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November 24, 2017, 09:46:21 pm

Author Topic: English Resources and Sample Essays  (Read 272726 times)  Share 

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EvangelionZeta

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Re: ~*Context External Examples Guide*~
« Reply #105 on: June 16, 2014, 07:42:33 pm »
+2
Whose Reality - along with Plato's cave, see also Iris Murdoch, who has a similar notion of transcending to enlightenment, by overcoming the illusion of the selfish ego and acknowledging the greater truth that lies in acknowledging all human needs - Martha Nussbaum also has a similar idea in relation to literature, where literature helps us to develop "moral empathy", reframing our realities so that they are no longer selfishly driven but instead are sophisticated via our recognition of other perspectives

-also consider Schopenhauer/Buddhist ideas, that reality itself is all an illusion, created by our selfish desires, and that transcending reality and realising "truth" comes from us giving up on these desires and basically living ascetic lifestyles

-perfect real world example I'm surprised nobody has brought up is North Korea.  Just read up on it, it is basically a real world 1984, down to the whole "there are radios that play government propaganda that you can never turn off" thing.  Also, North Koreans believe they were the first to ever land on the moon.  Do look up also though how this is gradually changing, as more and more images of South Korean life are smuggled in via USBs etc. (ie. the government's control on "reality" is breaking)

-there are some great examples of people's "realities" being totally subjective post World War II.  I can't remember the names, but there were heaps of soldiers (from Japan specifically, IIRC) who believed that the war was still ongoing decades later, because they had been hiding in the jungle the whole time and nobody had ever told them that the war was ended.
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EvangelionZeta

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Re: ~*Context External Examples Guide*~
« Reply #106 on: June 16, 2014, 07:58:57 pm »
+2
Imaginative Landscape - tbh the theories you can use here are actually quite similar those you might consider in Whose Reality - you mostly want to focus on philosophical perspectives that reality is socially constructed, with particular reference to the fact that our understanding of particular concepts, ideas, symbols, etc. is transmitted culturally/through social indoctrination.  Some keywords to look up are "poststructuralism" and "semiotics", both of which encompass ideas about how our understanding of reality is shaped socially

-Carpentaria (Alexis Wright) - I haven't read this myself but I am assured by both critics and friends that this is a BEAUTIFUL piece of Indigenous Australian literature, exploring the relationship between self and landscape

-A past student informs me the story of Hugh Evans (founder of Oaktree) is an excellent example of landscapes interacting with one another - basically, Evans experienced living in a slum in the Philipines at age 14, and the vastly different experience of landscape there (coloured moreover by his memories of his landscape at home) gave him a profound awareness for the realities of poverty, and inspired him to found Oaktree.
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literally lauren

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Re: ~*Context External Examples Guide*~
« Reply #107 on: June 17, 2014, 06:22:32 pm »
0
Wow, thanks EZ, these are amazing.
I'll just post most of these verbatim if you don't mind, you've explained it all wonderfully :)
Thanks heaps!
« Last Edit: June 18, 2014, 06:14:00 pm by literally lauren »

Jason12

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Re: ~*Context External Examples Guide*~
« Reply #108 on: June 18, 2014, 04:56:34 pm »
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I&B - Jeremy Lin was a Harvard graduate but defied his stereotypical 'asian' (academic) identity to play basketball and became the first Asian NBA player and a role model to others.
- http://www.policymic.com/articles/4218/jeremy-lin-is-the-most-important-asian-american-role-model-ever

http://www.hellokpop.com/2014/06/01/brazilian-man-undergoes-plastic-surgery-to-look-korean/
- man gets expensive surgery to look more korean - relates to the changing of physical identity
- can be used if the prompt is "there are costs associated with changing identity"

- how video games provide users with a range of identities they can take on and play as
« Last Edit: June 19, 2014, 08:11:03 pm by Jason12 »
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Stick

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Re: ~*Context External Examples Guide*~
« Reply #109 on: June 24, 2014, 04:33:09 pm »
+5
No, I hadn't forgotten about the promise I'd made in this thread and now I'm going to try and fulfill it.

My context in Year 12 was Whose Reality? and throughout the year context was my weakest link but with a lot of work I managed to get it to become my strongest section and actually got full marks for my response in the exam. Whose Reality? is not a difficult context, but a lot of students do struggle a lot to define what it is (which is absolutely necessary - otherwise you have no idea what you're writing about). In particular, people forget that the context itself is a question, which not only asks you to discuss reality, but who the realities belong to.

I think Lauren here has done a great job at providing you with some examples here so I probably won't go further with that, but what I want to encourage you all to do is to play around and experiment with different text types. For most of the year I was dead set on the expository essay form as I don't have a single creative bone in my body. You will never get purposefully marked down based on your chosen form but what I was doing, whilst meeting the criteria and all, was nothing special and not a standout. Then someone encouraged me to write speeches instead, since my highest-scoring English SAC was in fact the oral presentation. Well, it was the best thing I could have done. Speeches are actually very structured pieces of writing which made it a lot easier for someone like myself whose ability to write quickly often relied on how structured the piece is. It played to my strengths, allowed me to get beyond talking about topics using formal register (I'm someone who writes very well using general informal language) and sans emotion and gave me a sense of "controlled freedom and creativity." In other words, it just worked. And I'm sure there's probably some form out there for the rest of you which will work too - you just need to give everything a go before your final SAC or exam arrives.

My texts were Spies and The Lot: In Words - both texts involve a war of some sort (World War II and the Vietnam/Iraq wars, respectively). Hence, I went on a bit of a theme with conflicts and disagreements and often wrote about things like Church vs Science in regards to evolution (basically gave me a free passage to write about Biology for a paragraph which not only made things interesting for me but again played to my strengths), the Jim Crow laws and the American Civil War or the Arab spring riots. These are all fairly common examples in hindsight, but I think what set me apart from the others was the fact that the examples usually clicked well together and gave me room to describe events (more structured) relevant to the prompt. By the end of studying context I had about 9 base paragraphs which I essentially tweaked coming into the exam. Depending on the prompt, I'd select the three most appropriate topics. While prepared plans and general gists of paragraphs is OK, I'd avoid memorising pieces for the exam and trying to fit them in.

So as you can see, the whole point of context is to try and be personal about it. Pick things that resonate with you, find a way which you feel comfortable expressing yourself and talk about the things that really interest you. Context is basically a chance to put a little piece of your soul on display to an assessor, which is a beautiful and rare opportunity to open up. In the end, it was an opportunity I came to enjoy.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2014, 04:34:51 pm by Stick »
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Re: English Guides, Sample Pieces, Tips and Resources
« Reply #110 on: July 25, 2014, 10:46:51 pm »
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For Whose Reality? and in particular for the science category, I used the juxtaposition between religion and science. More specifically, well known atheists or anti-theists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and the diseased Christopher Hitchens. Who essentially believe that the only certainty is uncertainty, and that doubt is actually in reality a positive contribution to humanity.

literally lauren

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Re: English Guides, Sample Pieces, Tips and Resources
« Reply #111 on: September 15, 2014, 10:44:46 pm »
+40
literally lauren's End of Year Study Guide

Congratulations everybody, and welcome to the fun part of the year! No longer will you have teachers breathing down your necks about SAC dates and homework commitments. Though you might have the occasional practice essay due, the next few weeks will be all about your self-directed study.

So how the hell do you do that?

If you've read a few of my posts you'll know I'm a big advocate for self-aware study, that is, knowing what you're doing and why you're doing it. There's no sense writing 6 practice essays all on a similar topic, and making the same mistake on each one. Before the inevitable 'how many essays should I write?' questions come flooding in, I thought I'd make this guide to help you through the process and increase your productivity and decreasing workload.

First step: know what you need to work on. I've said this quite often recently, so let's break it up into something more manageable:
I'll discuss each of the essay types in order (though incidentally this isn't the order you should write them in for your exam) then some general queries towards the end. If you feel I've missed anything important, PM me and I'll add it to the list :)

SECTION A: the glorified book report
Which text should I choose?
Out of the two texts that you've studied this year, pick the one you think you'll do better in, regardless of how popular the text is or how long it's been on the list. Factor in these sorts of details if you need, but ultimately you're individual strengths will be a much more influential factor. Some texts are naturally suited to more Views and Values discussion, whereas others have a lot of structural devices to unravel. In the end, trust your instincts and go with whatever you prefer.

Understanding the criteria
1. detailed knowledge and understanding of the selected text, deomstrated appropriately in response to the topic.
2. development in the writing of a coherent and effective discussion in response to the task.
3. controlled use of expressive and effective language appropriate to the task.

'But wait,' I hear you say, 'those barely tell me anything, it's all just VCAA jargon.' Yeah, I always found these (and most of the study design for that matter) fairly unhelpful. Hence my simplified version:
1. Your writing must be relevant. Address the topic in its entirety, including the quote if there is one. And please, for god's sakes, write on the right book.
2. Your ideas should be good. If the assessor can get to the end of your essay on, let's say Owen's War Poems, and the only conclusion you draw is 'Owen thinks war is bad' then you're unlikely to score well.
3. Your writing must be good. This doesn't mean cramming in a bunch of flowery language, but rather, your expression should be clear and concise, your grammar and syntax should make sense, and your vocab should be appropriate to your discussion. This last one is relatively minor, and, like handwriting, you only really lose marks here if it's impeding clarity.

How do I develop my interpretation?
By this stage you should have moved beyond what the basic study guides are telling you. Try to have some sort of opinion about the characters as this will make it much easier to argue your contention later. Be careful though, if you've been told there are errors in your interpretations then it might be worth going back and rereading the text to see where you went wrong. You don't have to come up with some revolutionary idea, but try to look at things from a slightly different perspective. This can also help you when discussing alternate interpretations, which can be a good way to boost your mark.
Fortunately the more sophisticated interpretations often don't require a lot of writing, just a lot of reading and thinking. IF you're lucky enough to be studying a classic text then there should be a bunch of resources out there. For others though, thinking will have to be your first resort. Ask yourself why you like/dislike the characters that you do. Are any of them irredeemable, or without fault? How does this text link in with a socio-historical/ authorial context (spoiler: all texts do somehow, that's one of the criteria for being on the booklist. Do some research if you haven't already.)

Methods for memorising quotes?
POST-IT NOTES, EVERYWHERE!!
Whilst everyone will have their own preferred methods for memorisation, immersion is always a good way to go. Sticking stuff up all over your bedroom walls (and the rest of your house if your parents are cool with it) is useful for almost all subjects, so get plastering. This is a system used by some of the world record holders for memorising decks of cards; they'll put each one in a specific location around their home, and then it'll be easier to recall a certain story in relation to the cards, or for our purposes, that the Ghost of Christmas Past hides under the coffee table or that Juror 3 is hanging from the ceiling Mission Impossible style.
Rather than just having blocks of chronological excerpts though, I'd recommend ordering quotes either by character (words said about, or by each major one) or by theme.
Personally, I broke up my text into 4 major characters, plus one extra group for all the minor ones. Then I went through and used a colour coding system for each big theme. I also had a list of structural devices I could use, but this is significantly smaller for most texts so memorisation isn't as much of an issue. After that point, writing practice essays should help drill these words into your head.

Improving on Intros and Conclusions?
If these are a weakness for you, don't worry, they barely matter beyond giving a good first and last impression. All your intro has to do is mention the text, your contention, and possibly a key evidence-based argument or two. Yes, you can have a couple of pre-written ones in mind, but be flexible when you see the prompt. Assessors have a keen eye for rote-learning, so don't bring up points just because they sound good or got you a double tick from your teacher. Remember, relevance is the first criterion.
Conclusions don't have to be to complex either. Three or four sentences just to round off your contention and end on a high note should be enough.

What makes a good topic sentence?
There are a lot of ways to do these well, and a whole lot of ways you can go wrong, so I'll list the latter in the hopes that you can minimise your mistakes and end up with a format that works for you.
- DON'T summarise the entire paragraph. Topic sentences are designed to open up the discussion, and whilst it's good to reassert your contention, you don't want to make your discussion redundant. Plus, it can be hard to sum up later if you've already said everything. Keep the sentences angled around the prompt, and just mention which specific points you intend to address
- DON'T summarise the text. This goes for your entire essay generally, but avoid it here especially. You want to start off strong, so don't hit your assessor with a boring recount and expect them to keep reading with any interest. Assume they've read the text, but need the ideas explained to them, that way you can skip all the boring bits.
- DON'T restate/reword each of your topic sentences for the intro and conclusion. I guess this belongs more in the previous category, but signposting your arguments isn't a bit deal for VCE. Whilst it can give your essay some cohesion, too much repetition makes the assessors unhappy markers.
- DON'T use too much evidence. English body paragraphs are like sandwiches, they're pretty simple, but girls make them better they've got general discussion/bread on the top and bottom with all the meaty evidence in the middle.
Really what I'm saying is your essay should end up looking like one of those sandwiches that Scooby Doo makes.


