It’s great if you’ve mastered NCEA Media Studies Level 3, now it’s time to sink your teeth into Media Studies Scholarship. You will get three different questions to read over and answer. It’s within your interest to use as many examples and evidence as you can to back up the claims that you give. You’ll also be asked to explain if you agree or disagree with the topics in the question. So, make sure you have a clear opinion, yes or no wise and stick to it as well as back up your claims in detail. If your looking at getting some help with some Past Papers then check out this blog here. Perhaps you're needing some tips for navigating media studies in general? Or maybe you would like to go over a brief Study Guide. You can also check out the complete year's course overview on Media Studies here.

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How do I write a strong Media Studies scholarship essay?

Before we go into the ‘what' to write we will need to unpack a bit further the ‘how’ to write.  While at home for the internals, you can spend hours agonizing and crafting your essay structure, when you’re in the exam, there is very little time to achieve such well-oiled perfection. Instead, you will be faced with that all-important time limit and duelling it for the duration of the exam. For this reason, it’s best to work in tandem with the time limit and learn how to nail your three exam questions.

For starters, you will definitely need to brainstorm to achieve the best result, this is because ideas when brainstormed first are more clearly and coherently communicated when they appear in the essay. To brainstorm well you can do a mind map or a list. Make a list of all the points you want to include, then pick 4 key concepts, pick the top idea as a starting point and then choose the order of importance. Make sure that you do at least 2 minutes of planning to get everything in order and look streamlined. This can order your thoughts more and really stress the fact that you are truly answering the question. Check out Study It's take on this.

Some other good tips when writing

Always remember for scholarship essays that fluency is king. Make sure that everything has clear readability to it, and you are always backing up your points in a coherent fashion. Try to use short sentences and use the “W” method of starting a sentence with a ‘When, Who or What’. This brings the attention straight onto the subject matter which throws the reader right into it and showcases the fact that you’re in control of the piece. It’s also worth starting the sentence with an adverb, which also shows your control of the writing and provides a highlight on the perspective your addressing. Think words like interestingly, importantly, for example. And finally, when navigating your NCEA Media Studies exam, through each of the three questions always remember to knit quotes throughout each one. Ideally, you would want two or three that represent different perspectives and you can evaluate which one you are advocating more for and address your reasons why.

Planning is one of the most important aspects of shaping an effective essay. Never skip it! (Scholarship Media Studies NCEA Level 3)

Close reading analysis, how should I answer this question/statement?

The first question will have you analyzing close reading of media texts. You will need to unpack the genre, readings or representation from a selected media of your choice. The media can be anything from documentary right through to a film, it’s totally up to you to pick what you think will deem you a good mark.  One common theme in the 2017 scholarship markings was to see students serve up their ‘genre’ essays. Science fiction and Film Noir were popular genres to write about. It was evident as to which students had discussed and unpacked the themes surrounding the genre.

Let’s unpack some genres, readings and representations as examples for case studies for what you could write about. A genre is a set of conventions relevant to a specific category that links a whole bunch of features altogether as one unified understanding. For example, the Sci-Fi genre has features that include technological developments, scientific discoveries and special effects. To understand the genre, you will need to have a clear comprehension of how genre and society are linked and their relationship with each other. This can be shown through a series of social factors that determine the success or failure of a genre, the culture surrounding the genre through the lens of its fans, and the historical background of the genre that shoe’s the agendas that shape the genre. You might also find the concerns of society shown in the genre itself.  Does the genre meet the expectations of the audience or does it fall short? All these questions will be answered when you examine the genre. A genre can be based on setting (Westerns), based on audience reach (Teen) or a genre can be based on the style (Sci-Fi, Film Noir etc). Within this understanding of genre, you will need to unpack the elements of the genre and what part these elements play in the structure and makeup of each genre.

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Wider society relationship with media. How to go about answering this question

Next up we have the question on the relationship with media and the wider society. To do this you will need to analyze the development of a medium/media industry and the factors that shape it. Learning and understanding media theory will be paramount to your success with achieving this. What is media theory? This covers a systematic way of thinking that refers back to communications. Within media theory, there are many unique perspectives that are offshoots that can be looked into further e.g. feminism. Within media theory, the question can be old or new, but usually will be guided towards new media. For example, in the recent 2020 scholarship question, there was a question that referred to Streaming music as a media industry.

Music Streaming is an ever-changing new media sweeping our world by storm. Let's unpack. (Scholarship Media Studies NCEA Level 3).

Let’s dive into the streaming industry and a media form

 The streaming industry has truly made music much more accessible now, when prior to its existence people would be purchasing their music, now they could simply access it and listen without committing to the purchase. This has changed society’s interaction with music, it hasn’t cheapened it per se, but instead made it easier to get ahold of. It’s also made it easier to discover more artists as there is no pressure to buy what is listened to. The industry is forever growing, with streaming reaching 100 million paid subscribers in 2016. There’s no doubt the impact that this has brought on listening habits and music collection alike. There is much greater room to use streaming as a means of discovery for finding new artists. When previously people would need to be quite invested to purchase and listen to their favourite artists, now they can dabble with their listening and stumble across some truly great new artists.  With this less commitment, some might argue that simply streaming and not buying is diminishing the value of an artist’s work. This can be argued, it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth having more access at the expense of engagement. Bear in mind there is an impact on society to be discussed with independent artists only receiving US$0.0038 cent per stream when previously they would get a portion of $2 or so for their song. So to answer this question, go over the ways that streaming as an industry is structured and then comment on factors from a society that have shaped this.

Media production has you being thought-provoking on your own methods

Lastly, we have the media production question, which has you critically reflect on your experience making media during the year and give your own interpretation and means of wisdom on the subject. You’ll need to unpack the production content to fully answer this question. In the 2020 scholarship exam, there were 4 statements to choose from, each touching on a different media production. Let’s pick one to unpack further: “Be creative while inventing ideas but be disciplined while implementing them.” To fully unpack this, have a think back to the various pieces of media you created this year and tell the examiner what worked and what didn’t work. Did it help to brainstorm together in a group for your short film science fiction film? Perhaps did this collaboration spark more ideas and insight into what you were wanting to communicate? Were you disciplined as a group once you had had the freedoms in the ideation phase? Or was the ideation freedoms too much and did this translate to having less discipline when bringing the ideas to life? Either way, back up your claims and tell the examiner what you experienced.

Your ability to reflect on your past media experience will put you in good stead while navigating this achievement standard! (Scholarship Media Studies NCEA Level 3).

Get some extra support with Superprof!

Still stuck and needing a bit more guidance? Don’t fret, Superprof is an online tutoring website that links you with a trained and qualified tutor who can help you with your NCEA Media Studies needs. To help get you to the next level in your course work or for help with your scholarship, have a browse through all of the tutors that are on offer. Tutors can help with clarifying aspects of your studies, teach you and go over new ones as well as get you ready for the exams. Your first lesson is free so there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t log on and start your first lesson today!

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