Three Weeks Before the English Exam – How to Prepare

By Linda Le in Study
11th of October 2017

Linda Le completed VCE English with a perfect study score of 50 raw.
If you want to save time before the English exam, check out these complete course notes!

The VCE English exam is just three weeks away, but that doesn’t mean you should panic.

Before the exam, there’s still time for a lot of improvements to be made. In terms of studying, there are three main types:



This is the first step, and arguably the easiest. It’s where you cement your understanding of your text.

Recall may involve re-reading your text. Or re-reading just key chapters of your text. Or reading or making your own chapter summaries. Or compiling quote banks, or even drawing character or theme-based mind maps.

You shouldn’t be confined here by “stereotypical” study – you can mix it up! The main idea, though, is to cement that understanding.



This is the second main type of studying.

Development may involve unpacking prompts. Or putting together mock plans on how you would structure your essay when met with particular essay topics. Or some close reading and passage analysis (or scene analysis if you’re studying a film!) of your chosen text.

This stage is important; it allows you to take your understanding of texts, and start applying it to an exam scenario.



The third study step involves actually writing essays. These don’t necessarily need to all be under timed conditions, but there should definitely be some you as simulated exams.

It also involves getting feedback for those essays, and learning from them to target improvement. There isn’t much point writing essays if you’re writing them just for sake of writing them.



Generally, recall is the first stage of the revision process. It’s the first stage because it’s incredibly difficult to engage in the next two stages without it.

Otherwise, you may find your essays to be sub-par. This may be because your ideas are too broad, and lacking substance. Specifically, that often comes hand-in-hand with a lack of solid evidence you can later discuss.

However, after a while, recall becomes increasingly useless. After a while, you know what happens in your text well enough to that you could better spend your time in other ways.

To this end, as the exam nears, you should find yourself moving away from this stage, and toward development and creation.

As you get closer still to the exam, you should find there are diminishing returns in the development stage. At this point, you should move on to the final stage of creation – actually writing essays.

With all the knowledge you have cultivated during the recall and development stages, you should find you can write an essay without needing to consult your notes. And you’ll probably see an increased level of effectiveness and efficiency as you write (and get feedback on) more essays. Make sure you get feedback, though – that’s really important to facilitate targeted improvement.


Of course, these stages aren’t that clear-cut. You could still do a prompt breakdown for 15 minutes if you don’t have the time to write a full-blown essay, for example.




It’s essential that you pace yourself in the coming weeks to ensure you don’t burn out.

You shouldn’t try to cram two months’ worth of revision into two days, and you shouldn’t need to. Ideally, the final stretch will see you merely consolidating knowledge and skills, and preparing yourself for the three hour monster that is the VCE English exam.

Ultimately, when exam time comes, trust that you have more than a year’s worth of experience to draw from. Trust yourself and your skills. At the end of the day, your English exam, whilst important, is merely a snapshot of what you could put down on the page on the day. It really doesn’t mean all that much, and doesn’t say all that much about you as a person.

Good luck – you’ve got this! 💪💪💪


  • avatar_comment



    THANK YOU!!!

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    Abigail . Selvadurai.


    It is really helpful and great tips to prepare for the exam. I will try and implement them when I am preparing for the English exam . Along with your lecture I have a good understanding of writing essays. Thanks for that article