A guide to getting acing VCE English

Struggling to excel with VCE English new syllabus? Let us show you how to score 45+ in VCE English and navigate essays and creatives perfectly.

6 months ago   •   4 min read

By KIS Academics
Photo by Clarissa Watson / Unsplash

If you're preparing for VCE English, you're in the right place. I've been through it, from initially disliking the subject to obsessing over the nuances of literary analysis. Now, I can't help but dissect everything from character gestures to background music in movies (which might explain why my friends refuse to watch films with me anymore 😭).

So, let's dive into how you can ace VCE English, making it an enjoyable and productive journey. First, let's get familiar with the syllabus and course structure:

Unit 1

AOS 1

Reading and Exploring Texts: This phase focuses on interpreting texts by analysing characters, settings, plot, language, structure, and form, all while connecting them to your personal experiences and values

AOS 2 

Crafting Texts: Here, you'll refine your writing skills across various forms, experimenting with language and structure.

Unit 2

AOS 1 

Reading and Exploring Texts: Dive deeper into text analysis, exploring multiple meanings and contexts.

AOS 2

Exploring Argument: Learn the art of deconstructing and using persuasive elements in texts.

Unit 3

AOS 1

Reading and Responding to Texts: This phase demands critical discussion of how authors construct meaning within the context of their values, audience, presentation, and language.

AOS 2 

Creating Texts: Develop your creative writing skills and reflect on the writing process.

Unit 4

AOS 1 

Reading and Responding to Texts: Explore how different audiences' contexts shape text interpretation.

AOS 2

Analysing Argument: Analyse recent media publications on controversial topics and prepare to present your own viewpoints effectively.

It's important to get familiar with the specific areas of study and their assessments to excel in VCE English. The final VCE English Study Score can be broken down into:

25% - SAC (School Assessed Coursework) scores from Unit 3

25% - SAC scores from Unit 4

50% - Score from the external final exam

Note that the results from units 1 and 2 do not contribute to your study score so the key is to find the balance not overdoing it but also making the most of it as a practice run for year 12.

Now that we've got the groundwork, let's delve into some practical tips:

Organising Your Notes

Year 11 is the perfect time to figure out how you want to organise your notes. You can go digital, like I did and create a spreadsheet with annotations from novels, screen clips from films, etc. Command + F is the greatest tool ever invented when you know you have the perfect literary technique in your word bank and can’t remember it. However, everyone is different and learns in different ways, here are some techniques you could use:

  • Anki Flashcards - the system is a bit hard to wrap your head around at first but once you do, it's a lifesaver for memorisation.
  • Mind Maps - these are great for visual learners to conceptualise relationships between characters, themes, and ideas in a text. This can be particularly useful for grasping the broader concepts or for revision before a test.
  • Colour - Coding - Assign different colours to highlight various elements within your notes. For example, use one colour for character analysis, another for literary devices, and so on. This visual distinction helps you quickly locate specific information when studying.

Staying on Top of Content

You have probably heard that VCE English is ‘a marathon, not a sprint’ a million times and this is where it comes into play. The scariest part about English is the immensity of knowledge we’re expected to cram into our brains and not knowing what part we’ll need until the reading time begins. The way to tackle this is to start early and chip away at the content periodically. It's about consistency, not cramming. Revisit your notes and texts regularly to keep the information fresh in your mind. The way I did this last year was to cover my room with whiteboard wallpaper and fill every cm of it with quotes. Being woken up by L.B. Jeffries’ quotes every morning when I pulled my blinds up was surprisingly helpful.  

Effective Memorization

Memorising quotes and literary techniques is essential, but don't stop there. Understand the context and analysis behind them. Choose quotes that can fit into various themes, making them versatile for your essays.

The Power of Feedback

Feedback is your best friend. Don't shy away from seeking it. Whether it's from your teacher or peers, constructive criticism can help you improve significantly. I used to bombard my teacher with practice essays every chance I got and it made the biggest impact on my progress to an A+ student. Make sure you analyse the feedback thoroughly and read over it before your subsequent essays.

Practice Like the Real Thing

Simulate exam conditions by doing practice exams under timed conditions. This will help you get into the right mindset for the actual exam. To psychologically prepare for the big day, I used to do all my practice exams at the same time it was scheduled for so I could perfect my pre-exam routine. It would not also make the actual day not as scary because I would’ve done it many times before.

Examiner's Reports

These are the best insight into the examiner’s thoughts as they read your essays. I went through every report that mentioned the texts I was studying so I could find the level of sophistication and depth of analysis that I had to aim towards.

So, there you have it – a comprehensive guide to acing VCE English. Remember, it's not just about getting the highest scores; it's about enjoying the journey and developing a deep appreciation for literature. Happy studying!


Written by KIS Academics Private Tutor, Manasvi Shirgaonkar. Manasvi is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Radiography and Medical Imaging (Honours) at Monash Uni and has received stellar reviews from her past KIS Academics students. You can view Manasvi’s profile here and request her as a tutor.

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