I found a wonderful and helpful online guide written by: R.Beaton. B. Britney & V. Columbara 2008, that clearly explains some great tips for the English 12, Provincial Exams. It illustrates my exact training methods and sentiments towards the key elements of the exam. I invite you to have a read and prepare for the exam using these techniques. For more information, give me a call as I would be happy to expand on these ideas and assist students in reaching their goals.
Remember that the Provincial Exam is
worth 40% of you entire school grade. At this point, you should know
what your class mark is. Take a few moments to figure what you “need”
to get on your provincial in order to achieve your goal, whether your
goal is to simply pass the course or get an A.
School Mark x 60%
This is what you have entering into
the exam. Your mark on the exam x 40% will be added to this for your
The English Provincial is divided into
four sections. Each section is assigned a mark value and a suggested
time period for completion. Although the time allotted for the entire
provincial is 2 hours (120 minutes), everyone actually gets 3 hours
(180 minutes) USE YOUR TIME WISELY!
(marks are approximate as they change every year)
Section Value Suggested
Time Real Suggested Time
Stand Alone Text 20 marks 25
minutes 35 minutes
Synthesis Text 1 10 marks 10
minutes 10 minutes
Synthesis Text 2 33 marks 45
minutes 50-60 minutes
Original Comp 24 marks 40
minutes 50-60 minutes
Total 87 marks 120 minutes 165 minutes
Part A: Stand Alone Text
This section requires you to read a
poem, answer 7 or 8 multiple choices questions and write a literary
paragraph. The time suggested is 25 minutes. You should aim to
complete this section in under 40 minutes.
Remember to read the question first, before reading the poem.
Pay attention to the title of the poem
as it will often give you insight into the poem’s meaning, speaker,
As you read the poem, make notes or
highlight to help you answer the question.
Read the poem more than once.
This is a literary paragraph. DO
NOT USE “I”, DO NOT USE “YOU”. Write in third person.
Be sure to use quotes to support your
answer. INTEGRATE YOUR QUOTES WELL.
You need to have a clear topic
sentence. This sentence should contain the author’s name and
the poem’s title.
Make sure your paragraph is as error
free as possible. It’s the little errors that add up to a lower
If you are having difficulty,
sometimes simply restating the question can be a topic sentence
(although not a great one).
Example Question: Discuss
the jump in “Prelude to Jumping in the River” as a metaphor for
making important decisions. Use paragraph form and support your
response with specific references to the text.
Possible topic sentence: “In
“Prelude to Jumping in the River”, the jump is a metaphor for
making important decisions.”
* Remember to be more creative than
Part B: Synthesis Text 1
In the comprehension section, you are
expected to read a non-fiction passage or a poem and answer the
multiple choice questions based on the content of the passage. You
are showing that you understand what you read. Read the questions
carefully and answer to the best of your ability. Never leave an
answer blank. If you have to, guess. Try not to spend more than the
ten minutes suggested for this section.
This section should be easy marks. Don’t give them
away by not reading the questions properly or making silly mistakes.
Part C: Interpretation of Prose (Short
Story)/Synthesis Text 2
In this section you are required to
read a short story, answer 8-14 multiple choice questions and write a
synthesis essay that looks at the prose piece and either the
non-fiction piece or the poem from Part B. Stories are usually about
2 pages in length. This section is worth 33 points – more than 1/3
of your entire provincial mark! The time suggested for the prose
section is 45 minutes – use at least that much, if not more
(remember the extra hour everyone gets).
The multiple choice questions you will
be required to answer are both on the passage specifically as well as
questions that deal with the synthesizing of both texts.
The multiple choice questions are one
point each. Never leave a question unanswered – if
necessary, use the process of elimination.
Multiple choice may ask you about
terms, techniques, understanding the story, or vocabulary. KNOW
For the essay, you are given a choice
of two questions, but you only need to answer one.
Remember to read the essay questions
first, before reading the story.
* It is very easy to score a 4 in this
section but often hard to score a higher mark. Stay focused, prove
your clear arguments and use strong, appropriate quotes to prove your
thesis. Vivid, proper vocabulary will also help as well complex
sentence structures that vary through the paragraphs.
As you read, use a highlighter or your
pen to underline and make notes to help you answer the question.
Write all over the booklet if you wish!
This is a literary essay. DO NOT USE
‘I’ OR ‘YOU’. Write in third person. This is a SYNTHESIS
question – make sure you incorporate BOTH pieces of literature and
answer the question.
Your essay needs to be at least 3
paragraphs long – if it less than that, you will lose one point
from your mark. And will likely not score higher than a 3 because you
haven’t developed your ideas.
Make sure your first paragraph is as
error free as possible. This is where the marker gets their first
impression of your writing ability. Don’t give them a reason to
question your skill level.
Be sure to use quotes to support your
answer. INTEGRATE YOUR QUOTES WELL.
*Quotes are like Barbies™ –
they can’t stand up by themselves!
