In the COMPREHENDING SECTION of your ATAR English exam you could be asked to discuss the significance of the narrative point of view.

So!  Best you know the difference between them! 🤙😉

It is RARE to come across 2nd person pov texts.  These are the “Choose-your-own-adventure” sort of texts (“You climb up over the wall to see…”)


The narrator is part of the story (I, me).  You are inside their head and see directly through the eyes.

Therefore, this point of view can very SUBJECTIVE and BIAS because the character’s interpretation of events or the action is directly INFLUENCED by their personal experiences, opinions, attitudes or motivations.

E.G. In "A Handmaid’s Tale" we share what Offred knows, experiences and remembers, but she has a very limited view of the world due to her position. We have to trust her about Gilead and what happens to her.

So, first person point of view narrators can be UNRELIABLE.


The narrator is an observer of the action or events (they, he, she, it).  They are an outsider looking in.

They may be LIMITED (i.e. focus on the thoughts and feelings of one character) or OMNISCIENT (i.e. can go into the thoughts of many or all of the characters, sometimes called Eye-of-God narration).

These narrators are more OBJECTIVE and RELIABLE because they have no self interest in the events occurring.

In some cases, they may show concern for the characters or comment on the action, such as Death does in "The Book Thief", but this is unusual.  For the most part they just report the story.

And that’s it!  Simples!  😊

Comprehending, Responding


'HOW' is a pesky word that has caused the downfall of even the brightest English students 😧 It’s a word examiners and teachers use to encourage students to offer ANALYSIS.

This is where examiners and teachers provide a parameter for the analysis.
E.G. “Explain HOW THE USE OF SETTING shapes the construction of one of the characters in this passage.”
You are being asked specifically to analyse the setting and how it influences character construction. You've been given a parameter for the HOW (analysis).
Other examples:
“Explain HOW THE PATTERNS OF LANGUAGE OR STRUCTURE are used to represent a complex idea.”
“Explain HOW A TEXT USES VOICE to encourage you to empathise with others.”
This is where YOU are left to choose the type of analysis you will offer. And this is where the downfall occurs 😧
Because a parameter has not been provided, some students fail to realise they are still expected to discuss the important course concepts they’ve been sweating over for the last two years.
E.G. “Explain HOW at least one text you have studied appeals to a particular audience.”
Can you see there is a lack of direction regarding the HOW?  BUT!  You are still expected to offer analysis.
So where do you go from here?
We suggest picking from ANY of the topics below, all of which allow you to offer analysis and successfully address the HOW:
🧐 Consider generic conventions (structure, point of view, setting, characterisation, ideas or themes or issues, stylistic features).
🧐 Consider language features – WRITTEN (metaphor, simile, personification inclusive pronouns, statistics, rhetorical questions etc) or VISUAL (camera angles, lighting, juxtaposition, mise en scene, symbols etc)
🧐 Consider values and/or attitudes in the text.
🧐 Consider context (production and reception).
Think about it.  A film or novel or poem may appeal to a particular audience because of setting.  Because of the values that are reinforced, or challenged.  Because of the time period in which it was produced, or received.  Because of the characterisation…..and so on.
There are LOADS of things you could potentially discuss.  The key is not to ignore the HOW.
Don't make the mistake of thinking this sort of question is easy or straightforward.  You still need to offer analysis and show you are thinking about the way the text has been CRAFTED. 😊
Comprehending, Responding

EXPLAIN – how do I do this?

This instructional verb is used a LOT in the ATAR English examination papers.  For example:

  • EXPLAIN how your response to this image has been affected by the arrangement of visual elements. (2017)
  • EXPLAIN how the use of setting shapes the construction of one of the characters in this passage. (2016)

EXPLAIN means to give reasons for, to relate cause and effect, to make the relationships between things evident.  You have to make the marker understand something by giving reasons for both ‘how’ and ‘why’ things are as they are.

Here are some useful phrases you can use 😊

  • To understand the …… it is useful to think of….
  • … works by …
  • Because… then …
  • When… then …
  • … is/are caused by …
  • Whereas…
  • In the same way …
  • … results from …
  • The effect of….
  • The main reason for …
  • Taking into account …, it is clear that …
  • … interacts with …
  • … affects …
  • … causes …
  • … influences …
  • …predicts …
  • … leads to …
  • … informs …
  • … emphasises …
  • … demonstrates …
  • … impacts on …
  • … supports …
Comprehending, Responding


To quote Jack Black from the movie School of Rock – “One great rock song, can change the world!” 🎸
Poets and songwriters often use their lyrics to convey the views, positions, ideas and perspectives of other individuals or groups – i.e. TO GIVE THEM A VOICE.
  • WILFRED OWEN gave a VOICE to the young soldiers of WWI in his poems – “Dulce Et Decorum Est”, “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, “Disabled”.
  • “Strange Fruit”, a poem written by ABEL MEEROPOL, gave a VOICE to African Americans and exposed racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans. BILLIE HOLIDAY later recorded the poem as a song.
  • BOB DYLAN gave a VOICE to Rueben ‘The Hurricane’ Carter in his song “The Hurricane” where he protested the boxer’s innocence.

  • In his rap “The Storm”, EMINEM gave a VOICE to anti-Trump supporters as he lashes out at the American president.
  • Aussie band MIDNIGHT OIL gave a VOICE to the workers at the Wittenoom asbestos mines (who contracted various asbestos-related diseases) in the song “Blue Sky Mine.”   
  • In “Beds Are Burning”, MIDNIGHT OIL gave a VOICE to the Pintupi, who were among the very last people to come in from the desert, and encourage the return of native Australian lands.
  • And finally, "The Saints Are Coming".  GREEN DAY and U2 collaborated on this song to give a VOICE to the people of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The song protests the inaction of the US government following this disaster.
We could go on forever!
Poetry, song and rap allow us to have a VOICE – whether we choose to speak for ourselves, or for someone else, is entirely up to us. It can be fulfilling and life-changing!

And finishing up with VOICES in images…


Do you notice anything about this Time magazine cover from 2013?

It’s clever, right?  Each face represents a different culture, overall conveying Australia’s multicultural society.  Each culture is given a VOICE.

Or are they?

There seems to be one extremely important VOICE that has been omitted.

Can you deduct whose is it?