Decoding the Provincial Exam
The word “Provincial Exam” can invoke feelings of dread, fear, and even panic for many students. However, this formidable task does not have to bring unease or trepidation. With the right tools, knowledge, and understanding of what to expect, students can feel confident and prepared to decode B.C’s provincial exam.
The first and most important step in preparing for the provincial exam is understanding exactly what it will look like and what students will be required to do. To begin, the exam is 2 hours long and 1 hour of additional time will be granted if needed. The exam contains four categories of reading: Retrieve Information (RI), Recognize Meaning (RM), Interpret Texts (IT), and Analyze Texts (AT). The exam is comprised of both multiple choice questions and written responses for these four categories of reading.
Additionally, the test is organized into four different sections.
In Part A, students will have a stand alone text, which may be informational, poetry or literary prose. Part B is Synthesis Texts 1 and 2, here students will read two texts and respond to multiple-choice questions on both. Texts again may be informational, poetry or literary prose. Part C is the Analysis of Synthesis Texts 1 and 2. Here students will have multiple choice questions, but also a written response to the Synthesis Text question. Student must write a multi-paragraph expository response of at least 300 words. In this section students must take a position and support their stance with information, details, or features from the given texts.
Finally, Part D is the Composition component of the exam. Here students are given one topic to formulate an original response of at least 300 words. Their original composition must demonstrate organizing ideas, use of effective transitions between sentences and paragraphs, and conventions of standard written English.
Another important aspect to consider for the provincial exam is scoring.
This may come as a surprise for many students, but grammar and mechanics are not the most important factors that determine a high score. Markers will be looking for responses and compositions that show students not only have a strong grasp of the topic and text, but are also able to make explicit and implicit references to the text to support their points. Superior scores will also be achieved if students can show through their writing that they have a depth of understanding of not just the texts themselves but the literary tools and figurative devices at play within the text. This means that students must show that they are able to speak to the effect of literary tools in regard to the texts’ overall meaning, style, and theme.
So what tips or strategies can help students feel prepared going into the provincial exam?
A useful tip for students is to look on the B.C. Ministry of Education website and find examples of past exams and to become familiar with the sections of the exam itself. ESL students in particular will benefit from becoming familiar with literary and figurative device terms as well as exam terminology. A list of these terms can also be found on the B.C. Ministry of Education website.
Moreover, during the March 2018 spring break, Little Mountain Learning Academy is offering a special 2-week English Grade 12 Provincial Prep Bootcamp in which students will learn how to work within the rigorous time constraints and successfully write about the given texts of the provincial exam.
So don’t fret! With these tips and strategies as well as Little Mountain Learning Academy’s upcoming exam prep bootcamp, students will be decoding the provincial exam with ease and confidence in no time.
To learn more about our Provincial Exam Bootcamp during spring break, please click here!