Monday, 23 April 2012

Exam tips for AS students

With just three weeks to go to the exam, here are a few tips for the OCR AS G322.

1. Practice a bit of writing on TV Drama and particularly in organising your notes. You'll find a whole presentation of tips on that part of the exam in my presentation from an earlier post on Feb 29. There I suggest that you go into the exam knowing how you will organise your notes, so that you have a structure to look out for things and to ensure that you maximise the note-taking time. After the first screening, if you draw a grid in the answer booklet, like this:

It will give you all you need for the four categories- mise-en-scene, camerawork, editing (continuity editing, at least) and sound. Down the side are the three categories P- point, D-data (or example) and Q- question (how to relate point and example to the question set). This model was suggested by Vicky Allen at Thomas Rotherham College, who gets good results every year, so she should know!

When revising for the exam, fill out a grid like this with the points you are going to be looking for on the day, then regardless of the extract, you will have things to look for. You won't be able to take one in to the actual exam, but you will have fewer things to memorise to cover!

So, under mise-en-scene, you might be looking for key examples of setting, costume, props, colours, makeup, hairstyle, lighting, posture, gesture. For camerawork you want to make points about angles, shot distances, camera movements, framing and focus. For continuity editing you want examples of the 180 degree rule, match on action, shot reverse shot, eyeline match, insert shots. For sound you will want examples of music, dialogue, sound effects, use of foley, counterpoint, sound bridges. If you have lists like this that you can then remember, that gives you plenty to look for.

Once you have watched the extract through, during the second screening you can very quickly note down    your grid and start to put in examples to support your points and then as you watch it a third and fourth time, you can start to relate the examples you find  back to the question, by asking what they contribute to the representation under scrutiny. So, for instance, how is the setting being used, how are camera angles being used, how are features of continuity editing used to help establish differences between characters. You'll have 30 minutes in total for the note-taking, so make the most of it!

Remember, the more you do in preparation for the note-taking, the better your chances in the essay itself. A well-organised answer in the 45 minutes for writing, supporting points with examples, will go a long way towards getting you a good mark!

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