Studying for those exams is a gradual accumulation of knowledge and understanding. Over the next seven school terms, you will be piling up facts, figures, formulas, tricks, quotes, pictures, diagrams, and other pieces of information, week by week, period by period, lesson by lesson, one at a time, all in your brain. You are now a blank canvas and the knowledge and skills of your chosen HSC subjects will be painted onto your intellect over the next two years until you emerge as a beautiful creation ready to respond confidently to the questions in your HSC papers.
What is study?
You say you would like to receive study tips from me. My first tip is this: seriously consider what you mean by the word 'study'. If you have never considered this, then listen to what I have to say. To study means to train your mind on a point. If you are looking intently at an insect on a leaf, and your mind is focused in it, then you are studying the insect. Your mind, Samarth, is like a torch that can be focused on a particular point to illuminate that point.
So what does it mean to study a HSC subject? What does it mean to study, say, Chemistry? Studying a HSC subject means training your mind on that subject, like focusing a torch light on a particular point. So if you are studying chemistry, then you are focusing your mind on chemistry. In other words, you are thinking about the concepts of chemistry, you are working with chemical processes and equations, you are solving problems that concern chemistry, you are adding and subtracting chemical terms, and you are reading and writing literature that has to do with chemistry.
Samarth, some students don't understand this. They believe that studying means reading over class notes that they have copied from the whiteboard over the term. In fact, the definition of 'study' that I have explained to you above involves much more than reading notes. It involves answering questions related to your subject, whether those questions come from a past exam or the textbook. It involves reading extra information from encyclopaedias, websites, other books, even newspapers and magazines. It can involve having conversations with your classmates and teachers in the classroom, on internet or by text message. Studying is basically everything that engages your mind with the subject, and doing all these things is part of the preparation process for your HSC exams.
I won't start by telling you how to read poems or write essays just yet, because that isn't the biggest problem that students have with English. The problem that students have is their attitude. Most students despise English and think it's irrelevant, but English is the most important subject in the HSC. You will develop skills in analytical reading and critical writing which are vital for university study in ALL COURSES. It's true that the actual material that you read isn't itself relevant; no one at uni will care if you've read Shakespeare or not if you are an engineering student. But the reading itself regardless of the content is a vital activity which is needed to develop your skills and enrich your mind, and a student who doesn't read the texts and write about them is in bad shape for the HSC and for Uni.
So, if you accept all of that, then my first and perhaps most important concrete tip for studying Advanced English is this:
1. READ YOUR TEXTS FROM BEGINNING TO END AT LEAST TWO TIMES EACH
Poems: poems should be read six +times each if they are short (3-7 stanzas) and at least three times if they are long (10 plus stanzas) You don't have to read it several times t once; it can be done over days or weeks depending on the progress that your class is making or the personal progress that you are making. The first time you read a poem, just read it without holding a pen or a pencil and try to get the gist of it. Then read it again, either on the same day, in the same period, or another day or at lunch, whatever...
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