HSC English Time Management
For students about to sit their HSC Exams, it can be stressful thinking about the first hurdle to clear: the pair of papers for Advanced English.
Many students have trouble completing all the sections in the allotted time, and so, might not receive marks which reflect their ability. With our expertise in preparing students for the HSC English examinations, here are the best tips we can suggest to help you write out all your ideas with minutes to spare.
These tips apply to both English papers, and might also be relevant for other written subjects such as Modern History, Legal Studies or Economics.
– Spend exactly the suggested amount of time on each section – force yourself to stop at the 40/45 minute mark to ensure you give each section the required time.
– Plan out your responses before you start writing, that way you will eliminate the need to stop and think what comes next mid-essay.
– Conclusions are crucial: if you are running out of time, it is better to skip a point from your last body paragraph so that your essay has a conclusion.
(This is so that your writing satisfies the requirement that the student “organises, develops and expresses ideas” through a complete essay.)
– Aim to finish each section with about 2-3 minutes to spare, so you can read back over your work, tidy up your grammar and add details you might have forgotten.
Paper 1: Texts and Human Experiences
The first HSC English Paper is only two sections: an essay and a reading task.
That being said, some students find the reading task challenging to pace since it requires many things in a short amount of time. To ace the first paper, we suggest that you:
– Complete the section you are more confident about first. If you’re happy with the essay question and remember all your quotes, write the essay first while that is fresh in your mind. Otherwise, read the essay question closely, and keep thinking of ways to approach it while you tackle the reading task.
– Don’t write too much in the reading task, particularly for low-value questions. For 2-5 mark questions, an analysed example per mark (linked to the given human experience) is enough.
– In your reading time, read the questions first, and then the stimulus texts. Have the questions in your mind while you read, so that you know exactly what to look for.
– Don’t worry about understanding your unseen texts 100% – your goal is just to find techniques which convey a human experience. If you see a text which confuses you, be pragmatic and answer using the parts you do understand.
Paper 2: Modules
This is a long paper containing two essays for Module A and B, as well as 20 marks of creative or reflective writing for Module C. You’ll need to be writing for the full two hours, so some strategy can go a long way. We recommend that you:
– Read all your questions carefully. Be fully aware of what you’ll need to do in your two hours before you start writing, don’t leave yourself open to surprises.
– Complete the section you are most comfortable with straight away. Confidence and momentum are important in Paper 2, and if you struggle through your weakest section first, you’ll be less motivated to excel in your strong areas.
– When practicing, be aware of filler words in your essays. Low modality phrases such as “maybe”, “might”, “perhaps” and “could be”, as well as lengthy constructions such as “utilises” instead of “uses” only serve to slow your writing down without adding to your argument. Always be thinking about how you can be conveying the same point, but with less words.
– For Module C, divide your time equally for the question’s mark values. For example, if you receive a 12-mark imaginative and an 8-mark reflection, spend roughly 24 minutes on the creative and 16 on the reflection.
The most important thing of course is to practice writing full papers in exam conditions, with a timer, so that you recognise and anticipate the time pressure you’ll have in the real HSC. If you find you’re consistently unable to finish either paper in a reasonable time, you might need to shorten the expected length of your essays, improve your handwriting ability, or practice word economy by cutting down unnecessary phrases.
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