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Back to School: How to be Prepared for HSC Ancient History in Term 1

The Ancient History syllabus is vast, with Year 12 students covering all aspects of life in as many as four ancient civilisations. Summarising concepts covered in class at the same time as learning new material is challenging for students, particularly leading up to the half yearly exams in April. With just only a couple of weeks of holidays left before school starts for 2015, here is a checklist you can use to ensure you have set yourself up for success in HSC Ancient History in Term One.

  1. Finish your Cities of Vesuvius summary notes. Essay questions for this core topic can be drawn from any of the syllabus dot points, testing areas as specific as the significance of the social structure to contrasting the value of official inscriptions and graffiti as evidence of life in Pompeii and Herculaneum. It is advisable to structure your notes in the same manner as the Board of Studies syllabus to ensure you have enough detail to satisfy each syllabus dot point, particularly in relation to the second major syllabus dot point titled ‘the nature of sources and evidence’. Although there is more research available concerning life in Pompeii, include as much information about Herculaneum as you can. Unless an exam question specifies Pompeii only students are expected to answer with respect to both towns.
  2. Examine written and archaeological sources relating to Pompeii and Herculaneum. It is an expectation of the course that in every question students refer to sources, both those in the source booklet and those of their own knowledge. Examining a variety of sources as an aspect of study will enrich your notes and your responses to exam questions. Students cannot achieve an A range mark in the essay section without referring to sources, and it is not enough to merely discuss the sources which have been provided in the question. It is particularly recommended that students familiarise themselves with the layout of the fora in Pompeii and Herculaneum, and be able to label various buildings and architectural features. Don’t forget to include modern sources, particularly relating to ethical issues in the two sites.
  3. Attempt some practice papers. Practices papers are not merely helpful once you have studied to test your knowledge but also while you are compiling your notes to ensure you have enough information to satisfactorily answer each question. Answering practice questions while referring to your notes can also help to sculpt an exemplar answer to a question that you can then use for study. Try to practice a variety of questions including multiple choice, short answer and essay length responses.
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