Tips for HSC English Trials






Especially in paper one unseen comprehension take note of the marking scheme and make sure you dont spend too much time on low mark questions


You might like to consider : you have 45 minutes to get 20 marks . Thats just over two minutes a mark . I suggest something like for 3 marks you write fir six minutes max ( ie 3 marks x 2 minutes a mark ) = 6,4 marks =8 minutes etc . That way you will have a little bit of time left over  



Also regarding time you really only have 40 minutes to write once . By the time you finish writing 40 minutes first time it probably takes 30 seconds to change booklets , and turn to next question . You might grab a quick drink as well . Allow 39 minutes and then 38 etc .


For that reason I suggest you allow 10 minutes a paragraph ( 3 body paragraphs) which translates to 30 minutes leaving 10 minutes for intro/ conclusion. If you write more body paragraphs you will need to spend less time per paragraphs ( approx 8 mins ) 8 minutes x 4 = 32 minutes


Always remember an average finished essay will often get better marks than a brilliant unfinished one .





It is likely ,with paper one , that you wont finish reading all your unseen texts In your 10 minutes  so you should read the longer text first and have a strategy for the texts that you don’t  finish reading when you can start writing


Also I suggest you take a minute out of your writing time to make a few quick  notes on the other questions so you dont forget what you thought of during reading time . By that I mean jot down say three dot points for module b and mod c ( c of w) BEFORE you start Mod a .


You can answer the questions  in any order  but MAKE SURE they are in different booklets .





Some schools might say otherwise so follow your schools expectations regarding abbreviation of titles but NESA allows it . Make sure you put the FULL  title in the introduction and conclusion and correctly label it . I would suggest a word rather than initials Eg Write  “ Go Back To Where You Came From “  as Go Backrather than GBTWYCFbecause it actually takes longer to write initials than word(s).






Don’t  focus on what you dont know . No matter how little you think you know concentrate on what you do know . Eg whatever little bit you do know DO IT REALLY WELL .  


Your paragraphs dont need to be of equal length . Its ok to have say 2 paragraphS with say 200 words approx and one with only around 150.


You all know something so use that. At least you will get some marks for what you know . You cant get marks without writing something and remember you ARE BEING ASSESSED ON STRUCTURE so knowledge might not be brilliant but structure can increase your mark



Of course you want more but note one quote  per paragraph is better than three in one and none in the other paragraphs .Dont forget you can use an ellipsis .eg if you were quoting say Romeo and Juliet you could write : Romeo , Romeo ... thou Romeoor something similar to explain . TRY AND PICK SHORT QUOTES SO YOU CAN  DO YOUR BEST TO REMEMBER THEM .





Dont be afraid to use the basics you learnt in primary school .eg alliteration , personification etc . Its not the technique that matters so much as HOW it helps you interpret the meaning


Do not use techniques in the introduction unless you intend to refer to them in EVERY paragraph


Remember that HOW questions involve technique answers or reference to your understanding




THIS IS THE ANSWER YOU CAN TRY AND REMEMBER . Markers can usually decide your mark by reading your introduction because it: 1/  refers to the text name and author/ poet/ director etc 2/ identifies the question and your approach to it 3/ shows how you intend to prove it


Its ok to say ...through skilful use of figurative language responders ...or something g like that . 4 to 5 sentences should be enough and your intention that say you actually on.y have to alter about a line and a half . The rest is always the same




Having been told not to use first person responses in essays this is still a contentious issue .How  do you respond to : HOW HAS YOUR READING OF ...SHAPED YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF...”  Having discussed this with other hsc English teachers the general consensus is use I or WE in the intro and conclusion and responders ,audiences, readers etc in tne body paragraphs .


Eg intro ..Through my reading of x’s name of textI have concluded that ....


and in the body paragraphs .  “ Furthermore as readers delve deeper into the text their reading is shaped by ....





Hard to predict . I suggest you have two or three ideas based aroynd the mod c texts you have studied and  try and have a plan that you have a story that can be persuasive , discursive or imaginary with minimal changes . Look at what you have already written for mod c and try and write it in another format without changing the purpose .


Be aware of your audience . If not stated then it wont matter .


With your reflection when you talk about any weaknesses or struggles make them positive . Eg I was uncertain which language techniques to use ( that tells the marker that you know a lot )


10 / EXAM


Decide whether you do your weakest one first and get it done or do your best one first . In doing so keep your time management in mind if you decide to go overtime and make sure you are aware of your time


Know how much you can WRITE BY HAND in ten minutes . Its not how many pages its the quality of your answers



If you want a better word dont waste time coming up with a better synonym just write as it is . It wont make it better /less sophisticated


Best wishes everyone




Mr McAlpin



Kindly written for

July 24, 2021.