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How to avoid retelling the plot? A+ Sentence Templates for VCE English Students

Is your teacher telling you to “avoid retelling the plot” and include more in-depth analysis? If you want to transform the way you write and avoid common errors that VCE students often make. This blog is for you, and the best part: you will have access to a list of fool-proof sentence templates that are designed to help you analyse your texts to an A+ level. Starting your sentences the right way will lead you in the right direction. Examiners are always looking for responses that showcase an understanding of the author’s messages and linguistic/artistic decision. Be sure to focus on discussing textual features and authorial intent rather than stressing over memorizing an insane number of quotes or summarizing the text.

Common Errors to Avoid:

  • Quoting without analysing: Your understanding of the text is undoubtedly adequate or even profound – but chucking a bunch of the quotes defeats the whole purpose of this task – EXPLAIN its significance!
  • Retelling the plot: you need to outline your evidence, yes! but do not summarise the plot – your markers know what’s in the text! Contextualise using one sentence or less!
  • Quotes embedding: Integrate your quotes – make them parts of your sentence and make sure they make grammatical sense (Try reading it out loud without the quotation marks)
  • Not knowing how to ‘analyse’: This is the most difficult part and it definitely distinguishes a good student from the rest of their peers.
    • Indirect/ Direct characterisation: Indirect characterisation gets you the marks and they should support the writer’s characterisation. Indirect characterisation is when the writer portrays the personalities of a character through their actions, behaviours rather than directly saying “Abigail is evil” – this is direct characterisation.
    • Narrative devices: The writer may compare A with B; associate object A with B; use an object to symbolise or represent an abstract idea. Pay attention to these! When you see a reference to an animal, think ANIMAL IMAGERY/ ZOOMORPHISM. If you see an abstract idea being given thoughts, it is a PERSONIFICATION.
    • Talk about what the writer is doing, not what the characters are doing!

Anyway, I hope these tips would help you improve the quality of your writing! Let me know if you have questions. These templates might be a good starting point for you guys!

A+ Sentence Starters:

Shift the focus of your essays to what the author is doing, and the type of language they employ, rather than describing what the characters have done in the text. As outlined on the VCAA website, a 9-10/10 essay must:

  • Demonstrate a close and perceptive reading of the text, exploring complexities of its concepts and construction
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the implications of the topic, using an appropriate strategy for dealing with it, and exploring its complexity from the basis of the text
  • Develop a cogent, controlled and well-substantiated discussion using precise and expressive language

High-scoring responses must demonstrate an understanding of how meaning is conveyed, and also the nuances of the messages embedded in the text. ‘Construction’ refers to the text’s structure and the author’s use of language, cinematic techniques or literary devices. To score a good mark, students should discuss why authors have chosen a particular narrative voice, structure, or diction.

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