Text Response Essay Plan in Preparation for a SAC or Exam
In preparation for a text response essay as a SAC or an exam, it is crucial to create a plan. Since the topic is not known until a student sits the SAC or exam, it should be expected that you understand the text back to front.
In planning for a text response essay, planning starts when you open the first page of that text
That first page opens a whole new world, and is the time to start preparing for that SAC and exam on which you will be assessed. Here are a few of my tips on how to make the very most of your analysis by using detailed notes:
- Background information – before reading a text, it is a good idea to find some background information that could be useful in connecting different concepts and ideas in the text. Do a bit of personal research on the text and the author, and find out anything that may be useful for your essay.
- Write summaries as you go – when reading the play, write down a summary for every chapter, scene or other distinct section of the text. These can be paragraphs and sentences, dot points, etc. Just make sure that you are able to easily recall and understand what has happened. My tip is to mark up the text in your book with pages highlighted. This makes it easier to go back to when you are putting your plan together for your essay. It also lines up with the next point, on note taking.
- Take any other notes as you go – if you come across something, or your teacher has pointed out something really important in the text; make a note of it on the page of the text in your book. Or if you don’t want to write on your book, keep a section in your English work book for notes with page numbers referenced for future. This exercise will be time consuming at first but incredibly helpful in your exam and SAC preparation.
- Quotes, quotes, quotes – jot down any quotes that you think stand out in the text and what they mean. If you are given quotes by your teacher, keep these handy. When looking for quotes, find ones that show a character’s feelings, emotions, thoughts, etc, and those that are very thematic to the text.
- Character analysis – with every key character, write some sort of short analysis on it. Write about the character’s feelings, emotions, thoughts, events they were involved in, relationships with other characters and provide a few quotes to provide evidence for these reasons.
- Theme analysis – after reading a text, your teacher may give you the themes of the given text. These are very important when writing up your essay. With each theme, write a short synopsis explaining the theme and examples of it in the text. Also, find about 3 or 4 quotes to accompany each theme. Keep these with your notes. If your teacher has not given you themes, ask about them because they are crucial in analysing your texts and writing essays that are relevant.
- Review your notes – after reading the text, gather up what you have accumulated. Make your notes relevant to how you learn. If you are visual/spatial then draw a concept map, or diagram to show relationships between concepts in the text. Also do a detailed character study and review your summaries. It is important to make sure you know which events happen when, so then it will be easier to find quotes. My tip is to draw a timeline and a character map showing the relationships between characters.
- Review your notes again – now is a good time to create your essay plan if this is a SAC. Simplify your notes to the limit given. Take things that are only really important. A good plan of handwritten notes would contain the key themes, quotes (you should have lots of them by now, but use about 15-20 important quotes, so you have a wide range), simplified character analysis and any other really important information. Review this to check if it is OK, and then you are ready for that assessment.
- Do a trial essay/s – if you would like more practice on essay writing under exam conditions, it would be a good idea to do a few sample essays. This will help you familiarise yourself with the conditions, how you will go in the real SAC or exam and to get the form of the essay under control (as in intro, body paragraphs, conclusion, etc.) and keeping to the time limit. Ask your teacher for some trial essay topics or research some for yourself looking at past exam papers in your school library or on the VCAA VCE website.
Now that you have a myriad of notes and a whole lot of practice and reviewing from reading one single text, you are more than ready to tackle that essay. Stay focused 100% and you will do it in no time.
Finally, during reading time, choose your topic and how you will plan your essay:
- Develop your contention
- Create an ‘answer’ to the contention and include it in your introduction
- Use your TEE essay plan for all paragraphs (topic sentence, explanation, evidence)
- Make sure all your explanations and evidence link to the contention
- Conclude with the same answer to the contention, do not say something totally different to what you said in the introduction
Private Home Tutoring of English Not an On-Line Free Tutoring Service
I am NOT an on-line free tutoring service. My resources on this website are for general use only. I do not write student’s essays for them or give advice on essay prompts. However, for more intensive tutoring in a specific area of English, I will visit students in their own homes for private tutoring sessions that are paid on an hourly basis.