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Planning your Essay During Exam – ATAR 95+

Writing an essay in 40 minutes to an hour can be a daunting task. So much so that taking five minutes, or even ten minutes, to plan, seems like it costs too much. But everything will be made so much easier through organising yourself a few minutes into the exam. This is the method I used during my exams which I found to be super effective.

  • ALWAYS plan.

This goes without saying; planning essays is absolutely essential to making sure you’ve covered everything you want to say and have a framework to work off. So make the commitment when you sit down in an exam to plan your essays! You can do this in five minutes reading time mentally as well.

  • Have a method.

You have to know HOW you’re going to plan your essay. This depends on how you structure essays as well. My method was basically the same for English Advanced, English Extension 1 and Studies of Religion 2. I would pick out the key words in the question and place them in the middle of a mind map. For example, my HSC exam had this question for Module C:

An individual’s perception of landscape is intrinsically linked to the past. To what extent is this view represented in your prescribed text and ONE other related text of your own choosing?

So the key words I put in the middle of my mind map were perception and link to past. This identifies the focus of your essay, and you know that all of your points must link to this, the core of the essay.

Next, I would pick how many paragraphs to have. Because you are writing about two texts, I would have two main ideas and a paragraph on each for each text- alternating. So the two branches from the middle of the mind map would be these two main ideas. For example, link to memory and personal experiences. These main ideas would become topic sentences for each paragraph. I would have two final branches coming off each of these ideas, one for each text. I would scribble a small statement on how the text links to that idea, and bullet point 2-3 techniques underneath.

There are a lot of benefits to using this method. You can easily formulate a thesis statement because you can identify main ideas in your essay, and when it comes to writing the essay, you know exactly where you’re going and what you’re using. If possible, have the plan in front of you underneath the question.

  • Learn how to use it!

Practice planning! When you’ve written enough essays, it’s really good to just do five minute plans as practice for the upcoming exam, knowing what techniques and ideas you can use for different kinds of questions. Through doing this, you become more familiar with generating thesis statements on the spot and picking out the best supporting evidence.

Good luck!

For tutoring inquiries and questions, contact ash.negrone@gmail.com

Author: Ashlee Negrone

Ash studies Pre-Medicine at the University of Technology Sydney. She gradutated in 2016 with an ATAR of 95.3 with the subjects Biology, Adv English, PDHPE, English Ext 1, Design and Technology and Studies of Religion 2U.
Contact ash.negrone@gmail.com for tutoring inquiries.

Ashlee Negrone

Ash studies Pre-Medicine at the University of Technology Sydney. She gradutated in 2016 with an ATAR of 95.3 with the subjects Biology, Adv English, PDHPE, English Ext 1, Design and Technology and Studies of Religion 2U. Contact ash.negrone@gmail.com for tutoring inquiries.

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