What's the ideal word count/number of paragraphs
This is widely debated and most teachers will have their own recommendations, but by conservative estimates, your T.R. essays should be at least 800 words in order to cover a sufficient amount of information. Most high scorers are writing closer to 1000, but as usual, quality>quantity.
Either 3, 4 or 5 paragraphs would be ideal. I tend to advocate 4 in order to cover enough ground, though anything more will require some fast writing skills in order to get through everything with enough evidence to back it up.

SECTION B ... vagueness incarnate

Which form is right for me?
Which ever you've been practicing all year would be ideal, but if you're thinking about trying something new, you'll have to put quite a bit of effort into honing your skills. As I've said before, the expository style is objectively safer, but a creative/hybrid twist can spice things up. Pure imaginative suits the skilled writers among us, but relevance can be a difficult criteria to fulfill with this one. I'm not sure how people can even write persuasively on such broad prompts, but if you do have strong opinions you want to argue then this can work. Some sort of hybrid is me personal recommendation, but play to your strengths, of course.

How do I use the text?
If you're writing an expository piece, you don't need to use the set text in every paragraph. In fact, it's better if you don't. Try to bring it up early on to make it look like you're taking ideas from the text and building upon them. Perhaps one or two minor references throughout your piece where relevant. Beyond that though, you should be utilising your external examples to give your piece flavour.
Unlike Section A, quotes aren't a necessity (in fact I think they can be a little clunky; this is all about the ideas) so latching onto four or five parts of the text you find interesting should be enough.
For more creative pieces, your textual links can theoretically be idea-based, but this is extremely risky as there are lazy assessors who can't be bothered reading into your piece too much, so try to always have some noticeable connection.

How many ideas/examples should I have?
Good expository essays will draw on at least 4 external sources, often using others as minor reference points. In terms of how many you should be preparing, I'd have a list of at least 10 you can discuss in a lot of depth, and approx. 20 you're confident with. Tabling up a list of possible prompts can be very helpful, so collate all the resources on your context, make a word document, then start grouping them under a few categories. You'll probably notice a bit of overlap (eg. 'Conflict affects people differently' and 'People's responses to conflict vary' are essentially asking the same thing) so whittle your list down to the bare minimum. My final version for context had about 25 prompts, and even though the '13 exam one for conflict was a little weird, I'd still covered similar stuff before. This will also help minimise the amount of practice essays you'll have to do; if you're confident writing on people's identity and how that changes, try to move onto the effects of belonging, or an area that isn't so comfortable.
Practice paragraphs might be more helpful that entire essays for this section. Trialing out new ideas often doesn't require an entire essay to get right, so if you have an example you want to work in, a paragraph or two should suffice.
For other styles, the number of ideas fluctuates dramatically, but I would suggest avoiding an overly simple message dressed up in fancy words. If you're writing a short story that can essentially be boiled down to 'conflict can be bad, but sometimes it's good' then you'll need a pretty engaging storyline to make that worthwhile.
For speeches, news articles, interviews and the like, give some thought to the verisimilitude of your piece. Does it actually sound like a newspaper article, have you used the form to your advantage? Or does it just sound like a context essay with a heading and date up the top? Obviously responding to the prompt is your priority, but don't just reconfigure a piece into a 'creative' format because you think it'll score better.

Should I memorise a piece and just adapt it to the prompt?
Not exactly... this is different for the imaginative writers among us (you guys would have a hard time if you didn't have some preconceived idea of what to write) but for the expository-brigade, the piece you write in the exam should be unique. Of course you'll be calling upon ideas you've used before, but your discussion should be relatively fresh. This is why looking over a bunch of prompts can help immensely; you actually have to be able to discuss the context, not just recycle arguments.
So whilst you don't want to walk in there under-prepared and convinced you can write something brilliant on the spot, you also don't want to walk in with an inflexible idea of the four points you're going to bring up, regardless of what the prompt is asking.
If you've practiced adapting ideas to prompts already then you should be fine.

SECTION C teaching you to trust no one

Is there anything I can memorise for L.A.?
Not really. Definitions of persuasive devices shouldn't actually be stated in your essay, but they might help you to grasp the intent behind them. Aside from that, the exam is all unseen material, so whilst you can prepare and hope for the best for your T.R. and Context prompts, L.A. is going to require a lot more quick thinking.

Should I do the VCAA pieces, or others for practice?
I would work through the VCAA ones just to give yourself a sense of the fluctuating difficulty level. 2008 was fine, 2009 was slightly long, but doable, 2010 was quite easy, 2011 has left deep scars on my psyche (you can skip this one if you wish,) 2012 was a bit on the long side, and 2013 was fine except for some slightly tricky techniques.
Beyond that, CSE and VATE are your best bet for practice exams that mirror VCAA's style, but you'll have to get copies off your teacher unless you want to pay for some yourself. Engage Education have some good free papers, and there are some resources on these forums if you're looking for extras.
Remember VCAA has never relied on a lot of outside knowledge (beyond the fact that e-books exist, or that climate change is a thing) and they don't actually give you newspaper articles. Whilst reading the paper is a good exercise and can help hone your ability to analyse while reading, the exam material won't require any prior understanding.
What you're practicing when doing L.A. is just your skillset, how you handle certain contentions, arguments, and devices.

What's the ideal word count/number of paragraphs
Language Analysis can be a bit shorter than your other essays since you're not expected to cover everything in the article. 800 words is sufficient to obtain high marks, but obviously if you're a quick writer then stretching yourself into the 1000+ territory gives you more of an opportunity to gain credit. Just don't overblow it; they're testing your ability to be selective too. Mentioning every single rhetorical question isn't exactly impressive, so organise your piece as best you can to avoid repetition.

MISCELLANEOUS:
INTERPRETING FEEDBACK what do you mean this isn't a 10??

From teachers
These people will have watched your academic trajectory all year, perhaps even longer than that, so they'll often have the best idea of your abilities. Most of them have years of experience, some are even assessors. That said, this isn't always the case. There are duds scattered around the state, so if you know their feedback is always unhelpfully vague and frustratingly contradictory, then it might be best to seek help elsewhere.
When it comes to working out what they're actually suggesting you improve on, it can take some effort to untangle this from the web of coffee stains, bad handwriting, and weird teacher-code abbreviations. Consulting with your teacher should always be your first resort, if that's an option. At this level, most will appreciate you taking time to sit down with them and go through your writing, strengths, and weaknesses. Be considerate though, as they do have many others they have to tend do, especially at this time of year.
Otherwise, decyphering their comments may take some time, but I guarantee it's worthwhile.
Take note of where they put the ticks; this helps you work out what you're doing well, which is just as important as knowing what you're doing badly. When isolating your mistakes, try to rationalise them. Don't just say 'oh I didn't use that quote properly,' actually think about why is was wrong, and what you can do to fix it (eg. 'I integrated it poorly, it didn't make sense in that context. I should have built up my argument a bit more beforehand, then embedded it fluently into the sentence...')

From tutors
Though most can't boast the years of experience that regular teachers have, tutors can be helpful in taking you through your essay in the mind of an assessor. That's not to say tutoring is needed, especially if your teachers are happy to provide this feedback already, but either way, sitting down with someone and actually understanding the marking process can be beneficial

From students/peers
Believe it or not, this can be an invaluable learning process. Not only are friends and peers helpful when discussing texts and interpretations, but they can also help you work out where you're going wrong. Get someone to read through your piece (even if it's a family member who has no idea what the criteria are, just for the sake of clarity and expression.) See if there are any parts where they felt lost or confused. This can be especially good if you know you have trouble with grammar, run-ons, or fragmented sentences.

TIME CONSTRAINTS wibbly-wobbly... timey-wimey... stuff

3 hours huh?
At the end of the year you'll have three hours for three essays, but you're not restricted to one hour for each. So you can use 70 or 75 minutes for one task if there's another you can get done in 45/50. But for any essay, 1000 words (give or take a few hundred) is usually enough. If you're writing too much more, a lot of it will probably be either reiterating/rephrasing points you've already made, or too far removed from the core discussion. There's no strict word count, but it will annoy your assessors if they have to read 7 or 8 pages when 4 would have been sufficient.

To plan or not to plan
This is, of course, a matter of personal preference. Some people get by without writing anything down, others plan extensively and then churn out an essay in 40 minutes. If you are reliant on plans, try to minimise the amount of time you spend on them. Shorthand abbreviations will help heaps; there's no need to write out full character names of themes. Develop a system of codes now so that you won't have to waste time with full sentences later (eg. characters Amy, Morgan, and Lulu are simply A, M and L. Themes of justice, nature, and family are a star, a tree and a circle.)

EXAM DETAILS sorting out priorities - Hermione Granger style

Order? CAB? CBA?
Language Analysis (C) will be the first thing you write, no exceptions. It's where you'll be spending most of your reading time, so it'd be a waste coming back to it an hour later when your brain is in a different place. Get it done early, annotate however you need.
As to whether Text Response (A) or Context (B) comes first, that's entirely up to you. Some people prefer to get A over and done with since you'll actually need to have quotes memorised, whereas B is a lot looser with the requirements, and easier to conclude if you run out of time. Others would rather get a Context essay out quickly in order to devote more time to thinking about their A response.
I'd planned to do CAB, but the A & B prompts kind of threw me, so I ended up doing Context first to boost my confidence enough and allow the A prompts to ferment in my mind before tackling one of them. In the end, flexibility helps.

Should I bring a dictionary?
Yes.

Water bottle?
More optional, but yeah, you'll probably get thirsty and it can help keep your energy up. Just be careful to remove all labels etc. and make sure it's a clear bottle.

What's the deal with watches?
You can bring in a watch (which I would recommend since you might be at the back of the room far away from a clock) but you'll have to take it off and leave it on your desk. You know, just in case you've smuggled in three essays under the wristband.
Digital watches are not allowed since they have alarm settings and/or beep on the hour. Some schools aren't so strict about this, but better to be on the safe side.

Phones?
Gtfo.

GETTING STRESSED dessertS gnitteG

I'm sure a lot of this will be stuff you've heard all year, but I'll reiterate it anyway because it's worth hearing. You are not your ATAR. You are not your Study Score. This system is unfair for a number of reasons, but that doesn't mean you can't learn to play by its rules and make it work for you.
Don't go overboard, or you run the risk of burnout.
Set manageable goals and study plans so that you don't freak yourself out by not making deadlines or being behind on your work.

To invoke the words of a particularly crass old ex-teacher of mine: "stress is just caused by giving a fuck."
In more palatable terms, being worried about your grades and your future is a good thing. Letting these worries get the better of you, however, can be quite detrimental.

THINGS TO DO THAT AREN'T PRACTICE ESSAYS note: works best in conjunction with a hell of a lot of practice essays as well

Generating prompts
I would highly encourage you all to try this task. For anyone doing a Section A text in its 1st or 2nd year, this will probably be a necessity given the sparse resources available. For those with 3rd & 4th year texts, you're task is trying to come up with new and original prompts.
A good starting point would be to begin with these four categories: characters, themes, structural features, and views & values.
-For charaters, list all of the major ones in the text, possibly some minor ones, or a general category for 'others' (eg. for prompts like 'The minor characters in A Christmas Carol have the most influence over Scrooge' or 'It is the minor characters in This Boy's Life that show us the importance of family.')
-Do the same for themes. Try to approach it from all angles; VCAA are trying to trip you up, remember. Even if you have a seemingly surface level theme like 'justice' or 'family,' try and make this more complex. Break the theme up into different levels, then start examinine all its different components.
-Some texts lend themselves better to structural discussion than others, but everything on the list has at least one or two key features to discuss. Think about the importance of the form/genre, or the way the characters are presented and depicted in the language.
-Views and values will require a bit more effort. Taking into account all of these above ideas, what is the author trying to get across, and how/why is this done? There might be an outright rejection or condemnation, or the message might be a subtler, more ambiguous one. Either way, having a solid grasp of the purpose behind a text will help immensely when constructuing a contention.

Attached is a basic table of the questions to ask yourself when coming up with prompts and focal points.

