How to study for VCE English/Literature

For many VCE students, English or Literature is sadly the compulsory, difficult subject they try their best to forget! Choosing how or what to study can be a tricky process, compounded by the lack of clear-cut answers. As a result, there are nearly infinite methods of study. Some students spend hours producing essay after essay, which, whilst the ultimate task of the exam, is actually not always the most effective method of study.

Here are some suggestions of other ways you can study:

  • Read around your texts. Don’t rely on study guides like most students, but find online analyses, literary critiques from your library, interviews with authors; options are endless. Do not substitute these concepts for your own ideas, but rather allow them to function as the basis for your own arguments.
  • Read books other than your school texts. This is something that I know most students dismiss as too difficult, but never underestimate the power of reading. Read the newspaper if you can’t manage a full book! It’s impossible to improve writing without reading.
  • Write out short paragraphs on your overall thoughts about your text – focus on what complex ideas you think the author is trying to convey. This is a great way of engaging deeply with the text, synthesising your own ideas, and will lead to impressive, complex essays.
  • Write out a few essay plans if you can’t find the energy to write a whole essay. Being able to jot down an essay plan in under five minutes is a very useful skill.
  • Get as many opinions on your work as you can. This might be your teacher, family, friends… as long as you think they can offer constructive feedback on your writing, ask them! It seems obvious, but it’s important to spend time intentionally working on areas in which someone (especially your teacher) thinks you could make improvements before you write another essay.
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