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Study Skills

This blog is a study guide that includes various tips and resources for English essay writing, creative writing and study. Make sure you check out some links listed below for extra information!


POINT- write your first point; usually your key idea. After this, “relate” your key idea the question

EVIDENCE - this is where you need show evidence as to how your key idea relates to the question. This can be done by using examples from texts.

EXAMPLE- this is where you provide examples. This can be done by including an example by adding in a quote and backing it up with a technique. Try using a lot of linking words and showing sophistication in your writing.

LINK- here, link back your statement to your question. This can be done by rephrasing your question.

End your paragraphs with ‘ending’ words, such as finally, therefore, in conclusion, too conclude etc. This indicates clearly that you have ended your paragraph.

Some additional tips:

  • Never try to memorise your prepared essay. Using tips like this will help you adapt to any question and be able to answer the question you’ve been given.

  • Practicing by writing paragraphs for feedback from your teacher. When you have received feedback (for any subject), apply the feedback and see how you can use them to fix your writing, and then hand it back in for a final time. This will show you if you have applied feedback and how you have improved.

  • How to sit at a computer- ← helpful tips on how to set up and organise your study area, and tips on how to study effectively.

  • ← this link takes you to a forum for students. They share notes on different subjects.



  • Use arrows, different coloured pens and highlighters, have your literary technique list next to you and list as many as you can find; that way you will have many techniques that you can use in your essay, and you can pick and choose

  • If you are analysing a novel, then it may be useful to have your own copy of the novel and applying these tips.



  • Allegory: a literary mode that attempts to convert abstract concepts, values, beliefs, or historical events into characters or other tangible elements in a narrative. Examples include, Gulliver’s Travels, The Faerie Queene, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Paradise Lost.

  • Alliteration: The repetition of the same sounds—usually initial consonants of words or of stressed syllables—in any sequence of neighbouring words. It is typically used to convey a specific tone or message.

  • Allusion: When a text references, incorporates, or responds to an earlier piece, it is a figure of speech whereby the author refers to a subject matter such as a place, event, or literary work by way of a passing reference. It is up to the reader to make a connection to the subject being mentioned.

  • Apology: Often at the beginning or conclusion of a text, the term “apology” refers to an instance in which the author or narrator justifies his or her goals in producing the text.

  • Apostrophe: This figure of speech refers to an address to a dead or absent person, or an abstraction or inanimate object and is usually employed for emotional emphasis, which can become ridiculous when misapplied.

  • Characterisation: The ways individual characters are represented by the narrator or author of a text. This includes descriptions of the characters’ physical appearances, personalities, actions, interactions, and dialogue.

  • Diction: Word choice, or the specific language an author, narrator, or speaker uses to describe events and interact with other characters.

  • Dialogue: Spoken exchanges between characters in a dramatic or literary work, usually between two or more speakers.

  • Genre: A kind of literature. For instance, comedy, mystery, tragedy, satire, elegy, romance, and epic are all genres. Texts frequently draw elements from multiple genres to create dynamic narratives. Elements to define genres: organizational features (chapters, acts, scenes, stanzas); length; mood (the gothic novel tends to be moody and dark); style (a text can be high, low, or in-between depending on its audience); the reader’s role (readers of a mystery are expected to interpret evidence); and the author’s reason for writing.

  • Hyperbole: exaggerated language, description, or speech that is not meant to be taken literally, but is used for emphasis. For instance, “I’ve been waiting here for ages” or “This bag weighs a ton.”

  • Imagery: A term used to describe an author’s use of vivid descriptions that evoke sense-impressions by literal or figurative reference to perceive objects, scenes, actions, or states. Imagery can refer to the literal landscape or characters described in a narrative or the theoretical concepts an author employs. There are seven distinct types of imagery: visual, auditory, olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), tactile (touch), kinaesthetic (movement) and organic (expressing emotion).

  • Irony: Typically refers to saying one thing and meaning the opposite, often to shock audiences and emphasise the importance of the truth.

  • Metaphor: a figure of speech that refers to one thing by another to identify similarities between the two (and therefore define each in relation to one another)

  • Tone: A way of communicating information (in writing, images, or sound) that conveys an attitude. Authors convey tone through a combination of word-choice, imagery, perspective, style, and subject matter. By adopting a specific tone, authors can help readers accurately interpret meaning in a text

Other websites with more literary techniques



These techniques are useful when analysing a short video or a movie TOP TIP- When watching the film, take note of the scene or time frame when writing a film technique, so that when you watch the scene again, you can analyse it better.

(Some of these techniques have been gathered by past HSC teachers and students)

  • Aerial shot: usually an exterior shot taken from above the scene by way of a crane or an aircraft

  • Allegory: use of highly symbolic features to represent well-known ideas, such as death or love

  • Allusion: obvious reference to something well-known, although not fully expressed or stated

  • Background: all items or objects not part of the main area of interest in a film

  • Cinemascope: process using an anamorphic lens to create a widescreen image

  • Close shot: shot that provides clear detail of a person (usually only the head and shoulders)

  • Crane shot: shot taken with the aid of a large crane that lifts the camera and the cinematographer above and around the action in almost any direction

  • Cross-cutting: intermingling of two or more scenes to suggest parallel action

  • Cut: a switch from one image to another

  • Deep focus shot: most distant part of the screen image that is still in focus

  • Dialogue: the spoken component of a screenplay which can take the form of a voice over, soliloquy or an exchange between characters