You need to have a clear thesis
sentence. This sentence should contain the author’s names and the
story’s titles and connect to synthesis. But it should not be the
only sentence in your introduction.
Be sure to answer the question!
Synthesis questions may ask about the following: character*, theme*,
tone, mood, irony, imagery, compare & contrast, and a variety of
literary devices – metaphor, extended metaphor, symbolism*,
allusion, etc. Be sure you know your terms.
* = very popular topics.
Essays are double marked on the 6
point scale, the marks are combined, multiplied by 2 and you receive
a grade out of 24.
Do not refer to the author by
first name only. Be clear on whether the author is male or female so
that you use the correct pronoun. These little things if correct,
tell the marker you know what’s going on. If you use the wrong
pronoun or some other small error, it’s a little warning to the
marker you may not understand what you read.
Avoid clichés, rhetorical questions or review like comments.
Stay neutral and don’t preach or “teach” the markers about the
Eg; In the short story,
“Andy Warhol”, the author, Jesse Smith does an amazing job of
creating a vivid theme of overcoming hardship.
ANSWER THE QUESTION!
D: Original Composition
This section is worth 24 marks and
requires you write an original composition. The suggested time is 40
minutes – use at least that and likely more.
The instructions for this section are
“Using standard English, write a
coherent, unified, multi-paragraph composition of approximately 300
words on the topic below. In your composition, you may apply any
effective and appropriate method of development which includes any
combination of exposition, persuasion, description and narration.”
Your composition needs to be multi
paragraph or you will lose marks.
You are given a topic to write about,
but how you choose to approach the topic is up to you. Typically,
narrative essays do better than expository simply because they tend
to be more creative. However, many expository and persuasive essays
have received 6’s. Write the way you write best.
Some past topics:
Keeping an open mind allows for
growth. (Jan 2000)
The pursuit of freedom involves
change. (April 2000)
It is important to have a realistic
view of life. (April 2001)
People can create their own reality.
People can be influenced by their
Certain experiences can mark the
beginnings of maturity. (Jan 03)
Our journey into the future begins in
the past. (April 03)
Our views of the past change as we
mature. (Jan 04)
Use some time to pre-plan. You need to
be clear in what you are writing about. Remember to save some time to
proof read and edit. You will only have time and room to write one
copy – make sure it’s a good one.
* Handwriting can often be a factor in your mark. Be sure to be
as neat and legible as possible. Don’t give anyone reason to lower
Make sure your first paragraph is
error free and as engaging as possible. This is what will create
the readers’ first impression of your work.
Have a title.
It’s refreshing and a nice extra piece of pizzazz the readers
Zeros are only given if the essay if
completely off topic or if the language/content is inappropriate.
audience. Watch your language for slang, boring,
common vocabulary and inappropriate content.
It MUST be your work! Re-writing
common movie plots or novel story lines will not only insult the
marker, but can result in a zero.
Some Helpful Tips….
The weekend before your exam:
1. Practice exams on-line.
Use the answer keys, and not just
the selected response section; examine how the prose and poetry
sections could be answered.
Practice narrowing the essay
topics and write outline
2. Study your Literary Terms
The night before the exam:
Go to bed prepared: have
everything you need for the exam ready to go.
Set you alarm (check AM/PM,
volume etc); make sure you have a back up wake up option (parents,
GO TO BED EARLY! (This really
can’t be stressed enough)
The morning of the exam:
Be at school by 8am (your exam
starts at 8:30) or if it’s an afternoon exam, be at school by
12:00 (your exam starts at 12:30)
Bring everything you need to be
successful: 2-3 new pens, 2-3 sharpened pencils, an eraser, white
out, good luck charms (medallions, rabbits’ feet, a lock of hair
from a virtuous unicorn, a small vial containing the blood of an
infidel – whatever works for you).
Give yourself as much time to get
to school as possible. You don’t want to be rushed.
EAT Breakfast! It is the most
important meal of the day, especially on exam days! And if you have
an afternoon exam, EAT LUNCH!
Make sure you’re at the exam
location at least 15 minutes early
Go to the bathroom BEFORE the
exam. Wash your hands
Leave everything you don’t need
in your locker: cell phone, backpack, Ipod.
RELAX! Deep breaths… calm blue
ocean, calm blue ocean.
Read all the instructions
Read the writing topics before
For each section, read the
questions before you read the text, especially the written-response
Plan all of your writing in an
OUTLINE in the space provided.
Take your time and pace yourself.
Write slowly, carefully, and neatly.
Make sure every sentence is
complete; vary your sentences; use the best words.
No clichés, no salty language,
nothing stupid. Think about your audience
Proofread everything! If you have
time, go over it again! Proofread!
This article has been copied directly from the writer. Right Choice Educational Programs and Tutoring services would like to thank the author R.Beaton. B. Britney & V. Columbara 2008 for such a helpful piece.
Right Choice Educational Programs & Tutoring Services