Top 10 Exam Tips

Generally speaking, the top ten things you should keep in mind as you do your exam:

  • Exam tip #1: Make it easy for the marker.
  • Exam tip #2: Use a black pen.
  • Exam tip #3: Write on one side of the page only.
  • Exam tip #4: Try to avoid writing extra pieces in margins that are linked by asterisks, arrows, etc.
  • Exam tip #5: Read and follow all key instructions. For example, if you are asked to provide a title to a response, than make sure you do.
  • Exam tip #6: Write in the correct genre/form and sustain it throughout. For example, if you are asked to write a speech, make sure it is clearly a speech from beginning to end. If you are asked to write a letter, make sure it has a salutation and address at the start, reads like a letter throughout the response and has a farewell or something similar at the end.
  • Exam tip #7: Try, as much as you can, to write clearly and legibly. Perhaps leave a line between paragraphs. Don’t be afraid of white space – it makes reading easier.
  • Exam tip #8: Practice the key conventions that demonstrate mastery of English: the correct use of apostrophe, the correct title conventions (either underlining or using inverted commas), the full use of a text’s title at least once and the correct spelling of key character names and composer’s names (at least).
  • Exam tip #9: If you have time during the exam, quickly proofread your work and check the pages are in the right order and that as many mistakes as you can find are corrected. (Examiners understand you are under pressure and that this is a first draft but demonstration of control of the key conventions is the mark of a more sophisticated response).
  • Exam tip #10: You may also be required to write a more personal response, which includes your ability to demonstrate you have reflected personally on the effect of studying a particular module or area of study. Think through how to do this.

This exam advice is general in nature and may need to be adapted for different subjects.

French Continuers

Recommendations for French writing tasks / essay writing

As each of your piece of writing are going to be marked by different markers in the HSC , you need to show your knowledge in grammar and vocabulary in every question. To do so, you need to keep and eye on the following:

  • continuity: if you start with “vous” then you need to continue
  • language register: formal, informal, slang with friends
  • tense: present, passé compose, imparfait, subjonctif, conditional, futur proche et simple
  • linking words: donc, par consequent, de plus etc
  • French expressions
  • varied vocabulary: avoid repeating the same words over and over

Make sure you have time to proof read yourself as this is really important. While proof reading, check that subjects and verbs are matching and that all your accents are in the right place and on the right side. Avoid going over the word limit as doing so will reduce the possibility of making more mistakes.

How to study French

Write as many as writing tasks as you can during the year. You must do at least one writing task per week over the course of the year. Once finished with your HSC, Trials, drafts and in-class tasks, proof read then compare your work to the subject outline and check that everything is included. Then improve your writing task. Always keep a soft copy so that you can make changes as you go along.

Recommendations for French reading tasks / French reading comprehension

Read the questions first! Doing so will:

  • give you an idea of what the text is about
  • allow you to screen out any incorrect answers (a good time saver)

Only use a dictionary to look up a word if the word is required in order to answer the question as referring to your dictionary takes time. In some cases the question may be testing your grammatical abilities by specifically choosing words that you probably won’t be aware of. The mark on a question does reflect the number of elements need to be included in your answer. A 1-point question may require a two or three element answer. For language questions, don’t forget to use technical terms. If you are unsure of a term’s meaning or usage then don’t use it. Falling down while showing off is a sure way to unimpress the marker.

How to practice for French

Read a French newspaper online. Practise comprehending sentences by putting together the bits you do understand to take an educated guess at the meaning of the sentence. When you’ve finished, use a dictionary to check the words you didn’t understand and try to make your guesses more accurate the next time.

Recommendations for French reading and responding

The purpose of this task is not to write about a subject (this is the purpose of the writing task). For this one, you read your provided text and respond to it. Answer questions, give advice/opinions. Everything you need to write about is in the text and/or headings. The recommendations for this section are the same as for the writing task:

  • continuity: if you start with “vous” then you need to continue
  • language register: formal, informal, slang with friends
  • tense: present, passé compose, imparfait, subjonctif, conditional, futur proche et simple
  • linking words: donc, par consequent, de plus etc
  • French expressions
  • varied vocabulary: avoid repeating the same words over and over

Make sure you have time to proof read yourself, this is really important. While proof reading, check that subjects and verbs are matching, that all your accents are at the right place and on the right side. Avoid coming over the word limit as it will increase the possibility of making more mistakes.

Recommendations for the French speaking task

First of all there is no need to learn new expressions the day before your assessment of HSC. It will only cause you stress and you will end up not using them or using them in the wrong context. Flo’s pointers:

  • Be calm, confident and smiling.
  • Be chatty. There is nothing more painful for you and the examiner than a student who says “yes” and “no” to everything.
  • Elaborate on your answers. For example: parle – moi de ta meilleure amie? You describe your best friend first and then explain where she leaves, goes to school, what you do together then talk about other friends. You can also expand on your family.
  • Use all tenses and French expressions. The same recommendation prevail for all types of tasks.
  • If you don’t understand the question, don’t be afraid to ask the examiner to repeat the question more slowly or to rephrase.

How to prepare for the French Speaking task

Take one speaking question and do a brainstorming / flow chart like the following: 

French Beginners

Writing in French Beginners

Part A

Your answers will be assessed on how well you:

  • communicate relevant ideas and information
  • write text appropriate to audience, purpose and context
  • structure and sequence ideas and information
  • demonstrate control of vocabulary and language structures in French Beginners

Part B

Your answer will be assessed on how well you:

  • communicate relevant ideas and information
  • write text appropriate to audience, purpose and context
  • structure and sequence ideas and information
  • demonstrate control of a range of vocabulary and language structures in French Beginners

French Beginners courses – Oral Exam.

If you are doing a French Beginners course, the examiner will ask you questions about the topics you have been studying from the syllabus, as they relate to your personal world. Neither the number of questions nor the number of topics covered by the examination is predetermined. However, you can expect to be asked a range of questions sampling the content of the course. The questions the examiner asks may relate to something you have just said, or they may introduce a new topic.

You should be careful to answer each question only with relevant information. You should respond in such a way that you demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of a range of structures and vocabulary, but not through the inclusion of material irrelevant to the question asked. Attempting to dominate the conversation with long, pre-learned monologues is not a good idea and will not enable you to achieve better marks. It is in your interest that the examiner interrupts such monologues. If you do not understand a question, you may ask for it to be repeated, clarified or rephrased, but you should do this in the language being examined.

Once the allocated time for the examination has elapsed, you will be asked no further questions. You will be given enough time to respond to the last question, but if you draw out this last response past the allocated time for the examination, you will be asked to bring your response to a conclusion.

The duration of the French Beginners oral examination is approximately 5 minutes.

‘One on one’ tutoring sessions are available in French beginners for primary students through to HSC students. We cater for all levels and focus can be varied or specific according to the individual’s needs.

Skills and competencies include listening, reading, writing and speaking, with an emphasis on developing effective comprehension and communication of ideas within specific contexts. Vocabulary, grammar and cultural studies are addressed within these core areas.

French beginners topics studied may include family life, neighbourhood and communities, school and work, friends and recreation, holidays and travel, future goals and aspirations, French cultures and communities in Australia etc.

The initial session for French beginners is designed to gauge the proficiency of the student and to discuss shared objectives and intentions. This session also allows the tutor to design a program that is both motivating and constructive for the student’s development.

Sessions can range from 1 to 2 hours in length, depending on the student and can be scheduled for any period to suit the student’s needs e.g. four consecutive weeks, a scholastic term or one year.