VCE EAL, VCE English

VCE English/EAL: Context vs. Text essays

When I ask students to explain how context (expository) essays and text essays are different, most of them are a little confused. Hopefully, you’ll have a clear understanding of both by the end of this post!

Text Essays vs. Context Essays (expository)

Most of us know what a text essay is – we’ve been writing them for years! However, what are contexts and ‘expository’ essays?

Here’s a video of me talking about this, and below I’ve got some notes for you. Yes, I know the video skips. Yes, it is annoying. No, I don’t know why it does that.


– is an idea
– four contexts: Whose Reality, Encountering Conflict, The Imaginative Landscape, and Belonging and Identity
– each context is a huge, very complex and deep idea
– your teacher is trying to teach you about whichever idea your school has chosen, rather than a single book/film/play/set of poems

What your teachers are looking for:

– How well do you understand the themes/characters/symbols/motifs?
– How well can you argue your interpretation of the text?

– Do you understand the context/idea in depth/breadth? ie. Do you understand how complex the context/idea is?

What text essays/context expository essays are about:

– The text

– The idea

How you talk about your ideas:

– Quotes/events from the text

– Evidence from a variety of sources (films/tv/real life/poetry/history/novels/plays/etc)

I hope that makes it clear for you! Let me know what you’d like me to explain next.


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