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The New English Syllabus Explained – The Common Module: Texts & Human Experiences

Post Series: The New English Syllabus Explained

What is this module?

The HSC English Common Module is completed by all levels of English (Advanced, Standard and the HSC Studies course) and is used to moderate the other sections of the English exam. In the HSC exam, there are two parts: unseen short answer questions based on ideas from the rubric and an essay question, both worth 20 marks each. Most of the paper is common to all levels of English, although there may be some variation in up to two of the short answer questions.

 How has this module changed from previous years?

The common module is now much broader – there is no specific “area of study”. Rather, this module wants you to become familiar with a wide range of patently human concepts that exist in texts. According to the rubric, these include “anomalies, inconsistencies and paradoxes” in human behaviour, as well as “individual” and “collective” experiences. These are the terms that should direct your analysis.

The module has also changed in that you are no longer required to produce a creative piece in Paper 1. However, there is the possibility of using your Common Module text as inspiration for your Module C response.

 How can we help in this module?

At Master Coaching, we focus on the nuances of each module, to ensure that all your essays get to the crux of what the marker is looking for. The new common module is particularly different to any common module in previous years as it specifies “TEXTS AND human experiences”. What this is directing you towards is effectively justifying why it is that we tell stories, and what parts of telling stories make us human. The answers to these questions vary depending on your prescribed texts, but generally speaking most texts will seek to do at least one of these:

  • Question the progression of society/speculate on the future (eg Orwell, 1984)
  • Explore the interaction between time, memory and experience (eg Rosemary Dobson’s poetry)
  • Provide a voice for those silenced in society/Inspire change (eg Yousafzai, I am Malala)
  • Reflect on historical events and draw attention to human empathy (eg Doerr, All the Light we Cannot See)

The notion of a human experience can be confusing for some students, as the term is incredibly broad. However, at Master Coaching will we teach you how to use this to your advantage, so you can answer any essay question with sophistication. By using rubric terms to direct your responses and staying focused on the central question of why we tell stories, these broad ideas should facilitate a convincing explanation of the relationship between texts and human experiences.

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