How to gain extra marks without even trying

The night before the exam

Go to bed at your normal (going to school) time, not earlier not later.

Do not sit up late cramming you will only stress yourself without achieving anything (you should already have done your preparation!)

Get some exercise a run, swim or walk is fine. This does not mean go out and party with your friends!

 Make sure you drink plenty of WATER, you want to go to the exam hydrated… but not full of liquid – you know the consequences of this!

Find your dictionary and two working blue or black pens (both the same if possible) and highlighters. You must be self sufficient. You are NOT allowed to borrow pens or dictionaries from other students once the exam has started.

  Exam morning

Eat breakfast (even if your stomach is churning) Three hours is a long time on an empty stomach.

Arrive at school 20 minutes to half an hour before your exam.

What to take into the exam:

Water in a clear unlabeled bottle.  It is important to stay hydrated for optimum brain function.

A dictionary – you may not take a thesaurus even if it is attached  to your dictionary   A thesaurus will confiscated if you do take one in. (Your dictionary will work as a thesaurus; remember there is no rule which says you have to replace a word with another single word!)

  • TWO working blue/black pens that don’t leave blots every second word.
  • Highlighters for your Language Analysis
  • Watch – but programmable  watches may be confiscated for the duration of the exam


What you may not take into the exam

  • Your text books
  • Notes of any kind (yes we know you are allowed  a page of notes for maths but this is the English exam and the rules are different!)

What you should not take into the exam

  • Red pens, pastel coloured pens, perfumed pens,  pencils – none of these are appropriate unless you are intent on annoying the examiner so they will give you the worst possible mark.

There are no marks for writing the number of the question in a different colour (and there are some assessors who get quite irate when students do change pens as it is considered a waste of writing time).

  •  Liquid paper – you are not allowed to use it.

A single line through any errors works just as well (don’t scribble it out, it looks messy).  Assessors get paid per question, so they don’t waste their time reading what you have crossed out.

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A collection of prompts for Imaginative landscape

  1. Landscape is often linked to emotion.
  2. Landscapes, both real and imagined, change our views of the world.
  3. The landscape of the imagination draws on the physical landscape.
  4. A single place can change our view of the world.
  5. The place in which we live has an impact on our understanding of the world.
  6. The physical setting of a place can often reflect the state of our emotions.
  7. The natural world around us helps to shape our destiny.
  8. The landscapes that we create in our mind help to keep our imagination alive.
  9. The way we relate to our physical environment can determine the kind of person we become.
  10. A change in the landscape can reflect a corresponding change in a person.
  11. Landscapes influence how people see themselves.
  12. Landscapes challenge our sense of belonging.
  13. Our memories of a landscape have the power to transform.
  14. Any landscape is a condition of the spirit.
  15. The landscape people grow up in speaks to them in a way that nowhere else does.
  16. Our perception of a landscape is forged from personal experience.
  17. The meaning of a landscape changes over time.
  18. People’s lives can be enriched by an emotional connection to the landscape.
  19. One landscape may be experienced differently by different people.
  20. The landscape of the imagination draws on the physical landscape.
  21. Landscape is often linked to emotion.
  22. For most people, there is a strong connection to a remembered landscape.
  23. The way we view the landscape we live in reflects our hopes and fears.
  24. The landscape in which we live influences who we are.
  25. Our sense of place depends more on memories and experiences than on the physical landscape.
  26. People who are in conflict with the landscape are usually in conflict with each other.
  27. Human impact on the landscape is always fleeting.
  28. People’s fears and desires are often revealed through their perceptions of the external landscape.
  29. Landscapes are not static, neutral places. We are able to transform them in our minds.
  30. It can be difficult to accept changes that occur to a familiar landscape.
  31. The landscape is a place for people to shape and evolve.
  32. The landscape in which we live affects our perception of the world.
  33. As we explore other imaginative worlds, we make sense of our own.
  34. Landscapes transform our ideas and emotions.
  35. Reality and imagination often merge as we struggle to interpret the world in which we live.
  36. Our imagination can give us new perspectives about our environment and how we interact within it.
  37. We create landscapes as a form of escape. We can escape as far as our imagination allows.
  38. Imagination allows impossibilities to eventuate.
  39. It is through other people’s interpretations of our own environments that we can better understand and  shape our own experiences.
  40. We live in a specific time and place yet, simultaneously, we experience an internal life that is not limited in  this way. (2009 VCE Exam)
  41. Events and experiences influence the way we connect to a place. (2008 VCE Exam)
  42. The place in which we live strongly influences how we make sense of the world. (VCE Sample Exam)
  43. Our vision of the landscape reflects our vision of ourselves.
  44. We create landscapes as a form of escape. We can escape as far as our imagination allows.
  45. Landscape is our retreat from life’s pressure as well as from the world of nightmare.
  46. Our lives can be explained in terms of literal and metaphorical landscapes.
  47. We spend our lives digging for meaning, grappling physically, mentally and emotionally with our daily environments.
Posted in english | Tagged | 2 Comments

Third Term Break

There is time to improve your grade remarkably between now and the exams, but you will need to take control.


