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Author Topic: How to Write an Area of Study Essay  (Read 86937 times)

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The-Cambridge-Student

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How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« on: March 22, 2015, 07:49:43 pm »
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Hey everyone! I hope half yearly exams are going well :)

I’d like to begin this week’s post with a reminder: In an AOS essay, you are writing about an Area of Study, not a text. To some this may seem obvious and to others this statement might appear widely incorrect, but let me explain. I’ve seen many, many people make the mistake of forgetting to establish a thesis about Discovery, and in the case of people who took the HSC in my year, Belonging. It’s easy enough to do when the clock is ticking and you’ve memorised ten quotes that you’re determined to cram into your paper, however, everything you include in an AOS essay MUST contribute to the thematic ideas about your Area of Study that you have established in your introduction and in the topic sentence of the relevant paragraph that you happen to be writing. Your marker will think it’s fabulous that you’ve remember five different techniques from that really long Shakespearean speech, but unless you immediately tell them why they should care and pepper your analysis with relevant references to certain types of Discovery…they can’t give you full marks. Remember: You are studying a text to mine it for evidence that supports ideas about Discovery, NOT the other way around.

In your introduction, you need to establish the argument that you will be making. This premise will be sustained through out the essay, so make sure you chose at least two or three aspects of discovery that allow you to develop a sophisticated textual exploration.  If a question asks you to make a judgement, it can be helpful to do so in the first line. E.g. For Belonging, I might begin my introduction by stating:

To a large extent, belonging in an innate feeling which stems from making choices that allow an individual to either reconcile a dichotomy of personal morality and a dominant culture, or attain an enlightened understanding of connection to self through introspection.

From here, I would introduce my texts and their authors before explaining why (and sometimes briefly how) the composers of the novel, film or poem I was studying examined this concept in their work.

Before I show you examples of how I structured my paragraphs, I would like to point out that I tended to separate most my analysis of texts into separate paragraphs. I would usually include at least one or two integrated paragraphs, however, but I know some people prefer to use either one structure or the other. As a general rule, a combination of both methods is often appropriate, however, as a teacher once told me, “when in doubt, it’s better to integrate.”

In the topic sentence of your first paragraph, you need to establish a conceptual point about Discovery (in my case, Belonging) that will be explored in the following lines. From here, you need to include your evidence, technique, analysis and link (in other words, PETAL). Although this sounds formulaic, your paragraph doesn’t have to be wooden. By integrating quotes into your analysis and paying careful attention to pointing out exactly WHY composers use specific techniques to elicit responses from the viewer/reader, you will significantly improve the quality of what you are writing. Here are some examples from my Belonging essay that received full marks:

Individuals who value autonomous thought and rationality will choose to risk personal authority or belonging to abide by their own code of morality and vision of decent conduct. Set in the 1950s during a period of history when exposure of communists and “red sympathisers” had become a dominant fixation of the American psyche, in Good Night and Good Luck, protagonist Edward R Murrow, a prominent journalist, asserts that he and his fellow Americans will not be “driven by fear into an age of unreason” thus alluding to amounting climate of hysteria. Preferring to avoid connotation with ‘emotion’, director George Clooney’s use of the word ‘unreason’ appeals to rationality and thus communicates a more powerful political statement. Nevertheless, extreme close up shots of Murrow in calm contemplation and extended periods of silence are symbolic his determination in the face of potential isolation within an authoritarian society. Unshakably ethical, Murrow’s allusion to the words of an iconic ancient Roman figure when he states “Cassius was right, the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves” embodies his understanding that responsibility to prevent hysteria and uphold principles of democracy resides with every individual. Hence Murrow sacrifices belonging to an amoral majority in order to uphold the principles of autonomy and freedom of thought supposedly integral to American identity.