You can modify this format depending on your text. For example, Twelve Angry Men might get a little cluttered if you're fitting every juror into the character box, so perhaps break them up into groups, or have a separate section altogether. Contrarily, there aren't really 'characters' in the poetry texts, so those thematic and structural boxes will require more attention.
When I compiled one of these last year, I ended up putting everything on a big piece of butcher's paper (stolen from the art room) and I was constantly adding to it right up until the exam.
This might seem like a lot of effort to go to, considering you'll only end up getting two prompts to chose from, but this is a really helpful exercise in terms of generating ideas and working out which areas of the text you haven't dealt with yet.
In the end, my T.R. prompt still surprised me, but it was a lot easier to think about what I was being asked to discuss, and how I could shift my discussion to familiar territory.

Using others
Your peers can be of use in a variety of ways, so lets go through things temporally:

PAST STUDENTS:
By reading their work, you'll be able to get a sense for where they were at at this stage, and where they ended up Study Score-wise. They can also be good to talk to about general exam preparation: what they did, what they found worked or didn't work, what their friends did, how prepared they felt, their impressions of the exam. Basically just a reconnaissance thing, but it can help put your mind at ease. Going over their essays and notes (if you have access to a past-year 12) can also be helpful, otherwise general databases online, AN or just googling sample essays is equally effective.

CURRENT STUDENTS/PEERS:
These people are not your competition. They are your study-buddies. VCAA is the enemy, and you must conquer the beast together.
Bounce ideas off one another, mark each other's essays (nicely, but constructively) and debate topics. Even just general exam discussion (provided it doesn't descend into WE'RE ALL GOING TO FAIL madness) can help set your mind at ease.

FUTURE STUDENTS/OTHERS:
This is slightly less common, but something I found helpful. My little brother asked me what the Context part of English was all about (this was probably August of my VCE year) and I realised I had no idea how to explain it. As my close personal friend Albert once said,

NB Grandmother=Brother for the sake of the anecdote.
The very next day I went to my teacher and we went through everything from the start, and once I felt confident in the task, it became a lot easier to manage. You might think it's late in the year to start clarifying the criteria or the task, but it's better late than never, and there are always gaps in your knowledge to be filled.

SWOT-VAC + DAY BEFORE THE EXAM C-Day geddit, cause it's a day before D-Day ;D

Depending on your exam schedule, you'll probably be devoting a considerably amount of time during the SWOT-VAC week to your English studies. Don't ignore your other subjects though, especially if you're doing Psych, Eco, Bio, or Further. Your study timetable (or at least, the rough outline you have in your head of what you have to do and when) will depend on how confident you're feeling in each of your subjects. Even if you feel like you're set for English, I'd still recommend writing a bunch of practice essays/paragraphs/plans during SWOT-VAC since it's the last chance you'll have.

When it's all over...?
Don't let the post-exam discussions mess with your head. Getting paranoid about whether you answered that prompt properly or misquoted that line in the L.A. article isn't going to do you any good. By all means have a chat with your friends and bask in the knowledge that it's over!

But don't forget, you'll still have another 4 or 5 exams to get through. You're allowed to kick back for a little while; maybe take the afternoon off unless you've got another exam that week. Allow yourself time to de-English your brain, then you can have a proper cathartic bonfire night for all those practice essays after the exam period has finished.

And remember:
« Last Edit: October 19, 2014, 10:21:06 pm by literally lauren »

deekay

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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #112 on: October 10, 2014, 10:34:27 pm »
+3
Topic : “Henry IV Part 1 showed us that while honour is important, it is not the only thing to consider in life. Discuss”

William Shakespeare's history play, King Henry IV Part 1, presents a thematic exploration of what determines the success of a monarch's kingship, and by extension, what is important to consider in one's way of life. Shakespeare suggests through the demise of Hotspur, the wit of Falstaff and the rise of Hal that honour can be essential if tempered with political shrewdness. Shakespeare crafts Hotspur’s death on stage, alongside Falstaff feigning death, in order to show the essential problem with seeking honour above all else ; Falstaff the 'counterfeit' lives while Hotspur, 'the theme of honour's tongue' is 'food for worms'. It is ultimately Hal's adoption of the better qualities of the three influences in his life - Hotspur as his 'foil', his father Henry and Falstaff - that allow him to 'rise from the ground like feathered Mercury' as a politically savvy and honourable young prince and a worthy successor to his father's throne.

Hotspur sees gaining honour as the single doctrine of a man's life ; as 'Mars in swaddling clothes' his quest to obtain eternal glory and admiration becomes his hubristic flaw, which leads to his inevitable downfall as he fails to recognise the traits of kingly grace. Through his 'glorious deeds' on the battlefield, Harry Percy becomes the 'king of honour' in his sphere of 'bloody noses and cracked crowns'. Shakespeare suggests that this emblematic adherence to the classic medieval paradigm of honour is an essentially flawed and narrow minded pursuit. His infatuation with the 'bidding honours' on his 'crest' progressively manifests itself into a flaw of his character that causes him to lose the respect of his followers in his reckless willingness to embrace death, shouting 'die all, die merrily' his men after failing to heed the warnings of his uncle and Vernon upon their attempts to convince Hotspur to act above the nature of a ‘wasp-stung and impatient fool’. The 'ever valiant and approved Scot"s blood boils at a chance to extend his honour when he receives the message that Northumberland's troops will not make it in time to aid him in battle, as it 'lends to a greater lustre and more great opinion... a larger dare to our enterprise'. The playwright reveals Hotspur as impetuous in seeking to augment his honour at the cost of his own life. However Harry Percy's view of honour is not the only view that is on display within the play. 

In the world of the tavern, Falstaff’s pragmatic and cynical view of honour allows Hal to consider how he can negotiate the honour and politics that are essential for a successful reign. Despite being seen as a ‘fat rogue’, ‘lacking honesty’ and ‘good fellowship, he typifies the view of honour that sees it as a mere embellishment of the suffering that it wreaks upon its victims; seeing it as meaningless death that is valuable only to ‘he who hath died on Wednesday.’ In his catechism, he rejects honour, defining it as a ‘mere scutcheon’ that is only ‘sensible to the dead’. This unorthodox view may be considered as shameful but it is his self indulgence driven by his ‘desire to give [him] life if [he] can save so’ that is present within Falstaff, an appreciation of life. Upon comparison against the countless deaths of men who will ‘fill pits as well as better’, Falstaff’s cunning wit allows him to live whilst others perish in an attempt to gain honour through political disputes. This appreciation of life and recognition of ‘civil butchery’ of politicians manifests in Hal, nurturing his own holistic view of honour as he indulges in his ‘vile participation’. Hal’s experiences that are shared with the ‘The ‘sword and buckler Prince of Wales’ develops a trait of steadfast temperance and grace as he ‘disposes’ of the traitor Douglas by announcing he is ‘ransomless and free’. Moreover, the ‘fat kidneyed rascal’’s rejection of honour causes Hal to become a leader driven by pure ambition to conduct himself upon nobility, grace and assertiveness rather than by greed or indulgence of self.

The ‘future King of England’s’ transformation into a balanced leader cannot be solely attributed to his newly developed view of honour, but also in his ability to demonstrate diplomatic skill. From the onset the Prince, who indulges in such ‘vulgar company’ admits that he has been a ‘truant to chivalry’  with his brow stained with ‘riot and dishonour’. However, Hal’s actions of decadence is revealed to be a facade that allows him to dichotomise his current ‘shadow of succession’ and his intent on ‘imitat[ing] the sun’ to become a radiant benevolent ruler. In the play’s only verse soliloquy in Act I Scene II, the prince’s desire to throw off his ‘loose behaviour’ and ‘pay the debt [he] never promised’ further encapsulates the foreshadowing of his impending transformation ‘redeeming time when men think least I [Hal] will’. His manipulation and tolerance of the ‘abominable misleader of youth’ displays a Machiavellian quality by using him as a medium into the sphere of commoners. Through this he attains a chameleonic trait that allows him to ‘drink with any tinker in his own language.’  Vernon’s observation that it’s ‘as if he mastered there a double spirit of teaching and of learning instantly’ accurately displays Hal not as a ‘nimble footed mad cap’ but as a future ruler who will be able to successfully adapt to the lower and higher ranks of society.

It is also Hal’s ability to deceive others that allows him to exercise and practise diplomacy and nobility that will prove a valuable skill when he ascends to the throne clothed in ‘sun-like majesty’. In a place where the noble class is rarely seen, the Boar’s Head Tavern, Hal readily displays this malleable nature. Despite his illusive facade to the ‘good lads of Eastcheap’ who are his ‘sworn brothers’, he displays an ulterior motive that allows him to later ‘command all the good lads of Eastcheap’. By lowering himself into the sphere of commoners, he indulges and in effect tempers the nobility and diplomacy that is essential to a successful ruler by manipulating the characters of the tavern from beneath his feigned ‘[truancy] to chivalry’. Hal exercises this power and tyranny of a king, bullying Francis and displaying the ability to conquer and intimidate, even robbing his ‘reverend Vice’ Falstaff. His ability to switch between tavern-speak and the language of the upper class slowly reveal his prowess in kingship through the ‘play extempore’ with Falstaff. His eloquence is on display as he seamlessly speaks the narrative tongue of the royal court as he easily adopts the role of King, foreshadowing his later ‘angelic’ reformation ‘glittering o’er [his] fault’. His ability to transverse between the two societal spheres extends to Shakespeare’s notion of a masked and manipulated kingship that assists in the reign of a monarch.

Ultimately, it is through Hal’s ability to not only obtain honour on ‘Percy’s head’ to win respect, but also to adopt the roles of a shrewd politician and a man of compassion that enables him to reform successfully and imitate the sun in his kingship. Whilst Hotspur embodies the importance of respect, his self subjugation to the medieval code of honour becomes his downfall with his deficiency to demonstrate kingly grace. Furthermore, Hal’s exposure to Falstaff’s ridicule and unorthodox view of honour drives Hal to appreciate life but also mould his ability to demonstrate necessary compassion. Shakespeare’s allowance for Hal to break the barrier between the world of the royal court and the tavern, enables the Prince to amalgamate the importance of honour but also appreciate the virtue of grace, occasionally renouncing honour that allow him to be more than ‘heir apparent.’

Word Count: 1,279 Words


2013: Studio Arts [46]
2014: Literature | Methods | Physics | Chemistry | English

brenden

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Re: English Resources and Sample High Scoring Responses
« Reply #113 on: November 18, 2014, 05:27:09 pm »
+10
Here's an essay on Batman. Wrote it for a SAC, scored 50/30 for an 82 study score and like 4 or 5 Premier's awards.

Contrary to what many believe, Batman is a political video of the greatest composition. Director Chris Norlan utilises The Dark Knight Trilogy as a foreboding social commentary whilst already reinforcing the popular notion that good things come in threes.

Despite portraying the masked Bruce Wayne as a fundamentally altruistic hero, Nolan actually casts great aspersions on a modern society's conception of vigilante justice. In having a silly pleb ask Batman "What gives you the right? What's the difference between you and me?", Nolan explores the corruption of justice that occurs when ordinary citizens, no different from any other, spurn the legislature and judiciary by making themselves the sole arbiter of justice. However, Nolan demonstrates how justice is a spectrum: one end are the vigilantes dedicated to fixing sociopolitical issues, and on the other end are those who remain wilfully ignorant of the inherently concerning nature of social issues and subsequently contribute to the problem. The Joker's suggestion "Let's put a smile on that face" serves the symbolise the way in which a large portion of society would prefer to force a smile than to think seriously about the fundamentally corrupt nature of Gotham. Ultimately, Nolan exemplifies the fact that "it's not who [Batman] is underneath, but [what he does] that defines him"; however, Nolan contends that Batman should in fact be defined as a criminal like any other. Whilst Batman surely does great things, he does so based upon his own subjective conception of justice and thus, in some ways, he is similar to Hitler: the "hero Gotham deserves". Hence, Nolan provides a distinctly political message and encourages the audience to stay chill.

