Year 12 VCE English is a particularly important exam since its score is the one that will determine which universities you can go to, online or in person.

It is compulsory for all students in Victoria and the questions you will face on it may be well known, but the exams are regularly updated, meaning that you need to spend hours and hours inside and outside of your course writing and reading to study the format well and know how to answer a text response, whatever level you find yourself at the start of the year, and whatever location.

Looking at previous years' exams can be a great help for this.

The question of English at VCE has three streams: General English, English Literature, and English Language. 

This text will cover each of these and their features, as well as the format of the exam and a sample of what you might see there.

It will also share the best ways to help you study your proficiency and skills for this subject to do well in the final examination.

Get the lowdown on VCE English exams in Melbourne and across Victoria.

English revision classes at VCE are highly worthwhile
English VCE exams have a large text analysis focus.
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The Academic Disciplines of VCE English, Their Format, Exams, and How to Revise

These areas all give you an ATAR score, which is the ticket to university and can be taken together, or just one at a time.

You must in any case take at least one course out of the three mentioned above. 

Read on to find out how to best practice and utilise resources, both online with academic resources and in an academic setting like school or private tutoring, in order to do well when the final exam tests your ability.

General English

This is the English that is deemed the "least academic" because it is the one that most students opt for.

A sample of what you will look at compared to others is less text-heavy, and more about giving students the opportunity to study questions of society in a format that gives them the opportunity for writing about people and speaking about people in a way that addresses broader issues of society and can help learn and report on questions of life in the online age with people living almost inside their computer.

Talking about VCE English texts and exam preparation can be an effective means of revision
Talking about the exam, texts, and your revision strategies can be a good revision tool. | Source: iStock - Master

It, therefore, has the broadest focus of all the English subjects since it is the one most students opt to study, due to having to choose at least one subject.

It has the general focus on text analysis skills, writing a clear argument and response on global themes, understanding the text that has been updated to an Australian context, and covers some of the skills language-specific tests like IELTS, PTE, and Cambridge exams do. 

An important part is crafting your own writing style as this voice will help you do well and get a better score, which is harder due to the high cohort numbers.

Nonetheless, this is a big ticket into university and often contributes to your ATAR or entrance scores directly. You will learn about and do many a writing sample on Australian identity, reading texts like novels and poetry, identifying language features, understanding the format of a text and critiquing this, as well as understanding questions relating to a text passage to provide insight and prove their level.

Discover VCE English exam text analysis here.

The General English Exam

Having a look online at the study guide, students will find that there are lots of resources and sample essays to help you get a good score when the examination day comes.

The exam lasts three hours and will present students with a range of critical questions on texts and themes they have read and discussed.

Students will have to answer updated short answer questions on the theme, then write an essay, with quotes memorised from their assigned novel or corpus, thinking critically about the text and the significance of the passage they're seeing.

How to Revise for the General English Exam

Students will find this a relatively easy subject to revise since you can keep notes in your book and attend dozens of study groups throughout the year 12 year across the state and within your school

A good thing to bear in mind is finishing your book or poetry well before the exam time comes. This way, you will reduce stress but also have a clear idea of what you've read and have time to reflect critically on this. 

By crafting such a strategy, you can format the quotes you want to use in a particular way that will be linked to the ideas you want to show in your writing.

Make sure you're speaking to other people about this too - other students, teachers, family members, friends - this way you can practice academic thinking and critically engage with the ideas of others.

It can also help keep tabs on the position in the text that you're at and can guide you to online conversations with your computer to platforms where you can learn about and read many a report on previous exams from Australia or international. These kinds of writing are highly useful because you can see a sample of previous writing and questions that got students a high score in the exam and got them a great ATAR.

English Literature

This stream has a focus on texts themselves - poetry, literature, novels, plays - and is considered the hardest because of the workload of reading and analysing 7-8 specific texts in under a year. It should not dissuade students who are keen to really dig deeply into themes and discuss the big issues that they may relate to in society and culture.

You also don't have to be a bookworm to love this subject, just want to talk and think critically about ideas and themes.

The difference between General English and this is that you'll work much more closely with the teacher to get your independent critical abilities up, and subsequently apply these to all the texts that you'll see. 

These include language choice and writing style, character relationships, story arcs, discovering the author's voice and intent, and contextualising these choices to the time they were written in and comparing them to today.

Find interesting English tutoring here on Superprof.

Good scores in VCE English can lead to your dream university course.
VCE English has a direct pathway to your desired university course. | Source: GlobalUniversity

The English Literature Exam

This is as much of a challenge as the General English exam, but only lasts two hours and deals with two passages from two texts. Instead of having to memorise quotes, you will be expected to know the book or entire poetry collection inside and out in order to be able to place it in the story or themes.

You will then need to give your interpretation of these and convincingly argue how you intuitively understand them. The two passages in the respective sections may be similar or not, so their relationship is up to the student to determine.

Work out how to craft a brilliant VCE English essay.

How to Revise for the English Literature Exam

Much like the General English exam, being well ahead with the texts will help you a lot. You will have much more group reading during class hours in a subject like this, and the teacher will go out of their way to pinpoint ideas and brainstorm themes with you. It's best therefore that you have visual aids to note down and post up around you to keep these themes fresh in your mind.

This one is also useful to talk about with others since it requires interpretation and a fresh perspective can always be useful.

Throughout the year, you will be required to compare a text to an adapted version so this is also a good start for such understanding. Drawing Venn diagrams or having columns to classify ideas can be very helpful, as can making lists of certain features of text and language.

Find interesting VCE English tutor Melbourne here on Superprof.

English Language

Definitely the least common of the three, this subject isn't offered by every school. It's more similar to the IELTS, PTE, or Cambridge English exam in that it tests features of language and how English is a social construct.

It is also more scientific like a linguistics course. So rather than looking at a novel for themes, you'll look at a discourse analysis and be asked to understand implicit meanings, semantics, pragmatics, and how grammatical features can identify speaker meanings.

Find interesting VCE English tutoring here on Superprof.

English Language is the more linguistic stream of VCE English subjects.
You will study more linguistic focuses in the English Language stream in VCE. | Source: Getty Images - Times Higher Education

The English Language Exam

Also 2 hours in length, the three sections focus on: a discourse analysis of formal or informal interactions, analytical commentary style and speech functions in an interaction, and an essay based on a language-related topic. 

How to Revise for the English Language Exam

More mathematical in approach, understanding formulae or methods of applying understanding to language are more useful to revise that focussing on specific texts. Discussion about themes to do with language for the final essay would also be highly useful and can foster a curiosity about language that can help show the student's understanding. 

For this reason, practicing essay skills and the ability to write concise and prompt answers may be of use once the student has a firm grasp of the subject matter.

Find the best ways to create the perfect essay structure.

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