How to let go of English and enjoy your prescribed texts

One of the main drawbacks I found with English during high school were the books we had to read for class. Let’s be honest with ourselves, nobody read them. It was a common joke throughout high school for me and my mates to see how good of an essay we could write without actually reading the book and while we were being honest, it was hilarious at times, until you hit Year 11 and 12.

Year 11 and 12 was a proverbial smack in the mouth for all students good and bad. Suddenly teachers are expecting double the work ethic, double the standard of work and throwing out scary words like “Thesis” and “Semicolon”. The classroom becomes ultimately intimidating and even worse, you’ve developed a sneaky habit from year 7 to 10 of not reading any of your English prescribed texts…. Oops.

SO! What do we do about it? You can take one of two routes for the rest of your English career, either Muscle it or take it leisurely.

Taking it leisurely is reading a couple chapters a week, you progress through little by little and before you know it you’ve finished the book! Sounds good, right? Wrong. While you’ve been busy tottering along with “1984” reading bits and bobs throughout the weeks, there is some other kid who is going to have a stronger essay than you because he or she read the book 3 weeks ago and has 3 drafts ready to go. Hence why I implore the Muscling it method.

Muscling it refers to when you’re about to go into a new term, reading your prescribed text in one weekend and unfortunately, this is the best way in my opinion to do it. Don’t get me wrong, this is not fun, you basically lose a weekend doing nothing but reading a book, instead of partying with your mates you’re stuck at home reading. But guess what? You just became the kid who finished 3 weeks earlier and now has 3 drafts ready and is going to smash their exams with the drop of a hat, your teachers can now engage with you when you’re discussing the text in class. Your tutors can grab examples with you and you can formulate a stronger thesis because you know what the book is as a whole, not just the pieces your teacher gave you. You now have the power to form a nuanced opinion about a text and can now harness it to get a 20/20 essay.

I’m often asked by students “Hey, what’s the trick to English?” and I always give them the same answer, there is no trick. There is no secret method or quick hack to get to the top, its hard work, it’s sweat and dedication to it. If you want a high ATAR then you need to be motivated to get it, nobody is going to get it for you. It’s time to grind hard and read your English texts.