However, Nolan extends his political discussion of justice far further than simply the law itself, imbuing his trilogy with a subtly Marxist message for distributive justice. Through featuring the vast wealth of his sexy protagonist, Nolan features the way in which the 'one percent' "live so large and leave so little" for the poorest of society. Here, Nolan utterly condemns the disproportionate distribution of wealth throughout Gotham, insinuating that the city's corruption is actually a result of two things: greed, on the behalf of the rich, and a desperate, crime-inducing need on behalf of the poor. Further, Nolan encourages a Marxist revolution as the Joker burns a pile of money claiming "All you care about is money. This city deserves a better class of criminal". Here, "class" is a double entendre, most obviously referring to the quality of Gotham's criminals, but subtly referring to the criminal nature of the upper class whilst encouraging the proletariat to revolt and create a class that Gotham deserves. That is, a class defined by an equal distribution of funds throughout society. Nolan further reinforces this notion through Bane's attack on the stock exchange, symbolising the way in which the audience should respond to unfair monetary distributions. Ultimately, Nolan provides a distinctly Marxist political message, encouraging the audience to participate in a class uprising.

Further, Nolan provides an overarching account of the political left's superiority, glorifying liberalism at the expense of political conservatism. In highlighting that the protagonist is "whatever Gotham needs [him] to be", Nolan explores the perpetually fluid nature of a society that is constantly changing and requiring adaption. Through exemplifying Batman's readiness to change to suit the needs of Gotham, Nolan endorses political progression that moves forward to suit the needs of society. Batman reinforces this through claiming that he is "not afraid, [he's] angry": not afraid of change, and angry at the slow rate of sociopolitical progression throughout history. In a world marred by self-interest and conservatism, Nolan gives hope to society through promising that "the dawn is coming", just as the real hero of the trilogy, Harvey Dent, promises a better future for Gotham city. However, Nolan does not simply encourage the political left through celebrating liberalism; he also outright condemns political conservatism. In referencing popular conservative politicians, Nolan laments that "Some men aren’t looking for anything logical like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn". Here, the world burning is used as a metaphor for the perpetual damage done by archaic political beliefs, and Nolan portrays conservatism as a belief that water should not be thrown on the fire. Thus, Nolan imbues his trilogy with a distinct pro-leftist political message and urges his audience to be socially conscious and question the status quo.

Ultimately, The Dark Knight Trilogy is a series of movies deeply concerned with the sociopolitical affairs of society that encourages its audience towards a healthier conception of justice. Nolan ultimately endorses a Marxist political revolution whilst also providing a more moderate political liberalism as an alternative to such radical action. Hence, contrary to what many believe, Batman is a political video of the greatest composition intended to enlighten its audience on social issues.
I'm going to be pretty inactive for a few months as I travel, move house, and do other things! The three other admins and the mods will be all over it.

literally lauren

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Re: English Resources and Sample High Scoring Responses
« Reply #114 on: February 22, 2015, 12:49:24 pm »
+6
EAL Resources

This is a collection of helpful resources and general tips for those studying English as an Second/Additional Language.
I'll try to keep the language as simple as possible, since I know there are some (not all) students who may struggle with this.

And I'll preface everything by saying that I haven't done the EAL course myself, and so most of this information is based on talking to students and teachers who have. If your teacher says something different, you should probably trust them. Unlike a lot of my other posts where I say 'don't stress, this is what the examiners want,' I'm not quote that familiar with EAL, so work with your teachers as much as possible.

If you're really stuck for advice, or something doesn't seem right, feel free to post a question on the forums and I'll do my best to clear up any misconceptions where I can.

The first thing to note is that on the surface, EAL and English aren't really that different. They're marked separately, and there are slightly different standards, but the courses are very similar.

The mainstream English exam consists of:
- One Text Response essay (Section A)
- One Context piece (Section B)
- One Language Analysis (Section C)
and you're expected to write between 800-1000 words for each.

The EAL exam consists of:
- One Text Response essay (Section A)
- One Context piece (Section B)
- One Note-form summary of a persuasive text (Section C - Part 1)
- One Language Analysis (Section C - Part 2)
The recommended word length for Sections A and B are around 800; the Note-form should be roughly 3/4 of a page; and the Language Analysis is around 600 words.

Let's break this up into each Section to address the similarities and differences.

Section A.
You will study two texts throughout the year (one in Semester 1, one in Semester 2) and you will have a SAC on each text. Then, in the exam, you get to choose one text to write on. You are then given a choice of two prompts. These prompts will be the same as the mainstream English ones, but you're only marked against the EAL cohort.

Even though your EAL class might be studying different text to the mainstream English kids at your school, the texts you're studying are still from the one list, which means there will be resources available. For most texts, just googling 'vce english >text name<' and then 'resources' or 'summary' or 'analysis' should get you plenty to read. If you can't find much, your text is probably quite new, and so you might have to wait until about mid-year for things to be posted online.

Alternatively, your school can usually provide you with help if you need, and if you could always buy a commercial study guide (eg. from companies like VATE, Insight, Neap, etc.) if you don't understand the text.

Aside from that, all the resources and explanations you see on ATAR Notes for mainstream English Text Response will apply to you too.

Section B.
This is also very similar to mainstream English. Your school chooses a Context (either 'The Imaginative Landscape,' 'Whose Reality?' 'Encountering Conflict,' or 'Exploring Issues of Identity and Belonging') and will also choose one or two set-texts. (I believe it's meant to be two, but I know many schools that bend the rules and only study one :P)
You'll have two SACs throughout the year, one per text, and on the exam you get to choose one.

Remember, you can't treat Section B like it's a Text Response though. You can't write a whole essay just about the book; you're meant to use some ideas from the text, but also use other literature, historical events, political/social issues, or your own personal anecdotes.

You also don't have to write an "essay," you could write a speech, a short story, a personal reflection, a series of letters or journal entries, anything! You can experiment with different styles throughout the year, and your teacher will probably recommend one or two.

Context is the trickiest area for a lot of people since there's not much structure, and they're assessing your writing ability as well as your ideas. So it's important that you're writing what you're comfortable with, while also fulfilling the criteria of the task.

Section C.
This is the area with the most changes from mainstream English.

For starters, the article you'll have to analyse in the exam will be modified. It's on the same topic as the mainstream English ones, and has the same contention, but it is edited down to about 600-700 words rather than the ~1200 word one for mainstream students. This makes sense when you realise you have about an hour to do a summary and an analysis, so they make sure the article isn't too long for the time allocated.

Let's deal with the note-form summary first.
Your priority here is to summarise the main arguments in the text. Here is a recommended process for doing this:
  • Find the contention.
    This can be especially difficult some years, so I'll explain this fully. Read through the article once, make sure you understand all the words, and look up any that you don't in your dictionary (and yes, bring a dictionary!!) By the end of the article, ask yourself 'what does the author want?' If this is too tricky, ask 'According to the author, what is good, and what is bad?' Let's say you're dealing with the 2014 exam, and you get to the end of the main piece (by the author 'Yvette Yergon') and you know that she things space exploration = good. That's all you need to start. Next, ask why the author thinks something is good or bad. eg. for Yergon, space exploration means we can benefit humanity, satisfy our curiosity, and fulfill our potential. This understanding then lets you talk about the arguments with more confidence. Always find the contention first, and practice heaps if you know you have trouble, because this has to be done first.
  • Find some key arguments.
    There are many different ways of doing this, but the easiest way is asking 'why does the author believe this?' If the author is trying to say that something is good, what other things are they trying to convince us of? For instance, if my contention was that homework was bad, and should be banned, I would want you to think it's a) bad for your health, b)not useful for your studies, and c) too time-consuming. There could be other arguments as well, but you have to try and pick the biggest, most important ones.
    The assessors won't have a list of the key arguments that you're allowed to write, but there will be some fairly obvious ones that they expect you to mention.
    Some people like to use the 'yes/no' method (also called the 'positive/negative' method) but I wouldn't recommend this. Think about it: if you're trying to persuade me about something, you don't want to bring up the negatives. If you're trying to convince me that ice cream is amazing, you don't want to mention how unhealthy it is - you'd only focus on the positives. Also, this method can be very imbalanced, because some issues might not have a clear 'yes' or 'no.' Try and find actual arguments in the piece, not just general opinions.
  • Writing the note-form
    Some recommended rules:
    - Structure your notes kind of like a barrel shape; ie. small at the top, big in the middle, and small at the bottom:

    At the top, write the issue, then write a brief version of the author's contention, eg. something = good/bad
    Next, draw arrows leading to the main arguments you've found. <-- this will be the big 'middle bit.'
    Add detail to these arguments, summarising (NOT ANALYSING) the author's points.
    Tie this up at the end by summarising the author's contention and the overall message.
    - Don't write sentences. Don't use more than five or six words per point. Keep everything short and sweet. You can use symbols instead of whole words and sentences (see below.)
    - Don't mention the visual, or other texts. This is just based on Assessor's Reports, but I could be wrong. Check with your teachers. Apparently you only need to cover the main article, not any of the other material, eg. visuals, blog comments, letters to the editor, etc. Only focus on the main piece, and you can use the other stuff later in your analysis essay.
    - Don't spend too long on it. You have one hour for the summary, and the analysis. The summary shouldn't take longer than 10-15 minutes (maybe 20 if you're having a lot of trouble.) Writing the essay will be a lot harder, and requires more time because you'll have to write proper sentences and deal with lots of different things. Try and get the summary done quickly.
  • How to avoid analysis in the summary.
    You're not allowed to include any analysis in your note-form task, so:
    - don't mention any persuasive techniques or devices
    - don't comment on the audience (unless you wanted to mention who they were at the top)
    - don't comment on how or why things are persuasive, just write what the author says.

Some Samples (2014)
Article & comment from the exam
Exploring our dreams
Yvette Yergon

Space is not as far away as it seems. If you live in Victoria, you are closer to space than you are to Canberra. Space is only about 160 kilometres straight up. I’ve been thinking about space exploration this week after I had the pleasure of visiting an exhibition presented by an international group known as Kolombus-21. This is a group of influential thinkers who have been encouraging governments across the world to work together on space exploration in the twenty-first century.
After looking at the displays in the exhibition I was reminded of how inspiring exploration can be. It seems to be in human nature to dream about what’s beyond the world we know. Setting out to explore the unknown is the biggest thing we do. After all, the great fifteenth-century explorer Christopher Columbus set off in a wooden ship, powered only by the wind, with only his own skill and courage and the stars to guide him. That’s pretty inspiring.
Six centuries later, most of us rightly admire the bravery of astronauts who have taken the risk of exploring beyond Earth. But space exploration costs a lot of money. Governments need reasons other than the thrill of discovery if they are going to spend the huge amounts of money needed to continue exploring in space. Perhaps there’s a new mining boom waiting to happen in space, with people looking for more of the minerals we already know and maybe some we haven’t dreamed of yet.
Evidently there are almost unlimited mineral resources out there in space, waiting to be claimed, and nobody owns them. The United Nations was surprised recently when a company tried to claim ownership of an asteroid. There aren’t any laws about property ownership in space. It is easy to understand why people might be interested in these lifeless rocks. Recently scientists reported on an asteroid that contains about 10,000 tons of gold and even more platinum, to the value of about a trillion dollars. Unfortunately it is about 32 million kilometres away, but that doesn't seem to stop people dreaming.
One day such dreams might come true. This exhibition helped me to realise that it is important to search for new answers to our problems to protect the future of life on Earth. That means taking risks and meeting the unexpected. Columbus certainly met the unexpected. He expected to sail through to India but bumped into North and South America instead. And of course good things can come out of exploring the unknown. Many countries have spent a lot on space exploration and plenty of products we use today were developed from research associated with space programs. These benefits could not have been predicted at the time of this investment in space exploration.
Kolombus-21 values international cooperation. Space exploration used to be more competitive than cooperative. That wasn’t very helpful. Now we have an international space station supported by 15 nations, so now is the time to explore further and turn the unknown into useful knowledge. There’s a strong view that it’s time to inspire the next generation of scientists. Every government knows we’ve got to do this, just as we’ve got to invest in the next generation of technology. That’s where the answers to the world’s big problems are going to come from.
The tour guide explained that the group’s name, Kolombus-21, was chosen to honour Columbus but also because it means ‘dove’, the international symbol of peace. I can see the point. Future space exploration must be done for the whole planet and for peaceful purposes. Perhaps with big dreamers like Kolombus-21 working towards this goal we can be confident that it will happen in this way.

{Letter to the editor}
Off the planet
Peter Laikis
Yvette Yergon seems to think we can solve the big problems of the world, such as hunger, disease and the environment, by leaving Earth and finding somewhere better. She wants governments to spend trillions of dollars based on this false belief.
Wake up, Yvette! When did governments or kings or emperors ever spend money on exploring for peaceful purposes or the good of the world? Columbus’s ships were driven by greed as well as wind. People’s dreams were of more and more wealth. Nothing seems to have changed. Today’s challenge is to make sure that the precious planet we call home doesn’t become like a lifeless asteroid.
You know what I find truly inspiring? The idea of getting all the governments in the world to agree to keep working together on our problems on Earth, one by one, until they are solved. This might be only a dream now – but it’s a dream worth pursuing.
Sample summary 1
{apologies for poor quality scan :/}
Sample summary 2



Now let's deal with the analysis essay.

