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Into The World Related Texts Essay Format

Choosing HSC subjects can be difficult, and knowing what you’re getting into before you get into it is the best defence against stress and disappointment.

That’s why we asked some of our students some of the big questions they’ve got about Extension 1 English!

1. How important is creative writing?

It’s worth 50% of your HSC exam mark, so it’s pretty important. Unlike Advanced English, Extension does have a fairly proportional focus on analytical and creative writing, and you’ll definitely be developing your creative skills in class. That said though, you really need to focus on building your creative abilities because you’ll have had much ore feedback and practice with your analytical work over the years.

The important thing to remember is that you really can’t just make up a story on the spot with extension English, so you’ll be needing to put lots of effort into planning and developing ideas for your creative. This means rough drafts, editing, getting feedback from your teacher, etc. throughout the year so that by the time you reach exams you’ll be properly prepared, just like you will be for analytical!

 

2. How many prescribed/related texts will the exam ask for?

It depends on the exam. There have been a few that have asked for specific texts, or a specific number of texts, and these often freak people out because they’re not what you planned for. Truthfully it’s unlikely that your exam will ask for more than 2 prescribed and 2 related texts, but it has been known to happen, so it’s good to be prepared.

The two best things to do in order to make sure you’re safe for your exams is;

  1. Read, analyse and understand all of your prescribed texts.
  2. Learn 2 related texts, but have a backup just in case.

I only followed one of these rules when I did the HSC, and though I didn’t have to use my backup text, having it made me feel a lot safer. What didn’t make me feel safe was going into the exam knowing I was totally blank for one of my prescribed texts because I didn’t actually finish reading it (to this day I never got past page 60 of The Skull Beneath The Skin). So do yourself a favour and don’t be me – read all your texts and have a backup, just in case!

 

3. How should I be choosing my related texts?

We have an article all about that over here!

 

4. How long should my essays be?

Short answer? 1200 – 1400 words.

Long answer? As long as you need them to be (within reason). I know that having a set word limit can be useful when it comes to figuring out how much you should or shouldn’t be writing, but a lot of the time that limit doesn’t work for everyone. While 1300 words is about the average, I know some people who could write very concisely and say everything they needed to in a sophisticated 1100 words. I’ve also known people who could write 1500 words without repeating themselves or going off-topic even once! It all depends on the person, how they write and what they’re writing about. Think more about your 1 hour time limit and how much you can write in that time rather than focussing on word limits, but do consider them if you’re going way over or way under.

 

5. Where can I find past essays and/or creative pieces?

As always BOSTES has your back with this sample answers pack full of past essays and creative pieces! It’s a little older, so not all of the questions/electives will still be in use, but the quality of the writing and they style of answers is still awesome. Plus they also have examples of lower marking answers, so you can see exactly what to avoid in your own writing if you want to be making those top bands.

 

6. Should my essays be integrated?

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! The quickest way to knock marks off your essays is by writing them as if each idea or paragraph exists totally separately to the last. You want your essay to read as a cohesive piece with one central idea that is being argued through different themes, using the texts as examples to prove your point. If you don’t constantly link the stuff you’re talking about, there’s no way your essay is going to read as a smooth, cohesive piece!

Make sure you start trying to integrate your essays from the get-go, and if you’re finding it a little tricky actually sit down with your teacher and talk about how to go about it effectively. It’s also good to hand in any and all practice essays you write to your teacher or classmates for feedback – that way you’ll know if your integration is working and how effectively!

 

7. How should I structure my essays?

As with any writing there’s always going to be people who like writing essays a certain way, and that’s going to differ from the next person, so there’s no ‘set’ structure that is perfect. The things you waint to aim for however are balance, integration and sophistication, and to do this you need to format your essays well. I’ve found the best way to structure them is as follows;

  • Introduction
  • Context – introduce your texts + their contexts
  • Theme A – discuss the theme in reference to both prescribed texts
  • Theme B – discuss with reference to one prescribed and one related
  • Theme C – discuss with reference to the other prescribed and related
  • Conclusion

This way you’re dealing with 3 long themes paragraphs rather than 6 shorter text paragraphs, plus you’re comparing and contrasting the texts as you talk about them because they’re both in the same paragraph. It’s also good to note the distribution of related and prescribed texts – you can mix this up, but it’s always best to start focused on prescribed and then branch out to related texts. That said, this is based on using two prescribed texts, however you may choose to use three and mix up the distribution a different way.

8. Should I drop Extension 1?

We have an article about that over here!

