Having worked in the scholarship and select entry exam preparation field for six years now, I have gained a reputation in the industry as an effective mentor in helping student achieve superior results for creative writing. Here are five simple techniques which your child can apply to better their grades on the creative writing section of the select entry or scholarship exam.
- Use figurative language.
Figurative language is language that uses words or expressions with a meaning that is different from the literal interpretation. Some examples of figurative language include metaphors, similes and personification. Firstly, similes refer to when you compare one thing, to another thing, using the words “as” or “like” (i.e. she had eyes as blue as sapphires). Also, metaphors refer to when you compare one thing with another thing WITHOUT using the words “as” or “like” (i.e. she had sapphire blue eyes). Finally, personification relates to when you give human traits to non-human things (i.e the wind sighed through the trees).
- Show, don’t tell.
If you were to say, “she was angry” this does not tell you how angry she was. If you were to show what she looked like when she was angry, then this would help the reader to visualise exactly how angry she was. “Her face went a violent shade of red. She roared like a lion.”
Note that you do not have to stick to the completely visual senses when showing. You should also show with consideration to all the five senses (i.e. sight, sound, taste, touch and smell).
- Have an orientation, dilemma and resolution. The time limit for the Edutest creative writing section is only 15 minutes. Given this very short time limit, it would be very difficult to have a complex plot. Students are encouraged to have a simple plot with a modest orientation (i.e. show the who, what, where and when of the piece), dilemma (i.e. show a problem or difficulty which the character must overcome) and resolution (i.e. show your character overcoming the problem with which they were confronted).
- Pre-write a setting, character, and characters’ emotions.
Given the highly timed nature of select entry and scholarship exams, students should consider pre-writing some of their characters, settings and their emotions before they enter the examination room. This would be beneficial as children would not have to waste time generating original, innovative content on the spot.
- Pre-write the plot.
Students will generally be given a worded or visual prompt to respond to in the exam. The child is advised to have a plot that they like decided upon before going into the examination (one, preferably with a twist as this demonstrates a more complex understanding of plot development).
Let’s say the prompt is a picture of a vase. The plot could be about a mother telling her son not to play ball inside the house as she thinks he will kick the ball and brake the vase. The son arrogantly states that he is a pro at ball and therefore could never brake the vase. The mother leaves and he continues kicking the ball about the house. Suddenly he brakes the vase. He starts getting more and more anxious and crying thinking of how he was going to explain this debacle to his mother. As he is disposing of the remains of the vase, his mother walks in and catches him red-handed. Here, he becomes frantically apologetic. His mum laughs. Confused, the son learns that his mother was certain that he was going to brake the vase and replaced it with a decoy vase which meant nothing to her.
This same plot could be reused if the topic is a picture of a coat. The plot could be about a mother telling her daughter not to wear her coat, and the daughter does it anyway. She ends up ruining the coat. The twist is that the coat was a decoy planted by the mother.
Say the scholarship or select entry exam depict a visual prompt of X (where X represents absolutely anything the scholarship or select entry people have depicted in the prompt). Say Mr Smith tells his son not to play ball inside as he is worried that his son might ruin his beautiful hand painted portrait of X. The son then plays inside and accidentally ruins the painting. The twist is that the painting was decoy as the father was certain that the son would disobey his wishes.
Notice how the above plots are essentially the same with minor material differences. In this way, a child can quickly plan a sophisticated story plot in an ACER or Edutest examination context.
For more in depth hints and tips on how to improve your child’s chances of scoring a high mark on ACER and select entrance exams, please contact us.