The instructions say to analyse how three main points in the article and the visual are used to persuade the audience. If you're given multiple articles, you should analyse both. This isn't a direct instruction, but it will definitely make your piece stronger. Try to make your analysis reflect the same length as the articles you get. For instance, if the main piece takes up a page and a half, and there are two comments that take up a quarter each, your essay should spend most of the time talking about the main piece, but mention each comment for a few sentences. It wouldn't make sense to write 500 words on a little comment, and only mention the big piece once or twice.

Technically speaking, you don't have to mention/compare the texts, but you have to talk about the images. The instructions say to talk about written and visual features, and it's very hard to score above a 7/10 if you haven't discussed the images at all.

Furthermore, since you're analysing three main arguments, you should probably use the ones from the note-form summary. Your essay will therefore have the following structure:
  • INTRODUCTION: Mention the issue, the contention, and the audience. You will be given a bit of background information that will tell you what the form is (eg. speech, editorial, blog, etc.) as well as where the piece appeared (eg. at a science conference, in a women's magazine, at a school assembly, etc.) so you can work out the audience from that. Try to mention any other material as well, if you can (ie. just say 'The article was also accompanied by two visuals, and several blog comments' or something.)
  • BODY PARAGRAPH 1: Have a Topic Sentence that tells your assessor what argument you're dealing with. Don't begin by talking about techniques. Outline the argument first, and then you can get straight into the analysis.
    This is identical to mainstream English, so you can use those guides for help too. Below is a straightforward explanation of my recommended method.
    What-How-Why
    Step 1 for your analysis is to say what the author is doing. What devices and techniques are there? What language is there? This is where you should be quoting, and most of your sentences will begin with something like 'The author's use of technique as seen in quote' or 'The author employs technique in order to convey argument.' This is usually the easy stage, because it's just about picking out the important parts of the article, and using the right device to describe them.

    Step 2 is to talk about how this affects the audience. Use your understanding of the context (ie. the background information and the issue, for example, it's an argument about why we should ban homework, and it's delivered as a speech to an audience of Year 12 students) to talk about the likely reaction. Remember: you shouldn't have to guess. Rather than saying 'this might make the readers want to...' you just have to discuss why 'the author uses this language to make readers feel...' The main focus is on the author, and what s/he does to persuade the audience.
    If you're having a lot of trouble, just go back to basics like we did with the contention. Ask yourself what ideas the author is dealing with, and whether he wants the audience to feel good or bad, (eg. he wants them to feel bad about homework.) Now ask why he might want them to feel bad (eg. he wants them to feel like it's not beneficial to their education.) There you go - you now know the feeling the author wants to evoke in readers! (eg. The author describes homework as "cruel and unusual punishment" in order to make readers feel like homework is dangerous and unenjoyable.)

    Set 3 is the most complicated. This is where you answer the question: why does the author want the audience to feel this way? Using the above example, (what= homework is "cruel and unusual;" how= audience feels threatened and vulnerable) we now have to answer why the author wants the readers to feel threatened. In this case, we could say 'hence, the author evokes feelings of being threatened and vulnerable in order to make readers more opposed to the idea of banning homework for the sake of their own well-being.' Try and be fairly specific; it's not enough to just say 'The author does this to make readers support his contention.'
    You don't have to do step 3 as often as 1 and 2; it's mainly just at the end of your paragraph, so your analysis might look like:
    Topic sentence that outlines the argument. What statement. How this technique affects readers. Another what statement. Another similar what statement (eg. same technique, or repetition of language.) How both of these affect the reader. Why the author wants to elicit these feelings >link back to the overall argument/contention.<
  • CONCLUSION: These are not required in Language Analysis, so it's best not to waste your time with it. Just make sure the last sentence of your last body paragraph sounds like it's wrapping up your points.

Note: in reading through the Assessor's Reports, I've noticed a very common problem in the analysis is that people talk about whether the article is persuasive or not. Don't do this! You shouldn't be writing things like 'The author successfully persuades the audience' or 'this technique is very effective.' That's not the instruction. You have to write how language persuades, not whether it works. Assume the language is persuasive, and just write about how it works.

Sample analysis 1 - approximate score: 9/10
Yvette Yergon’s newspaper article ‘‘Exploring our dreams’’ discusses the potential rewards of space exploration and contends the need to promote it whilst Peter Laikis’ letter-to-the editor article opposes Yvette’s view.

Yvette believes that space exploration is an inspiring challenge that humanity must embark on. She claims it to be the ‘‘biggest thing we can do’’ to portray the scale of space exploration as being the peak of human achievement as a whole in an effort to unify and inspire the reader to imagine the wonder and thrills of space exploration. Her use of Christopher Columbus as a source of evidence to suggest human feats of the past and her reiteration as space travel being even more extravagant is intended to appeal to the reader’s sense of adventure and human pride, that if we can set out to realise the dream of space exploration it will cement the greatness of the human race and our constant drive to ‘‘meet the unexpected’’ essential for progression. The use of the first image of a ship in the sea with the backdrop of a planet is implying that there are greater worlds beyond our planet awaiting exploration and that the next step to surpassing Columbus’ achievement is to delve into space exploration. Hence the reader is positioned to see the potential rewards of space exploration.

Furthermore, Yvette asserts that space can yield useful resources for humans. Her evidence of an asteroid containing ‘‘trillion dollars’’ worth of minerals is intended to arouse a sense of greed in the reader to portray the world beyond earth as harbouring riches which could reap massive benefits to human civilisation. The use of the image of a mind map connecting the space suit with everyday items such as GPS and solar cells are attempting to make the reader understand such technologies owe their origin to space research in an attempt to highlight the significance of space research and our continual need to do so in the future if humans are to be rewarded with more technological luxuries like enhanced GPS systems or medical imaging. The image is intended to portray space exploration as not just effecting the world outside earth but can also directly effect and enhance our daily lives. Thus the reader is more likely to see the potential benefits of space exploration and align with Yvette contention.

Peter Laikis’ letter however opposes Yvette’s notion by saying space exploration is a misguided idea. Peter declares Yvette’s belief of curing ‘‘hunger, disease and the environment’’ as a ‘‘false belief’’ because people are driven by ‘‘greed’’ and not for the ‘‘good of the world.’’ Peter’s direct accusation to Yvette ‘‘Wake up, Yvette’’ portrays her as a dreamy and misguided individual with a false hope in humanity which Peter attempts to correct by implying the real truth where people’s dreams were of ‘‘more and more wealth’’. This portrays humanity in a very negative light and attempts to crush any raised hopes of the audience from Yvette’s article by reiterating to the reader that ‘‘nothing seems to have changed’’ and hereby suggest that space exploration is not a good idea. He stresses there are more important challenges such as ensuring our current planet does not become a ‘‘lifeless asteroid’’ to instill a sense of fear in the audience by suggesting the destruction of humanity which will result if we pursue the ‘‘false belief’’ of space exploration. The reader is made to realise there are more pressing matters to resolve before humans pursue the ambitious task of space exploration and is therefore attempting to position the reader to align against Yvette’s contention.
Sample analysis 2 - approximate score: 5/10
The article “Exploring our dreams” by Yvette Yergon present her response towards the exhibition presented by Kolombus-21. She uses enthusiastic and optimistic tone to make the reader feel enthusiastic towards her point of supporting and improving space exploration.

Yergon firstly present her arguments that space exploration is inspiring and a dream come true. She supported her argument through the use of generalisation such as “seems to be in human nature to dream about...” The generalisation of everyone being a human will “dream what’s beyond the world” invokes the reader’s memory of childhood, dreaming about some conceal things that are thought to never be able to come true. This persuade the reader to think that it is now time to support the writer’s point of view. Similarly, Yergon also uses famous figure such as Christopher Columbus as an example to support her argument. This technique allows the reader to feel the validity of her point and therefore agreeing with the writer.

Secondly, Yergon proposes that the are many resources to be discovered in space and by supporting space exploration, people will attain an “unlimited mineral resources.” She supported her argument through the use of evidence such as “an asteroid that contains about 10,000 tons of gold” and “a company tried to claim ownership of an asteroid.” This allows the reader to feel that Yergon’s point of view is objective rather than subjective therefore can be trusted and gaining the support of the reader. Furthermore, the writer also appeal to hip-pocket such as using the value of the asteroid for “about 2 trillion dollars.” This appeal to readers and make the reader happy that if support was given, trillion of dollars could be up for grab making the reader in sharing the same point of view as Yergon.

Lastly, Yergon proposes that space exploration could assist in protecting the “future life on Earth” as well as for a better future. She supported her argument through the use of different images in which an astronaut picture has many lines pointed out to different aspect in life such as solar cells, GPS (Global positioning system) and medical imaging. By having lines of all these technology pointing to the astronaut, it invoke the readers sense of trust and agree to the advice given by Yergon. Similarly, Yergon also appeals to sense of loyalty and patriotism such as “space station supported by 15 nation” and “every government knows” these appeal to the readers sense of patriotism that if other nations are supporting it why shouldn’t our nation also support the view and have the best for our nation. Thus gaining the reader support the Yergon’s point to support space exploration.




Helpful Links

Here are a list of general (non-VCE-specific) resources for EAL learners. I've put these in rough order so the ones at the top are very basic, and the ones at the end are slightly more complicated.

http://esl.fis.edu/vocab/
This is a good site for understanding and improving vocab, from the very basic (ie. common word lists, simple grammar) to the more English-oriented stuff (eg. academic words, comprehending persuasive texts.) It's also very well structured, so I'd recommend starting with this source.

http://www.5minuteenglish.com/articles.htm
This has some general information about effective ways to improve language abilities. The first part isn't too useful, but if you scroll down you'll find a good essay about how to gradually improve in different ways.

http://www.eslgold.com/speaking/phrases.html
Again, this one has a lot of very simple stuff (eg. conversation words, nouns/verbs/adjectives) and if you scroll down to the 'Low/High Intermediate' sections, there are some helpful explanations for writing pieces that might be helpful for Sections A and B, as well as some comprehension links that would be good for Section C.

http://www.paperpenalia.com/handwriting.html
Just in case you have trouble with handwriting, here is a pretty extensive guide for improving.

http://www.spellzone.com/unit02/page1.cfm
http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/spelling-and-word-lists/Improve-Spelling.html
http://www.word-buff.com/improve-spelling.html
A bunch of sites to help improve spelling, and
a list of the most common misspelled/mixed-up words
their (possessive form of they)
there (in that place)
they're (contraction of they are)
accept (a verb, meaning to receive or to admit to a group)
except (usually a preposition, meaning but or only)
who's (contraction of who is or who has)
whose (possessive form of who)
its (possessive form of it)
it's (contraction of it is or it has)
your (possessive form of you)
you're (contraction of you are)
affect (usually a verb, meaning to influence)
effect (usually a noun, meaning result)
than (used in comparison)
then (refers to a time in the past)
were (form of the verb to be)
we're (contraction of we are)
where (related to location or place)

http://www.lib.uoguelph.ca/get-assistance/writing/grammar-style/improving-your-sentence-structure
This is a great site that explains the foundations of a sentence (ie. what's a noun, what's a verb) all the way up to the complex stuff (eg. subordination, varying sentence length.) There's also a very good explanation of what a 'sentence fragment' is; this is a very common area of weakness in both EAL and mainstream English.

http://grammar.about.com/od/developingessays/a/quicktips.htm
Same as above, only this site has links to about a hundred different pages explaining all the different concepts. Use the above link first, and then uses this one if you need more information.

http://www.smart-words.org/quotes-sayings/idioms-meaning.html
http://www.usingenglish.com/reference/idioms/
Both of these sites are about 'idioms:' expressions and phrases that have meaning, but might not be obvious, especially to non-native speakers. For example, the idiom 'far cry from' is used to convey how different two things are (eg. 'My marks this year are a far cry from what my parents wanted.') It has nothing to do with actual crying.
Whilst you should probably avoid these phrases in a Section A or C essay, you could definitely use them for Section B, and they might actually appear in the articles in the exam for Section C, so it pays to be familiar with the major ones.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2015, 07:54:22 pm by literally lauren »

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Re: English Resources and Sample High Scoring Responses
« Reply #115 on: April 06, 2015, 10:23:11 pm »
+6
VCE Text Podcasts

This is mainly for the benefit of those studying all the new-ish texts on the list, (esp. Burial Rights and White Tiger for which there is very little available -.-)
*edit: more are being added every week, hopefully they'll all be covered! I'll update this as they crop up. They kind of fizzled out last year but they've started up again recently so hopefully they keep going*
but I thought I'd make some links here just in case anyone hadn't found these little sound bites from ABC Radio. This show is on every Sunday, and they have some general exam preparation tips but it's mostly stuff you will have heard before.

