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HSC English: Nailing that comprehension stuff

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HSC English: Nailing that comprehension stuff

The texts are new, but the techniques you use to analysethem are the same.

You’re going to be there, at your desk, faced with texts you’venever seen before. What do you do? Panic? Burst into tears? Flip the desk? Nah…Take a deep breath and rememberthe techniques you’ve been practising. More specifically, here’s how to getdem marks.

Read the text closely

For starters, you’re looking for the big stuff. What’s thepoint of view? What’s the setting? What kind of tone, atmosphere and voice areyou seeing? Figure out the structure and themes in play here. Basically, you’retrying to get a feel for the text – what it’s all about and why you’ve beenasked to analyse it.

Hunt down those techniques

The ones the author is using, not the ones you’ll be using.Wait, that’s confusing. Let’s start again. Reread the text, focusing on thetools the writer has used to create meaning. Here, you’re getting morespecific, hunting for examples of stuff like similes/metaphors, symbolism andother ways you’re drawn into the world of the text.

Dig into the question

Right. Now, it’s not enough to just read the text andhighlight those techniques. You’re being asked a very specific question here,and it’s important to make sure you’re answering it correctly. Circle the keywords, then rewrite the question in your own words, so you know you understandit. (Don’t spend too much time on this under exam conditions, obvs.) Once youknow what you’re being asked, you can figure out which techniques of yoursare going to be more helpful in analysing the text.

Write your response

Don’t forget this part. It’s what you’ll actually be markedon. Be clear, be concise and try to leave yourself time to reread what you’vewritten at the end, to double-check that it makes sense.

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