Revising for the exams

We have been talking about essay writing in class and how to improve your grades. The best way to do this is by engaging with the text and challenging yourself to explore the messages and ideas the author or director presents. A quick look at a study site is not enough! You need to study the text closely and make sure that you have a number of readings or viewings.

The first reading of a text allows you to understand the plot and characters but hopefully you get some insights into the key values and themes that are presented by the author or director. It is in the following readings that you will appreciate the detail and crafting of the text. In class we have discussed how writers like George Orwell have taken real care to craft their writing, selecting the exact word or phrase, considering where to set a particular scene, and developing themes, symbols and ideas throughout the course of the text.

Always remember the eleventh commandment – know thy text! Most successful NCEA students will have read or viewed their texts several times by the end of the year. Each new reading of a passage, chapter or scene increases your familiarity with the text and this can lead to new insights. Remember nothing in the text is included without a reason. Every line or shot has a purpose in the text. Try to become engaged and involved in the text we study. And stop moaning about Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Remember to look at the text as a whole. Close analysis is important but  perceptive readers try to step away from the text itself and examine how it has been constructed in order to add value and meaning to our reading. We have spent some time doing this and I need to see this reflected in your essays.

Look at George Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four, in this text our protagonist Winston reveals intricate details about himself and his story. In the book Orwell uses a type of third-person narration, so that we as readers can get insights into the world of Oceania under the cruel totalitarian regime of Ingsoc and the way in which it affects individuals on all levels. At the same time, however, Winston Smith is victim of the mind-altering propaganda. If it were a traditional narration, told only by Winston, we could never understand the brutality and manipulation that occurs within the Ministry of Truth.

To get top grades you need self management and thinking skills. Books like Nineteen Eight-Four challenge our thinking and our beliefs. This is a good thing. It is the mark of a quality text.

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