Admittedly if you've got a halfway decent teacher in class then you probably will have covered the content they go through here, but seeing as they're often interviewing VCE assessors (some of which write practice exams or even assist in the process of writing the actual exam) it might be worth a listen.

All About Eve: link

Burial Rights: link

Cat's Eye: link

Henry IV Part 1: link

I for Isobel: link

In the Country of Men: link

Medea: link

Mabo: link

No Sugar: link

Stasiland: link

The Complete Maus: link

The Thing Around Your Neck: link

The White Tiger: link

This Boy's Life: link

Will You Please Be Quiet Please: link

Wuthering Heights: link

Also some Context bits and pieces:

The Imaginative Landscape: link

Peripheral Light: link

The View from Castle Rock: link

Death of a Salesman: link

Foe: link

The Lot: link

Encountering Conflict: link

The Quiet American: link

Life of Galileo: link

A Separation: link

Every Man in this Village is a Liar: link

Belonging: link

Mind of a Thief: link

Skin: link

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll: link



BONUS: the head of VCAA discussing 'What to do if it all goes wrong' link
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 03:32:42 pm by literally lauren »

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Re: English Resources and Sample High Scoring Responses
« Reply #116 on: July 24, 2015, 12:23:47 pm »
+4
Happened to realise that I wrote this text response essay a year ago today, July 24. Such nostalgia.  Anyways, posting it 100% unedited with some bolded feedback to give you an authentic idea of a fairly high-scoring response at (exactly :P) this time of year.  A Christmas Carol was my Unit 4 text; it's not the most brilliant essay, but good for me, probably a 9ish effort, and hopefully helpful :D

A reminder that reading essays isn't purely for plagiarising the ideas, so it is helpful to read essays from texts you're not studying.  Deconstructing and taking notes on high-scoring essays is a very helpful exercise in learning about quote embedding, structure, intros and conclusions, topic sentences, and any other issues you might specifically want help with!

994 words, 1 hr 15 min handwritten including planning/editing

Spoiler
'Despite being out of practice, it was a marvellous laugh.'  Humour is a central aspect of 'A Christmas Carol'.  Discuss.

By replacing agrarian lifestyles with machinery, the 1800s Industrial Revolution caused rapid population increase in Victorian London, exacerbating the disparity between rich and poor.  Against this backdrop of suffering and destitution, Charles Dickens in his novella 'A Christmas Carol' nonetheless paints a vibrant and family-oriented society powered by the festivities of Christmas.  For Dickens, this joy is fuelled by the ability to view the world as a child, using humour to transcend the bleakness of life.  Indeed, his narrative voice's rich word-plays engage the audience, enabling him to present the harshness of life in a nonetheless appealing way.  Yet perhaps the strongest role of humour in 'A Christmas Carol' is its very absence, as Dickens' darkening tone presents a harsh indictment of Victorian society heightened by the contrast.  Ultimately for Dickens, with the absence of a childlike appreciation of the world, society is in the thralls of 'Doom'. 

For Dickens, the vibrancy and family oriented nature of society is derived from shared laughter.  In the streets, the people are able to transcend the “misanthropic” weather, symbolic of the bleak coldness of life, by exchanging “a facetious snowball”.  The atmosphere is one of happiness solely because they are able to share humour.  Dickens' narrative voice communicates this sense of joy entailed by humour in his ecstatically descriptive comparison of Christmas foods in the shops with “apoplectic gentlemen” and other humorous contrasts.  It is almost as though this childlike delight is the creator of the “kinder words” and family feeling present in society at Christmas time.  Dickens corroborates this impression with the “irresistibly contagious” laughter of Fred's party.  Rather than taking offence at Scrooge's repetitious refusal to have a “merry Christmas”,  Fred transcends hatred and pain by humorously describing Scrooge as a “fierce” sort of “bear”.  Through such amusement and their childlike participation in “blind man's buff” and “twenty questions”, Dickens celebrates the potential of humour in averting anger and instead promoting joy and fellowship.  For Dickens, Scrooge's redemption is seen to be complete when he can not only appreciate others' joy, as he does at Fred's party, but actively seek and initiate humour.  His repeated “chuckles” in Stave Five as he feels “merry as a schoolboy” both rejoice the readers and signal that he has once more embraced his childhood and the ability to view life with a child's humorous perspective.  Indeed, his 'joke' of sending the anonymous turkey to the Cratchits and pretending to Bob to be the man he once was, imply this new childish humour is central in reintegrating him into humanity and responsibility to others in society. 

Dickens' humour-rich narrative voice moreoever enables him to present his social agenda in a palatable, even engaging, manner.  The narrator apparently takes pleasure in violently accusing Scrooge in Stave One, using dry wordplays to portray the extremity of his isolation from society and cold-heartedness.  Dickens is therefore able to criticise the extreme avariciousness of the rich businessmen of his era, who unlike snow “never” “come down handsomely”.  Dickens further suggests Scrooge's “evil eye” is worse than “no eye”, or blindness.  His usage of humour and often ridiculous metaphoric comparisons, then, enable a scathing, if highly ridiculous, portrait of the capitalist views of higher classes.  They furthermore ensure that Scrooge is not an object of evil or hatred, but merely a ridiculous figure who is able to change.  Moreover, Dickens describes Bob's meagre income as “but fifteen copies of his Christian name”, enabling to draw out Bob's ill-treatment and penury in a poignant way that the readers will remember.  Even the way Scrooge's words, “the surplus population”, are repeated verbatim in different circumstances, is a humorous cut at Scrooge's Malthusian philosophy, making the reader laugh at the inconsistency and weakness of this selfish worldview.  Overall, Dickens' tone of humour laden with puns and jokes effectively engages his reader, lightening his harsh social commentaries to make them more acceptable and memorable.

Yet to some extent, this harsh commentary for Dickens is truly serious: the contrast between the prevailing light-hearted tone and his increasingly darkening voice in Staves 3 and 4 indeed heightens his indictment.  Although the Cratchits, like Fred's family, are “contented with themselves and each other”, humour is not apparent in Dickens' voice as in Fred's richer and brighter world.  With the shadow of Tiny Tim, crippled and trapped in an “iron frame” to represent the lower classes trapped in a cycle of poverty, their world is sombre and increasingly dark as Stave Three draws to a close.  Rather than joy generated by humour, Dickens intends the author to feel sympathy for their pathetic and joyless life, with the “empty corner” and “crutch without an owner”.  For Dickens, it is the upper classes' treatment of them that ensures Tiny Tim will die and robs them of the delight and humour they would otherwise share.  The initially “jovial” Ghost of Christmas Present furthermore transforms to  harsh social commentary, as he predicts “Doom” for society with the presence of “Want” and “Ignorance”.  Stave Four, centring on Scrooge's “den of infamous resort” and finally Scrooge's “tombstone” is grim and cheerless, presenting an appalling picture of the “greasy offal” that surrounds the lowest classes.  For Dickens, in the face of anguish and death, no humour is possible.  The harsh, bleak nature of his descriptions awaken the audience to the seriousness of the “Doom” looming over society if change does not occur.  Indeed, if societal change does not occur, Dickens' Christmas-time image of joyful society will be engulfed in bleakness.

The upper classes' treatment of some, Dickens demonstrates, is indeed bereaving them of joy and humour.  Yet for most, delight and happiness, born of a childlike attitude to life, is attainable.  For Dickens, once his capitalist society enmeshed in gain from the Industrial Revolution realises that money is not the central aspect of life, and instead open themselves to truly appreciating the joys of life, “Doom” will be averted.  Sharing humour as a family is integral to a vibrant society.

'Despite being out of practice, it was a marvellous laugh.'  Humour is a central aspect of 'A Christmas Carol'.  Discuss.

By replacing agrarian lifestyles with machinery, the 1800s Industrial Revolution caused rapid population increase in Victorian London, exacerbating the disparity between rich and poor.  Against this backdrop of suffering and destitution, Charles Dickens in his novella 'A Christmas Carol' underline, don't put inverted commas round, text name throughout nonetheless paints a vibrant and family-oriented society powered by the festivities of Christmas.  For Dickens, this joy is fuelled by the ability to view the world as a child, using humour to transcend the bleakness of life.  Indeed, his narrative voice's rich word-plays engage the audience, enabling him to present the harshness of life in a nonetheless appealing way.  Yet perhaps the strongest role of humour in 'A Christmas Carol' is its very absence, as Dickens' darkening tone presents a harsh indictment of Victorian society heightened by the contrast interesting/insightful idea that challenges the prompt, but could be expressed better to make more sense.  Ultimately for Dickens, with the absence of a childlike appreciation of the world, society is in the thralls of 'Doom'.  This intro signposts too strongly.  It has three separate sentences that essentially state explicitly what each paragraph will be about – which can lead to repetitive topic sentences, a restricted focus, limited development through the essay, and the examiner getting bored of being told something too often.  There also doesn't seem to be one explicit thesis statement.  A thorough, well-written intro nonetheless.

For Dickens, the vibrancy and family-oriented nature of society is derived from shared laughter.  In the streets, the people are able to transcend the “misanthropic” weather, symbolic of the bleak coldness of life, by exchanging “a facetious snowball”.  The atmosphere is one of happiness solely because they are able to share humour. Acknowledging multiple possible interpretations, ‘It could be seen as’ or something, could strengthen this.  Dickens' narrative voice communicates this sense of joy entailed by humour in his ecstatically descriptive comparison of Christmas foods in the shops with “apoplectic gentlemen” and other humorous contrasts.  It is almost as though this childlike delight is the creator of the “kinder words” and family feeling present in society at Christmas time. Nice insight!  This stuff shows a ‘feel’ for the author’s voice and language usage, which examiners will like.  Dickens corroborates this impression with good linking between examples, gives a sense of flow and ‘building’ ideas in the paragraph the “irresistibly contagious” laughter of Fred's party.  Rather than taking offence at Scrooge's repetitious refusal to have a “merry Christmas”, Fred transcends hatred and pain by humorously describing Scrooge as a “fierce” sort of “bear”.  Through such amusement and their childlike participation in “blind man's buff” and “twenty questions”, Dickens celebrates the potential of humour in averting anger and instead promoting joy and fellowship.  Linking word could help the flow hereFor Dickens, Scrooge's redemption is seen to be complete when he can not only appreciate others' joy, as he does at Fred's party, but actively seek and initiate humour.  His repeated “chuckles” in Stave Five as he feels “merry as a schoolboy” both rejoice the readers and signal that he has once more embraced his childhood and the ability to view life with a child's humorous perspective.  Indeed, his 'joke' of sending the anonymous turkey to the Cratchits and pretending to Bob to be the man he once was, imply this new childish humour is central in reintegrating him into humanity and responsibility to others in society. 
Solid paragraph (the best in the essay, imo).
The essay never deals with the quote involved in the prompt; this is essential.

Dickens' humour-rich narrative voice moreoever I still remember laughing at my teacher’s comment, ‘speling’ :P enables him to present his social agenda in a palatable, even engaging, manner.  The narrator apparently takes pleasure in violently accusing Scrooge in Stave One, using dry wordplays to portray the extremity of his isolation from society and cold-heartedness. Good references to metalanguage. Dickens is therefore able to criticise the extreme avariciousness of the rich businessmen of his era, who unlike snow “never” “come down handsomely”.  Dickens further suggests Scrooge's “evil eye” is worse than “no eye”, or blindness.  His usage of humour and often ridiculous metaphoric comparisons, then, enable a scathing, if highly ridiculous, portrait of the capitalist views of higher classes.  They furthermore ensure that Scrooge is not an object of evil or hatred, but merely a ridiculous figure who is able to change.  Moreover, Dickens describes Bob's meagre income as “but fifteen copies of his Christian name”, enabling to draw out Bob's ill-treatment and penury in a poignant way that the readers will remember.  Even the way Scrooge's words, “the surplus population”, are repeated verbatim in different circumstances, is a humorous cut at Scrooge's Malthusian philosophy, good reference to historical context/views making the reader laugh at the inconsistency and weakness of this selfish worldview.  This paragraph doesn’t develop well; it’s simply a list of different examples where the author uses wordplay, interspersed with examples of the messages these teach.  The flow is also a bit choppy – the sentences aren’t quite structured so the ideas flow well, and could be rearranged to make it cleaner and clearer.  Linking words seem to be used like sticky-tape to tenuously glue them together. Overall, Dickens' tone of humour laden with puns and jokes effectively engages his reader, lightening his harsh social commentaries to make them more acceptable and memorable. Final sentence repeats the topic sentence in different words, so there’s no sense of ‘progression’ and building of the argument – just repetition.  In terms of structure, this is the weakest paragraph.