  • Diegetic sound: belonging to on-screen, e.g. dialogue, sound effects, ambient noise

  • Dolly shot: also called a trucking shot, a shot taken from a moving platform

  • Extreme shot: very detailed view of a person or a thing (generally eyes or mouth)

  • Extreme long shot: view of an exterior location shot in panoramic fashion so that the entire surrounds are evident

  • Foreground: part of the scene represented on film as being closest to the viewer

  • Freeze frame: same shot repeated on the filmstrip so that the image appears frozen

  • Genre: common types of movies, recognised by viewers, where well-known conventions are in place, especially in the form of the narrative

  • Hand-held shot: jerky camera motion often deliberately used to suggest documentary footage

  • High-angle shot: subject of the shot is photographed from high up

  • Imagery: term used to denote the use of images, figure or likeliness of things, or such images collectively for illustrative purpose

  • Lighting: term used to denote the manipulation of natural and artificial light to create artistic visual shots

  • Medium shot: taken from relatively close-up, so that the human figure is evident

  • Mise-en-scène: the whole part of the cinematic process taking place on the set in front of the camera, such as setting, props, lighting, actions of the characters, costume, etc

  • Narration: speaking voice heard on the soundtrack, either from a character on-screen or an off-screen voiceover, that provides commentary on the action of the spot

  • Narrative: term used to denote the story of events, experiences, or the like, that comprises a film

  • Non-diegetic sound: coming from outside, e.g. music soundtrack, voice-over

  • Oblique shot: also called tilt shot, a shot that is achieved by shooting a scene with a tilted camera

  • Pathos: touching or pathetic character for effect

  • Pull-back dolly: moving the camera away from the scene to reveal something that was not in the frame originally

  • Reaction shot: a cutaway view of a character's reaction to an immediately preceding action

  • Set: where a film is shot, which can be either indoors or outdoors

  • Setting: where the action of the film takes place

  • Slow motion: film in which the image moves slower than normal

  • Symbolism: technique whereby an object or event has significance, determined by the dramatic context, beyond the literal and often represents something immaterial

  • Tracking shot: any shot in which the camera moves from one point to another either sideways, in or out

  • Zoom: a shot using a lens whose focal length is adjusted during the shot

Shot size

  • Big close up: emotion, a vital moment, drama

  • Close-up: intimacy

  • Medium shot: a personal relation to the subject

  • Long shot: context, public distance

Camera angle

  • High (looking up): domination, power, authority

  • Eye-level: equality

  • Low: weakness, powerlessness


  • Symmetrical: posed, calm, formal

  • Asymmetrical: natural, everyday, unposed

  • Static: lack of conflict

  • Dynamic: disturbance, disorientation


  • Selective focus: draws attention, foregrounds

  • Soft focus: romance, nostalgia

  • Deep focus: all elements are important, commanding the gaze


  • Warm: optimism, intense emotion

  • Cool: pessimism, clinical calm, reason

  • Black and white: realism, actuality, film noir

Cinematic codes

  • Zoom in: observation

  • Fast zoom in: passing of time, humour, suspense

  • Zoom out: context, location

  • Pan: survey, follow, eye witness

  • Track: intimacy, immediacy, urgency

  • Tilt: survey, follow, eye witness




Here are some tips when writing a creative piece:

  • Plan your structure: the opening and conclusion- a circular or elliptical structure could help strengthen your response.

  • Show, don’t tell. Focus on appealing to the senses through imagery. The senses include- olfactory, gustatory, auditory, visual, tactile.

  • Show the emotion!! Use descriptive words to define the emotion in the setting. Verbs are key in writing! Use effective verbs!!

  • Listen to the sound, rhythm and language of your story. Ensure that you have not repeated a word or sentence, and that it is clear and concise in demonstrating the idea. Re-reading your response out loud is a good way of editing your piece.

  • Vary paragraph lengths! Break them up. Maintain structure.

  • Employ a variety of sentence beginnings and sentence lengths.

  • Use a range of poetic devices- evocative imagery can be very effective.

  • Provide the backstory of a character in a few simple words or sentences. 1 or 2 sentences are effective

  • Avoid Cliches: try to be unique with your ideas to grab the marker`s attention.

  • Make sure your creative writing continuously refers to the stimulus or question that is provided in your exam

  • Practice coming up with story ideas from past papers

  • Once in an exam, set aside 5 mins before starting as the time to plan your ideas, storyline, characters. This will allow your story to become cohesive as you are writing.


  • Linear: sequential telling of story

  • Cyclical: starts and ends in the same place but the ending suggests that there is an epiphany or realisation. The start and ending mirror each other.

  • Flashback: moves between the present and the past. Could be from more than one perspective.

  • Fragment: a moment in time in a narrative, such as the moment that self-discovery occurs.

  • Parallel: Two story threads running at the same time in your response from different perspectives. The stories usually merge or connect at the end to make a unified narrative

  • In Media Res: Starting your response in the middle action.


  • Sensory Image: To establish the setting of your story

  • Satire: Use as humour and exaggeration

  • Simile: Direct comparison

  • Metaphor: Provokes imagination from the reader

  • Extended Metaphor: A symbol/picture/ word that is in the stimulus can be mentioned or repeated rough-out your story to create meaning

  • Anaphora: Word repetition at the beginnings of sentences to emphasis on the word/idea

  • Rhetorical question: Questioning without expecting the answer, allows the reader to be more intrigue and continue to read your story.

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