In my final sentence, I’ve linked the analysis that I've written to the aspect of Belonging established in the topic sentence. For the next paragraph, I’ve drawn a comparison to ensure that my essay has continuity, but I’ve also extended the previous idea explored:

In a similar way, when personal morality is not aligned with powerful members of a group who represent the collective authority, individuals may retain personal integrity by choosing to reject a dominant ideology or culture and willingly sacrificing a sense of communal belonging. Introduced as a man “not easily led” with a “sharp and biting way with hypocrites” the character of John Proctor is shown to value autonomy and independence of thought. Through authorial intrusion Miller conveys that “in Proctor’s presence a fool felt his foolishness instantly”, hence establishing a source of grievances against Proctor and foreshadowing his fate when he writes that such a man was “marked…for calumny”. Proctor’s consciousness of existent injustice is evident when he uses personification to describe “vengeance” as “walking in Salem”; yet the low value he places upon himself as a consequence of committing adultery with Abigail Williams is an impedes his ability to take to take action and regain his sense of personal belonging. A “sinner, not only against the moral fashion of the time, but against his own vision of decent conduct” with a “magistrate” inside his heart, the strength of Proctor’s low self-worth is reinforced by biblical allusion and the motif of judgement. Nevertheless, despite initial reluctance, when his wife Elizabeth is made of a victim of a “whore’s vengeance”, Proctor casts aside his good name in an attempt to illuminate ‘the truth’. Confronted by hostile accusations and the possibility of execution, Proctor is tempted to submit to external pressure that is place upon him to “lie and sign (himself) to lies” in order to save his life and attain a false sense of communal belonging. Ultimately, he chooses not to implicate his loyal friends and thus recognises that “shred of goodness” resides within him. In doing so, Proctor dies a martyr to misguided religious conviction having actively chosen to reject the fallacy of Salem’s court.

Furthermore, here is an integrated paragraph:

Individuals who represent the collective authority may discard integrity in favour of personal prejudice or agenda.  In a display of preoccupation with dominant ideology, the character of Deputy-Governor Danforth in Miller’s The Crucible states “a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it”, thus reinforcing an “us” and “them” mentality responsible for fuelling suspicion and mob mentality during 17th century Salem Witch trials. Asserting that “we burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment” Danforth alludes imagery of hell to discourage intimidate ‘dissenters’. Similarly, the film Good Night and Good Luck director George Clooney employs accurate archival footage of Junior Senator McCarthy a man famous for his persecution of communist members and sympathisers during the 1950s as head of the Un-American Activities Committee. In doing so, the character of McCarthy is provided with an opportunity to ‘speak for himself’ and thus discredit his own integrity. Asserting that ideological challenger Edward Murrow is a “leader of a jackal pack” McCarthy’s forceful dehumanisation of his critics is symbolic of extreme moral sacrifice authority figures are often willing to make in order to maintain power.

Your conclusion should return to the ideas mentioned in your introduction and extrapolated through out your essay. Articulate exactly how you have answered the question that has been given to you, and try to do so in a reflective manner if you can! There’s only one cardinal rule: don’t introduce any new ideas.

That’s all from me for now :) feel free to ask questions below, and good luck!

- Caitlin

Other Guides:
How to Write a Module C Essay
How to Write a Module B Essay
Writing an English Advanced Module A Essay
Creative Writing - Advice from a Cambridge Uni Student
How to Write an English Extension Ways of Thinking Essay
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 05:46:55 pm by Ned Nerb »
18, going to Cambridge University in October to study History :) received a 99.7 ATAR in the 2014 HSC.

Chloe1206

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Re: How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2015, 06:33:50 am »
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Thanks for this; it's great!
Just wondering if you could outline how to study appropriately for the AoS exam? In essence, what should we know, how many quotes should we have, should we have a practice essay etc? Greatly appreciated  :)

elysepopplewell

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Re: How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2016, 07:30:00 pm »
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Hi there!

I can see that you did your HSC last year so this isn't of great use to you right now. ATAR Notes is making its NSW debut this year and I'm replying to both apologise, and to answer your question for future visitors to this post because I know a lot of people want to know the answer to your question!

