
By answering these questions, you will be able to engage critically whilst reading and start analysing the construction of the text. This is really important to get you thinking analytically and can benefit you when trying to engage critically with the question.
Engaging critically with the question: during the exam
The first step to critically engage with the question is to ask yourself the following questions:
Once you have completed the first step, begin writing.
Remember to write about language techniques, context and relate it back to why the themes are of value to you. The value will allow you to show your view and your personal engagement with the text.
Follow the plan you have made already and write directly. To save time do not repeat yourself, use a wide range of quotes and techniques and avoid retelling the plot unless asked.
Doing these simple but key things will allow you to engage critically with the text and question.
Ultimately, you will be able to ensure you can maximise your mark and tick all the sub-outcomes associated with critical engagement.
Analysing objectively is a major part of Stage 5 English, however, it cannot solely allow you to maximise marks. A strong answer illustrates that the writer is also personally engaging with the text and the question.
By engaging with the text and question, you can add a unique perspective that will be different from what is taught in class- allowing your writing to stand out.
Engaging personally is also a key outcome of a Grade A response by NESA. Thus, it is essential you do it in your exam.
In this guide, we have gone through how to write different types of responses.
A strong exam skillset combines these four skills.
You should combine these skills by:
1. In a timed exam situation, spend a couple of minutes of your time understanding the question.
Remember to highlight keywords, write down four trigger words and write a quick plan on how to attack the question.
2. Spend the next couple of minutes to connect ideas.
Remember the key themes you have highlighted in your notes, or whilst reading time and form links between those themes- attributing them directly to the question.
3. Spend the majority of the time engaging critically with the question.
A key outcome of Year 9 English is constructively and critically analysing texts. Spend the majority of your time doing this by writing about language forms, themes, concepts, context and relationship between the two texts.
4. Spend a few minutes engaging personally with the question.
A strong response is able to have a personal engagement with the question and formulate a distinctive view, which is both original and unique. Doing this allows your answer to stand out from your peers and go above and beyond.
Most importantly; do your best, stay calm, study consistently and write succinctly!
You don’t need good luck, you’ve got this based on skill!
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