HSC Tips

Detailed HSC study guide to Advanced English module by module

Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences

  • The questions you will get here will often be quite vague so your main job will be specifying these vague terms
    • This means unpacking the keywords of the question AND
    • Adding insight or value to the question i.e. your personal interpretation
    • NOT repeating the keywords of the question without saying anything about it
    • e.g. HSC 2019 Paper 1 Sample: Compare how each of the two posters create a
      sense of shared human experience – 
      Often, students fail to define and unpack the concept of ‘shared human experience’, instead, they simply repeat this phrase
  • A way to prepare for the Short Answer section is to have a variety of ideas up your sleeve that you can unpack indepth and mould into your interpretation of the unseen texts on the day. This can be achieved by doing past papers and noting down themes. Some of the commonthemes that continually pop up in papers include:
    • The fallibility of memory and its inability to reconstruct the past
    • The impact of technology/social media in isolating the individual
    • The power of writing/language/words/literature
    • Conflicts – between competing identities present in the one person, between the
      individual and others, between the individual and their society

    The insignificance of humanity in the face of nature’s vast beauty

    • The inevitable influence of the past on the present

Module A: Textual Conversations

  • To understand this module, you need to understand the power of comparing texts i.e. by looking at the similarities and differences between texts, we are able to gain a better understanding of the power of context in shaping how the compose chooses to generate meaning (their message) 
  • The simplest argument to adopt is:
    • The two composers explore similar ideas but have different perspectives
      on these ideas
      because of the differences in context. In other words, the same ideas keep popping up despite changes in context because they are universal issues that transcend time and place. i.e. issues of love, hate, death etc. affect everyone, everywhere!) 
    • However, the composers may have different perspectives on these issues because they have been raised in different times and places and therefore, have different values. E.g. a composer writing in an era where women held traditional domestic roles in society may have a different perspective towards women compared to a composer writing in the 21st century

Module B: Critical Study of Literature

  • This module values your personal interpretation of the text and asks you to
    make critical and highly sophisticated arguments
  • Need a thorough understanding of the concept of textual integrity I.e. How the three parts of a text (construction, content and language) work together to generate meaning (the composer’s message) 
  • Critics You need to read up on the perspectives of others (namely established critics and essayists) and use their opinion to inform your own
    • Incorporate them into your essays – you may choose to agree or disagree with their argument
    • However, when incorporating the critic, you must explain their perspective, it is
      not sufficient to just quote them. Remember, by quoting them, you only prove that they said these words, you don’t prove the content of their words (so you have to explain why their argument is correct)

Module C: The Craft of Writing

  • This module is all about writing style
    • You analyse the writing styles of acclaimed writers, see what’s good or not, what you like/don’t like, and use this to develop your own writing style
    • You need to be able to reflect on how these other writers have influenced your own writing – whether it be stylistically (techniques) or thematically (ideas)
    • Perhaps you appropriated their structure, or you explored the same ideas but reframed them in your story
  • You need a clear purpose to every piece of writing you make:
  • Ask yourself, why exactly have I written this piece and what is the message I am trying to convey to the reader
    • This may not be evidently obvious when you first write, it might come to you during or even after your writing, but of course, it would be best to have a clear direction when you start writing 

Written by English Tutor Lucy. K | Sirius Learning

Lucy is currently studying Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) at UNSW and writes guide books for prescribed English texts for her part time job. As such, Lucy is an experienced marker providing valuable feedback for students’ writing. Lucy has past experience tutoring a wide variety of primary and high school students. She specialises in tutoring English and is knowledgeable with new syllabus changes. Lucy performed well previously in the HSC, achieving a 49/50 in English Extension 1 and 93/100 in English Advanced. She is extremely passionate about literature and imparting her knowledge to further students’ academic success. Lucy strongly believes in hard work as the key to success and strives to apply this mentality towards her teaching and to her students. She is also able to provide invaluable study skills and time management techniques to help you study efficiently and effectively. 


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