A prepared essay is always awesome because it means that you have played around with different words, different perspectives regarding discovery, different parts of the text and you have analysed what they mean. If you find that you can create an essay that is broad yet succinct and original, run with it. I highly recommend having a prepared essay because it gives you the opportunity to receive feedback throughout the year and not just when you formally submit the essay in an exam. Furthermore, from the first time you submit work from AOS, your prepared essay evolves into a body of work that you feel comfortable taking into the HSC and adapting to the question.

Remembering that AOS is not text based, but concept based, you need to have a thorough understanding of the nature of discovery beyond what your topic sentence will say. This way, you can easily adapt your ideas about discovery to an essay question that might be providing a different spin on discovery than how your essay approaches it. Your understanding of discovery as a whole will help you with this. The best way to understand discovery in its many forms? Create as many "concept" statements as you can (these are essentially the biggest ideas expressed in an essay), and then read as many concept statements as you can. If your essay is limited to the perspective of discovery being a catalyst for affirming views (note: never limit your essay to this alone), you at least have a few different perspectives about discovery being transformative or challenging up your sleeve and ready to whip out. This part here isn't about memorising though. This bit is about understanding.

The next part is a little more memorising based. I felt confident going into my exams with a memorised introduction opening, and memorised topic sentences/ concept statements for each of my paragraphs. So, if your introductory concept statement is broad enough, you shouldn't have a hard time remembering your topic sentences to follow because they should be the young children born of the mother statement. There is usually a common thread through all of these. When I say memorised, I use the term loosely. If you feel comfortable with every single word memorised, that works well because you can spit the words onto the page via your pen without having to think. If you are remembering key terms of the topic sentence and are entering without your concept "memorised" but instead, understood, you may find it very easy to adapt to the question, but you may find that you waste a small amount of time scraping through your memory for that perfect syntax you expressed in the essay sitting at home.

As for text related stuff - you have to remember the quotes. I could remember quotes easily because I made an enormous effort of committing them to memory at the beginning of the course (for AOS) and then at my half yearly, my trial preparation, in my trial and approaching my HSC exams, I was only refreshing my memory. I also tried to use quotes that had atleast two techniques attached. This way, each quote was fully loaded with technique and the effect it had so that my words were succinct and my evidence was strong. A quote for the sake of a quote stands out like a pimple on the end of your nose on the day of your last ever school photo. Although that flimsy quote gives you word length, it doesn't give you any strength, and has the potential to threaten the integrity of the paragraph.

Essentially, in terms of understanding: understand discovery and its potential ramifications (challenging, affirming, transforming, etc). In terms of memorising: have a good go at memorising your concept statements for your introduction and paragraphs. These need to be flexible to the question, but a strategically created statement would work seamlessly with a plethora of essay questions. In terms of what you DEFINITELY need to memorise: your quotes and the attached technique and its effect. Your understanding of the text in relation to discovery should carry the "effect" part across the line without too much memory work, but the memorising of quotes and technique will stimulate your understanding of this in the exam.

Sorry we didn't get back to you sooner Chloe. As for the current and future students, ask away! We are always happy to help out and with a stronger online presence in 2016 and beyond, you will be sure you receive assistance.
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Reece7Burton

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Re: How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2016, 12:43:09 pm »
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Hi, I have an english discovery module essay to complete and I'm struggling to come up with a thesis statement for: Discuss how discovery can affect people in different ways. My texts are rainbow's end (prescribed) and the ex-child soldier advertisement for western sydney university. I was wondering if you could help with this?

elysepopplewell

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Re: How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2016, 06:19:05 pm »
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Hi, I have an english discovery module essay to complete and I'm struggling to come up with a thesis statement for: Discuss how discovery can affect people in different ways. My texts are rainbow's end (prescribed) and the ex-child soldier advertisement for western sydney university. I was wondering if you could help with this?

