I'm always getting in the 60-70/100 range in my essays and I want to improve this. Is it because i always pick the short story?? Help would be greatly appreciated!
If i were you i would give the personal essays a go. You can really let your personality shine through, and originality is what the examiners want. Once i started these my grades have gone up to high B's and A's.. Best of luck anyway :)
If you want to score well on your essays (especially the short story) it's all about your language. Don't use the same words over and over again. From now on consider the words 'very' and 'said' as the plague and avoid them at all costs. Don't say 'very tired'. Say 'exhausted', 'drained', 'worn out'. Don't say 'he said'. Say 'he mumbled/roared/hissed/announced/remarked/etc.' As well as that when you choose your title dont go for the most obvious story line. For example in 2013 one of the titles was about a reunion. Nearly everyone in my class wrote about a school reunion.It was boring. Instead write about family members reuniting after a feud that spanned years, a couple reuniting after messy breakup/divorce, soldier coming home, it could be anything but don't always go for the first immediate idea that you have (if you can). Good luck :)
Also if you are describing a person don't start going on about the colour of their eyes and how the sparkled like diamonds/emeralds/whatever. When you meet a person, more often than not, you're not gonna notice their eye colour. You'll notice the make up smudged under their eye or the way they smile or what they do with their hands (are they playing with their hair? picking at their nails? hands balled into fists? hanging limp by their side?). You're gonna notice if they're loud or quiet or how tired they look. Just think of when you meet some one and what do you think.
Another thing and I don't know if this will apply to you but make sure your handwriting is neat or at least legible. Examiners are correcting hundreds of the same exam and they will not have the patience to try and figure out what your messy scrawl is. All you gotta do is at the end of the exam try and go over everything and neaten any words that look messy. Even if you're finishing a question just stop and look back over everything. You could have written the must incredible essay ever and the examiner won't know that if they can't read it! I'm sorry this is so long but these things WILL maximise your marks.