Hola all! It’s the fourth day of Pre-U Sem and Student Leaders Training, so more than a few of us should be beginning our revision for the Mid-Year Examination soon. You’ve probably heard your teachers repeat this ad nauseum already but it’s worth reiterating: the A-levels are not the same as the O-levels or your IP exams. Some of your old habits, whether in Literature or your other subjects, may already have haunted you in your various CAs. Whatever the case, let’s all start on a clean slate as we gear up for your first internal JC exam, and the A-level exam you will eventually take in November 2018!
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Read and Annotate Your Text
Ah, the elephant in the room – the text itself! A small minority of students would not have caught up with their reading, so the first week of the holidays is a good time to do so. Both your texts, Measure for Measure (P1) and Woman in Mind (P3), are arguably breezy reads, so don’t find excuses for yourself!
For most of us who have completed reading the text, you can:
- Re-read the text quickly, focusing on the key passages or episodes in the text to refresh your memory of important evidence and the sequence of events / plot points. I do this before I write every lecture; I would recommend you do this before you start your revision.
- Read the text deliberately and highlight / underline key passages if you have yet to do so. This is to ingrain your memory of key concerns and methods; you should be deciding what colour to highlight in (reflecting concerns or characters) and whether to underline (reflecting whether the specific word is worth close analysing). Refer to the annotation guide below, or our original post on annotating your texts. You can choose to do this step at the end of your revision cycle or at the start, whichever works best for you.
Click to download our Annotation Guide
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Revisit and Clarify Content
The prize for most obvious pointer in the world goes to the following: read your lecture notes, read your package, read the presentations your friends prepared (and question them too!) and re-look CA3 on Measure and CA4 on Woman. If you haven’t already done so, now would be a good time to pore over the suggested approaches to poetry in Multiverse and the passage-based question in your Measure reader.
If there are concepts you do not understand (e.g. virtue? self?), do check with friends and your tutors as soon as you can. No question is too stupid, just as some questions may not have straightforward answers.
We would like to assure you that we will not test you beyond the scope of what you have learned during lectures and tutorials. The questions will allow you to retrieve and apply ideas (what), methods, effects and evidence (how), and concerns (why) we expect you to be familiar with. We will not ‘test to kill’. We want to assess your mastery of content and skills!
The key word then is apply. You should not go into the examination venue expecting to regurgitate your CA, presentation or lecture notes. That would defeat the purpose of the exam. The inherent content within those will be useable, and you must shape your understanding of the concerns and methods to answer the question. A few things to note about the questions in each section:
- Section A
The key concerns and methods in the two poems will be similar to those we have covered… but not the same (i.e. not about ‘home’ or the death of a daughter).
- Section B
The passage set for Measure for Measure will not be one of the tutorial presentations; parts of the passage will already have been covered in the lectures.
- Section C
The essay questions for Woman in Mind will relate to familiar concerns on the mind and self. The actual words may differ slightly such that you have to interpret what is meant (e.g. What is “environment”?). Be extra careful not to rehash material without fully considering what the question demands!
For a list of topics and the format of the JC1 Mid-Year Examination, check out our other post.
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Consolidate Concerns and Methods
What are you going to do with those hundreds of pages of notes on your set texts then? I would suggest compiling and summarising the ideas (what), methods, evidence and effects (how) and concerns (why) in each of your texts in table form. You can start a GoogleDoc and collaborate on these revision tables with a friend or two!
For Measure, I would aim to do summaries for each scene (1.1, 1.2…. 3.1) for two reasons. First, I find the play episodic, in the sense that a method is sometimes found in only one specific scene, and a particular concern (e.g. chastity) is only prominent in a few scenes. Second, the passage-based question (the second option in a full paper) privileges such an approach, as you are tasked to “zoom in” to a specific scene anyway.
|Scene||What and Why||How|
|3.2||Moral virtue and vice
The Duke condemns Pompey’s corrupted way of life and preaches for his reformation.
