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VCE English vs Literature – What’s The Difference?

vce english vs literature - what's the difference

Posted On August 7, 2020

Years 11 and 12 of schooling are upon you; what is your destination? Are your bags packed? Your academic decisions during this period can significantly impact your future, so it is important to take time to thoroughly consider your options before embarking on your learning-filled voyage.

You may be critically thinking about your primary four Victorian Curriculum, or VCE, study areas and which competencies should fill your fifth and sixth spots, but before making this determination, you need to understand what each option entails and ultimately how scaling can impact your performance and scores.

VCE English and VCE Literature sound synonymous, right? Wrong. There are some similarities between the two, but also substantial variances that sets each subject apart. Grab your boarding pass, and let’s learn and explore your direction.

english and literature books

What Does VCE English Entail?

English coursework may train you to align with specific writing guidelines, and writing analysis involves the review of themes and characters in a particular setting. What context, historical or otherwise, surrounds the story? You may also be asked to compare and contrast certain works by the same author, by different authors in similar eras, or perhaps by different authors covering the same topic whilst spanning varying time periods. English may also be an ideal subject for you if you consider yourself skilled at structured writing, delivering oral presentations, and analyzing language.

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What Does VCE Literature Entail?

Are you always searching for deeper meaning in your daily life? Chances are you would be successful studying Literature, as you learn techniques and practice comparatively more in-depth analyses of writing styles, verbiage, and techniques. What is the author really trying to say, and what was he or she thinking about whilst writing? What symbols exist in the text that may foreshadow the plot?

You have the ability to dive deeper into the author’s personification, assonance, and use of repetition. VCE Literature generally allows more flexible formatting guidelines but promotes higher-level creative writing practices. Also, have you ever read a book that was later made into a feature film? You may also enjoy assessing movie adaptations and relationships with original text.

notes for vce english

Should you pursue VCE English, VCE Literature, or both simultaneously? Certainly your own preferred style and inherent strengths in writing and analyzing masterpieces may determine your success within either area. Take time to assess your own writing strengths and pitfalls; writers who consider themselves creative and reflective may find English to be more restrictive, thereby achieving greater success in Literature. Conversely, writers who prefer formatting guidelines and order may favor English.

You may also consider the combination of both English and Literature classes; both courses promote English reading and writing skill development while incorporating diverse writing structures and styles. Multifaceted experience potentially gained by taking both English and Literature subjects can be useful in developing the necessary critical analysis and structural formatting skills in preparation for university-level research papers.

typing english

English and Literature Exams and Scaling

Literature has the reputation of being more challenging than English. In 2019, English had been scaled down by 2 points which is a consistent year-to-year trend, but Literature scaled up by 1 point. Due to a greater number of students engaging in VCE English compared to Literature, you may achieve higher marks comparatively due to better scaling.

For the English exam, you must complete three essays in three hours, and you have a choice of multiple prompts for your text response, comparative response, and language analysis. The exam content can be found in the 2020 Adjusted Study Design – English. The Literature exam historically involved a passage analysis and prompt, totaling two essay completions in two hours, and only one prompt choice per text. The material provided will derive from a set selection of texts. The 2020 Adjusted Study Design – Literature references updated assessment and study outcomes. Be mindful of the weight of your VCE subject selections. 100% of your marks in your primary four subjects will be allocated to ATAR points, while accounting only 10% of your fifth and sixth subjects’ study scores.

Deciding between VCE English and Literature

Now that you have a brief overview of the subjects and scaling, let’s discuss intrapersonal considerations. Here are some human factors that should impact your VCE course decision-making for years 11 and 12:

1. Know Your Strengths

Challenging yourself will allow you to grow your knowledge and skillsets, but there exists a healthy balance between pushing your cognitive limits and overwhelming your brain. If you are devoting too much time and energy to one subject, you may be taking vital attention away from other areas. By knowing your strengths, you can make appropriate subject decisions and allocate your time efficiently.

writing an english exam
2. Explore Your Interests

If you engage in a subject that piques your interest, captivates your imagination, and ultimately brings you joy or fulfillment, you likely feel more apt to dedicate your time and focus to this area. Schooling was not made for misery! Rather than losing marks due to a lack of interest, choose subjects that align with your future university and career aspirations.

3. Understand Prerequisites

You may already know which realm or degree you would like to pursue at the uni level. For example, if you aspire to become an engineer, you should research the prerequisite subjects needed to warrant enrollment in future courses, and perhaps prioritize subjects under the Mathematics category over Performing Arts. Know your higher education destination and the steps needed to arrive there.

So, What’s Next?

You are now better prepared for your VCE voyage. Being adventurous and stepping outside of your comfort zone can oftentimes help with developing new aptitudes and discovering new talents that you had been previously undiscovered. Being strategic with your English and/or Literature course engagement and timing can influence a wide array of reading skillsets and writing tools that prepare you for university-level work. 

Written by Vic
Melbourne based Private Tutor, Writer and Business Owner with a passion for teaching and helping students succeed in their academic endevours.
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