HSC English Standard Module B Close Study of Literature

HSC English Standard Module B has changed to ‘Close Study of Literature’. 

And we’ve got you covered with our guide to all things new Module B: Close Study of Literature! 

In this article, we breakdown the changes to Module B, what you need to know from the rubric, and how to ace the module and get that Band 6!

Let’s jump in!

What has changed in the new Year 12 English Standard Module B?
What do I need to know about the new Module B?
How do I get a Band 6 in Year 12 English Standard Module B?

What has changed from the old HSC English Module B?

Number and Value of Assessment Tasks

NESA has set firmer rules about how schools can assess you in HSC English:

  • There will be THREE assessment tasks set in Year 11
  • Each task can only weigh between 20-40%
  • Schools can only set ONE formal exam during the year

This is good news, because it means the number and type of assessments that students across NSW are given are relatively similar. In other words, this means there will be less variation in assessments between schools.

While there are some substantial changes to the structure of the new Module B, the skills you need to cultivate in this Module are very similar to the old Module B.

As such, you’re likely to be assessed in a similar manner to the old Module B, in an essay form. However, this is up to your teacher, so pay attention when they’re teaching you skills in responding to texts!

Critical and Creative Responses

In the old Module B, students were required to respond to texts imaginatively, affectively and creatively.

In the new Year 11 Module B: Close Study of Texts, students need to response critically and creatively, and by doing so, analyse and assess the way meaning is shaped and conveyed in the text.

Personal and Intellectual Connections to the Text

Another change in the module is that students are now expected to develop personal and intellectual connections to the text through study of this Module.

By reading, analysing and responding critically and creatively to your text, you should develop an appreciation and personal relationship and intellectual to the text and its themes and ideas.

Further to this, students should be able to express their personal interpretation of the meaning of the text in an appropriate, clear and cohesive manner. In terms of intellectual connections, this refers to the way that literature changes how you think about the world.

No matter what manner you’re responding to the text in, you should always be doing this with proper register, structure and modality and pay close attention to details like spelling and grammar.

Wondering how to ace the new HSC English Syllabus?

What Do I Need to Know About the New Module B: Close Study of Literature?

Understanding of the Rubric

Understanding the rubric might seem complicated task, but don’t worry we’re going to break it down for you!

First of all, let’s take a look at what the rubric actually says:

HSC English Standard Module B Close Study of Literature

Now, let’s break it down!

“…students develop an informed understanding, knowledge and appreciation of a substantial literary text”

At the heart of this module is the (surprise!) close study of one text (or a collection of texts by one composer). The set texts for the new Module B are considered substantial literary texts, meaning they have special significance in literature, for a variety of reasons.

In Module B you’re required to develop a thorough understanding of your text and it’s significance. Because the set texts for Module B are “substantial literary texts”, they might be a challenge to read and understand at first.

Therefore, to develop an informed understanding, knowledge and appreciation of the text, you will need to likely read it more than once.

“…through their development of considered personal responses to the text in its entirety, students explore and analyse the particular ideas and characteristics of the text and understand the ways in which these characteristics establish its distinctive qualities”

In Module B, you won’t just be studying particular parts of the text, but the text as a cohesive whole.

This is useful as it allows you to think about and understand how the text as a whole is constructed, using structure, plot, characters and literary techniques, and so on.

“…engage in the extensive exploration and interpretation of the text and ways composers portray people, ideas, settings and situations in texts [and] by analysing the interplay between the ideas, forms and language within the text, students appreciate how these elements may affect those responding to it”

This part of the rubric is all about how to composer of the text uses language to convey meaning through the text, and how by doing this, the reader has a personal response.

The exciting thing about texts, and particularly “substantial literary texts”, is that they generally convey a complex variety of ideas using different literary techniques, form, and through the plot, characters and overall structure of the text.

This means you have a lot to extensively explore and interpret, and should therefore have a lot to say about the text in your analysis and personal response to and interpretation of the text.

“…students produce critical and creative responses to the text, basing their judgements on a detailed knowledge of the text and its language features”

In the old Module B, students were required to respond to texts imaginatively, affectively and creatively.

In the new Module B, students need to respond critically and creatively, and by doing so, analyse and assess the way meaning is shaped and conveyed in the text.

So what does critically and creatively responding mean? Basically that you can be assessed in a variety of ways in Module B. This might be an essay, a creative reimagining of your text, a multimodal response, or something else!

“students express increasingly complex ideas, clearly and cohesively, using appropriate register, structure and modality. They draft, appraise and refine their own texts”

This one is pretty self-explanatory.

While reading and exploring the text, you will begin to develop your own interpretations and ideas about the text. The next step is to express these ideas about the text in a clear and cohesive manner, whether in an essay or creative writing piece or some other format.

This is important because this is how you’ll be assessed for this Module, internally and in your HSC Exam.