 

9. What should I do if I bomb one of my assignments/exams?

Learn from it. It seems obvious, but the best thing to do when you get poor marks is to get a lot of feedback on exactly what you did wrong and then work to improve. One bad mark isn’t the end of the world, and it’s definitely not a reason to give up or drop the unit. Think of it as a learning experience!

The first assignment I ever did for Extension 1 English I barely passed, and it was the worst mark I’d ever received on any English work – safe to say I was devastated. But after I spent a few days feeling sorry for myself I sat down with my teacher and had him walk me through exactly where I went wrong so I could avoid making the same mistakes. I worked on improving the things I had to, and after that I never marked lower than 85% on an Extension exam or assignment. I’m not saying a bad mark will instantly make you improve, but it can be learned from and used as a way of finding out where you need to work harder.

 

10. Is it much harder than advanced or is it just more work?

Extension 1 is kind of like an Advanced English area of study on steroids. It’s the same kind of content, but you’re learning it at a much faster pace and for a whole year, plus there’s a lot more content and detail to look at. You also need to be doing more advanced and sophisticated analysis, doing work outside of class time and taking a lot of initiative if you want to be achieving awesome marks. So it’s actually a little harder and a fair bit more work (outside of class). That’s not to say that Extension is crazy hard or an unreasonable amount of work, but it is a whole extra unit and it’s seen as an extension subject for a reason. It’s a really rewarding subject though, and if you love English it’s well worth the effort.

 


Maddison Leach completed her HSC in 2014, achieving an ATAR of 98.00 and Band 6 in all her subjects. Having tutored privately for two years before joining Art of Smart, she enjoys helping students through the academic and other aspects of school life, even though it sometimes makes her feel old. Maddison has had a passion for writing since her early teens, having had several short stories published before joining the world of blogging. She’s currently studying a Bachelor of Design at the University of Technology Sydney and spends most of her time trying not to get caught sketching people on trains.

 

 

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Have you got questions about HSC Advanced English? Don’t worry, we all did! But don’t sweat it, we have trawled through forums, asked people on Facebook and consulted the students we teach to find these HSC Advanced English Frequently Asked Questions!

If you’re looking for general FAQs about HSC English, head over here!

1. Does doing Advanced mean I’ll get a good ATAR?

Truthfully no. While strong marks in Advanced English will result in a better ATAR score than strong marks in Standard English, it’s the ‘strong marks’ that’s important, not the unit. Just doing Advanced English isn’t going to ensure that you’ll do well or get good marks – that’s up to you!

In fact, it’s all to do with percentile, quartiles and scaling. Elizabeth has written quite extensively about it here, explaining why your cohort and your performance are more important to your success than the level you’re studying.

It also means that if you feel like Advanced English isn’t the best fit for you then you don’t necessarily have to stay there. If you know you could be at the top of a Standard class but are struggling to even pass in your Advanced class consider changing!

Ultimately strong marks in Standard English will score better than weak marks in Advanced.

2. Are Modules harder than Area of Study?

It depends on the person, but in my experience I’ve found modules trickier due to time limits. Unlike the 74 hours spent on area of study, you’ll only spend 25 hours on each of the modules you study. This means you have to learn much faster and often need to do some independent study if you want to stay on top of things.

Some students find this harder due to less class study time or they lose motivation because they have more class time dedicated to it.

The best thing to remember is that modules are what you make of them, so if you can stay on track, get teacher feedback on practice essays, etc. you’ll be able to smash out modules. If you slack off? Not so much.

3. Will reading sample essays actually help me?

If they’re good sample essays, yes! By reading over work that has marked well it’s a lot easier to pick up on the things that make it a strong essay, even though you (in theory) know what markers are looking for. When you can see it written out in an essay it’s much easier to identify points of strength and then emulate them in your own writing.

For example, if you struggle with essay structure, reading sample essays will give you great examples on how to structure your responses effectively. Likewise if your language choices aren’t up to scratch, seeing what language other people choose in their essays can really help.

Sometimes if your language is getting stale, seeing other people’s writing can reinvigorate your writing style. That’s why when authors get writer’s block, most of them stop writing and start reading!

Just keep in mind that not all sample essays are good ones, so make sure you’re getting them from past papers, marking feedback, etc. If you know any friends or family who did well you can even ask to read their old essays!

4. How long should my essay be?

It depends. Most essays sit within the 1,000 – 1,200 range, but some have been known to go ~100 words over or under. You definitely want to be aiming to hit the 1,000 word mark, as this is seen as a benchmark when it comes to ‘writing enough’, but it is more important to have good quality content rather than bad quality ramble.

