BlogEnglishQCAA English: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving an A

QCAA English: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving an A

Studying a text - QCAA English Study Guide

Intending on working towards an A in QCAA English but aren’t too sure how you’re meant to get there?

No stress (well, maybe a little)! Everything you need is right here — with your assessment guides and study tips compiled, you’ll be well on your way to achieving an A in QCAA English.

Let’s get started!

How can you achieve an A in QCAA English?
IA1: Written Response for a Public Audience
IA2: Persuasive Spoken Response
IA3: Imaginative Written Response
EA: Analytical Written Response
Unit 3 and 4 QCE English Support

How can you achieve an A in QCAA English?

So, you want to achieve an A in English? If that’s the case then you have come to the right place!

Achieving an A in English is a pretty neat, but nevertheless daunting, goal. To get an A in any subject requires hard work, resilience, and dedication — but if you start the year strong and keep up that momentum, then your goals will remain in reach.

We’ll walk you through each of the assessment types for QCAA English so once you’ve finished reading this article, you can feel confident that this year will be your year to shine. Further, keep reading to the end to hear some top tips for taking notes and studying for English. 

Got a goal ATAR in mind? Find out if your marks are on the right track to achieve that ATAR with our QCE Cohort Comparison Tool!

IA1: Written Response for a Public Audience

Writing a Feature Article - Written Response for a Public Audience Featured Image

The first of all of your summative assessment pieces will be what is called a “written response for a public audience”. This will be completed during your studies of the Unit 3 content and so you will be assessed on the associated learning attributes.

In total, this assignment will contribute to 25% of your grade (and so, it is kind of a big deal). By following the tips and tricks listed below, you may very well bank that 25%!

Tip #1: Understand what you need to accomplish

My biggest tip for this assessment piece is to understand exactly what the task is asking of you.

Typically, you will be required to write a feature article comparing two texts (this could be a move/tv series and a play/novel). However, it’s not always the case that you will be asked to write a feature article.

So, you can see that it is super important to know what your teachers expect of you because writing to the stylistic and linguistic conventions of the specified genre is something that you will be assessed on.

Once you have figured out exactly what you are meant to be writing, do some research to see what these genres look like. Ask yourself, “What is the structure like?” and “What sort of language should I be using?”.

Some genres are more conversational that others in the way that information is communicated. 

Tip #2: Break down the ISMG

This is something you should be doing for all of your subjects for every assessment piece you complete during your QCE. The ISMG tells you exactly what you need to include in your assignment so it is important that you pay a lot of attention to what it says.

Take a look at the discriminating terms which separate 6/6 responses from 4/6 responses. These are terms such as “discerning” versus “effective”.

Take some time to really understand what the difference between these terms is!

If you are feeling a little worried about how to write up your response, or if you are just wanting a little more guidance, I encourage you to check out this fantastic article on How to Create a Written Response for a Public Audience for QCAA English

IA2: Persuasive Spoken Response

Student Giving a Speech (Persuasive Spoken Response)

While the persuasive spoken response is the second IA, it is typically the assessment piece that is completed first in Year 12. Much like the written response for a public audience, it contributes to 25% of your overall grade in QCAA English.

This assignment assesses your ability to use informed arguments to persuade your audience to take up a certain stance on some contentious issue. Below, I offer some guidance on how to ace this task! 

Tip #1: Figure out what you should talk about

Possibly the most difficult part of this task is choosing a contentious issue to talk about. Usually, teachers will specify that it has to be a recent issue and potentially relevant for an Australian audience. And the most important part is that it has to be contentious!

There has to be two sides to the argument. It will not suffice to pick a topic that most people agree with (for example, arguing that it is colder in Antarctica than it is in Australia).

The best way to go about choosing an argument is to have a look at what has been in the news in the recent years. What got a lot of people talking and what are you most passionate about?

You will find that you will produce a more convincing response if you are passionate about your stance on the issue. 

Tip #2: Adapt your speech to the context in which you’ll be assessed

The next challenge comes down to writing and presenting the script. Depending on who your audience is and what the context for your speech is, the way with which you should talk will differ.

Say you are presenting for a news station, you don’t want to be so conversational. However, if you are on a talk show, then you have some room to be more conversational and can even crack a few jokes here and there.

Tip #3: Practise!

As for presenting your script, it really comes down to practise, practise, practise. It’s important to consider the pace and tone with which you speak.

Also make sure that you are making eye contact and that you are moving around the room (where possible).

Last, but certainly not least, memorise your script! I beg of you, please memorise your script.

If you take the time to rehearse your lines and ensure that you know them like the back of your hand, it means that all you have to worry about while presenting is… presenting. 

For some guidance and extra tips for completing this assessment piece, check out How to Craft a Persuasive Spoken Response for QCAA English and Ace Your Assessment!

IA3: Imaginative Written Response

Writing a Story - Imaginative Written Response Featured Image

For many, the imaginative written response is probably the most dreaded internal assessment for all of English. This task is a challenging one for many students — myself included — due to the lack of practice of the genre.

This task, once again, is worth 25% of your overall grade. This task assesses your ability to use a poem as a springboard for your own short story. 

My biggest tip for this task is to practise. As students we spend so much time writing analytical pieces that getting asked to write something creative is quite the challenge.

Like many other skills, the ability to write emotive and captivating creative pieces is honed through practice. However, what I can say is that sometimes the best creative pieces are prompted by strong emotions.

So, as you are reading and analysing your poem, have a think about how it makes you feel. Which themes invoke the greatest emotions?

For some guidance and extra tips for writing an imaginative written response, check out Your Essential Guide to Writing an Imaginative Written Response for QCAA English

EA: Analytical Written Response

Student studying for exam - Analytical Written Response Featured Image

Now this… this is the big finale. The final chance to show off the skills you have been developing in English over the years. 

I think it is safe to say that this is probably the most stressful of all assessment pieces. But thankfully, it has the same weighting as all of the internals — 25%.

The secret to this task is to have an in depth understanding of the novel you are analysing. For some, this may mean reading and re-reading a million times before the big day. For others, it may mean finding other resources such as essays on JSTOR.

The way to prepare for this task is to practice. Write essay after essay after essay and really hone in on developing all of the necessary skills you need to do well.

Practice is so pivotal for this assessment! That’s why we’ve prepared a tonne of high quality practice questions for you to use when preparing for the English external exam!

You may wish to work section-by-section — this meaning, writing a bunch of introductions until you can write them in your sleep, then write some body paragraphs over and over, and then practice your conclusions. 

During the exam, you will be presented with two questions. Typically, one will be a theme-based question and the author will be a character-based question. So it may be helpful to get some practice answering both types of questions!

For some extra support in completing this task, don’t forget to check out the following articles:

Unit 3 and 4 QCAA English Support

Linked below are some additional resources that may help you complete your studies of QCAA English:

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Katelyn Smith was a pioneer in the Queensland ATAR system. After graduating in 2020 with an ATAR of 98.40, she now studies a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) at The University of Queensland — majoring in Physics. Through her studies, she hopes to develop a greater appreciation for how the wonders of the universe work. When she isn’t slaving away behind her unnecessarily large textbooks, she enjoys catching up with friends, scrolling mindlessly through TikTok, and sleeping.

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