Get up at a reasonable hour (Don’t sleep your day away!).  If you get up not much later than your usual time you can achieve a lot of work and still have time for exercise and a little socialising.

Work out a study timetable — divide your time between your subjects, don’t just do one and ignore the others, don’t just do what comes easiest! The research shows that you should be working in at least half hour blocks with short breaks

Form a study group — but make sure that they are people who will study and who will share ideas.  Read each other’s work and comment constructively, make workable suggestions, solve problems…

Submit your work for teacher’s comments

For English:

WRITE, WRITE WRITE. (Essay Topics for your texts and Prompts for Context are here on the blog! Short articles for a quick analysis are here too)

Text: Complete a mix of: plans, intro + dot points + conclusion; and most importantly full essays under timed conditions. (1 hour)

Context: Work on your pieces and ensure that you are both addressing the prompt and incorporating your chosen text Witness/GUPA into your writing. Look for prompts which would not fit anything that you have written.  What would you do for these? Full essays under timed conditions. (1 hour)

Language Analysis: Complete VCAA past papers (see VCAA site) or use ones from your manual or quick analyses from the articles on this blog for when you have only a little time. You could also use any opinion article from a newspaper. Full essays under timed conditions. (1 hour)

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Weekly Term 3 Homework 2011




Year of Wonders

Language analysis:

Past VCAA exam papers


August  5 It is only the in mates who benefit from the production of Cosi Fan Tutte. Discuss with reference to Cosi It is only when we know ourselves that we can find a place to belong 1666 was truly a year of wonders for Anna Firth. Discuss. VCAA 2007 Exam (You have already done this one in class but have a fresh try)
August 12 Lewis never has control over the production, it is Roy who makes all the decisions. Our identity and sense of belonging are shaped by our cultural heritage. Fear was as destructive as the plague itself. Is this true of Year of Wonders? VCAA 2006 (both articles)
August 19 The world outside the asylum was as mad as anything to be found inside the institution. Is this Nowra’s view? Friends are the most important way of finding out who we are and where we belong All the characters in Year of Wonders are flawed in some way. Discuss VCAA 2004 (don’t forget the image)
August 26 Madness is in the eye of the beholder. Discuss with reference to Cosi Living in a culture which is different is never easy Year of Wonders is totally unrealistic. Nobody could be as selfless  as these characters. Do you agree? VCAA 2009 sample exam
Sept  2 Music and the arts are much more than mere entertainment. Does Cosi support this view? To belong we hide behind a series of masks which hide our true identity Every person in Year of Wonders  has their own way of coping. To what extent is this true? VCAA 2008 exam
Sept  9 All the characters in Cosi have their own version of what it is to be normal. Do you agree? Our outward appearance tells little of who we really are Despite the horrors of the plague many of the characters benefit from their situation. Discuss VCAA 2009 exam
Sept  16 How does love shape the actions of the characters in Cosi? Only our families can ever truly understand us It is the women who are the strongest characters in Year of Wonders. Do you agree? VCAA 2010 exam
Sept  23        

You can complete a mix of Full essays; Essay plans; Full introdution – dot point- full conclusion; Dot point intro – topic sentences – dot point expansion; Lotus diagrams; Essays in timed or untimed conditions. AT LEAST HALF SHOULD BE FULL ESSAYS. The important thing is to be thinking about and trying different ways of shaping essays and ways of responding to Text, Contest and Language Analysis.

When in doubt seek help (but have a go yourself first)!

You need to submit your work for feedback

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Year of Wonders

You can find a useful discussion of Year of Wonders on the Wheeler Centre’s site:

It should provide you with some food for thought about the novel and ways of engaging with this text.

Posted in Year of Wonders | Tagged | 7 Comments

SAC questions for Cosi

Please note that none of your teachers will comment on essays written on these topics as preparation for the SAC. (Essays on other topics might receive feedback, if time permits)

SAC Topics (select ONE)

Love and politics are equally important.  Discuss with reference to Cosi.


Lewis is as much a product of his environment as Nick, Lucy or any of the in-mates.  Discuss.

PS: Don’t forget to check out the marking criteria for your SAC via the English drop down menu.
Posted in Cosi | 1 Comment

New prompts I & B… pictures?

The (longish) list of prompts for Identity and Belonging has been expanded.  Check out the new ones on the bottom of the list.

By the way the prompts are in two formats, statements and questions.  The prompt you see on the exam paper could be either

and even more confrontingly could be a picture or graphic, with or without a written prompt. This has not yet happened but the VCCA says “prompt or stimulus material” in its official publications.  (More later)

Posted in Identity and Belonging, prompts, Uncategorized | 1 Comment