To study, or not to study?
That’s certainly the question on my mind, as I realise I’ve spent the majority of the past month watching seven and a half seasons of Friends. I’m sure you find yourself in a similar boat. Productivity levels are at an all-time low, and adjusting to a virtual, online style of learning is proving to be rather difficult. It’s much more enticing to spend several hours on Netflix than to pick up a pen. Indeed, this pandemic is affecting every facet of our lives, both physically and psychologically. I don’t know about you, but my body clock has lost any discernible degree of rhythm, to the extent that I feel like I’m slowly becoming nocturnal.
However, whilst many things have changed, you will still be sitting your VCAA Literature exam in the not-too-distant future. So, it’s imperative that you find a way to avoid the coronavirus completely derailing your year. You’ve worked for 13 years in the hope of achieving an ideal study score, and no virus is going to change that, as long as you remain focused, diligent and comprehensive with your studying system. It’s well-known that adversity and hardship build character, so this is the time to knuckle-down and regain control.
Therefore – to help you – ATAR Notes has come up with a variety of essential tips and tricks to keep you motivated to study Literature during these challenging and strange circumstances.
Firstly, use a goal-setting approach to maximise and optimise the effectiveness of your study regime. One of the most problematic aspects of the virus is the uncertainty and unpredictability it has created. Due to its ever-changing nature, many schools are unsure as to when to schedule SACs, assessments and assignments. This is much more catastrophic than it seems, as many VCE students often use these due dates and deadlines as a structural framework for their study regime, helping them to evaluate priorities and attend to matters depending on their urgency. However, with many SACs postponed temporarily, students are now unsure of how to proceed with their study or where to start.
This is a recipe for disaster, as it can both exacerbate disorganisation and reduce motivation levels. Therefore, if you want to maximise your productivity and efficiency, set goals and targets. These goals should be manageable, attainable and specific. For example, on Monday, you will spend 90 minutes re-reading 5 chapters of your novel, or the first act of your play, scanning the text for important quotes. Then, on Tuesday, you will spend 60 minutes planning out an essay and writing an introduction. By being specific and realistic with your objectives and the timeframe in which you are going to complete them, you will ensure you achieve them, revitalising your attitude and establishing a sense of direction for your studies.
It’s also really important that students further familiarise themselves with the texts they are studying. The demonstration of comprehensive textual knowledge features on any assessment criteria, and is arguably the most important criterion of them all. However, sitting down, re-reading, highlighting and annotating texts is an undesirable proposition for most students. Therefore, from time to time, it can be useful to change your methodology, and try some new approaches. For example, you could:
Analyse key moments, themes and quotes, as well as the prominent views and values featured in the text. Whilst this approach may seem useless, verbalising and articulating your knowledge of a text can be a useful mechanism through which you can reinforce your understanding of the text.
This may seem embarrassing and awkward, but it can be a pragmatic way to highlight the extent of your current knowledge of the text, revealing your strengths and weaknesses. Once again, by spontaneously vocalising your thoughts, you will synthesise your ideas about the text, mirroring the same cognitive and analytical tasks you complete in exam-style situations, without having to sit down for hours and write until your hand cramps.
This one is for all the bookworms studying Literature – I hope there are a few of you! Many of you might be reluctant to write essays and amalgamate quotes, but be entirely willing to re-read your texts. This is a highly effective means through which you can re-familiarise yourself with the text, as, for many of you, it may have been several months since you completed your initial reading. Re-reading your respective texts on a frequent basis helps to ensure the ideas and themes remain fresh in your mind.
These can contain the valuable jargon synonymous with the text (for example, “mendacity” in Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”).
This will increase your competence in an examination-style environment, which, in the long-term, will help to mitigate any propensity for nervousness before exams.
Focus on finding revered scholarly criticism which you can potentially implement in your future essays, but which will also enhance your general understanding of the text and how it can be scrutinised from several perspectives.
Practice writing some detailed and sophisticated analysis of them, analysing the language at an intimate level and exploring its technical aspects.
Finally, the importance of remaining physically healthy cannot be understated. Maintaining a functional and consistent sleep regime is vital for students, and is an essential component of a well-structured and organised studying system. So, next time you find yourself watching something at 2AM, find the strength to put your device down, as difficult as it may be.
Willpower and resilience are necessary at this time. The students who will score the best will find a way, however inconceivable, to remain diligent with their studies.