"Discuss how discovery can affect people in different ways."
Okay, very cool. Let's look at some words from the syllabus.
"Discoveries can be fresh and intensely meaningful in ways that may be emotional, creative,
intellectual, physical and spiritual. They can also be confronting and provocative. They can lead us to new
worlds and values, stimulate new ideas, and enable us to speculate about future possibilities. Discoveries
and discovering can offer new understandings and renewed perceptions of ourselves and others.
An individual’s discoveries and their process of discovering can vary according to personal, cultural,
historical and social contexts and values. The impact of these discoveries can be far-reaching and
transformative for the individual and for broader society. Discoveries may be questioned or challenged
when viewed from different perspectives and their worth may be reassessed over time. The ramifications
of particular discoveries may differ for individuals and their worlds."

Here are some ideas that I'm coming up with, of course, you will need to add or remove words depending on what suits your purpose. I'm going to pop these up here as examples of how thesis statements should be written, and hopefully they help you!

"An individual's personal context may contribute to the way a discovery is received."
"The impact of an emotional discovery may be owed to the individual's original ideological stance."
"Discoveries have the capacity to be transformative of perceptions."
"Although two individuals may undergo the same process of discovery, the transformative nature of their discovery may impact them differently."
"The provocative and confronting nature of discoveries mean that they may have a deeply personal and varied effect between different individuals."

I also suggest that every essay starts with two thesis statements, one that you always plan to use whatever the essay question is, and one that is adapted to the question. This gives you more discovery ideas to flesh out in your response so that you aren't repeating yourself over and over. Furthermore, it shows that you know your stuff about the nature of discovery!
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katherine123

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Re: How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2016, 10:47:17 am »
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Hi im doing an essay on away and do people normally do 1/3 on related and 2/3 on the set text (away).  My teacher said I HAVE to do 1/2 on related text and 1/2 on set text.
What i did was 1 pargraph on the character Gwen and 1 paragraph on Tom and 1 parargraph on the character from my related text.  I don't really want to change my essay and im not sure what to do :/

elysepopplewell

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Re: How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2016, 03:58:47 pm »
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Hi im doing an essay on away and do people normally do 1/3 on related and 2/3 on the set text (away).  My teacher said I HAVE to do 1/2 on related text and 1/2 on set text.
What i did was 1 pargraph on the character Gwen and 1 paragraph on Tom and 1 parargraph on the character from my related text.  I don't really want to change my essay and im not sure what to do :/

For an internal assessment, you have to play to what the marker wants. If your teacher is the marker, you'd be crazy to go against your teacher's advice! So for this assessment, do not deviate from what your teacher is saying you "HAVE" to do!

As for your external exam at the end of the year, you have to do what you truly think is right and how you feel most comfortable writing. I'm with you, I give more weight to my prescribed text - this is the first time I've heard of anyone saying do 50/50! I'm curious about why your teacher is suggesting this - perhaps it is to strengthen your ORT understanding to ensure that you don't let that go to the wayside. If your teacher is your marker, do what they say to optimise your chances of great results :)
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katherine123

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Re: How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2016, 10:51:10 pm »
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My structure for my essay on away (set text) and 1 related text (the necklace):
paragraph1: Gwen's whole process of discovery
paragrah 2: The necklace: character's loisei before and during discovery
P3: Tom's whole process of discovery
p4: The necklace: the character's loisei's effect of discovery

Is it good to split the process of discovery into 2 paragraphs for my related text on the character Loisei
Initially i have 3 paragraphs in total so each captures their whole process of discovery but now i have 4 so im not sure how to split it

elysepopplewell

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Re: How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2016, 02:13:50 pm »
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My structure for my essay on away (set text) and 1 related text (the necklace):
paragraph1: Gwen's whole process of discovery
paragrah 2: The necklace: character's loisei before and during discovery
P3: Tom's whole process of discovery
p4: The necklace: the character's loisei's effect of discovery

Is it good to split the process of discovery into 2 paragraphs for my related text on the character Loisei
Initially i have 3 paragraphs in total so each captures their whole process of discovery but now i have 4 so im not sure how to split it

This sounds like it would work to me! However, it does depend on where you take it up to in the second paragraph. For example, you wouldn't just put the first part of Loisei's discovery after Gwen's unless it had similarities to Gwen's that you could link, or the end part of the "before and during" of Loisei's discovery linked then to Tom's process of discovery.

