Study Help!

As we approach school exams (and NCEA Externals), it is wise to begin revising some of the content we have covered this year. Below are the last three years of exam papers for the 3.1 and 3.2 exams. Look carefully at the questions in these and brainstorm some responses. You should look to write a practice essay and have it marked by me if you want to know where you are at.

You will notice that the essays ask you to discuss general concepts in relation to the literature you have studied. The statements require you to take a position, build an argument and use the text you have explored to prove your point. There are also two exemplar papers below (one for each standard). All of these are available on the NZQA website.

Download (PDF, 261KB)

Download (PDF, 262KB)

Download (PDF, 263KB)

Download (PDF, 1.64MB)

Download (PDF, 266KB)

Download (PDF, 267KB)

Download (PDF, 275KB)

Download (PDF, 857KB)



Remember: we have written essays for both King Lear and Gladiator this year. They have dealt with the concepts behind the literature and the analysis of the literature itself. Your exam essays are no different. The major difference in your learning this year compared to last year is that we have not labeled the elements we have explored as they might be labeled in your previous years of study. In order to illustrate this, I have mapped out everything we have discussed and explored for Lear and given it “exam essay labels”. You should look to do the same for Gladiator if you feel you need this reassurance.



Something that you have all been bringing up quotes, particularly for King Lear. I have shared with the whole class a Google Doc that you can collectively contribute quotes to for each of the elements we have explored. To be kind to your classmates, write a couple of sentences next to your quote that explains the significance of your selected quotation.

[google-drive-embed url=”” title=”Level 3 King Lear Quote Bank- Collaboration” icon=”” width=”100%” height=”400″ style=”embed”]


Study Tasks

  • Write a 3.1 (King Lear) practice essay and have it marked by Mrs. P.
  • Write a 3.2 (Gladiator) practice essay and have it marked by Mrs. P.
  • Condense your notes on Aristotle’s theory of tragedy onto a single page. Ensure you can articulate what his overall theory was, what he believed the purpose of a tragedy was and explain the six elements and he believed were needed to create a successful tragedy.
  • Explain the use of the animal metaphor in King Lear and Gladiator. Look for similarities and differences. Connect the use of the metaphor to common beliefs about the relationship between humans and animals and also the ‘Great Chain of Being’ theory that was popular in England and Europe in the 17th Century.
  • Memorise key quotations from Lear and Gladiator. Some ways to do this are: flash cards, sticky notes around the house, writing them out over and over again. Make sure you are selecting quotations that can apply to multiple areas. Check the doc for help with this.
  • Write timed paragraphs. Set yourself up somewhere quiet, select a question from a past paper and write your introduction and first paragraph for the essay that you would respond to your chosen statement with. You should be able to do this in about 30-35 minutes.

Posted by Renee Plunkett

Teacher of English at Mount Aspiring College, Wanaka, New Zealand.

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