‘a bawd, a wicked bawd’, ‘The evil that thou causest to be done’, ‘filthy vice’, ‘abominable and beastly touches’
.Open demands for reformation
‘Go mend, go mend.’, ‘Correction and instruction must both work / Ere this rude beast will profit‘
|Moral virtue and vice
Lucio speaks about Angelo’s asceticism and purity as something oddly inhuman
‘not made by man’, ‘sea-maid spawned him’, ‘begot between two stockfishes’
.Motif of coldness, impotence
‘urine is congealed ice’, ‘motion ungenerative’
For Woman, I would set up my table around ideas related to the mind and self. This is crucial as we are expecting most students to compare Woman in Mind to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. How important is illusion to one’s identity? How does the human mind cope with external threats? Organising content around these central ideas should allow you to compare texts easily, as the hard work of selecting relevant methods, characters and evidence is already done!
|What and Why||How|
|Loss of social identity in Woman
Susan’s dejection at her effective separation from her son; she recalls Rick’s past and how she cared for him.
|Dejected tone, evident in words of loss
‘And now he’s grown up he won’t even speak to me’, ‘But… that’s all that’s left of him. If we sell… his bed… and his… then he’ll have gone completely. We’ll have nothing left of him at all.’
.Sorrow denoted in the stage directions
‘She breaks off, suddenly very tearful‘, ‘furiously’, ‘suddenly deeply distressed‘
|Loss of social identity in Woolf
Martha’s wistful reflection on the ‘birth’ of her imaginary child; she seems to recall details randomly, mostly trying to conjure his presence by reiterating his presence
|Frequent repetition and fragmented details
‘And I was young, and he was a healthy child, a red bawling child, with slippery, firm limbs…’, ‘…with slippery, firm limbs, and a full head of black, fine, fine hair which, oh, later, later, became blond as the sun, our sun’, ‘And I had wanted a child… oh, I had wanted a child’, ‘A child! (Quieter) A child. And I had my child.’
.Erratic emotion in the stage directions and pauses / ellipses
‘With great sadness‘, ‘Laughs, briefly, bitterly‘, ‘Our child. And we raised him… yes, we did; we raised him…’
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‘Spot’ and Practise, Practise, Practise
Knowledge applied is knowledge mastered. Being able to retrieve material quickly comes from familiarity and some rote learning… but it’s ultimately the question analysis and accompanying thinking processes that determines how well you do.
For the unseen poetry component, your tutors provided you one or two examples to practise, including ‘Wives May Be Coveted…’ and ‘The Song of the Battery Hen’. You can craft a full essay response to these and seek feedback. In addition to these options, you can also consider ‘The Planners’ (Multiverse p85) as the Singaporean poem option and ‘One Flesh’ (Multiverse p75). Remember that Multiverse can be downloaded in soft copy on the ‘Let’s Read Eunoia!‘ post, MC Online and our GoogleDrive folder.
For Measure, I would recommend you ‘spot’ a passage, set your own trigger (e.g. the presentation of mercy / the Duke / the Angelo-Isabella relationship) and attempt to write an outline on it. If possible, do a time trial and write a full essay within one hour.
For Woman, you have a list of questions in your tutorial presentations which you can attempt on your own. Putting away your friends’ own response, you can also do an outline on one question or a one-hour time trial.
Practice really is important. Test yourself on time management, relevance to question requirements, and your ability to analyse and respond to the question.
Your tutors are there for you, so send us your queries or extra work and we should all be glad to give you our feedback.
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Collaborate and Consult
The study of Literature really is a personal and social endeavour. Bury yourself in the books, packages and notes by all means. Nothing can quite replace hearing from your friends and teachers though – we will see ideas differently and develop our own take, whether by considering socio-historical context, earlier or later parts of the text, comparison with other characters or other works we have read. Analysing the same piece of text, we will also focus on different aspects: some may be especially attuned to patterns of words, some may be able to systematically label the different types of sentences in a split second. Meeting your peers to revise your texts can be especially efficacious, even if it may not seem terribly efficient.
You can also collaborate with your friends on the revision tables strategy (see above) or trust them to teach you certain concerns or parts of the text they are more familiar with.
Your tutors are also accessible via EJC mail or for consultations (check with different tutors’ schedules).
Whatever it is, try not to hole yourself up. Don’t be like Susan; we are all there for you 🙂 HAPPY STUDYING and may the Mid-Year Exams be a good test of your skills / content mastery!