Integrated structures aren't just to show you can switch  between texts. You only use them to make connections between the texts, explicitly showing the correlation at different points.

If you aren't making connections with Gwen and Tom to Loisei, then I suggest that you combine Loisei's discovery in one and do not use an integrated structure. In saying this, I always recommend integrated structures, if you choose to complete it properly by drawing really great connections :) If you aren't going to make clear connections that make the structure make sense, then take it back to three paragraphs :)
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bethjomay

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Re: How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2016, 11:32:24 am »
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Hey ATAR Notes!

I hope this is the right forum to post on, but I am just looking for some general advice for finding and explaining techniques in my AoS essay. My set text is The Tempest and techniques is the area I consistently get marked down for (I'm an advanced english student)! Thank you!  :)
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elysepopplewell

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Re: How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2016, 01:43:11 pm »
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Hey ATAR Notes!

I hope this is the right forum to post on, but I am just looking for some general advice for finding and explaining techniques in my AoS essay. My set text is The Tempest and techniques is the area I consistently get marked down for (I'm an advanced english student)! Thank you!  :)

Hi there! Are you having trouble understanding the effect of a technique - or explaining that effect in your own work?

If you haven't already, make your way over to the Area of Study essay marking thread, and have a look at how other people studying the Tempest have handled their approach to technique explanation. Soo many people study the Tempest there, so you should find some ideas. But by all means, let me know specifically what you are struggling with and we can look into working it out :)
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bethjomay

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Re: How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2016, 01:54:22 pm »
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Thank you! I am mostly having trouble finding/understanding the links between techniques and discovery!  Like, how does a certain symbol actually aid the idea of discovery in a text? :)
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elysepopplewell

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Re: How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2016, 04:16:09 pm »
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Thank you! I am mostly having trouble finding/understanding the links between techniques and discovery!  Like, how does a certain symbol actually aid the idea of discovery in a text? :)

Awesome! Okay, so there are a number of ways to look at this. For me, I looked at discovery in stages.

First stage: the environment that lead to the discovery.
Second stage: The plot/actions that lead to the discovery
Last stage: How the discovery impacted the individual.

So for the first stage, I described the techniques in the setting that described it as a place that gave rise to discovery.
The second stage, I'd be talking about the facial expressions of those in the documentary, the close up shots, etc, and how this showed the moments the discoveries were realised. So on, so on.

If you don't want to do it in stages, you can look at something like this:

Character goes through hard time, (technique: metaphor for sadness, motif, whatever it may be).
Character has an epiphany, as conveyed by the author through the use of pathetic fallacy.
Therefore, the hard time (metaphor) lead to the epiphany (pathetic fallacy) which lead to the discovery of...
This is completely hypothetical, but it shows how you don't have to describe the exact moment of discovery, but the lead up to it as well.

Alternatively, you could look at discovery's impact. So comparing the way a character has changed since before and after the discovery to talk about the meaningful impact of discovery..

Essentially, don't think you have to talk about the moment of discovery only. You can talk about what caused it, what it was like in the moment of discovery, or afterwards. There's a lot of scope with this to talk about various stages of discovery :)

If you're looking for an example, my essay can be found here.

But like I said, definitely check out the marking thread for other Tempest students to see how they have approached the techniques.
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bethjomay

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Re: How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2016, 04:22:30 pm »
+1
Ok thank you! That's really helpful! 😊
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elysepopplewell

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Re: How to Write an Area of Study Essay
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2016, 05:03:42 pm »
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Ok thank you! That's really helpful! 😊
Let me know if you're at a loss again! Or, you could post a few sentences to see if you are on the right track and I can give you my thoughts :)
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