The new HSC English Syllabus is here.
And it’s completely changed the game for how you need to study to ace HSC English.
In the past, the approach many students used to nail HSC English in the past was to write a model essay for each Module and memorise it, go into the exam and adapt it to the question in the HSC English Exam.
The same went for HSC English Creative Writing: write a model creative writing response, memorise it and adapt it to use that in the exam.
This strategy will not work for the new HSC English syllabus.
In this article, we’re going to share how you need to study to ace the new HSC English Syllabus in the HSC this year.
So, what are the changes to the HSC English Syllabus?
Let’s go through what the changes look like for HSC English Paper 1 and Paper 2.
Now, NESA hasn’t released an official HSC English Exam paper for the new syllabus, but they have released an HSC English Sample Paper 1 & Paper 2 that we can take a look at to get an idea of what the new HSC English Exam will probably look like in 2019 and beyond.
The Creative Writing section that used to make up part of HSC English Paper 1 is gone – it now lives in Paper 2, but it’s a little bit different.
The new section of the HSC English Paper 1 will be asking you to respond to unseen stimulus texts.
Previously, a strategy used by most students was to memorise a response that touched broadly on the Area of Study and adapt it to the question in the exam.
The challenge for this strategy in the new HSC English exams is that the new Common Module (replacing the Area of Study, Discovery) is ‘Texts and Human Experience’ and is much, much broader AND you have to respond to unseen stimulus texts.
Here’s some examples from the NESA HSC English Sample Paper 1:
You can see that there is a lot of complexity in these questions, and are asking you to analyse and draw out meaning from the unseen stimulus texts presented to you in Paper 1.
This means you need to practice and get really good at reading, analysing and writing about the meaning you gain from reading unseen texts about human experience.
Memorising a response is not going to work for you in this section.
For this section of the exam in previous years, students would often memorise an essay response to a broad question and adapt it to the question given in the exam.
Let’s take a look at the essay question in the new HSC English Syllabus Sample Paper and see if it would be possible to do this for the new HSC English Exam:
These questions are very specific.
It’s going to be extremely difficult to rote memorise a response and adapt it to such specific questions in the new HSC English Paper 1 Exam.
To answer these questions well, you need to know your text really well and understand how the text/s convey meaning through literary techniques and devices.
Let’s take a look at an example question for Module A:
This question suggests that Module A is likely to be the easiest module to memorise a broadly focused model response to use in the HSC English Paper 2 exam.
The question is specific, but there’s a little more wriggle room compared to the new Paper 1 questions in particular. Not a lot, but a little more.
For example, another sample question for Module A in the NESA Sample HSC English Paper 2 is:
This question is much more specific and would be much harder to adapt a memorised response for, and based on the Sample Paper, Module B will be pretty much the same as Module A.
So keep this in mind when preparing for and studying for the new HSC English Module A and B for the Paper 2 Exam.
The new HSC English Module C is The Craft of Writing, and it has essentially replaced the Creative Writing element of the previous Area of Study, Discovery.
This means that the creative writing element of HSC Paper 1 has now been moved into Paper 2, Module C.
Previously, students would simply memorise a creative response that broadly fit within the themes of Discovery and adapt it to the stimulus question, but you will not be able to do that anymore.
Let’s take a look at an example question from the NESA HSC English Sample Paper 2:
That is SUPER specific.
And there’s also a second part to the question asking you to “justify the creative decisions” you’ve made in your response.
This is the first type of question for Module C that’s been shown in the Sample Paper 2.
Now, let’s take a look at the second question type you could be asked for Paper 2, Module C:
I can practically hear most of you freaking out about writing a “persuasive, discursive or imaginative” response.
What this question shows is that NESA can give a a choice of text types to use for your response, which may include imaginative (or creative) writing.
But this also opens up the possibility that NESA can tell you what text type to use, and this may NOT include creative writing (or your text type of choice).
To find out about how to master the different text types covered in HSC English Module C, check out our article, here!
So, how should you prepare and study for the new HSC English Syllabus and Exam?
Step 1: Know your texts
Based on what we’ve seen in the NESA Sample HSC English Papers 1 and 2, it’s going to be much, much harder to do well in HSC English by simply writing a model response, refining it, and adapting it to the question in the exam.
You’ll be better off knowing your texts extremely well, and practicing being able to read a text, identify how it conveys meaning and explaining that in a sophisticated response.
Basically, watching the film version of your text and browsing Sparknotes isn’t going to cut it anymore.
To do well in the new HSC English Exams you need to become familiar with your texts, and be able to analyse and respond to unseen texts with sophistication and insight.
Step 1: Read (or watch) your prescribed text/s (ideally more than once!)
Step 2: Create a TEE table for each of your texts to examine them in detail (and create a bank of quotes and techniques from the text that relates to key ideas for the module)
Step 2: Learn how to write a killer essay
To do well in the new HSC English exam, you’re going to have to write a really sophisticated and high-quality response to (likely) very specific questions.
You’ll need to be able to identify and express a strong and cohesive thesis statement, and back it up with clear and compelling evidence for your argument.
This is a hard skill to develop, and it takes time and effort. This means you need to start working on your writing skills much, much earlier than what was previously adequate for HSC English.
At Art of Smart, we’ve got a team of incredible tutors and mentors across Sydney and at our campus in Hornsby to help you with HSC English.
We’ve designed a bunch of text-specific HSC English resource books which we use alongside tutoring to help you ace the new HSC English Syllabus.
Get in touch to find an inspirational tutor and mentor in your area today!
Step 3: Nail creative writing for Module C
Based on the NESA Sample HSC English Papers it’s going to be hard to use a memorised creative response for the new HSC English Module C section of Paper 2.
You could also be asked to write something other than an imaginative (or creative) response. This could be a persuasive, discursive or informative response to a stimulus.
For more info on how to master the new text types for HSC English Module C, click here!
To do well in the Module C section of Paper 2, you need to master the fundamentals of writing in these text types.
That’s right, only working on imaginative responses is not going to prepare you fully for the new HSC English Paper 2. You need to be familiar with the four text types of Module C.
The key to success for the new HSC English Syllabus is to work on developing the skills of reading, analysing and responding to texts.
And whether you’re a natural at HSC English or absolutely hate it, this is going to take time to master.
Looking for extra help with the new HSC English Syllabus?
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