Study the concept first, before specifying into sections.
You are studying the entire concept of discovery, so get a really solid understanding of what it means first. This way, you cover the content first and basically just express it in different ways through the sections. The best way to study the entire concept of discovery is by knowing your syllabus, because that’s where they pull the questions from. Sit down with it, and highlight and annotate to really discern what everything means. I made mindmaps to help organize the possible interpretations of each main idea. For example, expectations of discovery, preconceived ideas of discovery, different processes of discovery, etc.
One of the strategies my teacher used was to have a notebook full of things related to discovery. Whilst I never really filled it up completely, I did have some reference pages which I found helpful to summarise what I knew on the topic; a brain-dump of sorts. You can flick through these pages every couple of weeks to refresh the different aspects of discovery, what they mean, etc. Some page ideas include images, extracts, quotes, synonyms, antonyms, topic sentences, stimuli or creative writing. You’d be surprised how useful this tool actually is. Once you get a good understanding of discovery, you can start to apply this knowledge to the different sections of the exam and get more specific to the question.
A note about studying discovery according to the syllabus
Remember, it’s important not to restrict yourself with English by only using the syllabus. Whilst it’s okay to use it as a base for ideas, it’s really not recommended to take word for word sentences and put them in your writing. For example,
The author is demonstrating the concept that discoveries can arise from a process of careful planning.
Markers know that you’re just regurgitating what they’ve given you, and whilst it may be true for the text, it will only get you a certain amount of marks. By showing you can understand an aspect of discovery in an abstract way, you demonstrate that you really know what it means. So when making notes on the concept on discovery, try brainstorming more abstract ways of thinking. For example,
Discoveries, although meticulously planned, may deliver surprising consequences upon experience.
This is kind of an amalgamation of two syllabus points, and doesn’t sound like you’re just repeating what has already been given. English is a skills subject, not rote learning.
Section I – Reading
Students often neglect the first section, but it is worth the same amount of marks as the other two and is just as important. Whilst you may not need to practice as much for this section, still invest some time. Once you get the hang of the formula for answering questions, practice becomes more of a refresher.
Answering questions for Section I can be pretty easy if you know exactly what to look for. Dissecting the question is essential, then you know what you need to say. For example, ‘How’ in the question indicates that you need to use techniques. The amount of marks is often an indication of how much evidence or how many ideas you need to include. Think about how many marks a question is given, then try and figure out what those marks are given to.
To study for the reading section, I mainly studied topic sentences on discovery, the syllabus, and honing my ability to remember my ideas on discovery. One way to do this is by taking advantage of your exposure to everyday texts. Maybe if you see an advertisement, or a music video, or are watching a movie, reading a book- take a second to think about what discovery is in that text. How are they showing it? What are they saying about discovery? Doing this every now and then can help you become a little quicker at analyzing.
Section II – Creative
Some people can just wing the creative writing section, and get good marks, but it’s hard. Even though it’s the part of the exam where students feel they could get away without studying, there’s a lot of pressure on you on the day of the exam. So just a little bit of studying can go a long way.
My strategy for creative writing was long and kind of tiresome, and maybe a little unnecessary, but it worked. I wrote a base story about discovery. I pulled apart every single point within the syllabus and made it a topic sentence. Then I altered my story to fit every single one of those points, and then I memorized the alterations and the base story. But if this method sounds daunting to you, you can do an easier version with a little more improv.
I would definitely suggest having a story that you at least know the timeline of. Have some sort of idea of a character or a plot, which you know you can fit discovery into. And then with the syllabus, brainstorm how you would alter your story to fit these points.
Once you know how flexible your story is, practice with stimuli!
Section III – Essay
Studying for the essay relies heavily on you knowing your texts. Find a way to organize your ideas on discovery within each of your texts. I made a mindmap for my prescribed and for my related text, then technique tables on their effect, and a quote page for each. After studying this, I made another resource to use leading to my exams that basically outlined an essay or paragraph on each point within the syllabus. This was super helpful to me and I referred back to it regularly when practicing essays.
When practicing, always handwrite, then type up. This way you can review your essay, and it also makes it easier to mark and make notes on. The first few times, have your notes in front of you- but then as you start to memorise, remove them. At this point you should start timing your practices to make sure you are hitting the 40 minute mark. But don’t rush yourself to write an essay you don’t understand; always take the time to know exactly what you’re writing about and what your points are. This all helps to enhance your understanding.
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