skip to Main Content

The HSC English Paper 1 – the first HSC exam paper

The HSC English Paper 1: Area of Study (‘Paper 1’) will be the first HSC exam paper that over 58,000 students will encounter. It is a two hour long triathlon of unseen textual analysis, creative writing and an essay component. Each one of these sections are worth equal weighting (that is, 15 marks per section).

Both English Advanced and English Standard cohorts will sit identical exam papers. There is no separation in the Paper 1 exam between Standard and Advanced and thus, regardless of whether they are an Advanced or Standard student, every single one of the 58,000 students will answer the same set of texts, questions and set of creative writing stimulus. As university placement is becoming increasingly competitive, some may compare the competitiveness of the Paper 1 exam as a Spartan blood bath, as students compete to grab as many marks as they can within the two hour long exam.

At Master Coaching Hurstville, the English Advanced and Standard tutors will guide students and equip them with the skills and knowledge necessary to prepare for the unknown. Individual one-on-one lessons will comprise of, but is not limited to, thesis drills, creative writing workshops, essay structure and preparation assistance, exam techniques refinement, time management and overall English Paper 1 (and Paper 2) anxiety management.

The lessons at Master Coaching Hurstville are centered upon a student’s needs, as tutors will help refine students’ strong points and help them fix and strengthen any areas that need improvement. We do not condone the practice of rote memorisation, which is a highly frowned upon practice by English HSC markers and senior markers. Why? Here’s a common scenario that, unfortunately, many past HSC students have found themselves in:

During Term 2, an English A.O.S assessment is given to students where they have to respond at home to a seen question—whether their response must be in a speech, a creative writing or an essay format—and the students utilise the two weeks to prepare their best response to hand in. They re-read sections of their prescribed texts, look over class notes and perhaps even discuss with their classmates, friends and tutors for possible angles to answer the question. After intense preparation, they hand in their assessment and their hard work is paid off—their teachers deem their response worthy of a Band 5 or Band 6 mark! Excellent. They now have a speech they can adapt into an essay for the HSC or trial paper, or an essay or a creative writing piece they can easily memorise.

Now, it’s August. The day of Paper 1 trial has arrived—everything is fine, because they have this piece of work they know is a Band 5 or Band 6 worthy response up their sleeves ready to go. But then they open the trial paper and suddenly, the question is not the same as the question their teachers have given them in Term 2.

What happens then? Do they frantically try and mold the question to their prepared response? Do they frantically try and mold their memorised sections for the question? Twist their thesis statements around? Change parts of their creative writing to fit the question? Or do they run with their prepared response anyway, because in earlier in the school year, it achieved an excellent mark so surely it will achieve a similar mark again?

In the time the student spent memorising their extended response pieces, they simply could have been practicing responding to unseen questions and studying a good breadth of themes, quotes, techniques and different approaches to answering a question. And so, instead of panicking that their prepared response does not fit with the question, they have trained themselves into simply answering a question to their best ability.

At Master Coaching Hurstville, we place an emphasis on understanding core textual ideas and the formulation of a student’s own distinct approach to their texts and voice in their extended responses. All of these practices and skills are geared towards enabling students to achieve their personal best in the English Paper 1 and to maximise their marks as much as possible. These are also applicable skills and techniques for success in the dreaded Paper 2. Unlike the unlucky student in the scenario, students will learn to rely on their skills and knowledge that they have been harnessing over the year into answering the HSC questions properly instead of relying heavily on a prepared response.

Back To Top