You have to think of your essays in their value rather than a word count. If your essay is saying everything it needs to say and is saying it in an eloquent, sophisticated way, then you don’t need to fuss too much about word counts unless they’re massively over. Generally 800 words isn’t enough to get everything down, so if you’re under you know you haven’t said everything in detail or in a sophisticated way.

That being said, the girl who topped English in Elizabeth’s year at school generally wrote around 850 – 950 words but wrote darned good words. For the record, she got 99.95 for her ATAR.

5. How long should my creative writing be?

This is harder to answer, because a creative piece doesn’t really have a set structure or format, so you can’t say when is ‘enough’. Generally you want to look at time limits; if you have 40 mins for analytical and you write 1,000 words, you should be doing the same for creative because you have 40 mins for that as well. That said, it’s much less worry if you go under in creative writing, so long as your writing is still strong, makes a point and has some level of creative integrity.

I know for a fact that my HSC creative writing was shorter than my essay, but that didn’t worry me because I knew it suited the stimulus and made a clear point about the topic. You should aim to do the same in your writing. That said, anything under the 800 mark could be getting a bit too short.

Again, it is more important to producing good work rather than stale ideas. If you need help, you’ve got it right here with the Creative Writing Crash Course!

6. What’s Module A about?

We have articles for that!

Follow this link for Intertextual Connections!

Follow this link for Intertextual Perspectives!

7. What’s Module B about?

We’ll be releasing articles where you can teach yourself Module B in the next coming weeks so be sure to check back soon!

8. What’s Module C about?

As above!

9. How many quotes should I have?

I always recommend the minimum three-quote formula. It works like this; for each paragraph you have two quotes that you analyse for techniques and one you use as backup. Now you can mix this up by adding extra backup or technique quotes, but the point is two make sure that you have multiple quotes to analyse as well as one just to throw in there to prove you know what you’re talking about.

Example

Shelly uses a frame narrative to juxtapose the characterisation of Victor Frankenstein before and after becoming the “author of unalterable evils”; he first appears as “a man on the brink of destruction”, however this hyperbole is quickly contrasted with his account of the vigour with which he practiced science in his youth. In describing Frankenstein as having been consumed by “one thought, one concept, one purpose”, Shelley highlights a lack of moderation or balance in his scientific ventures, and details the destructive effect of lacking these values.

In this section the first quote is just used to establish knowledge of the text, while the second two are deconstructed for analysis. That way markers will see that you know how to analyse quotes, but you can also use them outside of that just to support your understanding of the text.

10. Will they ask for 2 related texts?

It’s very, very, very unlikely but it is possible. There have been a few occasions where students have been asked to refer to two prescribed texts in the past, and though it’s not very common, you do want to prepare.

The best way to do this is by having a backup text. Choose a text you’ve analysed before (either from a different year or one you chose not to use) or one you know really, really well that suits the topic, If you can try to choose a text that suits multiple topics to try to cover some extra bases, but remember that texts aren’t one-size-fits-all. Once you know what text you’re using create a bunch of quick essay plans based on past paper questions (edit them to ask for 2 related texts) and just plan how you’d respond.

It’s not as tricky as it sounds and you probably won’t need it, but it’s always good to have your backup just in case. Mine was the film Fight Club by David Fincher, and it was my backup for Belonging, Conflicting Perspectives in Advanced English (two now gone topics) and Crime Writing in Extension 1. Elizabeth used Les Misérables by Victor Hugo for Belonging and Exploring Connections in Advanced English and Romanticism for Extension 1. I never had to use it, but I felt a whole lot safer having it under my belt.

Consider Buying Notes

If you need reliable notes or simply want to check your notes are right, take a look at HSC-Notes.com.

Their English notes are crafted by the 99+ ATAR Club and provide concise answers to the HSC Syllabus dot points with what you need to know for your exams. Diagrams, mind maps, tables, dot points, paragraphs, sources are included to aid your learning.

With these notes you can spend less time rewriting your textbook and worrying about whether your notes answer the syllabus dot points correctly and spend more time learning and practicing your skills knowing your notes are accurate and concise.

Head on over to HSC-Notes to get your HSC subject notes now

Have a question for us? 

Flick us a message on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/artofsmart/), give us a call on 1300 267 888, or email us on info@artofsmart.com.au.

 


Maddison Leach completed her HSC in 2014, achieving an ATAR of 98.00 and Band 6 in all her subjects. Having tutored privately for two years before joining Art of Smart, she enjoys helping students through the academic and other aspects of school life, even though it sometimes makes her feel old. Maddison has had a passion for writing since her early teens, having had several short stories published before joining the world of blogging. She’s currently studying a Bachelor of Design at the University of Technology Sydney and spends most of her time trying not to get caught sketching people on trains.

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