Yet to some extent, this harsh commentary for Dickens is truly serious: the contrast between the prevailing light-hearted tone and his increasingly darkening voice in Staves 3 and 4 indeed heightens his indictment. Very well linked to the paragraph before – shows progression and development. Although the Cratchits, like Fred's family, are “contented with themselves and each other”, humour is not apparent in Dickens' voice as in Fred's richer and brighter world. Great ideas, and it’s always good to contrast characters/events/language, but could be communicated a bit more clearly.  With the shadow of Tiny Tim, crippled and trapped in an “iron frame” to represent the lower classes trapped in a cycle of poverty throwing in random metaphors/symbolisms like this is good, their world is sombre and increasingly dark as Stave Three draws to a close.  Rather than joy generated by humour, Dickens intends the author to feel sympathy for their pathetic and joyless life, with the “empty corner” and “crutch without an owner”.  For Dickens, it is the upper classes' treatment of them who is ‘them’? that ensures Tiny Tim will die and robs them of the delight and humour they would otherwise share.  The initially “jovial” Ghost of Christmas Present furthermore transforms to harsh social commentary, as he predicts “Doom” for society with the presence of “Want” and “Ignorance”.  This sentence just lists evidence without analysis - poor. Stave Four, centring on Scrooge's “den of infamous resort” and finally Scrooge's “tombstone” comma is grim and cheerless, presenting an appalling picture of the “greasy offal” that surrounds the lowest classes.  For Dickens, in the face of anguish and death, no humour is possible.  The harsh, bleak nature of his descriptions awaken the audience to the seriousness of the “Doom” looming over society if change does not occur.  Indeed, if societal change does not occur, Dickens' Christmas-time image of joyful society will be engulfed in bleakness. Nice last sentence – well expressed and powerful.  And it isn’t just repetition of the TS, more a sense of ‘development’ in the paragraph, especially as it ends on a ‘views and values’ statement.

The upper classes' treatment of some, Dickens demonstrates, is indeed bereaving them who is ‘them’? upper or lower classes? (arguably both, in fact) of joy and humour.  Yet for most, delight and happiness, born of a childlike attitude to life, is attainable.  For Dickens, once his capitalist society enmeshed in gain from the Industrial Revolution the Industrial Revolution’s money-focused mindset realises that wealth is not the central aspect of life, and instead open themselves to truly appreciating the joys of life, “Doom” will be averted.  Sharing humour as a family is integral to a vibrant society. Last sentence should link to text/author rather than making a random statement: ‘He presents that...’ or something.  And while it’s a nice ending, it repeats what has been said earlier.  If you dive too deep into profound significance earlier on, then you have nothing more insightful to finish off with.  Not too bad though.
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KEAEducation

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Re: English Resources and Sample High Scoring Responses
« Reply #117 on: November 13, 2015, 12:40:30 pm »
+1
Hi everyone,

This is a creative context piece addressing ALL FOUR CONTEXTS. There are themes in this piece that critique all the contexts - Imaginative Landscape, Whose Reality, Encountering Conflict and Identity and Belonging.

The creative piece attached - A Den of Men - contains a full context essay and the plan and general thought process that went into writing it. Although the piece was not written addressing any particular text, it goes to show the depth at which you can layer your creative context pieces. Context essays are essentially a combination of various ideas layered on top of each other which add to their depth and sophistication. This essay would suit as a preparation essay, an inspirational essay, an essay to note the structure and way to implement themes and way to address them. This essay can be used to influence any context.
It is a deeply personal story and goes to show the importance of writing from a place of passion.

I hope it is helpful to anyone and everyone doing Context, whether you write expos or creative and both!
Cheers
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Re: English Resources and Sample High Scoring Responses
« Reply #118 on: December 18, 2015, 06:03:00 pm »
+5
Hello friends!

It's the season of giving - as you wrap your Christmas gifts soz couldn't resist the link, please consider AN for a moment.  We need some new sample essays.  We've basically had almost no contributions since like 2011 - so 95% of these essays aren't even on the current text list.

Your hours upon hours of slaving over essays beyond count do not deserve the dustbin.  So if AN has helped you, please give back to the community by digging out anything 8/10+!

Cheers, look forward to many happy hours reading them ;)
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Re: English Resources and Sample High Scoring Responses
« Reply #119 on: December 21, 2015, 12:42:59 pm »
0
An incredibly generous, incredibly high scoring and incredibly anonymous 2015'er just donated us four essays.  Blow her some kisses! :D  The essays are both pasted in spoiler tags and attached as Word docs.

Essay 1: Text Response - All About Eve

'The film is a warning about the dangers of obsessive ambition.'  Discuss.

Spoiler
Since the days of classical Greek theatre, plays (and more recently, film) have served as a vehicle through which humanity has been cautioned against the perils of obsessive ambition, and Joseph Mankiewicz’s All About Eve (1950) is no exception. All About Eve references classical Greek tragedy in that it is a modern version of a morality play; Mankiewicz teaches his audience of the rights and wrongs when it comes to pursuing one’s goals. The characters, plot, dialogue and cinematic techniques such as freeze-frames and mise-en-scene are employed throughout the film to allow deeper exploration of the consequences of relentless and immoral acts committed in the search of career progression and popularity. Interestingly, the gender of the audience will interpret these lessons differently.

   The primary antagonist, Eve Harrington, is the most significant example in the film highlighting the ramifications of placing career before all else. She is highly manipulative and obsessive in her rise to fame. This is made evident in the opening sequence with the camera freeze-framing onto her outstretched hands reaching for the esteemed Sarah Siddons’ award, suggesting that she is grasping and greedy for fame. In her dialogue, Eve also admits she is willing to "do much more" to achieve her goals. Her actions reinforce this confession. Eve blackmails Karen, “studies" and usurps Margo, repeatedly attempts to seduce Bill and Lloyd, the list goes on... This litany of immoral acts committed in her search to "be somebody" are punished with her isolation, her "inability to love or be loved" and her perpetual feeling of dissatisfaction. This is accentuated throughout the film by the camera framing and positioning of Eve - she is either alone or placed at a distance from other characters in most scenes. The storyline also demonstrates how Eve's thirst for fame cannot be quenched when she still feels the need to travel to Hollywood to further her career after receiving all the recognition and approval she had previously been seeking. The audience is positioned to feel eventual disgust and hatred towards Eve emphasising that, in conjunction with her Machiavellian arrogance, Eve’s “insatiable ambition” is the ultimate cause of her undoing.

   The benefits of placing loyalty and friendship before self-centredness is illustrated through the juxtaposition of the key female characters. Eve's journey acts as a foil to that of Margo's. At the outset, Margo is presented as the melodramatic prima donna of the theatre world, where she is, and knows that she is, a successful, popular actress. It is implied that she has for a long time focused heavily on her career, and thus at the age of forty had still not married nor settled in a steady relationship. It is obvious to the audience she is not content with her life and insecure about her age and fame. This is clearly shown through her actions of constantly manifesting irrational and unsubstantiated accusations at her partner, Bill Sampson, as well as when she takes Eve under her wing to satisfy her need for continued and constant attention. However soon after, she realises the wrongs of obsessing over fame and adoration, strongly contrasting Eve's character. Margo gives up the role of Cora to get married and have “a life to live”. This decision is rewarded with happiness, love and friendship exemplified by the acting and camera framing, particularly during the scene at the Cub Room where Bill and Margo announce their engagement. Bette Davis’ smiley facial expressions, light-hearted movement and upright posture portrays Margo’s newfound satisfaction and confidence. While the camera shows Margo, Bill, Lloyd and Karen in a single frame indicating their close relationship and sense of unity. Ironically, even after knowingly abandoning her career, Margo is still recognised as a “great” and “true star”, while Eve remains to be just another dazzling “bright light”. Two starkly different female role models are being proposed to the audience who originally would have been traversing the social changes to gender roles following World War II. However, under the direction of Mankiewicz, the audience would be inclined to sympathise with Margo and accept her character as the more righteous choice. Thus reinforcing the tradition of women roles and warn female viewers of the inevitable emotional emptiness they will experience if they reject their domestic roles in their pursuit of a career.

   The lesson of cautioning women against focusing too much on their career is reiterated at the end of the film by the character Phoebe. Her transparent jockeying for Eve’s patronage and flirtatious, but evidently underhanded, manner towards Addison suggests a similar trajectory to Eve’s own. The cyclic nature of narcissistic, relentless ambition is then also visually emphasised in the film’s final image of infinite reflections of Phoebe wearing Eve’s cloak and holding her award. This ending not only suggests that there are countless more women who desire self-aggrandisement like Phoebe and Eve, but also alludes to the fact that these women will only be punished for their lack of focus on domesticity and will live an unhappy, unsatisfiable life.    

   From a modernist point of view, All About Eve appears to ultimately endorse a conservative view on women’s roles, but makes no note on the consequences on men who obsessively pursue career progression. Mankiewicz blatantly positions Eve, the symbol of female ambition, to be portrayed as malignant and “evil”; presenting ambition for women as a damaging quality, capable of destroying relationships and corroding values. While, contrastingly, it is acceptable of men like Bill and Lloyd to be ambitious and seek ways to further their career, who are then rewarded with women who support them and nurture their talents. Reinforcing this notion is a more extreme example, Addison DeWitt. He describes himself, and Eve, as having well-honed “killer’s” instincts who both have an “insatiable” thirst for success. Yet, Addison is not punished for his behaviour in the same way Eve is, and rather emerges from all the drama with his ego and power intact. At the time of the film’s release, these concepts would not have been questioned by the audience and thus the gender of the viewer would greatly affect the lesson being learnt - focusing their life on career is appropriate for men, but not for women.

   All About Eve explores the complications of obsessive ambition and acts as a modem through which audiences are warned against acts of immorality in the pursuit of career advancement. However, for the modern day society, Mankiewicz’s film ultimately appears to assert that there are, in fact, conditions under which relentless ambition is acceptable, and these conditions are entirely based on one’s gender.

Essay 2: Text Response - All About Eve

'The real antagonist in All About Eve is not Eve Harrington, but Addison DeWitt.’ Discuss.

Spoiler
The characters of Eve Harrington and Addison DeWitt from Joseph Mankiewicz’s award winning film, All About Eve, inspire little sympathy from the audience, both as a result of their ruthless natures and also the manipulative means they use to achieve their ends. They are alike in many ways, in ambition and cunning, and with their amorality and heartlessness, Mankiewicz clearly portrays them as the antagonists of the film, who do not deserve the peace and contentment seen in the film’s other characters. However, this “punishment” is what sets them apart. Eve appears to the victim in Addison's machinations, while Addison only seems to benefit from their exploitative relationship. This has given rise to the idea to many modern day viewers that Addison perhaps is the most antagonistic, evil character in the film.

   “Necessary to the theatre as ants are to a picnic,” Addison is a voyeur and an urbane man who delights in the power he holds over the careers of actors, actresses, directors and playwrights alike in his position as the “critic and commentator”. Through his distinctive and often contemptuous voiceovers, at the film’s introduction and after Eve’s opening performance, the audience is first given the impression of the condescension with which he views much the world outside the theatre and often within it. In the use of this film technique, Mankiewicz, through interaction and commentary on characters, paints a clear portrait of this “Rasputin”. Addison, as his name and acerbic tone suggests, is a witty, intelligent and, like an adder, is “poisonous” to those around him. He is shown to be entirely unsympathetic to the chaotic effect his words can have on the lives of others. This is particularly highlighted with George Sanders’ cynical, mocking grin implying great delight when Addison describes to Margo the “fire and music” with which Eve read with Claudia. His true nature is further revealed in his confrontation with Eve in her hotel room. His dominance and complete ownership of Eve is emphasised through the low angle shot of him looking down upon a distraught Eve sprawled out pathetically on the bed. Addison’s immense power, “venomous” personality and lack of conscience for others’ emotions all align to position him as the most malignant character in the film.