“students further develop their personal and intellectual connections with, and enjoyment of the text, enabling them to express their informed personal interpretation of its significance and meaning”

This is the big one.

Reading the text once and regurgitating arguments you found on the internet is not going to be enough for Module B. Well, at least, not enough for you to do well in Module B.

The aim of Module B is for you to develop a genuine connection to the text and have your own personal interpretation and response to the text.

This isn’t something that’s teachable, but comes from genuine connection with and reflection on your response to the text, it’s meaning and significance.

So, how do I get a Band 6 in the HSC English Standard Module B: Close Study of Literature?

Step 1: Develop your Textual Knowledge

Having a solid grasp of the terms used often in English will assist you in how you handle the text, and ensure your composition on the text demonstrates an understanding that goes further than a surface reading.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Familiarise yourself with literary elements

It will be a great help to know more than the basics of techniques and language features.

Print out our list of techniques and other language features and study them, find an awesome list, here!

Step 2: Start practising writing analyses of your texts

As this is a close study, it will help to annotate, analyse, and otherwise develop your understanding as you read. This could take the form of writing analytical chapter summaries or discussing ideas with friends and your teacher.

Step 3: Learn about the form.

As well as the linguistic features of the text, it will be useful to familiarise yourself with the conventions of the form you are set.

While by the senior years you will be familiar with the conventions of the novel, if you are set something like a suite of poetry or a play, familiarise yourself early with the conventions of those media. Essentially, you need to know what a particular text does in ways that it would not be able to in another form.

Step 2: Conduct a Close Study of Your Selected Text

There’s no way around the fact that if you want to do well in this course, you need to have a deep understanding of your text. However, this isn’t as simple as memorising a few quotes and writing them down.

Step 1: Ask your teachers what text you’ll be doing a close study of and read or watch it!

Ideally, you will have found and read your text before you need to have read it. It will also help you to read it more than once: at senior level, you should be rereading your texts anyway, but it’s particularly important for the close study of texts.

The list of prescribed texts is found above, but it’s up to your school  to decide what text you study in class. So. ask them what it is!

Also, if you are studying a print text, make sure that you’re annotating your text in some way while you’re reading.

Step 2: Research context

Your understanding of the context your text was produced in will improve your mark.

This goes beyond knowing things like important events and location, but how people thought at the time, and how this aligns with or is challenged by your text. It also means knowing what writing traditions your text belongs to.

Step 3: Get started on your TEE Tables

Now that you’re reading the text and understand the context, it’s time to apply that knowledge with some TEE Tables.

What’s useful about TEE tables is that they by creating them, you’re making yourself think analytically about the text at the same time you’re creating a pool of notes for you to later draw evidence for your arguments from.

This could be done in a number of ways: for instance, you could group them by themes.

If you need some help getting started on your TEE Table for Module B, we’ve got an awesome article to help you out – click here!

Step 3: Show your understanding of your text in writing!

Of course, in order for any of this learning to be useful, you need to learn to be able to write well in order to complete your compositions to satisfaction.

This means you need to develop the ability to write clearly, with specificity, and with a strong understanding of structure.

Step 1: Get a handle on structure.

There are many ways you can structure your essay and its paragraph, but they are not made equal. While your analysis may be strong, it means nothing if it can’t be read in a clear and cohesive structure.

We recommend the STEEL structure for English essays: Statement, Technique, Example, Effect, and Link.

For more advice on STEEL and writing in general, click here!

Step 2: Practise!

While there isn’t any practise questions from previous years at time of writing, this doesn’t mean that you can’t come up with them yourself, or, if you have a classic or otherwise all-known text, source them from the Internet.

For instance, if your text is ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ typing in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ comes up with a variety of sources you can use.

There is also a sample exam that NESA has written to assist teachers and students in understanding the kind of questions that will be asked, located here.

You will also want to time yourself writing and write in pen, if you have an upcoming examination in the module. Learning to write at length to a variety of stimuli is a skill that will make your senior years much easier.

Step 3: Have your work read by others.

Once you’ve got some writing at length done, and checked over it yourself, have your teachers or peers read over it critically.

Having other people read it is important, as when we read our own work, we tend to overlook our own mistakes and fail to notice our bad writing habits. However, you can also try reading your work aloud to yourself, which is another way to make sure you’re making sense.

Are you looking for a tutor to help you ace HSC English Standard Module B: Close Study of Literature?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a large variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today! 

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at info@artofsmart.com.au or check us out on Facebook!


Cameron Croese completed his HSC in 2013, earning first place in his cohort in Advanced English, Extension English 1, and Extension English 2. Privately tutoring throughout his university career as an English and Education student, he enjoys helping his students at Art of Smart understand, write well on, and enjoy their texts, as well as assisting with other aspects of school life. He is a contributing editor to his student magazine, in which he has had reviews, feature articles, and short stories published.