   However, the idea of Addison being more “evil” than Eve may not have been as common for the original audience who would have been traversing the social changes in gender roles following World War II. Under the direction of Mankiewicz and due to the social norms of the time, the audience in 1950 would have been inclined to despise Eve much more than Addison. Eve is highly manipulative and obsessive in her rise to fame. This is made evident in the opening sequence with the camera freeze-framing onto her outstretched hand reaching for the esteemed Sarah Siddons’ award, suggesting to the audience she is grasping and greedy for fame. The audience and, indeed, other characters learn to despise Eve for this trait. Her willingness to “do much more” just for career progression contradicts the conservative tradition of women’s roles which is to focus on domesticity rather than career. Moreover, she blackmails Karen, usurps Margo’s position as the “star of the theatre” and attempts to seduce Bill and Lloyd. This litany of immoral acts committed in her search to “be somebody” and her complete lack of gratitude towards those who helped her succeed in the theatre results in her isolation, “inability to love or be loved” and perpetual feeling of dissatisfaction. This is further emphasised by the cross-cutting between medium close ups of Bill, Margo, Lloyd and Karen at the Sarah Siddons’ award ceremony. Their scornful expressions attest to their antagonism towards Eve, which would have matched the emotions of the viewers in 1950. Thus it can be understood that the social time in which the audience is positioned would for many greatly affect the interpretation of the antagonists in the film.

   From a revisionist’s point of view, it may appear that Eve and Addison play the joint role of the antagonist. They are essentially similar in personality and ambition, which is established through Addison’s dialogue claiming that “contempt for humanity” and ‘insatiable ambition” are what Eve and Addison have “in common”. Furthermore, without one or the other, the protagonist, Margo, and other characters would not have experienced such drama and turmoil. Without Eve there is no one to “study” Margo and provoke her insecurities. And without Addison, Eve would not have the power and potentially, intelligence, to be able to popularise herself on such a large scale. This alliance, though “unholy”, is essential to the plot of the film and thus it can be concluded that both Eve and Addison are the “real” antagonists of the film – together, not one or the other.

   Both manipulative, uncaring and willing to push close relationships aside to achieve their ends, Addison and Eve are both essential antagonists of the film. Yet, for all their similarities, it is Eve who finds herself under the power of Addison and not the other way around. The eventual condemnation felt by audience members towards either character ultimately depends on the social conventions of the time and the viewers’ attitude towards women’s roles. 

Essay 3: Context - Whose Reality? (Death of a Salesman)

There are times when our reality does not turn out the way in which we intended it to be.

Spoiler
Victoria High School • Term 4 School Magazine

Destination Unknown
Alex Smith –  past student (Class of 2014) - 25 October 2015

To the Class of 2015:

Congratulations! School’s out! Scream and shout! ...... in excitement or in fear? Like the very many people before me, my high school years came to an end. A year ago now, I would have just spent the past week having my last few lessons, clearing out the mess I called a locker, and saying my final goodbyes to classmates and teachers. And now, it’s your turn. You’ve entered the final weeks before exams, the home stretch, the ninth inning, the fourth quarter, the whatever happens at the end of a soccer game. Before you know it, it will all be over and who knows what’s next. So for all you who are going through this time of celebration, confusion and change, welcome aboard this scary ride: Destination Unknown.

No doubt you have all been asked to death what you plan to do after you graduate and most, probably, already have your minds set on a particular pathway. Some of you may have even been working up to this point for the past thirteen years of your lives in the hope of becoming a lawyer, doctor, dentist, engineer, accountant… However, there will be some of you who ultimately miss out on your first preference: that one degree that you had planned your life with and not being accepted into will lead to great anxieties about your future, who you are and who you will be. It would be a time Sigmund Freud describes as our dreams “colliding with a bit of reality against which they are dashed to pieces”.

It happened to me.

Those very aspirations, ambitions, what I had intended to be my future, and basically my life and whole of reality just seemed to have completely vanished. I remember reading that rejection letter:
“Dear Incredibly Hard Working and Hopeful Doctor,
Our admissions committee has met, and we regret to inform you that you were not selected as a student for our entering class. There were many qualified…”

Ouch.

I had worked hard. I had shadowed doctors as part of work experience. I volunteered during my holidays. My scores had always been great. I gave everything for this. What do I do now? And what’s more, how in the world am I going to tell my parents? They’ve sacrificed so much all these years, they were my chauffeurs, chefs and servants, and I can’t even return them the favor of successfully getting into a course?!

I felt like a Loman – I had become a Willy, that very loser we had meticulously critiqued in VCE English. I believed in my goals, dedicated my life towards them, only to become become a laughable joke for the Howards of this world - those who succeed at university and life as a whole.
I was the Biff. Time and time again, I was told you are “great”, you are destined for greatness, you’ll be able to do whatever you put your mind to. They lied. Everyone else got into their courses, they got want they aimed for. Some were Bernards and achieved more than what everyone else expected. Yet, I didn’t. And it sure felt like I couldn’t.

But, this was just the start. The school or rejection jolted me from one trajectory and opened up new possibilities. I wonder about those who came before me, for whom without rejection, success would not have been possible... I’m currently at the end of my first year studying science and yes, I may have learnt a lot about the anatomy of a frog, how electricity is made and why certain chemicals explode, but those definitely were not the most important lessons. It is this very course which has shown me over and over that life isn’t meant to be the way you intend it to be. Could you imagine if it did? Alex Fleming would have never discovered penicillin which has saved countless lives. We wouldn’t have a microwave to heat up meals if it weren’t for Percy Spencer and his molten chocolate. And John Pemberton would have cured his headache instead of creating Coca Cola. Other than accidental discoveries, what about Mao’s Last Dancer? Neither Li CunXin, anyone in his family or his entire village would have expected an impoverished farm boy to be a world renown ballet dancer who also happens to be the author of a bestselling autobiography, a stockbroker and an artistic director at a dance academy.

So in the next few weeks, don’t tie yourself into a knot if things don’t go the way you had intended. Our lives are really in the hands of fate and the reality we are presented with happen for a reason. Initially it may seem like the world is just pitted against you (I get you, I really do), but really I’d say that the universe is offering you another opportunity to grow, learn and perhaps find that one something that you’re really destined for and actually will love.

Cheers,
Alex Lacey
(P.S: Honestly sometimes I do still feel like a Willy or a Biff. But at least I can proudly say I’m beginning to enjoy my time on the ride Destination Unknown, and I hope you will too.)

Essay 4: Context - Whose Reality? (Death of a Salesman)

Blurring the boundaries between the past and the present is ultimately detrimental.

Spoiler
Guru Magazine • Mind

POOR FORGETTERS
Dr Kim Lacey - published 7 April 2015

Most of us can’t remember what we ate for dinner the night before, let alone the intricate details of every day of our lives. However for one 28-year old New Yorker letting go of the past is not an option. Mind Guru Dr Kim Lacey spoke with Joey DeGrandis, to learn more about what it’s like to remember almost everything that has ever happened to you.

On July 10 2009, Joey had dinner with his mom and sister at a small Italian bistro. Later that night, he spent 20 minutes practising his sales pitch for the next day, then fell asleep on the couch watching a documentary about the Roosevelt’s.
He remembers these things, just as he remembers that on September 21 2010, he went to inspect a house, then ordered Thai takeout for dinner, as well as cookie-dough cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory; and on December 12 2011 he had stained his new white button-down shirt with some spicy sauce from a “very overpriced” $16 chicken wrap he had bought for lunch; and May 7 2013, it was a warm and sunny day when he ran into his friends on the street near his apartment. He also remembers feeling self-conscious because he was in a suit while they were wearing more casual clothing.

Joey DeGrandis is one of the 56 people worldwide that have what's known as highly superior autobiographical memory  (HSAM). Whereas we forget most of our lives, this elite squad of people with super-memories possess a structural difference in their brain that allows them to swiftly and vividly recall life events - from the mundane to the monumental.

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So, do you remember everything?
I certainly don’t remember every single second of every single day, but on average I recall more about my experience of the world than other people. Plus, there’s a lot of emotionality tied into everything that I experience.

What do you mean by 'emotionality'?
For any given date or event, I could probably tell you what I happened that day, where I was in life, and the emotions attached to it. Prior to being diagnosed with HSAM, I always wondered: Am I just an overly sensitive person? ‘Cause when I’m recalling these memories I’m really back there and I can still feel deeply impacted by the events. I remember when I was 9 years old, a kid called me a nerd and pushed me over while I was looking for books in the library; I was so upset I almost had to go home. And two days later, I had scored the winning goal in the soccer game we had during sports class and that kid gave me a high five. Thinking about it brings back the emotions so vividly, it’s almost like time travel.

When did you discover that you had this unique memory ability?
It all started with my ability to name the day of the week of any given date. The earliest memory I can think of straight off is September 19, 1994. It was a Monday and I had looked at the calendar on the wall of my room and being very much aware of it.

And when were you diagnosed with HSAM?
For most of my life, it was just a fun trick. I used it only for my own purposes, to reflect sometimes and other times it was a party game. My friends would ask things like, when was the last time we all got together here? When did we first meet such-and-such person?
Meanwhile, Dr. McGaugh, a neurobiologist in California, was researching this ability. He’d found a woman who could remember everything and was constantly depressed by her memories. Later, on May 19 2008, a gentleman appeared on the Today show for a segment called “total recall.” Then, in December 2010, a 60 Minutes segment aired and I reached out at the end of the segment to the doctors. I was formally diagnosed in August 2011 at University of California, Irvine, after a long series of tests with Dr. McGaugh and some other researchers.

And you went on a follow-up show on 60 Minutes, was that the first time you met other people who have HSAM?
Yeah, it was and It was so cool. We noticed that some of us are better at remembering certain things and it aligns with passions. Marilu Henner is into fashion, so she can remember when she bought all the pairs of shoes she owns. Another was a big football fan so he remembered scores. Another lady was very musical and remembers the date of the first time she heard a song.
The thing we all agreed on was the fact that at some point in our lives we had gone through depression, or had some form of it. It wasn’t that we were all severely depressed. It was more that we have struggled with, or currently struggle with, constantly feeling weighed down and we believe it may be because of certain memories we are unable to let go of or we get too focused on things that have already happened. As Dr. McGaugh puts it, it’s not that we remember everything, but we are just very poor at forgetting. It’s very difficult for us to dismiss memories that we attach value and emotion to. I don’t even know what it means when someone says, “I’ve let that go — it’s out of sight, out of mind.”

So I understand that having HSAM has affected your day to day life?
Sometimes it can be great because there will be good experiences associated with certain memories. I can go back and relive them. There’s particular childhood memories, including birthdays or holidays, which are so enjoyable uplifting that I can just sit and think about all day. It can be a huge temptation to just live in the past 24/7.
But this can get especially difficult for some things, like relationships. If it was a good relationship or even just a series of fun dates, the happy emotions are evoked and thinking about them makes me smile. Alternatively, if it’s a bad breakup then the memories linger and hurt. Sometimes I’ll pick and sift through the memories to find what went wrong, and that could easily be detrimental to my mental health. Sometimes, I think it might be nice to forget.

Is this the most troubling aspect?
I think it’s a combination of dwelling on things for longer than needed or the fact that consistent analysis of memories can make you a little bit too critical of yourself. The others with HSAM that I’ve met all seem to share these traits too. We seem to have a higher need for approval, seek attention and can be more sensitive to criticism. HSAM hasn't hindered us so much that we can’t cease to function like a normal person, but there is a commonality that we can often have trouble with our emotions and we can be more prone to depression.
The other issue, one of the other HSAMers pointed it out. It seems that most of us are unable to maintain long-term relationships, and rumour is that only 4 of the 56 of us who have been identified are currently in a successful marriage. This worries me and the others too, naturally. We may hold grudges over things that others have forgotten a long time ago. We don't get fresh days; no clean slates without association. Because the past is so viscerally right there, so available, so when the present gets overwhelming, it's hard not to retreat to the past. And that’s a part of the reason why we all keep in touch. We help each other to learn how to manage the memories and focus on what’s present.

This interview has been edited and condensed.
VCE 2014: HHD, Bio, English, T&T, Methods

I love you, AN. Keep being cool. <3